Fueling Up & Publicity

The Small Business Development Center’s of America are misnamed: there’s no ‘small’ in any business. If you’re a business person, especially an owner, it’s HUGE. Your days are full of business and busyness.

Be the title as it may, my local SBDC office hosts a variety of educational events including a series they call “Fueling up! Accelerate to Excellence.” I’ve attended 3 of the 4, and for full disclosure, was the 2nd presenter in this series.

Powerful Publicity is the right press.

Powerful Publicity is the right press. (thanks to Ed Sealover for this publicity for me)

The most recent session was conducted by Lisa Manyon, known as The Business Marketing Architect. Lisa gave 3 hours of useful, real and tangible insight and advice at her seminar. Here are a few of the gems I took away.

  1. Publicity is a gift. When you make the effort to reach out and build real, true relationships with press – as it fits what they need – then you are creating long term success for the press and for you. They need and want news, you can really benefit from accurate coverage. Relationship are where that happens.
  2. Figure out what’s effective and what’s not. What sort of publicity is to your advantage? What are the outlet options for your work and news? Who can you talk with to figure out what they need then fashion what you have (or know others to have) for mutual success?
  3. Marketing isn’t a Paint By Numbers. There’s never one size fits all. You have to have an overall strategy and then the necessary tactics to make marketing work.

“The Power of Publicity: How to Get Ink, Air & Face Time in the Media” was well worth the time and investment. Now, the key to all of this education is to apply it. Latent knowledge isn’t power – applied knowledge is.

I’d recommend wandering Lisa’s site for more insight, information and to find out how she works and with whom.

It’s good to have reliable, credible colleagues in any industry. Glad Lisa & I are in ours together.

The Aggravation (and Why) of “Like Us On Facebook”

It’s annoying at best to have someone state: “Like us on Facebook.”

Why? Because there’s no compelling reason. It’s a command, not a request nor does it give any reason why I should consider doing so. So what.

Do you want more stuff in your inbox, another nudge from our omnipresent phones? Do you really need another distraction in the form of yet another electronic ping, vying for your attention?

Don’t do this – don’t instruct someone to do anything without first giving them a relatable reason to do so. And to start the conversation going, it’s all about asking questions. Qualifying, learning, listening and replying. Would you rather be told to do something or asked? Asking indicates a respect and removes assumption. Assumption is arrogance with a new coat on. Arrogance is never appropriate, welcome or a smart move.

Be a peach: engage first, never demand.

Be a peach: engage first, never demand.

Marketing sometimes gets a bad rap, and unfairly so. Marketing isn’t pushy. Marketing needs to be the pull – the compelling message and thoughtful fitting reasons your audience will want to engage. Not because you force them to or insist they do – rather, because they want to.

If you’ve got a pushy marketing “pro” working with you and it feels off, fire them. They’re not doing any one of us a service nor are they taking care of you. The right marketing pros will be thoughtful about you and your ideas first. It’s never pushy when it’s done right. There are many really smart, accomplished and competent marketing professionals who will truly serve you and your customers.

Engagement is the key to marketing. Engagement means talking first, inquiring thoughtfully, and then perhaps making an ask or offer as suitable. Engagement helps you understand if your service even fits, and how you can make an offer that will truly help and serve them (not you). By all means – make an offer. That’s how the wheels turn. You have to know what kind of wheels, how they turn and who is driving in order to even make an ask. A demand or statement will never accomplish that by its very nature.

So….don’t tell someone to like you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter or any of the rest. Start a conversation, develop a relationship THEN make the offer, make the ask.

Let’s Talk About Talking About Yourself

If you and I were to talk today, what would you want to talk about? Would it be a fun conversation? Would it be business, recreation, projects, travel, food, people….a combination of everything going on in your life?

Talking about yourself with another person is a form of marketing. One of the very best things you can do in these conversations is be yourself. Sounds simple, yes? It should be.

Dogs are really good at being themselves: take their lead.

Dogs are really good at being themselves: take their lead.

It’s like being honest: when you tell the truth, it’s an easy story to remember. When you are yourself, you are true blue to you first. And that’s the Authentic word we hear bandied about in relation to marketing.

People don’t buy services. People buy the opportunity to work with other people. Properly marketing yourself – always being yourself, being honest as part of that – will get you where you want to go. People gravitate to other people who are real. There’s a magnetism to authenticity that we all crave. And that’s where the rubber hits the road.

True communication – true marketing – happens when you’re investing in yourself by being yourself each and every interaction. With every new relationship, with every phone call, with every letter and email you send: be yourself.

Here are some tips in talking about you (hence: marketing yourself):

  1. Ask questions of others first. Open ended, creative simple questions really set you up as someone other people want to talk with and seek out.
  2. Be gracious. Talk about the positive, leave the negative out.
  3. Thank  people for their time and attention.
  4. Even if you’re asked to talk, make the conversation about them.
  5. Learn new words to integrate into your vocabulary. It’s keeps us engaged and when done well, makes a big impression. Note: this isn’t about trying to falsely impress with big words – it’s about continuing education.
  6. Have fun. Conversations are remembered better, more and more accurately when they are enjoyable.

Be the brand of You. It’s what you can be the very best at.

Check Your Engine Light

Who's got your back?

Who’s got your back?

Who’s got your back?

Or rather, who’s looking at your tail lights to make sure they’re working and intact? Is that person a family member, colleague, client, coach, partner or otherwise random passerby with a big heart? Who else can see your check engine light when it goes on?

In the every day of running a business, especially if you’re a team of one (or few), it’s an energy-intensive endeavor. You must get up every day, ready to do your work whether or not you feel like it. You choose to Do Your Own Thing which comes with a lot of solitary mindspace.

Smart business people open their minds and relationship mojo up to seeking out like-motivated peers. These peers will buoy, motivate, let you bottom out and help you always see what you’re capable of. It’s in all of us to want to simply lay in the hammock once in a while and watch the clouds go by. And as a business owner you can – as long as everything else is clicking along. Until that time, though, you need to be on your game.

So who has your back? Who is your Mojo Cheerleader and genuinely concerned friendly connection who is there to buttress you when you need it?

I’m both fortunate for and have worked diligently at the relationships I’m in. These people are the ones I want to be around, can call on for help and ideas, know that I stand by to return the efforts, and will inevitably tell me – when I need to hear it – “Yes, you can do it.” They’re right. And I know I can. We all simply need to hear it once in a while from people we trust, value and appreciate.

These are the people who help figure out why your check engine light is on: what’s really going on, so you can figure it out, address it, and get back to it.

Odds are the light is simply an indicator that you need to pay attention to, something’s been neglected. Often times it’s a very simple component of who you are or what you’re doing. An easy light bulb change can be all it takes – and we need someone else to point it out, since we don’t look at our rear in the mirror often enough.

The light is our reminder to pay-attention! As my folks used to call them, they’re ‘idiot lights.’ We all get innocently caught up in our own worlds and minds, so a bit of – hey you – is needed.

Thanks to one of my pit crew – one of my ‘check engine light’ peers – for the inspiration for this post and a timely You Can Do It.

Drive on.

Wise Marketing

The wise marketer looks for buffets filled with food for thought: the isolated events, curious behaviors, odd trends, and tiny bits of data, all of whose relevance is unclear. The market who can assemble a shrewd blend of this information can create a power salad: and idea, strategy, or tactic that changes a business. Sometimes, the answer we need is not the answer, but another perspective on the problem.

A service relationship touches our essence and reveals the people involved: provider and customer.

Harry Beckwith, The Invisible Touch, The Four Keys to Modern Marketing

Taking Care Of Your Customers

Take care of your customers. When you do that – take care of them – they’ll take care of you.

Taking care of your customers is simple.

Taking care of your customers is simple.

At a recent business meeting I was invited to present a 5 Minute Magic Business Lesson. Here’s what I shared:

  1. Listen more, talk less. Really concentrate on asking probing, open-ended questions then be quiet and listen. Listen to listen, not to reply. Repeat the response back and ask for clarification when needed.
  2. Call more, email less. With as much electronic options as there are today, a phone call and in-person relationship building will ALWAYS be the best fit to building business.
  3. Thank You are the two most important words you can use on a daily basis. You them often, use them authentically, and use them appropriately.

Going forth and conquering is made easier when we reflect on what makes our world go round. These three basic points will make a difference in your world and your customers. Thank you.

Fire Brands

Fire brands inspire me.

They see opportunity, know they can make something happen and dig in to do it. A firebrand is, in the words of my friend Michelle, the person who doesn’t ‘just do it’ – they just do it better. Eleanor Roosevelt, Abby Wambach, Theodore Geisel.

US Soccer Team World Cup 2016

US Soccer Team World Cup 2016

Being currently involved in a leadership conference board, I can see where firebrand type people can really provide leadership and inspiration. They also hold real aspirational value: you have to be able to see yourself in a role in order to pursue it. The visioning can be in your own mind or it can be the image of someone in real life or a picture of someone.

Leaders understand that a fundamental part of success is addressing your market; marketing = communication, knowing who our market is and pursuing the conversation with them based on sound knowledge, insight and expertise.

So if we know what marketing is, what is leadership? It’s all the buzz right now and has always been important. Here are a few ideas to ponder on leadership today.

  • How long does a leader have to slow down to let others catch up?
  • How long does a leader wait…for anything, for what, why, when?
  • You’re a leader if you’re picking people up along the way, helping them succeed.
  • You’re taking people down if your drowning and grabbing them to join you.

To me, leadership involves vision and a personal mission. It includes strategy and tactics and continuous learning. It requires an open mind, a good deal of reading listening and absorbing. And most of all it involves a fire and desire to be that change in the world we keep hearing about.

Fire up.