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World Wide Web Turns 25!

On March 12, 2014, the World Wide Web turned 25 years old! Can you believe it?! 

While the web is now flooded with negativity (i.e. viruses, fraud, misinformation, hatred, etc.), we only have ourselves to blame. The Web, I would argue, is something great and has changed the world for the better. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself, let’s start from the beginning.

The first Web browser, called “WorldWideWeb” was introduced to the world  in December 1990 by Sir Tim Berners-Lee (he received knighthood for his work!). This was followed 3 years later by the debut of Mosaic, the first Web browser to display text and images on the same page.

This changed everything – it opened up the world to anyone, not just the computer experts. Just two years after the release of the Mosaic browser, 14% of US adults used the Internet. {As a comparison point: today 87% of US adults ad 97% of 18-to-29 year olds use the Internet.}

The Web Rising</p><br />
<p>In 1995, just two years after the debut of the NCSA Mosaic browser, 14% of US adults used the Internet, according to the Pew Research Center. Today, that figure stands at 87%, and it's hard to imagine what the 13% who are not using the Net are doing.</p><br />
<p>Image credit: Pew Research Center

Today, Americans find it would be harder to give up the Internet than television. And the great majority of Internet users believe the Internet to be a good thing for society, and an even better thing for themselves!

People like the Internet

While this history lesson was interesting, what does this have to do with marketing? It has everything to do with marketing! The Web has completely changed how business in America is conducted. It has also introduced an entirely new aspect to marketing, business and even the world – social media.

Social media plays an important role in how we discover, research and share information about products and brands – it is a free “digital channel” that business can use to reach customers. And with over a billion people on various social media platforms, business can now reach more customers in more places than ever before.

The Social Graph</p><br />
<p>Social connections preceded the Web, but it took a social networking website, Facebook, to demonstrate the value of our social graph.</p><br />
<p>Image credit: Facebook

So here’s to the World Wide Web and everything it’s given us!

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3 Rules to live by in marketing

Be compelling – This one has really become the forefront of my entire thought process of the past couple of years as the digital landscape has become ever more competitive to get your target audience’s attention, be compelling. In order to engage, be disruptive, get eyeballs, your content, purpose and information needs to be captivating in order to get people to interact with it.

Do I pay attention? – I start every marketing campaign with one question. Would I be interested in this event? Whether it’s a case study, trade show, webinar you name it. I might not be everyone, but I’m a fairly common person. I’ve got three small children, a full-time calling (that is my occupation) and time is my most valued commodity. 

Results driven – I’ve always said from day one. “Every action we take is in order to generate leads.” If it’s not going to progress the business forward in a positive way and directly impact whether or not we are going to get business, it’s just noise in my opinion. If it’s going to generate results, small or big wins, doesn’t matter you do it. If it doesn’t I need to question why we would be doing it!

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Three keys to networking in real-life!

Networking for some is as painful as getting a tooth pulled for others it is a way of life. For me it just works because by nature I’m an inquisitive individual, I enjoy meeting new people and my curosity of other people, in general, is on the high side. This has helped me quite a bit in networking professionally. Here are three tips for growing your network in person:

Don’t carry business cards – Crazy right, I don’t disagree but I generally never carry a business card. In a pre-arranged meeting sometimes I will bring one so the other individual can write some notes on my card or if there are multiple people they can remember my name. Otherwise I grab their business card, often I make a joke about the fact that I don’t have a card. Reason, for me…I want to be in control of the follow up and I don’t want to have to rely on someone calling me. If in the event they don’t carry a card and I just can’t live without their contact information. I quickly whip out my phone and take their number.

Listen – Cliche’ yes, but listening and asking questions. Everyone’s favorite topic…themself! Get people talking and they will think you are the greatest simply because you made it all about them. When you follow up be sure to reference something from that conversation.

Be a connector – Too often times people are looking what’s in it for me, as opposed to being geninuely engaged and looking for your opportunity might not be the best fit but who you might be able to connect that person with in your network. Could be for a business opportunity, a friend looking for a job or maybe you know someone that needs the service. Whatever that is, listen for it and be willing to be a connector of people.

My next blog will focus on the where…there are plenty of events, i.e. networking nights for young professionals, networking night for women in business, trade events, etc. I’ll explore some tips on non-conventional places to network!

What are some ways you grow your network?

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Happy Birthday Facebook – Why I Joined!

 

“Our entire office is on this Facebook thing all day long.” Those words changed my life! These were the words spoken to me by a nurse of a prominent orthopedic surgeon. I had tried to get their business for 6 months. After creating a Facebook fan page, their office hit like and sent a patient the next day.

That’s when the light bulb went off. I had spent 6 years of my life going from doctors office to doctors office creating relationships, promoting diagnostic imaging services to basically anyone that would listen. I believe in the course of 6 years I averaged about 75 office visits per week.  If you do the math, that is 23,400 office visits, minus holidays and few weeks of vacation.

It would generally take anywhere between 3 to 4 weeks to canvass my entire territory. It did not matter if I was in New York City, Columbus, Ohio or Great Neck, Long Island. Outside of your top referring physicians, which you would ultimately make it a point to see on a weekly basis, there are only so many hours in a day and time in a week.

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Happy 10th birthday Facebook!

Additionally there was a real need to tell our story directly to the consumer. It really was the perfect storm. The advent of the smartphone and mainly Apple releasing the iPhone circa 2006 unleashed us all from our desktops. One could debate and it would be a fair point that Blackberry’s were already providing us with a mobility solution. Which was the absolute truth, but we all know the their fate vs. the modern smart devices.

Mobility and social media became the perfect platform to tell your story!

So not only were people becoming more mobile, the world was becoming more connected through social media. At this more and more people were turning to the web to educate themselves on everything, including healthcare. There was a rapid explosion of self diagnosis, no longer did the physician hold all the answers. Healthcare consumers were learning to dictate the path they wanted to choose. What I found was that a number of physicians were financially invested into their own diagnostic imaging equipment. In order for me to be able to build a diagnostic imaging business was to let people know they had options.

My advertising budget was very limited, but the one thing I had was time and agility. To be honest, up until this point I had no intentions of ever getting a Facebook account. To be even more honest I would probably have never joined Facebook or Twitter, but I realized early on that it was a great place to help me get exposure for my business, create relationships, that would all help to drive revenue.

Not only did it help to create relationships with my direct target market, physician practices. We engage patients, we asked them to “Like” our Facebook page, which at the time was a labeled a fan page. This soon was realized a term I referenced in a national trade publication as, “word of mouth marketing on steroids.” I guess Performance Enhancing Drugs were on the brain considering that was the height of PED usage in our national pastime, but I digress.

Health Imaging & IT – April 2009 – Full Article

It was also a very interesting time to take to social media in healthcare. Trade publications, so called experts, physicians, and just about everyone was weighing in out the pros and cons, mainly the cons of associating a medical related business on Facebook. They would say do you really want your business associated with a place that college kids are posting pictures of themselves at keg parties. My response was yes…It was very disruptive. The local and national media took note. Some of our competitors did as well and followed us 6 to 12 months later.

We would friend, share, like, comment everyone that would listen. I would actively seek physicians that were on Facebook and ask them to like our page which most did. We included both a  digital strategy and direct. Meaning, I would go out into the physician community and actively engage through word-of-mouth, promotional fliers, etc. that we had a Facebook page and with a strong call-to-action to like us.

My goal then and is still the same now. Build a community so I can talk to that highly targeted and engaged audience so I can sell them my goods and/or services. Learning along the way, it was the same than as it is now. That you wanted to provide informative information and content, get people engage and every so often promote an aspect of your business. What I found is that what took me a month to do now took me five minutes. While it was still fundamentally vital to my business to go see every physician in my target market every month. It was as important for me to put out a couple of messages on a weekly basis to keep everyone engaged while I wasn’t in the office. Not only that, but it gave me something to talk about once I arrived. The conversations would go something to the fact, oh ya, I saw that you now accept United Healthcare.  There was rapport before I even walked in the door.

Jumping ahead to 2014, Facebook is a mature platform. It’s almost unheard of at this point for a health system, physician practice or medical related business to not have a Facebook presence. Generally, most people will turn to social media to learn more about their healthcare provider. Some will take to individually looking up their physician. See what people are commenting on about a hospital.

So here we are 10 years later. I’m not only an avid Facebook user, connecting (like many) with friends from high school, former co-workers, friends of friends and so on. I’ve chronicalled my children’s births, moments of first steps, bike rides and attandance at sporting events. I get my news, advertised a business and now make a living by providing guidance and expertise on how to leverage Facebook in order to grow a business. So, happy birthday Facebook, it seems like it’s been a quick 10 years and here’s to hopefully another great decade!

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When do I call?

How much time do you wait to follow up with a new prospect?

Do you wait a an hour, day or week?

Will you seem eager or desperate?

Attentive or neglectful?

What’s your golden rule on follow up?

 

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An Idea Worth Sharing at TEDx Youngstown – The Three “P’s” of Innovation

TEDx Youngstown – Dennis Schiraldi discussing who invented the MRI and the importance of having passion, a product that solves a problem and the importance of promotion!

 

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My Marketing Crush on Red Bull Media Continues!

My infatuation with Red Bull Media House continues. How many times can you count the Red Bull logo appearing in this 12 second, cross promotional video?

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Youngstown, Ohio: An Outdoor Recreation Mecca?

 

Our kids are fat, lazy, addicted to video games and we (the adults) are to blame. As a society we’ve been our own worst enemy when it comes to our health because of our lifestyle. We drive our kids everywhere, feed them processed food and buy them video games to keep them occupied. It’s time we do something about it. Cultural changes don’t happen overnight however if we start now future generations will reap the benefits. It’s an investment that I’m willing to make in order for those that come behind me can enjoy a healthy sustainable lifestyle for generations to come!

It’s pretty simple, if you exercise, have a healthy lifestyle and eat right, generally speaking without any catastrophe you will live a long healthy life. Like many suburbs around the country, we’ve made it so difficult to get around in the suburbs of Youngstown, Ohio. The only way to get to and from a grocery store is by car. Kids can no longer walk to school. Neighborhoods are spread out, there are no sidewalks, bike paths or alternative means of transportation.

Ecotourism Economic Potential in the Mahoning Valley

Furthermore this is not just about creating a healthier lifestyle for all of us, it’s also about the potential economic impact ecotourism would have on the Mahoning Valley. While you might not think it, with a world class tech incubator, the impact of the gas and oil business to the economy, a great university and development in downtown, Youngstown is a great place to be! Our next greatest opportunity for economic development in the city of Youngstown is a multi-million dolllar ecotourism industry that can help contribute to a lifestyle change that will have a positive impact on the healthcare epidemic in the valley and help generate revenue from tourism.

Mill Creek Park, is the second largest city park in the United States. It’s got great terrain; lakes and ponds, wildlife, activity, gardens and golf. The network of trails throughout the park are phenomenal, while hiking and trail running make up the bulk of the activity, mt. biking is prohibited on these trails however this is some of the best single track in the state.

  

Within a short drive there is diverse network of trails and at least 6 or 7 legitimate mt. biking options under a 45 minute drive from the Youngstown city limits. Recently the Rust Belt Trail Revival, a local mt. biking advocacy group worked with IMBA, a nationally recognized biking organization. They got approval and funding to build the first of its’ kind mt. biking trail network at Lake Milton State Park. I applaud their efforts, as they’ve also worked with city of Poland in getting approval for mt. biking in the Poland Woods.

If this area can just catch on, utilizing the river and the open unused space through the corridor that runs east out of downtown Youngstown through Lowellville all the way to New Castle, PA can create ecotourism that could rival any casino operation in the state. Similarly the area west of downtown is being backed by various interest in both Mahoning and Trumbull Counties that have a very progressive idea of revitalizing the US422 Corridor.

What if we were able to open up trail access to bikes in Mill Creek? It would provide immediate access from downtown to local trails. Cleveland Metroparks have figured out a way to get everyone to co-exist for multi-use purpose trails. Mt bikers from all over would travel to Youngstown, look for downtown accomdations. They would plan a rides at several area riding locations. One of those rides would start in downtown, hit the 6 mile loop in Mill Creek Park and end-up back in downtown with a sandwich and a pint at one of are area pubs. 

Bike lanes can provide an alternative means of transportation which is good for the environment and promotes good health. Walking around the Canfield Fair it’s evident the time bomb of the health epidemic is ticking. However there is no alternative, most communities don’t have sidewalks let alone bike lanes. Biking is a relatively cheap in comparison (to a car and a city that lacks public transit) great way to get around town. This isn’t just for now, it will be more impactful for future generations. Giving this to our kids will help to break free the reliance upon cars. While parents are carting their kids off to soccer, football and birthdays, maybe if kids had a safe way to travel they would…what kid wouldn’t want to ride their bike to the park?

Downtown Richmond, VA summer music festival

Instead we criticize kids, by saying “when we were your age…” We provide them with sugar filled drinks, but no means to be active to-and-from the activities. We adults are enablers of a sedentary lifestyles for our kids. Youngstown is a Richmond, VA, the best river city in America! At one time Youngstown and Richmond had the highest murder rate per capita in the US. This is (Mahoning Valley) an outdoor mecca, with sweeping valleys, great country roads for road biking, rivers, great parks and less than a two hour drive to Laurel Highlands which is basically a mini-Colorado that is practically in our backyard.

Ever hear of Jim Thorpe, PA? It’s an old steel town in Eastern, PA, a rust belt city. When the mills left, the economy tanked. The Lehigh Valley became a must visit destination because of the multi-use network of trails for hiking and biking and a tow path. The Great Ohio Lake-to-River Greenway will be a 110 mile trail connecting multiple counites including Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties. Loweville and Canfield both have great towpath trails, even Todd Franko at the Youngstown Vindicator recognized there’s a movement on the horizon.

While a major focus of this blog is on access to biking, let’s not forget the efforts of another local advocacy group, Friends of the Mahoning River. Their grassroots movement got a state funded grant approved for dam removal on the Mahoning River. Opening up access, creating better water flow, which in turn is giving more opportunity for people to be outside on the river in kayaks, canoes and other means of water transportation.

While that area was once the heart of the Steel Valley, it’s now a vacant piece of land just waiting to be used for outdoor activity. Hiking, biking and parks could potentially interconnect neighborhoods. Similarly in Columbus, Ohio, the former city impound lot, an ugly scar of a junkyard was turned into a nature center with a large climbing rock wall and other outdoor activities. Making use of our resources, which is access to cheap land, can help redefine the area. As the gas and 0il business is poised to reap the financial benefits of the resources in the ground, leaders of our communities should be meeting with these organizations to put investment into projects above the ground that would fix roads, add parks, create bike lanes and so on.

Rock climbing wall & Grange Insurance nature center!

Biking, hiking, and kayaking. We are just scratching the surface, we have some of the best affordable golf courses in the country, great rock climbing, fishing, and a whole lot more. Embracing ecotourism in the Mahoning Valley is another revenue stream that can help to stimulate our local economy. This will help to contribute to the momentum of other developments in the area. Outdoor recreation could be right up there with these economic drivers and be one of the best tourist destinations anywhere in the country!

Got a thought, leave a comment, share this with your friends, we’d love to hear from you!

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Red Bull Gives You Wings and the Most Awesome Use of Social Media Marketing!

I could go on-and-on about how great Red Bull’s use of social media is to the point that I’ve started to drink Red Bull (and not with Vodka) again. However their use of digital media sites such as: Instagram and YouTube are just killer, I’ll let their work speak for itself…however this is how good it is when you get it right!

 

CYO Marketing is a full service marketing firm that specializes in digital and direct marketing programs that help generate high quality cost effective leads for our clients. While we are not Red Bull’s agency of choice we’ve helped a number of small and medium sized businesses with their marketing strategy and/or ongoing managment. We can do the same for you and your business! Be sure to share this video with your friends and drink Red Bull it helps you fly or is it gives you wings, something like that!

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What does a home run have to do with marketing?

25 years ago tonight Kirk Gibson hit the most memorable home run of my life. While it’s obvious the world is a much different place, there was no mass adoption of the internet or email and the inventor of Twitter probably wasn’t even born yet. On that epic October night “Gibby” came to the plate, limping and with only a couple of options. Ends up he went yard on one of the greatest closers of all time. Luckily I didn’t know it at the time but the only reason I got to hear Vin Scully’s call of that home run shot, was due to the fact that my dad made me sit with my grandmother. She’d recently become a widow, on this particular Friday night he thought it would be a good idea to keep her company. As a 15 year old boy all I wanted to do was run around with my friends. Turns out on that exact night they got arrested for stealing politcal signs and smashing pumpkins.

 October’s greatest moments!

Furthermore, my grandmother informed me she would not be sitting home. She went across the street to play cards with long-time friends. Dumb luck struck twice on one night. Not only did I miss out on getting arrested, but because of the circumstances of all these events my destiny led me to see one of the greatest moments in Major League History. Just to put it into perspective: 2 outs, bottom of the 9th, down 1 run, man on second, and it’s the world series. 

What does all this have to do with marketing? It’s simple, a compelling story will be remembered. The more compelling the story the more widely adopted it will be, the more people will share it, download it, like it, follow it and the longer it will endure time.  Vin Scully put it best, “High fly ball into right field, she’s gone!” 

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