Notes and Enhanced Notes

My Fine Husband and I were having a family meeting last weekend. While we were talking, he was taking some notes.

G: “What are you writing?”

MFH: “Notes.”

pause

MFH: “Enhanced notes.”

G: “What are enhanced notes?”

MFH: “Notes I’ve already taken and am adding to.”

Next time you find yourself mindlessly adding notes or scribbles of any sort during a meeting, decide if they really do enhance your notations or if you could be paying more attention to other things in the moment.

FYI – we got a big laugh out of it, because we take the meetings seriously but nor ourselves too much…

 

Voicemail Messages

“Sorry to miss you. I’m either on another line or with a customer. Please leave a message and I’ll return your call as soon as possible. Thanks. And have a great day.”

beeeeeeeeeeeeep

What an opportunity to turn this around – record a message you’d love to hear. Make it your own, get rid of the mindless, mundane, unexcited & boring messages of the world.

Your voicemail message – and email autoreply for that matter – are extensions of you, your brand. Make them fitting, fun and accurate.

Today, I’m going to explode the message view and offer suggestions for improvements.

  1. First of all, when you craft a voicemail message, be accurate. Are you truly sorry to miss me or do you think you’re just being polite? Something else would be better, like, “Good to hear from you.” Or, a useful helpful hint or fact pertaining to your business. Or simply, “You’ve reached my voicemail instead of me.”

2. Next, telling the caller that you’re on another line or with another customer is the same thing: you aren’t answering your phone. Whatever the reason, try something else. “I’ll be returning calls between noon and 3 pm.” Everyone is as important as everyone else. And not all calls need to be returned. Be honest here so the caller leaving a message can be clear if you intend to truly call them back, or not.

One tactic a colleague of mine taught me years ago is that if there isn’t a question or request, there’s no need to return the communication. Sometimes a call back is in order, sometimes not. I love this angle and use it in phone calls as well as email.

3. If you want everyone to leave a message, invite them to do so. If not, don’t. I indicate that calls will returned accordingly; that works well as it’s clear my intent to the caller. Here are more good insights and suggestions.

By the way, you don’t have to apologize for missing calls. Your phone is your tool; sadly we think it’s the other way around. And an apology is inaccurate here anyway.

4. And, “as soon as possible” is a mindless, if well-intended, non-thinking statement to make. If this were true we’d see a lot more happen, a lot quicker. So please, as a personal favor to me, don’t tell me you’ll return my call as soon as possible if you’ll simply be getting to it in a reasonable fashion, perhaps a few days later. That’s A-okay with me if I know what to expect.

And if you do say you’ll call back, DO IT. Follow up. We have faith in those who return calls, zero confidence in those who don’t. Don’t screw up your opportunities by missing an enormously simply chance to return a 2 minute phone call.

5. “Have a great/good/nice/crappy day” is empty and meaningless in today’s world. Here’s you’re opportunity to put a final personalized touch on the message. “Looking forward to talking with you soon. Cheers.” Or “Be well.”

More good tips for effective and fun messages are here.

Your voicemail message is a golden opportunity to accurately market your communication skills. Marketing is communication and part of your brand; it’s a direct reflection of you and how effective you are in your work. Business can be built or pushed to its death based on your communications.

Now, go record a better message. One that you’d enjoy listening to. Feel free to share your ideas.

Bend Over Forward

How many times have you heard someone say, “I bent over backwards for that person/client/family member/whoever.”

What if we said, “I bent over forward for that person.” How would that change how we approach and work through our days?

Bending forward for your ideal clients is like giving yourself a birthday cake – it’s fun for everyone.

Bending over forward is a positive shift of mindset, to do something positive rather than a feeling of stress and trying to execute a physically difficult maneuver. I really like how this sounds and how we can really serve ourselves and our clients by looking at the positive.

Here’s the key: bend over forward for the people who you want to bend for, not for those who you don’t want to bend forward, backwards or sideways. Clean your agenda and files of those who aren’t the right people – get rid of the non-ideal clients. Good isn’t ideal.

If you bend over forward for yourself, to do what you believe you need, want, and get to do to do your work. Putting that in the client realm then, with the right clients you want to bend forward for, makes your pursuits clearer, more specific and much more enjoyable.

Excellent Plane Service

With all the outrageous news of late of airlines’ kerfuffles with their customers, I wanted to highlight a very positive customer service interaction. The customer experience is marketing.

As an avid cook, I have a variety of gadgets in my kitchen. In order to add one, since I have limited space in my galley kitchen, I want to make sure what comes in fits – or something goes out (to the thrift giveaway bag) in replacement.

To this end, I added a Microplane brand hand-held grater. Some friends of mine who are also enthusiastic cooks suggested one years ago when I was at their home…hmmm…while the gestation period of idea to action was quite a stretch, I clearly never forgot it.

So a year or so back, I bought one. And the only thing I’d say be careful for is how incredibly sharp they are! Watch those fingers and knuckles. Knowing it’s literally razor sharp, and handling as such, will yield a long-life worth of use and service. I am really enjoying having it in my kitchen, to serve as I need.

When the plastic frame around the grater cracked a few months ago, I didn’t notice it so much on a detrimental performance level. More of a, “oh darn” disappointment. Finally I got around to checking out their warranty protocols per this grater, “Home Series 2.0 Coarse Grater.”

Enter: the online submission form.

Generally I don’t have a lot of good faith in these types of forms because 9 times out of 10 I never hear from anyone, ever again. Microplane is not one of those companies in my experience.

I submitted the inquiry on 5.8, got an email confirming the arrival of my replacement last week, and voila! A box with a new grater showed up last Friday. The whole adventure started and finished in a week. A Week!! And I didn’t even need to send it in – simply attached a requested picture with the inquiry.

Now, I will say – there was not one lick of human interaction: no name on the email or in the packing slip, no ‘thank you for trying Microplane.’ That’d have really took the cake (carrot cake needs a grater, by the way!). And I did inquire if they had a completely metal grater so I’d avoid this type of issue again, though didn’t get any sort of reply on that question. The website could also stand an overhaul, with a human touch – it’s pretty sterile right now. So there’s always room for improvement.

All the same, they’ve exceeding many companies simply by prompt attention and action. Thank you, Microplane.

A positively memorable customer experience builds customers for life – and especially in a return scenario. I learned that a long time ago at a previous employer. Like most, I expected my online inquiry to go into the ether, never to hear from a company rep again. This is an example of simple, likely automated, service. An example of solid basic customer service – aka marketing.

What do you do with your online form submissions? Are they poor, good or grate?

A Good Client Isn’t Ideal

  • Target Market: one segment of the entire market you are aiming to communicate with in your brand’s marketing
  • Ideal Client: the precise person (persona) who you specifically want to speak with and to; they are focused and see value in what you do.

As a long time marketer, it’s been my conventional understanding that the Target Market is what we are after. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Aiming for a target market is like flock shooting – or dumping everything in the soup pot for a big group of people. Yes, you’ll hit something and yes, you’ll feed everyone yet something and everyone aren’t specific enough to build a business on. You need to know who your ideal client is.

Hint: they aren’t your ‘good customers.’

Your ideal clients are just that: they possess ideal attributes and an understanding of your value; the ideal customer isn’t necessarily focused on price as the first decider either. Usually, they want what’s worth their time and attention first; usually they already know they have the money or will figure it out. Because you are worth it. Because they are your ideal client.

Ideal Clients boost your business – and your attitude!

This recent epiphany would be easy for me to feel bad about – that I didn’t really ‘get it’ for a long time. I do wonder how many others, in marketing and in companies in general, really get it though. So what made me see the light?

I’ve recently enrolled in two high level go-get-it courses; I’m investing in myself to better serve my ideal clients. Coaching and sales training are fundamental parts of both of them coincidentally. And rightly so, since you’ve got to know your discipline (what you want to do) and your ideal client (for whom will you do it). With a nod to Blair and Jennifer, I am so glad to have finally had this breakthrough!

In both of these courses, lead by highly accomplished and credible and smart people, they regularly talk about your Ideal Client. They are giving the enrollees the benefit of their experience – and the clarity of homing in on Ideal Clients is part of being successful, in every way, with your business.

Count me in.

I know the misunderstanding on my side of who I thought my target market was has held me back. Maybe not so much held me back as to make my efforts, put forth with great energy, the wrong efforts. Whoa. It could be depressing. Rather, I choose to think of it as a lightning strike for the positive. Now I know: an ideal client isn’t any ol’ customer. They aren’t ‘target market’ people. My ideal clients are my ideal clients and a target market’s got nothing to do with it anymore.

Specific is terrific.

This is so true in darn near every endeavor we approach and participate within. Being specific – knowing your specific ideal client – is now glaringly obvious to me. This helps me get very (happily) focused on who is and who isn’t AND it’s helping me already with my clients. Helping them focus in on the ideal clients for them and then letting the good customers go.

Make sure your ideal clients are your ideal clients. Good  – aka settling – is the nemesis of excellence. Your ideal clients are waiting for you. Cut the good ones loose and go for great.

You: Org Chart

Organization Chart: a diagrammatic representation showing how departments or divisions in an organization, as a large corporation, are related to one another along lines of authority.

A frolleague recently suggested I create my own org chart. Make it to reflect the things you want to do, and clear out the things you don’t want to do. Hmmm…..
It sounded like a very good idea indeed, so I did: I made my own first org chart.
I took a blank piece of paper, placed it horizontally in front of me and wrote, top center: “Ginger”
Then I drew a short line directly under my name, t-boned it with a longer one running side to side – and then dropped the information under that. (I have an image though can’t get it on here for you right now, after several tries).

An org chart will help you define where you want to go.

Pretty soon I was lost in the exciting possibilities of work.

I stopped eventually, paused and reread.
Then I made another.
Then another.
And then another.
Each iteration got more and more clear, picked up more clarity and momentum.
There are arrows her and there, things written in and things crossed out.
I’m on my – oh say 4th or 5th, I think – iteration and they keep getting better.
It’s all part of the process of getting clear on what you want to do.
It’s now an exercise I give to my clients to help them clarify and stand firm in the space they have created or are making for themselves, to successful position themselves where they want to be.
Your marketing efforts will be all the stronger when you are clear on your own path.
This specific exercise can help you get clear.
I encourage you to try it for yourself.
Note: Make the first one work oriented. You can also make a personal one as desired. Clarity needs specificity. 

Customers Aren’t Low Hanging Fruit

“He stood on a stage at Best Buy Theater in Times Square in Nov. 13, 2012, and laid out the five pillars of the renew Blue Plan, which included improving the customer experience, energizing employees, deepening relationships with vendors and increasing return on investment through cutting costs and growing sales.

They would focus on the ‘low-hanging fruit,’ …”

” ‘ The good news is that most of our problems are self-inflicted and we can and will fix them,’ he told investors.”

I pity the people working in businesses who see their clients as low hanging fruit.

It’s equally encouraging and horrifying that they admit to self-inflicted problems.

Who’s really invested in this business, anyway?

Customers aren’t low hanging fruit – they’re the top of the tree gift that we need to recognize and see and appreciate everyday. Marketing gets a bad rap sometimes because of precisely this sort of plan: low hanging fruit, they’ll come back, we can fix it.

Aim high. Set and hold your bar high. You’re holding it high for your customers, after all.

Setting Your Bar High

Last weekend found me in the midst of some remarkable people.

Now, I often say (and believe it) that there are remarkable people everywhere. It’s true. All you have to do is be open and explore possibilities.

This group of people had come together for education, connecting and for clarity and professional development. And did we ever get it in spades! The value of the event was apparent almost immediately to me and it kept getting better and more real.

One of the takeaways for me was the message to set your bar high. Keep it high and don’t lower it for clients and others who want to meet you ‘down there’ vs. up where your bar is.

When you lower the high bar of standards, you lower your capabilities; you devalue your own work and you’re NOT meeting someone where they are at. You’re actually devaluing your own worth and work. Set it and keep it high.

Those who understand the value of who you are and what you do in your own unique way will meet you up high. Those who want to haggle or complain about price aren’t the right ones for you when your bar is high. They’re not bad people, simply people not where you’re at. You must be selfish about knowing your own value first before you give value to someone else.

If your value is in question, if you feel like one of my event colleagues stated, “I’m auditioning for my own value” you’re doing it wrong for you. Hence, you’ll do it wrong and way less effectively for others.

She’s right.

You are worth the value you place on yourself first, not per what others think you’re worth. There will always be people who will meet you (and exceed) the bar you set high for yourself, and there will always be people who will want you to lower it. Don’t you dare.

It’s your life. It’s too short or too long in every way to lower your bar for someone else. Set it high, seek those who will value you and you’ll do what you love, being well taken care of for your efforts. It’s when it won’t feel like ‘work’ because you’re in your zone.

Set your course, stay the course – set your bar high and the best fits will come along.

p.s. I highly recommend these events for your own development with no recompense for doing so; I believe.