Nonviolent Communication In Marketing

A few month ago I attended a talk by Joanne Lescher, a communication expert and specialist in Nonviolent Communication.

Step up your marketing: Learn how to use Nonviolent Communication tactics.

Step up your marketing: Learn how to use Nonviolent Communication tactics.

I’d long heard about NVC, as it’s called, though had yet to learn more about it. Suffice to say it was very worthwhile. And I want to share a few keys I learned from that event – since it absolutely directly impacts our marketing strategies.

  1. Listen to understand, not to reply. Like Joanne told us, speak the language of Giraffe. (Want to know more about that? Contact Joanne.)
  2. Most people listen to reply, not to understand. Take your time listening.
  3. Observation is key – stating factual information, vs. evaluation.
  4. Feelings are key – one word descriptions, vs. criticism and thoughts.
  5. Focus on needs. Needs are values, vs. strategies. All needs are equal – your needs hold the same value as mine, regardless of what they are.
  6. Make requests like “would you be willing…”, vs. demands.

I think one of my favorite takeaways is that NVC has no space for apologies. I LOVED when I asked Joanne how/if they fit with the NVC model and she said no, they don’t. Because when you reason out communication with the NVC tactics, there’s no need or purpose for it. Plus, as she said, lots of people apologize without either meaning it or not really understanding what’s really at stake.

I highly recommend looking into and learning about Nonviolent Communication. When we can exercise tactics like the ones listed above, we can better communicate with everyone – target markets, clients, possible audience, everyone.

Who’s Responsible For Speaking Up?

I am.

You are.

We all are.

When we want change, we all need to be the ones to speak up.

This morning I wrote a letter to an art center challenging its show: not for the content, nope. For the fact that there is only one woman in a show with 4 others (all men). What gives?

We're all responsible to promote change.

We’re all responsible to promote change.

It’s not enough for me to feel the familiar ripple of agitation and then try to let it go. (It never leaves me anyway.) I sat myself down and wrote a letter – professional and direct to the problem. Because that is a problem. And a totally avoidable one.

For your full benefit: I’ve got an art degree, I’ve taught art and I’m a lifetime supporter of it. The excuse that it’s tough enough for artists to make it isn’t relevant here. In fact, by making sure the palette of people in the show represent all genders would make it all the more successful. Making sure everyone can see themselves (aspiration) will only improve the business of art. And yes, artists should see themselves in business for themselves.

In the letter I started positively, got to the point and offered a solution.

Should I worry that they may take offense when they get the letter? No way. I would be more concerned by not speaking up to make change happen.

Marketing an event wherein a profession is represented lopsidedly sexist is bad for everybody. Regardless of the intent – you can prevent this and should. The messages sent are powerful and easy to alter.

Geena Davis is working on this: she works with directors & people in film who can change and improve the gender equity tomorrow, when informed today.

Smart companies of all kinds notice when their customers speak up. Write a letter today (not an email) to help nudge & push positive change. It can make a world of difference.

Get Help Running Your Business

Starting and running a viable business is hard work.

For those of you who run your own, you know this to be true. Hard can mean difficult, long hours, challenging, frustrating, invigorating and so many things.

For me – alongside the hard work, if I’m not having fun, that’s my sign to get out. When I’m chaffing at some ‘thing’ I can’t put my brain on, then I need to back up and see what’s really going on. Figuring out what is truly working, not what you really want to work but isn’t working, can be difficult.

Enter: Your Support System.

Today’s post is inspired by the venerable Julie Johnson, Editor, Oh My Editor. Actually, she was everyone’s editor at All About Beer for years. I’ve simply hired her to be my book editor. She’s accomplished, smart, helpful, clever, kind, and very good at what she does. For me, what she does is edit my book. She has the skills and experience to intelligently rip it apart at the letter level, put it back together again, remove, perform surgery, question and overall take my writing and magically put it together into a cogent and cohesive whole.

Consultants help you climb ever upwards.

Consultants help you climb ever upwards.

The book is a huge project on my agenda right now. It’s one that’s been a long time in coming and I’m super excited about it’s completion and launch (9/16).

So why am I crowing about my editor today? Because I endorse hiring professionals to help you do your best work.

Because there’s always a lot of crap – yes, it’s crap – on the internet and from other people about being able to run a business without a marketing plan, marketing budget or marketing expertise. Some will even ignorantly and proudly get up in front of a crowd and brag that they’ve never spent a dime on marketing. I’m calling bullshit on that. It’s simply not true.

That’s such a bunch of garbage is incenses me that others even suggest as much. Do you build buildings without hiring an architect? How about putting in a golf course – does that owner hire a golf course architect or landscapers or whoever builds golf courses? Every single conversation you have with someone about your business is marketing; your time invested in those conversations is worth something. You’ve just spent money on marketing.

The point I want to make today is that hiring the right pros to help you create and build and maintain a successful business is a critical element for your goals. Those who don’t are doing it the unnecessary and hard way, and stupidly to boot.

Yes, it’s stupid to start and try to run a business without the proper help. Why would you do that to yourself??!! It’s beyond me.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Look into community resources to help get your started. Most communities have economic development experts, groups and organizations that can help you start writing that plan, with supporting education to keep you on track.
  2. Interview and hire experts – aka Consultants. Don’t go with just anyone – that gives us all a big chance for failing. Do your diligence and interview to find the best ones for you. And make sure you ask the right people for referrals; people who have your business success in mind (not your friends).
  3. Take your time. I’ll be the first person to say I’m impatient. I’ll also be the first one to say it’s worth every penny when I seek, interview and hire qualified consultants for my business. They streamline, help me think through things I would have never thoughts of, and make my business better and more successful.

The so-called Virtuous Circle of hiring experts, specialists, generalists and consultants to help you build a better business is sooooooooo worth it. And smart. And helpful to everyone concerned. If you want people to buy your brand, you’ve got to buy others’ brands (services) to make sure we’re all taking care of each other.

Your task today then is to zoom out of your business, see where you’d really like and really need some professional help, and start seeking out those people. Make a list of three for each area of need, interview, choose, and move.

Hard work can be enjoyable with the right help.

Marketing Myth #4: You Don’t Need Marketing

The best businesses are in fully command of their marketing plan, including strategy and tactics.

The people running those shows understand they need to:

  1. Have a marketing plan to follow.
  2. Provide the plan adequate resources, including dedicated staff and effort.
  3. Regularly seek expertise from various sources to care and maintain an effective marketing plan.
Quit horsing around: your business deserves a marketing plan with strategy and tactics

Quit horsing around: your business deserves a marketing plan with strategy and tactics

The way I describe marketing plan is this. Think of your strategy as a skeleton. Think of the tactics (which build off strategy) as the muscles. You must have the muscles to move the skeleton. The strategy is the goal, purpose and bigger scheme of things – the framework on which to build the executable tasks to make the strategy effective.

The tactics are the plans of activity – they get you actually moving and doing towards accomplishing the strategy’s goals. It’s broken down then into 2 primary segments for easily digestible progress. Check out this article on marketing myths as well for more good help.

Companies are made of people. People need to see how critically important a basic marketing plan is for the health and success of themselves and for the business.

Want more?

  1. Read the Marketing Myth Series 1, 2, & 3 – more coming
  2. Register for either the SBDC Fueling Up! Marketing Class or my Marketing Learning Lab here.
  3. Call me at 515.450.7757 to work together to develop your marketing plan, strategy & tactics and all.

Give People A Welcome Exit

Now what in the world does this mean: “give people a welcome exit”?

It means to be ready to open the door for them on the way out (nicely – no hitting their butts on the way out). It means having a very obvious and easy to execute “Unsubscribe” link. It means thanking people for coming to your talk if they get up early to go. It means being gracious to everyone who has chosen to give you their attention for any length of time.

The world is a noisier and noisier place – civility and good manners go a long ways towards building your business. Plus it’s always good to be gracious. Here’s an excellent article on how being gracious is good for your business.

Make it easy to leave.

Make it easy to leave.

When I send out my monthly enewsletter, I invariably get some opt-outs. I’m totally good with that and here’s why: If they are not opting out and cursing me out instead, then I’ve failed. I’ve failed to honor their option to give me their attention or not. I want people to opt out if they don’t find what I can share of value. I don’t want them to get pissed or feel like they’re being uncontrollably spammed; I hate that too.

And invariably I get regular opt-ins, from people I don’t know (yet). That’s success for me.

Being gracious is an ongoing exercise in patience, kindness, business savvy and marketing acumen. Being gracious coexists with assertively growing your business just fine too, by the way.

So give people a welcoming exit path. Let them know where the escape hatch is, how to pull the handle and leave the conversation. At worst, you lose someone who wasn’t engaged – and that’s not really the worst by a long shot. At best, you make an exit smooth and easy, which can still engender your brand to those who leave.

Let people go with a good taste in their mouth, so to speak. They’ll keep saying good things about you. And that, my friends, is what smart marketing can do for you.

Who’s On Your List?

I keep a file of ideas on my desk for these posts.

While my imagination and brain are both fertile grounds for topics, some days I want a bit of a boost – so I go to that file and dig in. Today is one of those days where I wonder: What I can share with you that’s worthwhile? What will you be moved to use? And what do you give a damn about?

Traveling to and from Washington DC a few times last year, I came across a magazine called Capitol File. It looked like good airplane flight reading, so I took a (complementary) copy and tucked it in my bag.

I got to meet Geena Davis at a SeeJane.org event - she's definitely making things happen!

I got to meet Geena Davis at a SeeJane.org event – she’s definitely making things happen!

Come to realize it’s a magazine I’m very glad to have picked up. Notably because of the serendipity of the issue. The page that intrigued me the most was titled “The List Late Spring 2015.” It has 51 names of influencers on it – who happen to all be women.

I found it inspiring to see such a long list of names, most whom I am still unfamiliar with, yet feel a motivating interest in, all in one spot. The List. I can see why it’s titled The List. Feels important, likely because there’s real meaning in this list.

The article accompanying The List is about DC’s Powerful Women. ‘Bout Damn Time, I say. And they’ve been there all along, as all women have, now finally getting some due.

What I like about powerful people – all makes and models – it that many are powerful because they simply go about their days, doing what they need to do to make things happen.

This is what marketing does for you when you invest in it, like the women on The List have invested in themselves and their careers. The work they do, the work they love, the work that consumes and drives and feeds them.

The work marketing can do for your business is equally powerful. When you give it the budget and life it needs to flourish. When you dedicate real effort and time and resources to the program. When you see – like the women on The List – it’s not an overnight proposition. It’s a long-term, long tail campaign for progress and success.

Invest where you need, as you need. In yourself, in your marketing and in your business every day. You’ll see a return in doing so.

Marketing Myth #3: Price is the Most Important Factor

It’s not. Price is not the end all of Important Factors when people make buying decisions.

The old and true adage of choosing 2 of three things – speed, quality, price – holds a lot of real water. Some say you can have two only, of any combination at any one time. But not three.

Why not three, I ask?

  • I’d agree with the realism that IF someone wants fast, it won’t necessarily be the best quality. Occasionally, yet if you’re asking that speed be the dominant qualifier, then get ready for the consequences.
  • If someone wants it done well – a quality piece of work – then speed isn’t usually in the same breath. Occasionally, yet (again) quality generally takes more time than many are interested in waiting.
  • If someone wants a low price, then get ready for a not-as-high quality piece of work, and perhaps getting it really fast because, you know, care wasn’t part of the deal.
Keep breaking Marketing Myths....they hold you back.

Keep breaking Marketing Myths….they hold you back.

I believe you can have some semblance of all three together. What we must keep in mind is that all three of these components are also subjective. What’s Quick to you? What’s Quality to you? What’s Cheap to you?

Marketing is deserving of an appropriate time line, with a dedicated realistic budget and done well. Otherwise don’t bother being in business. Really.

What’s missing from these three is what encompasses all three together: Value. Value is what we can all agree on. Value is elastic enough to fit our own subjective lenses as well. What is ‘quick’ to you, what is your magic price range, and what is quality to you? These all roll into one big marketing cinnamon roll.

Marketing is communication. Take time to think about what really matters to your clients – not to you – first; then see how you make the equation work for you within your parameters. You get what you pay for.

Here are a few more good Marketing Myth Articles for you: One, Two & Three