The turn of each year typically features a fairly predictable re-hash of resolution-making and self-help-inspired actualization pep talks.
Many people find this annoying.
Which has no bearing on how applicable it is.
The fact is, the opening of a new calendar is an excellent time to identify areas for improvement, both in our personal and professional lives.
Whether it takes the form of goal-setting (tips for doing that here!) or "resolutions" or updating a resume/business plan, there is enormous power in articulating your intentions -- especially in ways that are constructive and set you up to succeed.
Now, we at Write and Polish are a little biased on this point -- one of our primary foci in marketing is that the words you choose matter. So, of course we think that how you express your plans and needs and hopes has a bearing on the results that you see.
But, time again, our experience has found this approach borne out: words of negativity undermine the credibility of the speaker, and betray a mindset of low expectation. In contrast, the quotation above represents, in our opinion, easily half of the battle when it comes to success. It has been a favorite of ours for years.
A real estate agent friend recently shared some advice that she received years ago: no matter the market, when people ask, "How's business?" always answer, "Unbelievable!" That way, even if it's down, you've told the truth, but avoided surrounding yourself with a Pig Pen-like cloud of pessimism and bad feeling (which, by the way, is contagious).
So, if you are flirting with making resolutions this year, we suggest that one of them be to choose your words to be constructive, optimistic and collaborative whenever possible. Consider it a corollary to the old bromide about asking before speaking: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?
Though the vagaries of circumstance will always tend to hijack your long-range plans, each time you possibly can, choose to make 2013 a good year -- starting with the words you select.
Our best to you and yours!
These suggestions apply equally to business or personal improvement.
Goal-setting must be an intentional activity. Be formal about it if you are serious about being successful. When you set goals, you are best to:
Remember that having a group (your family, team, department or company) involved can help you realize the goals that you establish. In an environment with high levels of trust and cooperation, give others permission to respectfully hold you accountable for what you've said that you intend to do.
And, remember that falling short still usually means that you are farther ahead than you were when you began. If your goals need to be revised or re-enlisted, that may be part of "being realistic." And, just like climbing a hill, getting to the top often means you get to enjoy a whole vista of new goals from which you can choose.
Of course, when your goals are about growing your business, Write and Polish is often able to help. We'd be happy to discuss with you your goals, and your strategy for their achievement.
So, lace up those climbing shoes and start writing down what you want to achieve!
Put up your hands if you believe that referrals from satisfied customers is one of the most reliable ways to grow your business?
Great ~ leave those hands up.
Now, if you already have a Facebook page for your business, put your hands down.
Those of you with your hands still raised are passing up an invaluable platform for letting your most enthusiastic and loyal customers refer you to their friends.
Establishing a social media presence, and maintaining it, doesn't have to be confusing or painful or expensive. Eschewing it is the equivalent of leaving growth (and, therefore, revenue) on the table.
The foregoing was the tenor of a recent presentation that Write and Polish gave to our weekly chapter meeting of Business Network International (BNI). BNI, for those unfamiliar with it, is a networking organization whose goal is to pass referrals within a vetted group of businesses. We believe in it, and the success of BNI and other networking groups similarly organized and focused seems to bear out our own positive impression.
It is generally understood and agreed that a satisfied customer can provide the best advertising that a business can hope to have. Testimonials are a standard part of certain marketing pieces. LinkedIn has a recommendations section that works on the same principle.
Some businesses, though they may believe in the power of referrals, do not feel that they need social media. You would be surprised at the number of people in that room, whose BNI membership already testifies to their belief in the long-term return on investment of referral-based marketing, who do not participate in social media.
Businesses with a social media presence of any kind are depriving themselves of a virtual meeting place where their customers and clients can testify for and refer them. It's really that simple. That is a particularly glaring omission for smaller/local businesses that may have a harder time competing against "big box" equivalents.
But, someone will have to update it!
That is one of the objections that we hear. And, yes, it is great to have new and engaging content to keep you looking fresh -- the same as it is important to have new and engaging content on your website (without going into detail, doing so helps your search results). Conveniently, this is a two-birds-with-one-stone situation: add new content to the website and then promote it on Facebook and Twitter (or Tumblr or YouTube or, or, or...).
There are other benefits: engaging in conversation with your prospects helps convert them to clients, and it helps cements loyalty of existing customers.
But the single most important aspect, in our opinion, of a company's social media presence is the ability of your public to behave as friends/fans, checking in and telling what a good experience they have had.
Why is it important?
Not because it makes the proprietor feel good, though it certainly can. After all, each of us appreciates an "atta-boy" every so often. But, really, the key is that fans are complimenting the business "in public," where their own friends can see it. They are standing on the figurative street corner and telling everyone who happens by that a particular plumber gave them great service. Or that a real estate agent went the extra mile for them. And that they found just the right thing at the new shop on Main Street. And that they had a fantastic meal at a particular restaurant. They are referring the business, consciously or unconsciously, to their own friends.
That's the point -- a percentage of your customer's friends will see what and who it is that they are Liking and commenting upon, and stand to be influenced by it. Everyone on Facebook becomes a celebrity endorser in his/her own circle of acquaintance. And it is access to THOSE people, who may not have tried your product or service, yet, that you as a businessperson want. Just as in the three dimensional world, where you should be asking, at the end of a job or transaction, for your customer to refer you to others, social media enables that same referral to happen in cyberspace, right away, and to dozens or even hundreds of people at once.
Write and Polish is happy to consult with small businesses that are not certain how to go about establishing a social media presence, or that don't want to have to fool with doing status updates, but wish nonetheless to reap the not-inconsiderable benefits.
Embellishments, a working artists' studio & gallery shop, recently began operations as part of the Pop-Up Artist leasing program at Milwaukee's Shops of Grand Avenue.
The shop will focus primarily on jewelry in a range of styles from historical to steampunk to just plain funky, but will offer a variety of other handmade items as well, many produced on-site. Jewelry repairs are also available in the shop, performed by proprietress A.J. von Tauffkirchen.
Write and Polish, in addition to doing some other bits of marketing and publicity, this week set up a Facebook page for the establishment. It's early days, but if you like art and those who make it, jewelry, eclectic shops in the mall, or simply small business owners, follow the link at the beginning of this article or click the logo and "Like" the shop. Then, plan to stop by next time you're in the neighborhood.
Embellishments will throw a Grand Opening celebration on November 11th, with some introductory offers lasting through the remainder of the month. Further details will be forthcoming.
Social Media and the Small Business
While social media like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other networks may seem like a fad or something that "the kids are all into this week," they provide an unprecedented capacity to hang out a shingle, get the word out, and succeed, all on a small budget.
Will today's social media turn into something else in 5-10 years? It's almost guaranteed that it will.
Does that mean that investing resources right now in using existing media to build an audience for your business is a waste? Clearly, we think it does not.
When the people are on Facebook and Twitter, use Facebook and Twitter. If they go somewhere else, then follow. And, don't be afraid to try out the next thing before everyone else does. There's far less value in being the last one to the party!
If using social media seems like a good idea, but is something you as a small businessperson have not had time for, contact us to talk about how Write and Polish can help.
The new way to be eye-catching is to be old! Read this article on using nostalgia and iconic images in marketing.
The spirit of this observation, of course, has everything to do with forging an immediate emotional connection with your audience. After that instant, though, you have to be able to deliver with content and/or a product that lives up to the expectation that is created at the outset!
This is for all of those who are confused about the constantly developing social-media-verse.
We've seen this "explanation" several times this week, and snickered about it in each and every case! It's quite a good summation of the differences, especially for those just dipping a toe into the wide ocean of Social Media Marketing.
Thanks W&P friend Mary Tanner, from whose posing we shared it!
Attention marketers and smaller businesses, especially RETAIL and those with (or trying to establish) a VIRTUAL STOREFRONT...if you've wondered what the new, shiny hotness is going to be -- Pinterest is it, at least for the moment.
Read all about it here, via an article posted by our friends at TDS Telecom.
We highly recommend this particular strategy for advertising your business. The Write and Polish-mobile has its very own set.
They were provided by our good friends at The Sign Shop of Racine. The Sign Shop's vehicle magnets are high quality, resisting fading in the sun, peeling and other obvious weathering (which cannot be said of all magnetic vehicle signs; beware the low-cost, still-lower-quality vendors).
The standard order are for a pair of full color, 12" x 18" magnets for $75, which include a half-hour of design. Custom sizes also available.
If you are in town, then look no further: get in touch, send your art and/or discuss your ideas, approve your proof, and then hie yourself to their fantastic shop and enjoy a visit to pick up your new magnets.
However, even if you are far, far away, we would suggest it is well worth your while to order and have them shipped to you.
Sure, you can get less expensive vehicle magnets. But they will very quickly look cheap. And the last thing that you want to be part of the sub-text advertising your products or services is that you cut corners to save a buck!
Social/electronic marketers, take note: this article discusses QR codes and what might be next.
There is also an interesting interview with Jeff Hayzlett, former CMO/VP at Kodak. There are two vidoes posted here, the first is a snippet out of the second; skip it and just listen to the second one in its entirety (only 4 minutes).
We find the ability to put a logo inside is very persuasive. Hayzlett also makes an excellent point about the continued 1-to-1 correlation between quality/success in 3D and online!
This article from Ragan.com is well worth your time, but we think that the winning paragraph is this one right here:
"There is a distinction between a conversational tone and sloppy writing. It's comparable to 'business casual' versus 'for heaven's sake, put some pants on!'"
This point is particularly well taken when any organization is developing it's "house style," and the cues that it wishes to use regarding tone and voice in communications.
Casual is great, when done well.
When done well.
Professional firms, especially, may tend to shy away from having such a tone, fearing the potential of sloppiness or simply an absence of "gravitas." The result can be formal and staid, and utterly non-differentiating.
When executed with care and attention to detail, however, a casual or conversational tone can be a powerful tool in forging a connection with the audience. If the whole point is to get your message across, developing and implementing strategies that make the recipient open to receiving that message is one of the ways a company can set itself apart from its competitors.
March, 2012: article content has since been put behind the paid "membership" wall. The primary point, however, is made above, even if the five details that illustrate it are now privileged information!
Write and Polish Bloggers
Christie Manussier, principal Writer and Polisher, is the usual news reporter.
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