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Generating the power of spontaneous group action

We all know that we must work on our distribution networks and distribution channels, but once you have the people in front of you, then what?

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Digging deeper into distribution

Ever since the first time I mentioned the forgotten side of content marketing – distribution – I’ve been slammed with questions about distribution networks and distribution channels. (Briefly, if you missed my last column on AGBeat, we talked about how content marketing places emphasis on the content rather than the marketing, under the mistaken assumption that great content markets itself.)

Great content is 90% easier to market, but you still have to do some work to make sure your content gets seen by the right people, at the right time, and produces the right results. For some, the work is simple, because they

  1. have distribution networks in place,
  2. have access to distribution channels within each network to spark momentum and
  3. have taken extreme care to make sure the flood of attention they get won’t go to waste.

Distribution networks are the easy part…

Any of us can join social media sites and make sure we have content hosted on sites we own and control, so that our content posted to those sites leads safely back to us.

Distribution channels are harder. A distribution channel is an already gathered group of active people who are highly interested in either you, your company or a topic closely related to your product or service. If you’re thinking community, you’re close. What you want are the top members of that community with the most respect, admiration or passion for what you’re attempting to achieve, who are the most vocal.

It’s not necessarily the most influential people – there are often connections we don’t easily perceive online that make the passionate more important than the influential. They may be people the influential listen to, or hang around, that are at the margins of two groups. Sometimes they may share something that is of marginal interest to them, but highly interesting to an influential friend, who jumps all over the trend.

Looking only at the influencers can be limiting, so watch out.

So how and why does one gather these powerful connections?

The why is easy. Spontaneous group action generates the starter momentum that helps you get to the next stage of wide exposure. You don’t need to go viral to be successful, though this may help. And if you do go viral, you want it to be among people who deeply care, not merely the curious tire-kickers.

Having access to a group of people who are interested, but don’t feel obligated to take action such as sharing when your content comes out, will help your best content spread faster. And since it won’t be in a predictable pattern, you can constantly reach new people as long as you continue to grow your channel.

Repeat audiences you’re not directly connected to can also come across your content from a trusted entity enough times to convert.

How do you create your own distribution channel?

You’re probably started this already.

First, you find the passionate community related to your product or service. Don’t let the idea that what you do isn’t sexy enough be an excuse. Cell phones used to be purely functional. Now there are virtual wars between people who love iPhones vs … I think everyone else?

(I want my phones less smart and my tablets smarter, so I’ve lost track.)

Second, don’t just become part of that community. Gather them to you and provide them with something they’re missing on a consistent basis.

Third, find a way to stay in touch with them, and make it as much of a two-way street as you can. It could be a snail-mail mailing list, an email newsletter, a forum you host just for them, a membership site you build, your YouTube channel.

The defining ingredient: velocity

You’ve heard most of this before – but are you still doing it with the same verve, and velocity you were when you first became excited about email marketing, social media or video? If so, these next steps are for you. If not, start.

Step four is to single out the people who are your top fans, the most influential, have the most charisma, lead the most discussion, ask the most questions, provide the most answers. These are not necessarily the same groups of people and may actually be different folks.

Then you want to build one on one relationships with those you vibe with among those folks. If you sell toasters and they like bread but hate your company, they are people to learn from, but maybe not link with for now. Extend an olive branch – if they take it, find out how they’ll make what you do better. They’re very likely to be brutally honest, which is valuable.

If they don’t take it, continue to listen but ease up on the bonding for the time being.

You have the people, now what?

Now, you’ve got all these people. You love them – they love your products. Treat them like they’re special because they are. Special discounts, special status in the community, free beta products, whatever you can do to reward them in advance for whatever you’d like them to do in the future.

That being step five, step six is to ask for their help – and monitor the response. Of course, that’s not so you can drop people who don’t help you the first time. There are all kinds of reasons why people who love your brand won’t do what you ask them the first time, or even the fourth time.

You’re not creating predictable patterns of group re-shares from people who kinda-sorta care.

You’re prompting spontaneous group action. This is what will help you get the first 50 of those 250 Facebook likes. This will help you figure out what topics you create content about that drive your most enthusiastic audience wild, and what made them go “ho-hum. This again.”

Therefore, what you want to do is make sure you’re keeping priority communication lines open to people who are helping you, and see what you can do to help them as well.

The secret (and not so final) step

This next step isn’t a final one, as part of this has to be cyclical – you want to keep going back through these steps so that you can continue to grow a larger and larger distribution channel, and have them ready to go and loving you before you ever, ever need something from them.

It’s an important step however: give to the whole community again.

In fact, I prefer to give at least six to ten times, then ask, and repeat the process this way. I find this whole process works much better when I’m open to giving most of the time, and receiving just at pivotal points. Strangely, I tend to get a lot more help without even asking too.

I’m not sure why that is, but my theory is that I’ve gathered people to me who are like me – and don’t wait around to be asked to take action when they’re moved by something. So instead, I focus on doing what I can to have a positive impact and stop every  now and then to be very specific about what I need the most.

What if your content is already created and you don’t have time to put together a distribution channel? I’ll be back to talk about that another time. Or you can always call my office if your issue is urgent.

Tinu Abayomi-Paul is the CEO of Leveraged Promotion and a member of Network Solutions Social web Advisory Board. Her website promotion company specializes in reputation management, and engineering demand generation system for businesses, integrating search, expertise marketing and social media.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Tinu

    October 8, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    @AgentGenius thank you for continuing to publish my work. 🙂

  2. Tinu

    October 9, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    @SarahRobinson Thank you Sarah. 🙂 I blush at your praise.

    • SarahRobinson

      October 9, 2012 at 8:20 pm

      @Tinu ha! You know SO much more than I do in SO many areas. 🙂

      • Tinu

        October 9, 2012 at 8:22 pm

        @SarahRobinson You’d be surprised. For example, I’m clueless about Kindle. Weird because I have reaped the benefits of an Author page…

        • SarahRobinson

          October 9, 2012 at 10:42 pm

          @Tinu dude. I don’t own Kindle. i can only read a book if I’m holding it in my hand. 🙂

        • Tinu

          October 10, 2012 at 12:10 pm

          @SarahRobinson LOL – don’t have a Kindle but I have the app. What I mean is my books should have been ON Kindle from the start.

        • SarahRobinson

          October 10, 2012 at 12:30 pm

          @Tinu ah – got it. 🙂

  3. Tinu

    October 11, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    @lizscherer 🙂 thanks

    • lizscherer

      October 11, 2012 at 7:15 pm

      @Tinu thank u. What an important post!

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Business News

Better.com CEO fires nearly 900 folks over Zoom, right before the holidays

(NEWS) Better.com CEO, Vishal Garg is no stranger to controversy, but now he emotionlessly laid off 900 employees, effective immediately, via Zoom.

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Better.com CEO Garg

The ironically named website, Better.com, is a mortgage originator with a 4 Billion dollar valuation. Better.com CEO, Vishal Garg is no stranger to controversy not only for alleged fraudulent activities at two previous business ventures and for allegedly misappropriating tens of millions of dollars, but also for the mistreatment of his employees. His now-infamous email, which was leaked by Forbes where he berated his staff, calling them “Dumb Dolphins” and claimed they were “embarrassing him”. One of his “most loyal lieutenants” had to be placed on administrative leave for, surprise-surprise, bullying.

Once again, Garg is making headlines for the mistreatment of his employees. He emotionlessly laid off 900 employees, effective immediately, via a Zoom call. Garg cites “stealing from co-workers and customers by only working two hours per week the as a reason for the mass lay off, claiming that some of his staff only worked two hours per week. What is important to remember, however, is that much of his staff are comprised of underwriters, who are capped at a certain number of files per day, and once they have completed those files, they cannot work again until the next day. This obviously means that “productivity” would look very different for underwriters as opposed to other members of staff.

He also laid off the entire diversity, equity, and inclusion recruiting team, showing what values are actually important to him, and apparently, it is not diversity and inclusion. He claims that Human Resources will be in touch with the recently laid off staff about severance, however, it is unclear what their severance packages will look like. To make matters worse this mass firing occurred just weeks before Christmas. Better.com recently became publicly traded and is prepping to end the year with more than a one BILLION dollar balance sheet.

To treat your employees so callously, and with no regard is totally unacceptable, and the common practice of treating your staff as commodities is becoming increasingly more intolerable. This behavior however is unfortunately not uncommon among CEOs, with an estimated 4%-12% of ALL CEOs exhibiting psychopathic traits, a statistic I was hesitant to believe prior to learning about Garg. And if you feel like you’ve been wrongfully terminated, check out our article to find the best next steps. 

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Business News

Toys R Us is coming back with a vengeance after a rough bankruptcy

(NEWS) Toys R Us is opening their newest store complete with a 2-story slide and ice cream parlor, as well as an exclusive partnership with Macy’s.

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Toys R Us

Millennials rejoice!

Toys R Us is back and better than ever. The toy giant filed for bankruptcy in 2017, which resulted in many nostalgic adults lamenting the loss of their favorite childhood toy store. Not only is Toys R US opening up a new 20,000 square foot location inside New Jersey’s Dream Mall, which will boast a two-story slide and an ice cream parlor, they are also partnering with Macy’s to have products available in 400 stores across the United States, as well as maintaining their presence abroad and online.

This store will be the first Toys R Us owned by WHP Global, who bought a controlling stake this year, but also the only store in the United States. Between big box retailers and one-click ordering with practically instantaneous shipping, many brick-and-mortar retailers just can’t compete. If that wasn’t challenging enough, many businesses face ever-shifting consumer demands, a dragging economy, and a global pandemic, making maintaining brick and mortar stores and businesses, even large ones, incredibly difficult.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, many businesses including JC Penney, J. Crew, and Neiman Marcus have faced the same fate and had to declare bankruptcy. However, bankruptcy is rarely the end for many companies. For companies, bankruptcy can mean many things, from reorganization to liquidation, and in some cases other companies get an opportunity to purchase these businesses, meaning consumers may see their favorite businesses return. Other companies choose to completely eliminate their brick and mortar stores entirely and return solely online.

Many stores and businesses are shifting their offerings, creating limited-edition offerings, and going to great lengths to stay in hopes to compete and stay relevant. For example, PetSmart is targeting pet parents this holiday season by offering matching, customizable pet and human sweaters, and holiday pet portraits. In keeping with the “ugly” holiday sweater craze, Microsoft created and sold out a minesweeper “ugly” sweater. Proactiv, which is a famous skincare brand known for its acne healing effects, is rebranding as Alcheeme and is expanding its product lines to offer solutions to many common skincare issues, including eczema, rosacea. And the Container Store is partnering with vendors such as Circuit, The Home Edit, and Blueland. Their Chief Merchandising Officer, John Gehre, said “Sustainability and the support of small businesses are not only priorities for our company, but our customers, too.”

Businesses are attempting to keep up with the needs and interests of the consumer in many creative and well-researched ways during one of the most difficult times for businesses in history

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Business News

Tis the season for employment scams – here’s what to look out for

(BUSINESS NEWS) Desperate times call for desperate measures. Seasonal employment scams are back on the menu and here’s how you can avoid them.

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A serious man considers a clipboard in potential employment scams.

With the sheer amount of desperation surrounding the holidays, employment scams typically have a resurgence during this season. Thanks to the Better Business Bureau, there are some clear warning signs that can help you spot and avoid seasonal scams this year.

The typical crux of any employment scam revolves around a prospective employee’s willingness to pay for something upfront, be it training or some other kind of quasi-justifiable item (e.g., a uniform). However, other iterations of the scam actually involve an “employer” overpaying for something at the onset—albeit with a fake check—and then asking the recipient to wire “back” the extra money.

Either way, these scams can leave you jobless and with less money than you initially had, so here are some things for which you should watch out.

Firstly, employers shouldn’t ever charge you before hiring you. Some industries do require employees to make small purchases on their own dime (i.e., the aforementioned uniform), but payroll will usually deduct the cost of these materials from the employee’s first paycheck—not require payment upfront.

As a general rule, it’s probably best to avoid companies that charge you at all. Aramark, for example, is known for requiring employees to buy company clothes—and they’re no peach to work with. But desperate times may warrant an exception in this regard.

It’s also to your benefit to avoid postings that boast an “interview-free” experience. Put simply, no one is hiring sans an interview unless it’s nepotism or a scam. If you aren’t related to the poster, that doesn’t leave much up for interpretation. Similarly, advertising a large sum of money for disproportionately low amounts of work is a pretty big warning sign.

Finally, watch out for jobs that ask for a work sample before hiring. While this is common for internships, most entry-level positions and beyond aren’t going to require you to complete a project for free before determining whether or not you’re good for the job. At best, this is a tactic to get free work from you; at worst, your application information can be stolen.

It’s sad to think that people would stoop to the level of scamming others amidst the dumpster fire of a year it’s been, but if you avoid these red flags, you should be able to keep yourself safe during this holiday season.

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