AUDIO INTERVIEW ON CONFIDENTLY EXPRESSING YOUR PERSONAL BRAND

When we talk about personal branding, it’s critically important to deliver your brand confidently….but that’s not always easy. I have seen CEOs, corporate leaders, and successful entrepreneurs struggle with this issue. Many times, while there is the outward appearance of success, the inner monologue playing in people’s heads is quite different.

I had the opportunity to interview a special guest from “across the pond” to talk about how you can quiet those fears and build confidence so that you can do the work you were meant to do.

PaTrisha-Anne is a motivational speaker and author of 7 Powerful Steps To Success; The Roadmap To Change Your Life Forever, along with several other books, including the Life and Business by Design Series She also created the ‘Six Step Coaching Model’ coaching programs used by entrepreneurs and coaches around the world.

After you listen to this audio interview, you can connect with PaTrisha-Anne at: www.CoachingLeadsToSuccess.com

 

I’d love to hear your comments about the interview!

KEEPING TOP-OF-MIND WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS

Written by Rahna Barthelmess originally for Southworth Blog

No matter what business you are in, you need to purposefully, thoughtfully and carefully plan out ways to stay top-of-mind with your customer base. If you sell consumer packaged goods, you are likely to use television advertising to let people know about your great product. If you are a retailer, you might use radio or newspaper to remind people to come to your store. But if you are a small business owner, how do you choose the right media for your business?

Knowing your customers’ behaviors will help you choose the right media.

What do they do? How do they spend their day? What does a day in the life of your customer look like?

What TV shows do they watch and when do they watch them? Do they read books, newspapers, magazines, blogs? Do they spend time online? Where? Are they involved in online communities like Facebook or MySpace? Which email service do they use? Which search engine? Are they a part of a group, i.e., a book club, association, woman’s group, church, charitable organization, country club? Do they listen to the radio? Podcasts? Are they creating content for YouTube? With respect to your industry, what do they buy or use or create right now?

Understanding where they live and what they do on a day-to-day basis will help you in choosing the right media.

The key to marketing is to speak to the right person at the right time with the right message…simple, but not easy. Ideally, you would only need to advertise right when you know your customers are looking for what you have to offer. If you sell pumpkins for Halloween or Easter baskets in the spring, your timeframes for staying top-of-mind are much more targeted. But for most small businesses, you need to be out there talking about what you have to offer consistently, because you never know when someone is going to need your services.

That’s why I recommend developing different tactics for your marketing plan. You will want to mix it up a bit, using many different media to keep in touch with your customers. If you are a small business that sells business-to-business, it may be as simple as writing an email, then following up with a phone call, then sending them a letter, then commenting on something they said in social media (perhaps a comment on their blog or a re-tweet of their twitter posting) You can meet them at a trade show, send them a direct mail piece, schedule a meeting with them, then send another email, and then another letter. As you vary the approach, you will learn which forms of communication work best (or you will learn which to avoid in future!). It may be that the variety itself is what draws them in. You keep their interest by your variety of communication.

In all these communications, your goal should be to build engagement in a way that matches your brand statement. If you send an email, make sure that it is clear and concise and free of typos. If you make a phone call, be animated, respectful of their time, and have something important to say. If you send them a letter, you’ll want to make sure it is a personalized note on high-quality stationery that speaks to their critical business issues.

Make sure that your communications are relevant to them and speak to them about topics that matter to them. If you end up talking about your products/services, make sure to do it in a way that highlights how it helps them. Highlight blogs or articles you think might be of interest to them. This shows that you care about them and their business (and that you can become a trusted partner because you understand their world).

In today’s world, there is no excuse for not reaching out to your customers on a regular basis. Whether it’s an old-school tactic that always brings results, or a new digital technology that allows you to track your customer’s initial evaluation of your website, or a sophisticated affiliate marketing program, there are a myriad of ways to communicate. Which ones work best for you and why?

 

KEEPING TOP-OF-MIND WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS

Written by Rahna Barthelmess originally for Southworth Blog

No matter what business you are in, you need to purposefully, thoughtfully and carefully plan out ways to stay top-of-mind with your customer base. If you sell consumer packaged goods, you are likely to use television advertising to let people know about your great product. If you are a retailer, you might use radio or newspaper to remind people to come to your store. But if you are a small business owner, how do you choose the right media for your business?

Knowing your customers’ behaviors will help you choose the right media.

What do they do? How do they spend their day? What does a day in the life of your customer look like?

What TV shows do they watch and when do they watch them? Do they read books, newspapers, magazines, blogs? Do they spend time online? Where? Are they involved in online communities like Facebook or MySpace? Which email service do they use? Which search engine? Are they a part of a group, i.e., a book club, association, woman’s group, church, charitable organization, country club? Do they listen to the radio? Podcasts? Are they creating content for YouTube? With respect to your industry, what do they buy or use or create right now?

Understanding where they live and what they do on a day-to-day basis will help you in choosing the right media.

The key to marketing is to speak to the right person at the right time with the right message…simple, but not easy. Ideally, you would only need to advertise right when you know your customers are looking for what you have to offer. If you sell pumpkins for Halloween or Easter baskets in the spring, your timeframes for staying top-of-mind are much more targeted. But for most small businesses, you need to be out there talking about what you have to offer consistently, because you never know when someone is going to need your services.

That’s why I recommend developing different tactics for your marketing plan. You will want to mix it up a bit, using many different media to keep in touch with your customers. If you are a small business that sells business-to-business, it may be as simple as writing an email, then following up with a phone call, then sending them a letter, then commenting on something they said in social media (perhaps a comment on their blog or a re-tweet of their twitter posting) You can meet them at a trade show, send them a direct mail piece, schedule a meeting with them, then send another email, and then another letter. As you vary the approach, you will learn which forms of communication work best (or you will learn which to avoid in future!). It may be that the variety itself is what draws them in. You keep their interest by your variety of communication.

In all these communications, your goal should be to build engagement in a way that matches your brand statement. If you send an email, make sure that it is clear and concise and free of typos. If you make a phone call, be animated, respectful of their time, and have something important to say. If you send them a letter, you’ll want to make sure it is a personalized note on high-quality stationery that speaks to their critical business issues.

Make sure that your communications are relevant to them and speak to them about topics that matter to them. If you end up talking about your products/services, make sure to do it in a way that highlights how it helps them. Highlight blogs or articles you think might be of interest to them. This shows that you care about them and their business (and that you can become a trusted partner because you understand their world).

In today’s world, there is no excuse for not reaching out to your customers on a regular basis. Whether it’s an old-school tactic that always brings results, or a new digital technology that allows you to track your customer’s initial evaluation of your website, or a sophisticated affiliate marketing program, there are a myriad of ways to communicate. Which ones work best for you and why?

TOP TEN TIPS FOR ORGANIZING A FLASH MOB

shopping-562617_960_720Caroling has been a Christmastime tradition for hundreds of years and, like everything else, it has evolved with the times. Last week, I went to a mall with twenty-some other singers to sing The Carol of the Bells to anyone who happened to be in the food court that evening. It lasted less than two minutes, was very fun to do, and was extremely educational.

Earlier this month, in Feeding Hills, Massachusetts, I performed with my children and a bunch of other teens and adults in the Red Door community theater Christmas Show, harmonizing with over fifty other voices to ring in the season. Ever the marketer, I wanted to help the theater get some publicity for their fantastic programs, so I had this great idea that we should do a ‘flash mob.’ A flash mob is when seemingly random people get together to sing a song or start to dance. When the song is over, everyone disperses, as if it were just another normal activity of their day. YouTube is full of lots of examples that are great fun to watch.

My thought was to give the kids something fun to do, delight the unsuspecting shoppers, provide some buzz for the mall and provide content for the local news station. I am a huge proponent of “win-win” scenarios. It wouldn’t take much time, we already had the voices, and it could provide some exposure for the theater program.

But I learned that nothing is ever as easy as it seems. The goal of this blog is to provide inspiration, tips and ideas for marketing your product, service, company or personal brand, so to that end, I offer these:

A Commentary on Our Society
and Top Ten Tips for Organizing a Flash Mob

  1. When you are coordinating something ‘cross-generational,’ allow three times as much time for communication. During rehearsals for the Christmas show, I explained my idea to the cast and asked for email addresses so that I could coordinate the best time and date to actually do the flash mob. Everyone was eager to participate, but communication has splintered beyond belief. Some teens said they didn’t really use their email; they prefer Facebook. Others said, “Just text me.” The younger teens didn’t have an email address yet, so they gave their home phone numbers. For those under 12 years old, I got some of the parent’s emails (and some of those home-schooling moms said that they never check their emails even though they have it). Sigh. I was reminded of the splintering of TV when cable exploded in the late 80’s and early 90’s. You could no longer consider a TV buy “solid” if you only bought ABC, NBC, and CBS. You really had to round it out with a cable buy to hit more of your target audience. If you are in marketing today, you MUST consider all forms of communications as viable for review. If your agency recommends a Facebook campaign, you better listen. If you don’t have a mobile campaign, you really should consider it.
  2. Technology can only help you if people actually use the technology. This tip is related to #1. In order to coordinate the best times and dates and make sure that we had enough of each part (sopranos, altos, tenors and bass as well), I considered several different event-planning options (Facebook and others) and decided to set up a www.surveymonkey.com survey to find out which day would be best. I sent an email to all the addresses I had and got a 25% response rate from the group. I’m certain that some people didn’t even realize that they were to click on the link and vote for their top dates/times.
  3. Don’t tell anyone. I mean, ANYONE. I thought that the mall might appreciate coordinating the event ahead of time, but in my research, I discovered that if you tell the mall in advance, they will be required to have you take out $1 Million insurance policy, in case someone should get hurt. I’m not kidding. $1 Million! But if you don’t tell them, you can just go and sing or dance and create a fun event. This is why I did not end up calling the local news station to see if they wanted to be there; what if someone sprained their vocal chords!?
  4. Don’t offer it to anyone. We needed a place to meet just before we were going to sing—someplace other than the mall. Because it is winter and twenty degrees where we live, I thought perhaps we could meet at a large mattress store nearby that has large open space but would be warmer than a parking lot. When I called the local manager to ask if he would be willing to have us meet there and sing a song for his customers, he told me I had to get approval from corporate. Really? Whatever happened to “empowering your employees?” Sigh again. Needless to say, we didn’t end up meeting there; we met in the parking lot of a bookstore instead.
  5. Use what you’ve got. We did not have to practice the song or spend a great deal of time coordinating the four-part harmonies because we had already practiced and performed it many times.
  6. The bigger the venue, the more voices you need. I was concerned about how many cast members would be able to participate on a school night, so I suggested that perhaps we should go to a grocery store instead of a huge mall. The feedback I got was that this was not cool or fun, so “let’s just stick with the mall.” In hindsight, it would have been more impactful to do this at one of those “big box” bookstores which, even in the height of the Christmas shopping season, still carries the aura of a hushed library. That would have been much more impactful.
  7. LOGO_-_2_inch_X_2inch_copyIt should last longer than two minutes. We thought about doing two songs but in the end decided to only do one song (that’s the “flash” in “flash mob”). It went too quickly and people wanted more. If you listen closely, you’ll hear someone say, “Don’t go away!” Next time, I would vote for more than one song.
  8. The video should be close. The acoustics of a mall are not the same as a theater, and while we wanted to get everyone in the video, it’s not the best recording.
  9. Don’t give up. There was a point at which I asked myself, “why am I putting so much energy into organizing something that nobody really cares about and for which someone might sue me for anyway?” It was supposed to be simple and it had gotten so complicated! I almost said, “just forget it.” I’m glad that I didn’t, because it was fun to do. While I would streamline the planning of it, I would definitely do it again. (And BTW, if you have the privilege of witnessing a flash mob, please appreciate the effort and coordination that went into that.)
  10. Consider it an unexpected gift to others. After it was over, one of the moms wandered into Brookstones, and this guy came in and asked the clerk what just happened. She told him she didn’t know, and he said you must know. “It must have been planned,” he said. She said again she didn’t know and he said,” They were all just sitting around eating and then they started to sing LIKE THAT (he meant well) and then they all just wandered away!”

BONUS TIP! Most important — Have fun! If you have an opportunity to, go caroling this holiday season (either as a flash mob or in the old-fashioned way, door to door). Singing is joyous, and it should be fun.

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HOW ARE YOU CREATING BRAND RELEVANCE?

Sun-Life-FinancialSun Life Financial is a fairly unknown insurance company that has been around for 144 years. They have recently launched a campaign to expand their exposure, using humor to try to build relevancy with consumers. There are some very funny ads about “the Sun Life guys,” two company advocates who are traveling the country to try to convince various people to change their names to somehow include “Sun Life.” It’s a really fun campaign that executes on some very strong branding principles: You can check out their ads here.

The campaign is creating relevancy where none existed before. Among other things, the two guys try to convince the Florida tourism board to change its name from the “Sunshine State” to the “Sun Life State” and to convince KC and the Sunshine Band to “KC and the Sun Life Band.”

Humor works well here, because insurance is boring and an unbelievably low-interest category. By aligning themselves with something totally random they are building relevancy with their audience. It doesn’t matter that they are not talking about how stable the company is or how secure their holdings are (although they do manage to weave those solid points in to the commercials in the end). Their strategy is to build awareness, and that’s what this campaign does.

There is also a social media campaign that is closely tied to the commercials which shows more places where the they have tried to convince others to alter their names. They are very consistent in the execution of this campaign, which has video, digital and print that is all reinforcing their primary strategic messages. You can check out the campaign particulars at the Get To Know Sun Life website.

Last week, I conducted a training session for their employees to inspire them to think differently about their personal brands. This is a company that is in the process of strengthening its corporate brand and felt that it is important invest in its people, to help them strengthen their personal brands. There was a wide range of titles, responsibilities and experience levels in the room, but everyone walked away thinking more clearly about how they can express their brands more fully in their jobs.

So in looking at your personal brand, how are you creating brand relevance with your desired audience? Look for ways that may, at face value, be totally random and impossible, but may in fact make strong strategic sense. Build rapport and commonalities to help further a desired relationship with a desired client.

And don’t think for a moment that if you are in a corporate staff position that you do not need to think about this! We all have clients. They may be internal clients, a boss or another department that we serve. Look to build relevancy and points of commonality in order to strethen your brand!

I WANT TO HEAR YOUR STORY

If you have ever heard me talk at a speaking event, then you know something about the passion I have for my topic. So this summer I have been working on writing a book, pouring my passion into the pages of the soon-to-be-released personal branding book that has a working title of Turbo-Charge Your Career. I’m so excited to be able to have a new way to share this information with you. Whenever I give a personal branding talk, invariably someone comes up to me at the end and says, “Where’s your book?” And now I can say, “It’s coming!”

I have been working on a draft of all the principles that I talk about, but I want more. I want to know how the information I share has impacted your life. If something that I said influenced your business, your job, or your career, I want to know about it. Please let me know how gaining a greater understanding of your personal brand has helped you, and you could end up in my book!

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“EVERYBODY’S MEDIA”

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Here’s a bit of commentary on our highly-networked social media world:

In an interview leading up to this weekend’s golf tournament, this year’s Masters’ champion Phil Mickelson was asked about a Krispy Kreme incident that happened on Monday after winning the coveted green jacket. Phil pulled up to the drive-thru window in his Masters’ jacket (“it was kinda chilly out, so I just grabbed a jacket….”). Phil was fulfilling a promise to his kids that he would get the sugary donut treats once the tournament was over. The woman working the drive-thru that morning recognized him, snapped a picture on her cell phone, and posted it online.

Phil’s comment was that it was just another reminder that “everybody’s media.”

How true. Anyone with a cell phone and a computer can now report the goings-on of anyone else.

To me, there are several lessons in this.

  1. Always be your best self because you never know who is watching or listening or reporting. For those who were required to read George Orwell’s 1984 in their high school English class, concerns that “Big Brother is watching” were tied to big government and was seen as totally un-American and the ultimate invasion of privacy. Now, of course, we actually have “Big Brother” reality shows and YouTube, where it is not the government who seems to be watching but everyone else. Whenever I counsel people on social media, my biggest caution is, “Don’t put anything up on Facebook that you wouldn’t want to appear as the front headline of the newspaper.” Your boss (or potential future boss) is actually watching, despite what you might think.
  2. Be respectful of others. The media has laws and codes of ethics to follow as it relates to public figures, and John Q. Public, Reporter-at-Large, needs to honors those same codes. For celebrities and non-celebrities alike, at the very least, the Golden Rule should apply. They may all be new tools, but the same basic principles of human decency still apply.
  3. Yesterday is gone. There’s a whole new world of power out there. Use this power for good, not evil. Yes, “everybody’s media,” and that has given rise to a world of opportunity for entrepreneurs, empowered consumers who want to engage with their favorite brands, and given marketers a whole new slew of venues for communicating with their target audience.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Feel free to add a comment for any of our articles!

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ADVERTISING WORKS

newspaper-154444__340Advertising works.

 

 

 

 

 

That’s something that not many people will dispute. The question becomes, “What should we say in our advertising?” And there are many schools of thought to answer that question.

Last August, I read a discussion about whether drug advertising should be regulated or abolished in the New York Times “Room for Debate” article (which can be read here). Marcia Angell, a senior lecturer in social medicine at Harvard Medical School was quoted, “Direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising does exactly what it is intended to do — increase sales for drug companies. Increasingly, it does that by promoting medical conditions, as well as drugs. If the industry can convince essentially normal people that minor complaints require long-term drug treatment, its market will grow.”

Some advertising sells pain; some sells pleasure. That “pleasure” is referred to in advertising circles as the “end benefit” to the consumer. I’ve always been a positive person, so I am drawn (both as a marketer and as a consumer) to that which sells pleasure. At Miracle-Gro, we always showed the amazing results and beautiful gardens achieved with product use; with LEGO, the advertising celebrated and highlighted for kids the joy of building. I am bothered by the barrage of negativity ever put before us, as I believe pharmaceutical ads simply sell sickness. Yes, I am one of those people who push the mute button every time the TV starts talking about restless leg syndrome, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction. I choose not to fill my head with such negative images.

I am watching, as many Americans are, our country’s struggles to deal with healthcare issues. One productive answer might lie in the same premise, that advertising works. Maybe the insurance companies should be advertising wellness—the joys of exercise, the fun of not smoking, the confidence inspired by good eating habits.

But what does this have to do with your brand and your business? Well, my question to you is, “What images are you putting top-of-mind with your consumers?”

Maybe you don’t have a multi-million dollar budget, but every company (large or small) has ways to heighten awareness of something—through an online video, a TV ad, a windshield flyer or even in a simple email communication. Everyone can bring a product/service/problem/solution to the forefront of someone’s mind in order to move them to action.

If you’d like help strategizing the best messages to keep top of mind with your customers, give us a call. We’re experts at identifying the compelling, motivating, get-them-off-the-couch end benefits so that you can highlight them in your marketing efforts. We’d love to help you.

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DIGITAL REVOLUTION OR EVOLUTION

51GNAHdkzHL._AC_US160_Later this week, I will be training a group of insurance sales agents on the best ways to tap into the power that social media networks can provide, counseling them on how to authentically present themselves to potential clients as a viable solution to the financial challenges they meet. In the training that I do, one of my biggest hurdles is with those who are entrenched in what they have been doing and honestly, if what you have been doing is working for you, keep doing it. Just understand that the world is changing …. everyday …. every minute. Evolution is inevitable, and revolution is always possible!

As pre-work for the discussion, I have asked each one of them to watch the following video to prepare for the session. It was created by Eric Qualman from Socialnomics. While I wish the sources for all the “facts” were given, the spirit of the video is totally valid and worthy of consideration.

Check it out: http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/the-social-media-revolution-visualised/

Have a digital day!

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SOCIAL MEDIA TIDBITS

tweetdeck-01-525x535So this week seems to be a “social media week.” I am talking tonight to a group at the Suffield library on how social media can impact your career to increase your exposure, gain new clients, and engage with your customers in new and very rewarding ways. I’ll be chatting about how to express your personal brand in a very digital way. Then, on Wednesday, I’m speaking to the Social Media Club of New Haven.

One question that comes up often has to do with managing all your different accounts. Certainly LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are the big three social networking sites. There may be some other areas where people in your industry are gathering to talk and interact. Each person should examine strategically, what the right sites are for your particular situation. Now, I happen to be on all three, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and yes, there are times when I don’t have time to update or don’t engage in conversations as much as I’d like to. With social networking , I find that the big consideration is time.

The easiest way that I have found to address this issue is to recommend to people that they post something in the morning (or whenever it’s convenient for you), quickly look at those who you do business with or are interested in, and scan the conversations going on, contribute for a set period of time (could be just 5-15 minutes/day). Set time limits for your day for how much time you’ll spend on this, and then move on with your day. It’s so easy for social networking to take over your life. Everyone’s lives are so interesting — the comments that they make can be delightful or inane, but it’s certainly entertaining. You have to actively manage your time. Otherwise you lose yourself in the digital social aspect of life.

One of the tools that I use to help manage this is TweetDeck. Many people find the Twitter feed is a little bit clunky, so Twitter applications have been developed to manage these in a more organized fashion. TweetDeck and HootSuite are two popular applications that help you manage your contacts and your communications. TweetDeck allows you to put people in groupings so that you can follow several different discussions at the same time, and make sure that you don’t miss important conversations that you want to be notified about. They are free to download. Check them out, and let me know what you think. I’m always interested in comments and feedback.