Getting To Know…@mikeschmitt

This week’s “Getting to Know” features Mike Schmitt.  I first met Mike through Twitter and have come to appreciate his selfless and humble attitude.  If there was ever someone to model what Jesus Christ might be like today, it’s him.  What he does with CommuniD BBQ is amazing.  I asked Mike to share what CommuniD BBQ are meant for:

CommuniD BBQs happen every Saturday in Detroit and once a month in Flint and Mt. Clemens. They are put together by an organic network of churches, community groups and individuals from across Southeast Michigan called elevate Detroit. At CommuniD BBQs anyone is welcome to come as we share an afternoon and a meal together. It is not an opportunity to volunteer or to go “love on people”. It is a chance to share love with others and allow them to share love with you. It is an opportunity for people from all walks of life to come together, get to know each other and be people together.  We are all beautiful images of a creator God.

The video below (originally shared on Dan Sadlier’s blog) show’s Mike in action.

Mike was also kind enough to answer my questions and I am so glad he did!

Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
From my past: Mom. As she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, her husband and my dad of 25 years left her and our family. As literally our world and lives fell apart, she never questioned God’s goodness and never lost her joy. Her faith, trust and love for Him was inspiring to myself as well as everyone who knew her. As a testimony to her faithfulness, there were hundreds of people at her funeral and the procession went on for over a mile and a half.

Currently: Tony Stallwarth. There is a video called Homeless Karaoke (www.homelesskaraoke.com). The way Tony talks about people in that video has strongly shaped the way CommuniD BBQs have been formed since almost day one.  I have had the chance to meet and talk with him a couple times now. His vision of the Kingdom and love of people is inspiring and transforming.

Guilty dessert pleasure?
Crème brûlée. But there is no guilt in anything that good. It simply must be heavenly.

What is one piece of advice you would give someone?
Don’t spit into the wind. And if you want to change the world, you won’t.  But what you can do is change the world for one person at a time.  Together, if we all do what we can, the world will be a very different place.

If you want to keep up with what Mike is doing, you can follow him on Twitter at @mikeschmitt.  Check out his blog, Shoes For The Hopeless, and if you want to follow what is going on with CommuniD BBQ, check out the Elevate blog and “like” the Elevate Facebook page!

I’d like to leave you with these verses from 1 John 3: 16-18:

We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us.  So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.  If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?  Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.

Now that you’ve read that, think about Mike.  He lives out God’s love every day.  Get to know Mike.

INVITATION: The Once and Future King

Christmas is nearly hear!  Can you believe it?

Like many of you, I’m sure you traditionally attended some type of church service to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  Well this year, if you don’t have that “place” to go to, I’d like to invite you to a unique Christmas experience from Kensington Community Church!  This week, Kensington will be streaming live one of its Christmas services ONLINE!

The birth of Jesus Christ is a celebration…one that can and should grow into a more than once a year event.  So if you haven’t been to church in a while, why not take this opportunity to reacquaint yourself with God and see what you’ve been missing!  For a sneak peak at what’s in store for you, check out the trailer below.

Here are the details:

We’d love to have you join us online!  If you have friends and family that would like to join you, then help spread the word!  RSVP to the Facebook event HERE and invite others!  If you’re on Twitter and chatting online, use #kccbackstage so you can see what other people are saying!

OK.  Why would you want to do this?

  1. You used to go to Kensington and you miss it so much!
  2. You don’t want your friends to know you went to church…this is a good way to hide it!
  3. No pressure from us!  Kensington is providing you with an opportunity to experience Christmas and Jesus Christ in a unique way.  I pray that you accept the invitation.

I think those are 3 pretty good reasons!  And honestly, why wouldn’t you want to watch?  Seriously though, if you don’t go to church, don’t believe in God, are skeptical…whatever the reason, I encourage you to just check this out this week.  It’s a worthwhile 90 minutes that could potentially impact you for a lifetime.

Merry Christmas everyone!  I’ll see you online!

Detroit Reverse Kicks Off This Week! (VID)

As I was getting ready mentally to start my work week, I started thinking about Detroit Reverse.  It’s hard to believe that this event starts tomorrow!  You’ve heard Bryan Willmert and I talk about this before and what I really want you to get out of my message below is to get involved.  Change doesn’t happen without action.  Now is the time to act.  There are many opportunities to volunteer to help make this event a success for the students participating this week.  I encourage you to check them out and see first hand what Detroit Reverse will do to change the lives of the people participating in it.

“Cultural Divide”

DetroitReverse on Facebook and Twitter

www.detroitreverse.com

The Secret Sauce Isn’t A Big Secret

As companies continue to “test and learn” and do research on what makes a successful corporate brand page on Facebook, I’m here to tell you that I think I have the “secret sauce”.  However, before I reveal the secret, let’s first go back to when we began to use this tool which has grown to 500 million users.  Why did you jump on the Facebook bandwagon?  What was its appeal?  The most common answer I’ve heard from people was the ability to connect with friends and family.  Facebook provided us with a platform to instantly find out what was going on in the lives of people in our lives and re-connect with people we hadn’t heard from in a long time.

So what is the best strategy for a brand or company to use when managing an online community?  Go back to why we all joined Facebook in the first place.  It was to connect with people.  Now take this same strategy for your personal Facebook page and apply it to your corporate page and see what happens.  If you want to know what the people that “like” your brand want to see on a page, ask them and start a conversation.  If you want to encourage your fans to upload pictures with your product, ask them and start a conversation.  I think you get the idea.

What I am trying to provide is perspective.   If you have participated in this space long enough, most people would say that Facebook, and all the social tools for that matter, provide the platform to have real time conversation with people.  I just watched a DVD tonight that talked about peoples need to be in relationship or in community with one another.  Being in a community allows for trust to grow.  For companies, if you are trying to sell something, your customers need to trust you.  Once a company has established trust, you now have an individual (a.k.a. customer) that believes in your brand and what it stands for.

There you have it…the secret sauce.  If you really think about why you joined Facebook, it’s not really a secret.  Is it?

What Do You Know? Share it!

Something has been on my mind lately.  Well a lot of things have been on my mind but I’ll write about one of those things today.  It’s the idea of sharing, particularly with the social web.

Many of the people I interact with in this space all agree on what we, as users who are passionate about the web, need to be focusing on:  educating,  teaching, sharing information.  For many companies, they are still trying to figure out how Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the like can help business and engage consumers.

I was having a conversation with Shannon Paul last night at a TweetUp for Jeff Pulver‘s 140 Conference in Detroit.  She was telling me about an idea that she had to bring downtown companies together and really begin educating everyone about how the internet and the social web can help businesses.  This is a blossoming idea…hopefully more to share on that later.

On another occasion, Jason Falls was presenting to some folks at GM and he gave us his strategy for Twitter, “Share good (stuff).”

I’m amazed at the quality of people that I’ve been able to meet because of Twitter.  Each and every one wants to make a difference and educate others.  For those of us that make a living in this space, I encourage all of you to continue with that mindset and share the good stuff.  We all know that the internet isn’t a fad.  It’s going to continue to evolve the way we communicate with each other.  We have an opportunity to continue educate people and companies and build community.

In this spirit, I wanted to remind of you what’s happening in Detroit on October 20.  The 140 Conference will be happening at The Fillmore Theatre.  This conference has the opportunity to make a lasting impact on this community.  What is the story you want to tell?  Do you know someone who has a great story?  This conference has been about how the web has promoted change for good and made a difference.  If you already have experiences on how the social web has helped you or if you’re just remotely curious, register today!  A lot can be learned at this one day event.

What do you know?  How are you going to share it?  Have a great weekend everyone!

UPDATE: I just saw that my friend Dave Murray just posted this on his blog…dare I say great minds think alike?

Turning Vision Into Action

Happy Friday everyone!  It’s hard to believe we are half way through 2010!  Good thing for me, this time of the year usually signals a vacation and I’m so ready!

Anyway, in today’s post, I wanted to give you a quick update on something I talked about a couple of months ago, Detroit Reverse.  If you recall, from August 2 – 6, 500 students and leaders from the City and Suburbs will converge on the campus of Wayne State University.  They will stay in the dorms “with the goal of identifying destructive systems in our culture and building relationships that will fight against them.”

The vision for year one of Detroit Reverse is to build and grow relationships between 2 areas of southeast Michigan that have traditionally been at odds and made assumptions about one another.  The long term vision hopes this can grow into multiple locations over the next 5 years and truly having an impact on the community and the region.

Imagine just how impactful this will be.  500 people united and passionate about something and driving change in a region desperate for it.  Who knows, maybe this might have an impact on my Detroit Lions too!

Now how do you turn vision into action?  Well you can certainly help.  Sponsors are needed to help support our students financially.  It costs $149 per student to experience Reverse.  You can participate by donating online at the Detroit Reverse website.  Please consider helping out this group students by investing in their future.

“Like” Detroit Reverse on Facebook

Follow Detroit Reverse on Twitter

Have a great 4th of July and let’s celebrate our freedom to make an impact.

4 Opportunities for Buick and GMC

I’ve been sitting on this one for a while but finally decided (after some encouragement from my friend Gini Dietrich, a.k.a. Wonder Woman) to put my ideas out there.  I’ve talked a lot about why I think the social web is important.  Now I want to give some practical ways I believe large companies (like mine) can benefit from the social tools and begin to build their community.

There is a huge opportunity to truly interact with our customers through the tools that are now commonplace with most other companies.  Last month, I blogged about how important the customer was and posted a video from the Saturn Homecoming.  Today’s post expands on that.  These are 4 strategies that I’d love to see implemented at Buick and GMC.

1. Develop a loyalty rewards program
I believe Loyalty Reward programs have tremendous value.  Think about how many people wanted to rack up their airline miles for free tickets?  I’d take this to a different level for us.  I’d establish a Buick and GMC Loyalty Rewards program for owners.  Once you buy a vehicle from us, we reward you with a baseline amount of points.  These points can be used for discounted subscriptions for OnStar and XM.  What about using the points to attend special events sponsored by Buick and GMC?  Additional points can be earned when purchasing accessories or doing regular maintenance at a Buick and GMC dealer.  Why not reward someone for making a major purchase decision in your favor?

2. Interact with the 47,000 Facebook “likes”
Humanize your brand.  Give it a personality.  Develop a community and an environment people can interact with people.  For one thing, I’d showcase some of our employees.  Who is the face behind the all new Buick Regal?  What do you want to know about the Marketing Manager for the GMC Terrain?  (Ford recently did this with Explorer.)  I believe this would change some of the perceptions that currently exist about our company and the type of consumers we attract if they got to know the employees behind the logos.

What about showcasing the people that bought our products?  Facebook is really their forum.  As a marketer, I want to know who bought from us.  Encourage new owners to post pictures with their new Buick LaCrosse or their GMC Sierra and give us a comment as to why they love it and share their story!

3. Start a Corporate Blog
This idea started swirling around my head after I read this post from Social Media Examiner.  It talks about the influence blogs can have in search rankings.

  1. Adds naturally occurring, keyword-rich pages.
  2. Increases the potential for incoming links from high-quality websites.

A blog is one of the best ways to continually add pages to a website that generate relevant and reputable links.

If you want more reasons to do a corporate blog, Ted Defren just published this post on his blog.  In short:

  1. Blogging gives your company a voice
  2. Blogs are better place to direct people than your corporate website
  3. Blogging enforces respectfulness
  4. Blogging is timeless
  5. Blogging enforces content creation

Another reason to start a corporate blog is to further give the company a personality and build our consumer community.  Is there content that we could offer that talks about things other than the vehicles we sell?  Could it be social causes?  What about biographies of our leadership or employees?

4. Foursquare
Location based services are the current rage.  Foursquare is offering window clings to companies like Whole Foods to display so customers will check in and learn about special offers these stores offer.  Why not take this same approach to our dealerships or locations where we have sponsored events?  This could tie back in to the Loyalty Reward program I mentioned above!

The final thing I’ll leave you with is this.  Joseph Jaffe talks a lot about customer service in his book, Flip the Funnel.  Last night, I came across this quote as I was reading his book:

Customer service is a front-office strategic imperative that belongs at the same table as strategic planning, marketing communications, branding and advertising.

I’d replace “Customer Service” with “Customer Experience”.  Either way, this needs a seat at the strategic planning table.  This is where leadership buys in to the plan and is willing to invest in it.  With the web as a platform for consumers to get their voices heard quickly, you need to make the investment in money and man power to participate in this conversation.

By no means are these ideas “new”, but they may be “new” to my industry.  I just see these as great opportunities to integrate into our traditional marketing efforts.  What do you think?  Would this work for you as a consumer?