September 25, 2018

Are You Turning People Off With Your Marketing?


Do you, like me, cringe if someone points out something about your marketing they don't like? Recent chats with other marketers have me realizing... I don't get enough complaints.

How are complaints useful?

Disqualifying prospects: If complaints are from people who aren't in your target market, you might be doing something right, rather than wrong. Don't water down your message to try to appeal to everyone or it will resonate with no one.

Differentiation: Thinking about "the opposite of" or what something is NOT is extremely helpful in developing your marketing messages. Recently, when receiving feedback from friends about a landing page I have under development, the "negative" comments specifically led me to think about what my new program is not. And listing what my program is not has helped me to focus in on why it's different.

Feedback: Complaints are just one form of feedback - and like all feedback, should be evaluated for their merit. ALL feedback is useful in some way - and sometimes it can verify that what you've been doing is right.

No one likes to hear complaints, but we can turn them around into useful lessons... it just requires a different perspective.

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Originally published in the Work Better, Not Harder newsletter September 25, 2018

September 18, 2018

3 Ways Having a Social Media Strategy Will Save You Time


Guest post by Anita Kirkbride

Have you ever noticed how being overwhelmed by something tends to make it suck the time right out of your day? The more overwhelmed you feel, the longer it takes to get it done? All entrepreneurs get that feeling about something and many have learned tactics to deal with it and get things done more efficiently.

Ben Franklin famously said, “For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned,” and it has never been truer than for planning your social media marketing!

If your paralysis stems from social media, the best way to get moving is to create a social media strategy and plan out what you need to be doing. Here are three ways doing so will save you time:

Knowing what to post

Simply having a plan for what you need to post each day cuts the time you spend trying to figure that out. If you’ve ever stared blankly at your screen, wondering what to post on Facebook, you know what I mean. Taking the time to plan your content in advance means you cut out a lot of the noise that distracts you while trying to decide what to post. You know what you need to find/create and you can get right to it.

Knowing when and where to post

Part of the process of developing your social media strategy is determining on which networks you should focus your efforts. A little research time goes a long way. Asking your current, ideal customers which networks they hang out on regularly is one way to find out where you should be. There are also lots of great online sources of demographic information to help you if you’re new to social media. Taking the time to really understand your audience will save you from trying to create content for too many networks, wasting precious resources on the wrong ones, and understanding your audience better can help you optimize your posting schedule.

Committing to Content

There are numerous formats your social media content can take, from blogs to white papers, from photos to live videos. Trying to do everything contributes to that overwhelm feeling. Ask yourself which types of content you can honestly commit to making on a regular basis and add those to your plan. If you simply cannot create videos, there is no point in overwhelming yourself with a plan that includes a video every week. You’ll continue to procrastinate and get nothing done. Choose the types of content that work best for you and your audience and work your way up to the less comfortable ones later.

When making any kind of decision in business, eliminating the distracting ideas that simply won’t work, saves you time and helps you make better decisions. Absolutely spend some time brainstorming, researching and considering all the possibilities but then narrow it down to what you reasonably have the time, resources and capacity to commit to doing. Once you’ve done that, your social media marketing will come much easier, take less time and start to become routine.

Photo credit: Shari Tucker

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September 14, 2018

Are You Having a Conversation or Giving a Lecture?


Guest post by Frances Leary

Every business of every size needs a platform that gives it a voice. Social media is just that. It gives every organization, large and small, a voice to share its information, inspiration, products, and services with the world.

However, if businesses are only listening to their own voices, it’s like giving a sermon. People can only listen to a sermon for so long. Eventually, they don’t want to listen anymore.

Imagine this scenario:

You’ve been told you need to “be on social media.” So, you find some content to post and you use an automation tool to get it out there consistently. And then to yourself, you say, “Whew, that’s done. Now I don’t have to deal with social media for a while.”

The result?

There you are, standing behind your online lectern, giving an unending sermon to an audience of your very-soon-to-be-disengaged potential customers and clients. You just keep on talking. Eventually, they stop listening. It’s like giving a lecture to an empty auditorium.

People don’t engage on social media to be lectured. They engage on social media because they want to connect with people. And when it comes to business, people want to do business with people. They want to share thoughts and ideas and be inspired. They want to build relationships with organizations and leaders they trust.

They want to feel like they know who you really are. They want to feel heard and valued and understood.

However, if you’re only giving lectures then you’re not giving your customers and clients what they need.

If you don’t actually want to engage with the people – to have those conversations, to respond to comments and questions from your audience, to provide supportive customer engagement in order to foster those relationships – then what are you really doing on social media in the first place?

Business development is a two-way conversation. So is social media. So, step away from the lectern, and have the conversations.

Action: Look at your social media feeds and notice how much you’re posting and how much you are commenting on and engaging with others. If you’re mostly just posting your own content, make a point to scroll through your followers’ posts and comments. See what they’re up to, and allow yourself to absorb the potential for using social media to lift up those members of your audience and support them. Look for opportunities to engage with your community, and act.

Adapted from a chapter of 101 Ways to Use Social Media to Do Good by Frances Leary.

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Frances Leary is an award-winning entrepreneur, author, speaker, consultant, and president of online communications firm Wired Flare Inc., a certified B Corporation and two-time Best for the World Honoree in five categories. As an expert in digital storytelling and impact-driven communication, Frances has worked with organizations throughout North America to connect them with customers, partners and communities through compelling story. A digital shepherd, she offers training and consulting to empower impact-driven entrepreneurs and organizations to grow their triple bottom line. Frances speaks internationally, championing big ideas and empowering change, and she is the author of the newly released book, 101 Ways to Use Social Media to Do Good. Learn more about Frances at FrancesLeary.com 

September 10, 2018

How to Share Yourself Through Your Content


Are you a learner? Share your learning.

Are you a teacher? Share what you teach.

Are you an experimenter? Share what you discover.

Are you thoughtful? Share your conclusions.

Are you an artist? Share your art.

Are you a shopper? Share your style.

Are you a conversationalist? Share the latest news.

Are you a planner? Share your plans.

Are you a storyteller? Share your stories.

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September 5, 2018

Oh, The Embarrassment! (And The Engagement)


You know that feeling when you're talking to a group of people, quite passionate about the topic, and suddenly your brain resets? You have no idea what you were about to say. Total blank. Especially when it happens in front of a class or on a live broadcast, you feel an immediate flush of embarrassment and confusion. I know it well.

What to do? Own up and share your predicament. Everyone messes up at one time or another. What you'll discover is that people will rush to help you recover, to rescue you. (Dare I say Canadians are particularly good at this?) Suddenly, whatever you were talking about has become a shared experience, not just a discussion.

I was reminded of this embarrassment factor while watching a Facebook Live where my friend and colleague, Anita Kirkbride, momentarily lost her focus... and gracefully recovered. Later in the discussion, she talked about how the fear of embarrassment shouldn't keep us from doing our own social media marketing.

Embarrassment happens to everyone. And so it can be an engaging shared experience wherever it happens - online or off.

As an aside, if you're teaching a class when this happens, it turns out to be a great way to review the discussion up to that point. This I know from experience.

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September 1, 2018

Brainstorming by Email


Long ago and far away, when I worked for a multinational, sometimes I brainstormed with my team by email. I was working in Georgetown ON and had staff in Toronto, Regina and Abbotsford. Email was fairly new back then, and a welcome alternative to scheduling group conference calls across the time zones.

I could start with a discussion question sent to the customer service reps, asking them to add comments and send onto the production planners. The planners would give their input and send it on to the warehouse staff. Eventually, I'd get back an email that loosely mapped out a process. I've never used email so productively since.

Now, I don't have staff but I still have a team. And I'm usually brainstorming ideas, not processes. Here's the funny thing, I can sit by myself and scratch notes on paper... and get overwhelmed with ideas. So I start writing an email to my cohorts explaining and asking for feedback. And through that process, I often find clarity - without ever sending the email!

My trusted advisors work for me even when they don't realize it. And I've discovered a powerful way to use email - even when the email is never sent.

Many small business owners work alone. Having trusted advisors is critical but they aren't always available at, say 1am on a Saturday. I start a conversation anyway and often find answers - with their unknowing help - while they're sleeping.

Sometimes the act of writing an email - explaining my dilemma - is enough to get the creative juices flowing again. The next time you're feeling stuck in the middle of the night, give this a try.

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