Plugging In – One Post At A Time

Lately I’ve been getting to know more folks and more groups here in Chicago that are involved in “Social Media.”  People like Barbara Rozgonyi, Andrew Coffey, Liz Strauss, and Daniel Honigman. “Social Media” is a term that accountants and lawyers may know but only from, perhaps, their experience with Facebook or Linked In or similar connectivity tools.  I wrote recently about Deloitte’s foray into Social Media, both as a consulting firm advising clients and as a company trying to respond to the need of their own employees to talk about their firm, both positively and negatively.

For me, it’s like many other things I become interested in that are outside my own area of experience.  I look with a detached, outsider’s eye and try to psyche it out since I am not, after all, part of the group that is dependent on belonging.  And so I have come to realize that I am doing things and accomplishing things with this blog that some charge good money to talk about and that others are starting to think is pretty neat.
I was invited to a workshop here in Chicago called Word of Mouth Crash Course.  It’s run by Andy Sernovitz, who is famous in his area of expertise and has many of the marketing gods, like Seth Godin (???), in his corner.  Andy kicked off a local, stay at home version of his crash course yesterday to a mixed group of corporate professionals, social media mavens at companies like Yahoo, bloggers, and the already converted like me.  
Why “Word of Mouth” marketing versus traditional marketing?
1)You can replace paid marketing with “free” marketing
2)Word of mouth is sustainable, renewable
3)Leads acquired are cheaper as your word of mouth impact expands geometrically
4)Grassroots impact translates into more creative press coverage
5)According to Andy, it works!
Well, you don’t have to tell me.  I realized that I was already doing many of the things Andy was talking about in my small way in the blog, mostly because as a non-monetized venture, I try to spend as little as possible.  The site is free.  I do all the work.  I mostly write from home and from existing sources.  I do my own PR.  The only things I spend money on are travel, expensive hotels, champagne, and shoes (for when I go to Washington DC and New York.)  But I would do that anyway, so the marginal cost to the blog venture is minimal.
I would highly recommend Andy’s book and seminars to anyone looking for new ideas, a new way of looking at simple activities in light of their marketing potential and a crash course in what kinds of tools and technology are currently available to make it happen.  All of this is at least helpful if you still end up hiring an agency to help you with “interactive marketing communications.”  At least you will know that they’re talking about.
One great example that came out of the day went like this:
Andy was talking about the thoughts behind his choices for the course goody-bag takeaway.  We received a small transparent zippered pouch, suitable for airline travel, filled with two small bottles for liquids, a big chocolate bar, a mini funnel for filling the bottles, and an orange electrical plug with three outlets for those travel situations where you need to charge your phone, your laptop, and help a fellow traveler. 
Eric Rochow, creator of the Garden Fork and Real World Green Social Media empire, says, “Yeah Andy, that’s great, but you should have branded that plug somehow with your logo.”  
And Jamie Goren, President of Plastic Decorators Inc., a Quebec Canada company that prints all kinds of things (and brother of Mark Goren) says, “Hey I can do that!”  
And the impact is that Jamie will earn back his fee for the course from new business for Andy and Andy will tell the story of Jamie’s company every time he talks about the plugs in future seminars and workshops.  
This is the essence of Andy’s message.  Make an impact.  Make the impact the old fashioned way:  Get your customers to talk about you rather than have your advertising talk at your customers.  Multiply that impact.
My take away from yesterday was something Andy calls the “Matchbook effect.”  He lamented the fact that since smoking was losing favor in some many places, many restaurants and bars no longer printed matchbooks with their name, address, and sometimes a very creative logo to help customers remember them.  That really hit me,  since I collect matchbooks, even though I do not smoke.  I have traveled all over and to many unusual places.  I have returned to many places more than once but not always frequently.  I collect matchbooks so I remember great restaurants and bars and can find them the next time I’m in town or recommend a place to a friend who is going to that city.  I have many unique ones, in particular from Latin America and Paris.  I have some from all the way back to 1987 when I made my first trip to Brazil.
I am thinking about how I can generate the matchbook effect with this blog.  How can I leave you with something you’ll remember so you know how to come back to me and know how to tell a friend about me?  
I did make one immediate change during the class.  I added a line to my RSS feed to thank you for reading, ask you to tell a friend, and give you a way to get in touch directly if you like.  In the days ahead, I may be testing out some other ideas on you, things like communities, forums, events and other ways that anyone who is interested in these topics can keep talking about them.  We’ll see….
6 replies
  1. Barbara Rozgonyi
    Barbara Rozgonyi says:

    Great meeting you in person, Francine! Enjoyed trading ideas with you during the crash course.

    Like your matchbook comments – sounds like you have quite the collection for inspiration. 🙂

    My top takeaway? Giveaway more stuff. Have a good start with 400+ marketing-PR articles on my blog. Now have to upload PowerPoints to

    Looking forward to following your progress.

    @wiredprworks on

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:


    I work for Deloitte in a major city and have just been promoted to Senior and working out at this city’s biggest client. I have been pushing for a transfer to another major big city office since May. I sent in my transfer request forms and got a ‘coach’ who initially told me to hold out until budget numbers came out for June. In June, I was told to hold out until compensation figures are released in September. I’m very serious about this transfer and am willing to explore other divisions of Deloitte (Tax, FAS, etc…) if necessary. Today, I stupidly told the Senior Manager and the other two Seniors over lunch that I’m looking to make this transfer. The Senior Manager basically told me ‘No’ and that they NEED me through Busy Season 2009 [that will make it a year since my initial request]. What do I do?! I don’t think Deloitte is going to transfer me to this city anymore. Did I totally screw myself in this office? I’m scheduled to travel for the next three months. If I plan on leaving how do I get out of work while traveling to go to the new city to interview?! Do I just tell Deloitte the truth and let them know relocating is happening no matter what? How risky is an ultimatum? Am I at risk of being fired if I do?


  3. Mark Goren
    Mark Goren says:

    Hi, Francine:

    Even though I wasn’t in Chicago for the seminar, there’s no doubt that I’ve received a return from my brother’s participation. It’s cool to have met you through Twitter and I look forward to reading your blog and getting to know you better.

  4. Jamie Goren
    Jamie Goren says:

    Hey Francine,

    Thanks for the kind words. It was a thrill meeting people from all walks and all parts of the country. The fact that we may get an order out of it is the icing on the cake. For me, I believe that the lessons that I learned will pay for the seminar 100 times over and that the contacts made and the varying perspectives I was exposed to will serve myself and our companies for many years to come.
    Keep up the good work. It was great meeting you and seeing a little slice of the city that you call home.

    Jamie Goren

  5. Krupo
    Krupo says:

    Funny you mention the matchbook effect. I’m annoyed by the lack of matchbooks these days. It’s the tradeoff from the city-wide smoking bans non-smokers get to enjoy, ironically.

    @Deloitte-Anon. Seriously give thought to joining another firm who doesn’t care about your local office’s need to keep their claws in your shoulders.

  6. kurtvan
    kurtvan says:

    Francine, what a nice write-up of the Word of Mouth Crash Course! I'm glad you enjoyed the event & learned from it too (I work with Andy at GasPedal, and we hosted it).

    Barbara & Jamie, I'm so glad to you enjoyed it also. And that everybody's staying connected! Now, if we can only get Mark to see what he's been missing… 😉

    Looking forward to hearing about your successes!

    –Kurt Vanderah

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