CHICAGO, May 23, 2012 — Liz Strauss leads on her site with two simple words, “be irresistible.” The founder of SOBCon - the Cirque du Soleil of business strategy events - has a straightforward, honest and thought-provoking style to her speech.
After talking to her for her 20 minutes I realized why so many people follow her on Twitter, read her blog, attend her events. She has an ability to make you see things from a different persepctive, things that you may have been looking at for years.
She is unique. It’s why Huffington Post named her one of the 10 Breakout Influencers of 2011. A list that includes Oprah Winfrey, Howard Schultz (Starbucks), Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Gabrielle Giffords and Tim Tebow.
Think of how many times you saw someone Tebowing last fall. She is that kind of influential. If there was a meme called Straussing it would be awesome and you would see a picture of me doing it on Instagram.
Minus the accolades and my excuse to make one last Tebowing reference, Liz Strauss is someone who can make you think. She is skilled at bringing great people and great ideas together. That is what makes her irresistible.
We asked Liz five questions:
1. How are we evolving with social media?
We were geographically niched but we didn’t know it. Best in the world doesn’t exist. In 1996, the Internet broke that apart. Niches were gone. The resulting strategy is to design a new niche.
You used to set up at the corner of State and Main. “Location, location, location” became “solution, solution, solution.” Now you must narrow your niche to hit a solution. Social media allows you to spread that.
The first generation that interacts with new technology has a larger problem. There is far more that is the same than different. If show you a ball and call it a chair, you would end up looking for a reason why it is a chair.
The first people that used the car had to learn to drive, had to determine what a good or bad road was. Subsequent drivers learned as they went along. The roads were already built. So someone on the Internet is learning how to cross the street all at once. It’s just a matter of getting past the first generation of knowing where the roads are.
2. Why are relationships so important?
Not to be doing relationship building online is like not using the telephone. The idea of the brand is dying. It’s not how long your brand has lasted, it’s what it is today. Kodak, Chevy, Hallmark all celebrated anniversaries recently. My son wanted to know why he should care.
3. What impresses you?
Spike Jones and his work with Brains On Fire. He just gets it.
Matt Mullenweg - founder of Automattic, WordPress. He let his customers build it. If you let people build it then they will protect it, have ownership, love it and bring their friends. He then picked people from that community to work with him at Automattic.
4. What is your advice to those who may be apprehensive about utilizing social media?
Engagement doesn’t necessarily have to be time consuming. Know your goal first. Go for quality of engagement. When I first started, I built a network of bloggers. I eventually realized that I wasn’t selling to them. It’s important to connect with people that can build your business.
It’s not a single goal. It’s a real plan to leverage opportunity over time. When you advance you create a new position. Every time you create a new position the strategy changes because you have a new view, perspective of what is happening. ADAPT!
More CEOs would be willing to listen if we understood that businesses still grow as they always grow. In the days of advertising it used to be about being really creative to explain the values of a product/service.
Now, it’s about creating a fiercely loyal community. Take a glass of orange juice. It used to be that you would try to explain all the features and benefits of it. Now, the challenge is to use the glass to connect others who also like that same glass of orange juice.
5. What is your approach?
Businesses are pretty good at setting up a community. They are pretty good at making decisions regarding ROI. They are not good at attracting who they want, keeping away who they don’t want.
People who are not interested, don’t come to SobCon. By doing that, it attracts more of the people we want.
I respond immediately to brilliance. I ask them if they would like to help me build my business.
Bring in customers as collaborators. Start a conversation. Take a store for example. Tell them “we are thinking about building a store for people like you.” Inform people, get feedback and you will already know they are going to like it before you even build it.
Jeff Barrett is a recognized leader in public relations, experiential marketing and social media. Co-Founder of Status Creative, 2011 PRNewswire Award Winner for “Best Use of Video In Social Media” and record holder for Most Strikeouts in Tee-Ball.
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