Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I Coulda Been A Contender!

It is Election year in the United States and candidates faced with shrinking support and dollars are beginning to drop like flies. High profile candidates who seemed promising last year are now out of the race.

As I read the latest list of casualties I realized that for business owners every year is an election year. Political affiliations aside, the now former nominees were filled with hope, and ideas for a new America. They marketed those ideas vigorously finding favor with many people. Yet, in spite of their expertise, talents and marketing their bid for the presidency is now over.

Although each former candidate could list their own reasons for failure, the end result is the same –They lost the race to be in the race. Ouch!

Education, experience and great plans mean nothing when you simply can’t connect with enough people to keep you afloat.

Business owners must stump for votes day in and day out. Thankfully, unlike the nominees, our “voters” can choose more than one front runner. Yet, we still must win them over day after day. And like the candidates, if we fail to connect with enough people, we too will be out of the running.

My own solution is to stay focused on my mission of helping others move their business forward. I have a genuine passion for helping others to give birth to their vision. In order to continue to be a solution I must remain open to always learning, growing and sharing.

What about you, how do you remain relevant to your customers? What do you do to stay in the running?

All the World’s A Stage

My stomach quivered with excitement as I sat riveted by the words spoken by the actors on the stage. However, I was not moved by the performances as much as the thought of the playwright who had written the dialogue now being spoken on this stage.

I leaned in closely to capture the texture, ideas and power in the playwright’s words. Once again, I was my 5 year old self in love with the ability to tell a story.

All these years later (and trust me I am decades past 5!) my fascination and respect for those who write has not diminished. In fact, today I believe I have a greater appreciation for those who dare to inspire, educate, inspire, engage or entertain with their words.

So how does this translate in business? Writing for business is no less powerful. Your audience is (potentially) rapt with attention and you have the power to persuade them to listen to your thoughts, ideas, solutions and passions or you can cause them to leave at intermission.

Well developed characters and tightly woven plotlines will peak their interest and have them on the edge of their seats as they anticipate the next act. And like the playwright you must tell a story that is meaningful to you and will resonate with your audience.

The next time you sit down to write for your business respect the power that your words can have and then write not only from your head but from your heart – your audience will thank you by sticking around for Act 2.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Road to Success is Paved with Giving

I received my weekly e-newsletter from Jeff Crilley, TV Reporter and in it he writes:

“Whether you are having a Starbucks with a potential client or trying to pitch the media a story, it is important to remember--- IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU!

I run into a lot of people who say they are networking. But I have discovered that if you go into any relationship with YOUR goals in the forefront of your mind, you will fail.

Try this the next time you are approaching a member of the media or trying to attract a new client or customer---help them first.”

I could not agree more. I am a huge proponent of AUTHENTICITY in marketing. Authentic according to the dictionary is to be genuine, real, not false or copied. I believe that for your marketing to be authentic you must create real connections with your market. Connections which are only possible when you truly care about their needs and wants.

Are your marketing materials all about YOU? When speaking with potential customers are you more interested in what you can sell them than what they need?

In his newsletter, Jeff quoted one of my favorite Zig Ziglar quotes: “You can have everything in life that you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

Try implementing this simple philosophy into your networking and marketing. I guarantee that if you look for way to help others get what they want your business and life will be richer than ever imagined.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Sexy Text Messages Sink Mayor’s Credibility

It’s been quite a week in Detroit, Michigan. A series of steamy text messages between Detroit Mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick and his Chief of Staff, Christine Beatty were made public. Both the Mayor and Beatty had vehemently denied an affair under oath, during a whistleblower trial last summer.

In the racy text messages Beatty and Kilpatrick had much to say, but since the story broke on Wednesday there has been an eerie silence. Considering that each can be indicted for perjury, one can assume they won’t be texting each other anytime soon.

In our technology driven society we don’t give much thought to what happens to the words we text, IM or post in cyberspace. This case is a chilling reminder that words can come back to haunt you.

When it comes to texting, email and cyber communications there is really no such thing as privacy. Before you press enter, consider how your words will be viewed and more importantly, how would you feel if they were plastered on the front page of a newspaper?

Job seekers are often surprised when I ask about their online identity management. Your Facebook or MySpace profile or comments in forums are discoverable by employers. It’s worthwhile to make sure that like the clothes you wear, your words are presenting the right image.

Should we simply never text or IM? Of course not. We should however practice self restraint. I’m sure that Mayor Kilpatrick and Christine Beatty now wish that they have saved those steamy love messages for in person conversations.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

2008 The Year of the Meltdown?

A scant two weeks into the New Year and the keyword in headlines seems to be meltdown. Hillary Clinton, Miley Cyrus and Paula Abdul have all reportedly had one, and poor Britney has had several. These personal meltdowns are all in addition to the Capital One, subprime mortgage and global meltdown. What’s going on?

Has the year of the DUI given away to meltdowns? Will we now have teary eyed public confessions followed by stints in rehab for meltdowns? Well, count me out. I’m happy and make no apologies for it. Not only am I happy, I’m downright giddy. Take that you negative naysayers!

It’s a brand new year with brand new opportunities. In spite of the writers strike, the wobbly US economy and the continuing mortgage crisis, I’m optimistic.

Tales of meltdowns, break ups and disasters are the normal ups and downs of life. The headlines spouting them are not a trend in meltdowns but a trend in our insatiable demand for negative news.

It seems we North Americans enjoy a good train wreck. We want to look away, we want to bypass those headlines but we just can’t seem to avert our eyes. So we keep getting more of the same.

Business owners have even resorted to courting controversy to capture attention. Can you blame them? It seems the only way to get attention these days is to cash in on the controversial. Negativity has become the new “sex sells.”

I don’t know about you but I’d rather remain upbeat and positive. I want to attract new clients by being, well nice. I probably surf hundreds of blogs each week. There is a great deal of quality content out there. There is a also a dark underbelly. I’ve been to blogs that have more traffic than a Southern California freeway during rush hour, but I cringe when I read the comments.

Readers are not only nasty to the blog author but nasty to others commenting. Many other blogs have managed to really develop a nice community. These blogs have great content and great readers who are kind and supportive. I’ll take that any day even if it means a few less traffic hits.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Social Media Mania

Well, I'm officially on Facebook. I even managed to add a few friends. As a business proposition I am still not sure of the value but I did catch up with a few long lost friends.

Joanna Young, of Confident Writing raised an issue that resonated for me. All of the social media require you to invite people to join you. I can see how easily these invitations can get out of hand.

I have always prided myself on being minimally intrusive. I've been on LinkedIn for awhile and was comfortable inviting people. Then I signed up for StumbleUpon, Digg, and now Facebook, Twitter and others. How do I manage this process so that I am not filling up mailboxes with endless invitations?

It is predicted that the social media space will soon experience some consolidation. However, that does not include "specialty" social media sites which are expected to survive consolidation.

Because social media is still evolving many people like me sign up for multiple services as we seek to find the service that will best meet our needs. As I take the journey I'll share my findings with you. Of course if you have any advice or tips for making the most of the social world, please share your comments.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Hot Trends - Facebook

Well, I finally did it. I took a leap into the social media network and joined Facebook. Moving from observer to participant was actually easier than I anticipated. In the past I simply had not bothered because I did not clearly see how it would help business.

It took one conversation with a search expert to sort it out for me. In a friendly conversation with Jon Rognerud of Microsaw, he enlightened me on the value of Facebook. Jon is nothing short of an expert in the search field. He is the first person who made search understandable for the "common folk" and I trust his advice.

Jon shared an Alexa Movers and Shakers graphic with me via skype that convinced me that this Facebook thing was indeed worth a try. The numbers indicated that in a short period of time Facebook has driven an impressive amount of traffic.

As search traffic grows more competitive and adwords cost prohibitive for many website owners, social media becomes a more interesting platform. And quite frankly one that makes sense. Social media provides an opportunity for you to engage your audience. I realize that in marketing on or off line there is no magic bullet but I'm interested to see how the social space evolves and how I can use it to drive business.

Are you using social media for business marketing? I'd love to hear about your experiences. And if you're a Facebook user look me up and add me as a friend.

Happy Networking!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Give Your Business More Legroom

The other day I braved frigid temperatures to walk the ½ mile to get my mail. I was rewarded with my January copy of Runner’s World. I was tempted to run back to begin reading but was slowed by all of the icy patches.

I peeled off my layers and ran up the stairs to grab green tea and read the latest running news. Just as my toes were thawing out, an ad caught my eye. The ad read:

Dear Runners,

We now have the most legroom in coach.* Perfect for stretching out those sore quads, calves, hamstrings and pinky toes.


jetBlue Airways

Now if you’re thinking, “so what?” allow me to enlighten you. I don’t ever recall seeing a jetBlue ad in Runner’s World. I have every issue since January 2002 so I could actually check…but trust me on this one. If there was an ad it didn’t catch my eye like this one.

The ad was ingenious in its sheer simplicity. It spoke directly to runners. Now I have personally always like jetBlue but when traveling for marathons I’ve settled on any airline that was going. Will I think twice next time? You betcha!

The ad is a beautiful example of how easy it is to create a new niche and expand your brand. jetBlue did not rebuild their planes for runners, they simply leveraged an existing asset to an audience with matching needs. Genius.

What business asset do you have that can be used to target a new audience? Answering that question could very well revitalize your business this year. I’d love to hear your ideas on the subject.

I’m off to stretch those sore quads.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy 2008! Well, here we are in a brand new year, a blank slate waiting to be filled with what I believe will be victories, successes, breakthroughs and joys.

It’s hard for me to believe it’s 2008. I can so vividly remember the start of this new millennium and the Y2K hysteria leading up to it. Before the clock struck midnight, I was pulling money out of the bank, stocking up on canned goods and bottled water and waiting for the massive computer crash that was predicted.

Thanks to careful planning from the tech community, Y2K went off with barely a glitch.

I’m pleased to say that the dawn of 2008 was not filled with any angst, only joyful anticipation. It’s a year that is fresh, new and filled with possibilities. We begin the year with another 12 months of wisdom and life lessons to help guide the way. The challenges and victories of 2007 continue to feed us with knowledge. As we look back we know what to do to continue moving forward.

As you look back over 2007, assess what went well. What were the positive things that you did that contributed to your business? How can you increase that in 2008? Are there systems or processes that will help you? Focus on the positive and resolve to do more of it to get even greater results in 2008.

Who were your best customers in 2007? Increase your efforts to your best customers; let them know how much you value their business. Why are they your best customers? Identify the common traits to refine your ideal client profile. You can then use that information to target more customers just like them.

What marketing channels worked well for you in 2007? Do more in 2008. Even in downturns the companies that are consistent in their marketing efforts, increase their market share.

What was the greatest thing that happened in your business last year? Use that great success to set an even bigger goal. Set a goal that scares you and then break it into smaller goals that can be attained throughout the year. Keep challenging your business and yourself. You are only limited by your own beliefs.

I look forward to celebrating your successes in 2008.