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Like others, I've been pondering the best way to get new business, or stay in business, in today's plummeting economy. 

Then it came to me: digital cupcakes.

It doesn't hurt that there's a coffee shop three blocks from me that sells (according to the March 2009 issue of The Atlantic), the best cupcake in America.

Of course, I'm highly disciplined. I wander over to Baked & Wired several times a week, laptop under my arm, and set up on the back table. I order a cappuccino. They make the kind where the swirl of foam on top is perfectly patterned.

Then I saunter blithely past the counter of thickly frosted cupcakes, clustered by flavor, just crying out. And settle down to work. OK I lie. Occasionally, I get a cupcake and snarf it down...

 

If your digital steps are delicious enough (are they satisfying to others? provocative? useful?), folks will follow you and subscribe to you and pass around your (delicious) content.

Ultimately, they'll hire you or do business with you. Even now, people are hiring the brightest, the quickest, the smartest for short-term gigs or project work. Make yourself irresistible. Create some delicious content.

... I take that back. I don't gobble it down. I eat it slowly, savoring it bite by bite. And therein lies my epiphany about marketing in a downturn, whether you're a company, an organization or a just-laid-off professional.

Small is the new big

Small is the new big.

A down economy is the new reality.

Smart marketing in a recession is about building relationships. Most folks are not ready to buy - or hire. Everyone is ready to connect. That's the secret of social media marketing.

And social media is proving to be the most powerful and cost-effective way to reach your customers - or a future employer or the next freelance gig - at least for the next 12 to 18 months.

Smart marketing in a recession is about building relationships. Most folks are not ready to buy - or hire. Everyone is ready to connect. That's the secret of social media marketing.

Back to the cupcakes

About the cupcakes...

Everyone loves them. People smile when you say "cupcakes."

They're dense and satisfying. They come in dozens of flavors and colors but they share a common trait: they look like, well, small cakes.

Now imagine you've created a digital trail of them. But they're not cupcakes. They're blog posts, Tweets, Facebook updates, Flickr photos and YouTube videos. 

Make yourself irresistible

Taken all together, these digital bites add up to your digital footprint or your online presence. If your digital steps are delicious enough (are they satisfying to others? provocative? useful?), folks will follow you and subscribe to you and pass around your (delicious) content. Ultimately, they'll hire you or do business with you.

Even now, people are hiring the brightest, the quickest, the smartest for short-term gigs or project work. Make yourself irresistible. Create some delicious content 

That's it for now. I'll keep thinking about this.

Gotta run because I'm meeting someone at Baked & Wired.

Update: yes, I ate a cupcake... love the thick frosting.

 

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Previous Comments

Phil Stratton said on February 26, 2009 at 04:47 PM

Brilliant!

:D

Stephen Denny said on February 26, 2009 at 04:50 PM

Debbie: your cupcake analogy is a good one for marketing in a down economy. Small is the new big, and making it easy for people to say YES is more important than it was a few short months ago.

Ever notice how you would never, ever, possibly think of taking one of those huge glazed donuts that someone just brought into the conference room—but if you cut them all in half, you’d mindlessly eat three of them? (Me neither, of course, but it’s a metaphor - work with me).

Making it easier to say yes - letting customers take smaller, easier steps to get to know you - is important when no one wants to over extend themselves.

Cupcakes. Works for me.

Tom Cuthbert said on February 26, 2009 at 04:54 PM

It is brilliant!  Glad you re-mentioned it :)

Ellen said on February 26, 2009 at 05:00 PM

This is a great analogy.  Something small that really packs a punch is both memorable, and accessible.  It shifts the burden from selling one big thing to a few people, to selling many, many small things to many people.  How does that change your marketing equation?

Melissa said on February 26, 2009 at 05:01 PM

Brilliant ;-). Analogies help to anchor a thought in a picture or a story. And, we’re all trying to create a big flavor with a little footprint. As an aside…when you’re here in Austin for SXSW you should take a picture at “Hey, Cupcake!” (http://www.heycupcake.com/austin_cupcake_story.htm).  To your analogy, a bit of a groundswell around those tasty things her in Austin…

Laurie said on February 26, 2009 at 05:10 PM

Really enjoyed the post. Especially “Most folks are not ready to buy. Everyone is ready to connect.” BUT I am absolutely craving a cupcake and am looking at my salmon and salad :(

Jane W. Meade said on February 26, 2009 at 05:45 PM

The title alone “Digital Cupcakes” conjured up an Image.  The photo was a gift!  And…the article was scrumptious.  What a delightfully visual (and vision imspiring) blog with a delightfully downsized message for the times.

I’ve ReTweeted it and will continue to do so.  Others deserve the Treat!

It’s reall ALL about Feeling Good!

Shashi Bellamkonda said on February 26, 2009 at 11:36 PM

I agree with
“Smart marketing in a recession is about building relationships. Most folks are not ready to buy. Everyone is ready to connect. That’s the secret of social media marketing”

I think even if you are not in recession it applies :) I hope you rank well for the word “cupcakes” brilliant ideas in this post

judy holland said on February 27, 2009 at 05:25 PM

Maybe with a better digital presence in this downturn we could have our cake and eat it too?

David Meerman Scott said on February 27, 2009 at 07:47 PM

Great metaphor. But will this just be for job seekers?

Karen Lotter said on February 28, 2009 at 10:59 PM

It’s not that easy to establish and maintain a solid online reputation, especially for the older generation who were used to network on the golf course and over boozy lunches.

South Africa is just waking up to the power and inevitability of the Web in business and I try to do for my clients exactly what you have described so perfectly.

Thank you Debbie. I am forwarding your post to many people. I hope they will realize that building relationships online is an investment and not just a waste of their “precious” time.

Debbie Weil said on March 1, 2009 at 12:27 PM

Karen, thanks for your kind words. I find it nearly impossible to make this point to those who aren’t ready to listen. “Oh, that online stuff’s not for me,” they say. Maybe they’ll change their minds when their business drops 50% or they lose their job. That’s why it’s called an economic crisis. It’s going to affect all of us one way or another.

Catherine Strecker said on March 2, 2009 at 09:23 AM

Debbie,
Enjoyed reading your blog, especially your sweet analogy!! Through connections people may obtain inspiration and new goals!!
Thank you,
Catherine

Tom Hood said on March 2, 2009 at 11:40 AM

Deb,

Great to se you back in the groove. Loved the post and it inspired my post (you already commented on). I have made the trip to Magnolia Bakery in NYC for the past few years (almost everytime I am up there), so your post remindd me of that - I will have to check out your DC fav. Anyhow, perfect metaphor for your digital footprints!

Tom

Mayank said on March 3, 2009 at 03:24 PM

Brilliant! that’s the right word for this particular post. The analogy is awesome and the take away after reading post is even better.

Liz Wanger said on March 4, 2009 at 10:44 AM

So glad your posting again.  The cupcakes analogy is apt because breaking things down into digestable bites has always been good practice in communications, in business and in dieting.  Time honored approaches that we often lost site of.
Liz

Shanel Evans said on March 4, 2009 at 08:43 PM

I enjoyed this - great cupcake analogy.  Small, bite size, delicious pieces that keeps folks wanting more! Thanks for this!

Dad said on March 7, 2009 at 05:06 PM

I agree with the comments- your piece is provocative and useful- the really useful part is the combination of your analogy with the observation that connecting is what the social media is really all about—always remembering the biases that are built in due to the selectivity in the audience

Jeremy said on June 15, 2009 at 05:16 PM

FINALLY! got around to blogging this. Thanks for the idea.

http://jer979.com/igniting-the-revolution-blog/cupcakes/


About This Blog

I’ve been writing about corporate and CEO blogging and business use of social media for over a decade. I welcome your Comments if they are on topic. I delete them if inappropriate or spammy.

 

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