Tag Archives: strategy

Commitment: What It Really Means

First article in a series

Happy New YearIt’s the New Year! As per usual, we’ve made our list and checked it twice, and now we announce to the world our resolutions for this new year. Again.

Resolutions don’t work well. It’s taken me a few years to figure this out for myself. Here’s why: every year we state what we’re going to do. It’s a decision, or set of decisions, we’ve written down and shared with family, friends, and, if we’re lucky, a mentor or coach, and voila! We wait for the instant change we’ve come to expect and largely ignore one simple fact:

Change takes work.

A resolution, by one definition, is merely an intent to do something; a decision or determination. [source: Dictionary.com].

What’s stronger than a resolution? A commitment. One of the definitions for commitment includes involvement, engagement. [source: Dictionary.com]

What does commitment mean to you? Would you rather make another resolution that, although the intentions are good, you will never follow through on, or a commitment to that change, and work at it all through the year?

During the month of January, I’ll explore some thoughts on “commitment” to ourselves and our businesses. I welcome your thoughts for these articles, and I’d like to know what your committing to do this year. My only request: please keep your feedback clean and non-political.

Happy New Year everyone!

Be strategic. Be visible. Be found.

7 Tips To Pump Up Your LinkedIn Profile

Connecting To Everyone On LinkedIn?Your LinkedIn profile has to truly stand apart from the competition in order to gain that visual edge you need for either a project or job. The big question is: what should be improved about your profile to gain that edge? A new photo? More keywords? Here’s seven tips to help pump up your profile.

  1. Professional photo. The worst thing you can do, by far, is to not have a photo on your LinkedIn profile; the second-worst is having an unprofessional photo. Remember, LinkedIn is a more professional social media channel than Facebook. Pay a photographer and have a good photo taken.
  2. Keyword your header. What do you want to be known for? Let these keywords shine in your profile header! Don’t stuff keywords — don’t use the same word over and over, such as “social media marketer”, “social media consultant” and “social media mentor”. Find a way to express these in one keyword or phrase.
  3. Write to your expertise. Got something to say? Write it out! LinkedIn Publishing Platform is a blogging platform that gets your posts in front of all of LinkedIn’s six million (or more) members. This gives you a professional, warm ground by which to verbalize your thought leadership. TIP: Post no more than once a day to keep the notifications to your network down. I prefer 2-3 times a week max.
  4. List your interests. There is a section you can add called “Additional Info”. List your interests here. What do you like to read or collect? This brings a human element to your profile, and also introduces potential common ground for visitors/prospects.
  5. Projects and Slideshare. Don’t underestimate these powerhouse sections. Listing your projects demonstrates what you are currently working on, which can help if you are experiencing a gap in employment. If you are a speaker or presenter, do you use PowerPoint presentations in your speeches? Get a free Slideshare account and link them to your LinkedIn profile.
  6. Endorsements DO matter. Endorsements are just as powerful as recommendations. Here’s why: when someone endorses your skills, they are putting their credibility on the line by saying you DO have that skill. The two best (and easiest) ways to get your skills endorsed: a) ask your 1st connections to endorse you; b) endorse your connections’ skills.
  7. Certifications, Awards, & Volunteering. You might have gaps in either employment or education, but, did you earn any certifications? These demonstrate continuing education. Did you receive any industry or scholastic awards? List these to show your credibility. Do you enjoy volunteering? OK, it may not always pay, but it does show prospects you care about your community and choose to get involved in what matters to you.

After you’ve pumped up your profile, join a couple of groups within industries you want to work with and participate in conversations. A better strategy: reconnect with your network first. Congratulate folks who are moving up, having anniversaries/birthdays, or who have also improved their profiles. Show you truly care about being connected to them.

Want more help with LinkedIn? Email me with your questions – I’m ready to help!

Be strategic. Be visible. Be found.

7 Tips To Help You Avoid Becoming A Hashtag Whore

According to Urban Dictionary, a hashtag whore is someone who puts a hashtag in front of almost every word in their Twitter post. Their mission: getting as much attention as possible. Know what? It doesn’t work, people! This is THE ultimate “spray-and-pray” for marketing.

Your tweets and social media posts should be treated like pieces in a chess game. Each has a strategic purpose and reason for being used. Ask yourself this question: would you rather have a post that could be seen by several or several thousand, or a post that strategically targets people looking for the type of product or service you offer?

Tip #1: Make A Strategy. Most business owners I talk to may know who their target market is, but not how to reach them. Part of your marketing plan has to include a communications strategy, and that has to include both printed and online methods. Part of this plan has to include the content they want to find that will solve their problem. AND, this part has to include what hashtags they are using to find your content.

Tip #2: Research Delivery. Discover how others in your target market’s industry like to be communicated with, how they want (and expect) to receive it. Email? Presentation folder? LinkedIn post? Outside a social media platform, a hashtag can be used to help brand the business name, product or service, or a special event or cause. Find out also which mediums you cannot use a hashtag.

Tip #3: Research The Tag. Most hashtags I see used look like they were just thrown together with no thought behind them. As I research these tags on Hashtags.org (my favorite haunt!), I usually find a “flatline” for these tags – no one is using them or talking about them. Give some thought to what you’re tagging; research through sites like Hashtags.org to confirm their usefulness and conversations.

Tip #4: Check The Trends. Don’t post a trending hashtag (or respond to one) without first checking to see why it’s trending. Twitter shows you the latest trends in conversation and hashtags on the left side of your feed. Click on the tag you want to use and see what everyone’s saying about it. You will be saving yourself both time and possible embarrassment.

Tip #5: Search Using Google and Twitter. You can search more than conversations, especially through Twitter. You can search images, videos, live conversations, and best of all — what Twitter accounts are using that particular tag! Think there could be a few people to follow? Oh, yeah.

Tip #6: Don’t Hijack A Tag. You finally found a hashtag you feel is relevant to your business but someone else is using it. Check how it’s being used before you decide to make a post with it. Trying to capitalize on a trending tag that has nothing to do with you will ensure the Twitterverse never lets you hear the end of it. On the positive, catching the wave of a trending hashtag that does apply to your business or industry will get you tons of eyeballs. Make sure you check it out first.

Tip #7: #Don’t #Tag #Every #Word (or almost every). I see this practice often on Pinterest, most notably those with accounts at Etsy. While you might think this makes you appear smarter than the rest of us, it backfires huge by demonstrating you didn’t practice the above information.

Keep an eye on your hashtags, and keep the ROE from removing your ROI.

What’s the best hashtag use you’ve seen in any media platform? What’s the worst? Share below in the comments, and please, folks, keep it civil and clean.

Be strategic. Be visible. Be found.

Is Your Customer Service Sexy?

smiling phone operatorHave you noticed customer service seems to be losing its sex appeal? I have. I don’t mean everyone should dress like the ladies from The Tilted Kilt. Instead, businesses should focus on what made them successful and keeps them successful: 1) a great product or service, and 2) sexy customer service.

It used to be you could walk in to your favorite shop (for example, Wal-Mart or J.C. Penney) and be treated as a V.I.S. (Very Important Shopper). The experience would include a warm welcome with an offer to help find what you were looking for. In some shops in the past, you might have time to be shown the latest and greatest device, test-drive a new gadget/car, or ask for recommendations for that beautiful blouse, and be personally escorted to the checkout. Nowadays, with so much stress about and so many people seeming to be in a rush, it’s becoming harder to not only find sexy customer service, but harder to give it as well.

Here are 5 tips to keep your customer service sexy (and keep your customers coming back!):

  • Smile! A smile is contagious. It can disarm even the most disagreeable customer with a sincere flash. The key is to be sincere. If you show you’re glad to see your customer, they will feel welcome and smile back.
  • Smile Into The Phone. You can hear if someone is smiling or having a bad day. So can your customers. They don’t care if you didn’t get enough sleep last night or if you’re behind on your work. All they care about is whether or not you care about them.
  • Be Sincere. Say hello and welcome your customer to your store. Some people may be offended (yes, this does happen!) but overall most will say hello back, or at least, smile. Offer your help should your customer need it.
  • Be Honest. If you can’t help your customer, be ready to refer them to someone you trust — even if it’s your competitor. Not only will you have a customer for life, you’ll be creating a strong referral partnership while deepening the trust factor with your customer.
  • Be Transparent. Be clear in what you offer (no pun intended). While it’s true you may attract a smaller market, you will be attracting the right people looking to buy your product or service.

Now it’s your turn! What customer service tips can you offer? Please keep it clean, no ranting! Let’s get the conversation going!

Be strategic. Be visible. Be found.

Own Your Own Business: Strategize and Measure

(part 3 in a series of 3)

The corner where Marketing Ave. meets Strategy St.I saw the movie “You’ve Got Mail” again, and a few key points of reality became very clear to me. This blog article captures the third and final part of this clarity.

“The Shop Around The Corner” made two mistakes:

  1. extreme loyalty to its customers,
  2. not reacting to the new competition.

First, loyalty to your customers is not a bad thing, but in overdrive could blind a business owner to trends from their customers. In the movie, Kathleen Kelly had asked a author when her new book was coming out so she could schedule a signing, and the author told her not until January. Some days later, Ms. Birdie Conrad passed by the window of the competition, she saw a sign indicating the signing had been scheduled — with Fox & Sons Bookstore. When you combine this with the trailing foot traffic count and the loss of $1200 in revenue within the first week of the competitor’s opening, you get a profile of a business in trouble.

Second, reacting to changes around your business is normal, almost an evil necessity, but whenever possible should be tamed with strategic planning and measuring. You can plan which buyer personas (a.k.a. target markets) to concentrate on with a specific message and call-to-action (CTA), and how you will follow-up with each person. Next, you must build a sales process to give you a roadmap for engagement with each persona. This includes knowing where each persona is inside your sales funnel, and how you will move them along to the next level: conversion. Without strategic planning, any marketing effort will be watered down to a “spray-and-pray” disability that will hinder growth.

Along with that, if you don’t measure your marketing efforts, you won’t know if you are achieving your goals or falling short. Use a good CRM software like ZOHO or Salesforce to help you track prospects, leads, and client conversions. Perform A/B tests on your landing pages’ CTAs (calls-to-action) and adjust for a better customer engagement experience. Calculate what your conversion ratio is and what types of marketing helped you achieve it. Measure where your prospects and leads are coming from — you may have a referral partner and not know it. Measure all the good and be courageous when looking at what needs improving.

The takeaway:

Be vigilant and flexible to changes in and around your business. Measure and compare your efforts to your marketing and business plans. Are you still on target to reach this year’s goals, or do you need to make adjustments? Are your marketing and sales departments (or hats) working together? Don’t just think you’re successful; know you are.

Ready to mix your regular marketing with inbound marketing tactics? Connect with me by phone, social media or click this link to get started.

Be strategic. Be visible. Be found.