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Skill #9 Relationship Management

Skill #9 Relationship Management

 

Does your brain size limit the number of your relationships?

 
 
It does, according to Robin Dunbar.

Who is Robin Dunbar?

 
Robin Dunbar is an Anthropologist with the University College of London. In the early 1990’s, he postulated that the maximum number of people an individual could maintain stable relationships with was about 150.(http://bit.ly/2EBe4s7) He came to his conclusion using studies based on the size of the human brain’s neocortex. This became known as Dunbar’s Number.
 
“What?” I hear you cry out. “That can’t be right. I have more FaceBook friends than that.”
 
Yes, many of us do. And, Dunbar’s number may be misleading for reasons I will explain later on.

Types of Relationships

 
First, let’s look at the types of relationships we tend to have. My feeling is that relationships tend to fall into two general groups:  personal, and professional. Further, we can break those down into the following sub-groups:
1. High: Requiring constant effort and nurturing to maintain
2. Medium: Requiring some effort to maintain
3. Low or casual: Requiring little or no effort.
 
I doubt if any of us even thought of “managing” our social relationships until the internet came along. With the internet came the rise of social media. In the wink of an eye, we found ourselves with the ability to connect with millions of people. This is the whole theory behind membership in LinkedIn, the social media giant for professionals. By working with the top 3 degrees of connectivity, you can reach out to over 2.2 million people.

Why Does This Matter?

Look where our economy is heading. With the advance of robots and software technology, up to half of existing jobs today will be gone by 2030 ( http://bit.ly/2w4whhN ). This means, most of us will be Freelancers (full disclosure, I already am one). As such, one of the keys to your success will be the ability to manage your professional relationships. This is where I intend to concentrate the rest of this discussion.

Where Should I Put My Effort?

 
In my opinion, to be successful as a Freelancer, you will need to concentrate your professional relationship management efforts in two main areas: High, and Medium.
I would define high professional relationships as workgroups you belong to. This could be client relationships, team projects, professional groups, etc. Any group or organization that is providing immediate income to your practice. This is where Dunbar’s number comes into play. You see, Dunbar was talking about cohesive groups. One of the characteristics of cohesive groups is the amount of time the group spends on socializing to keep the group functioning. Dunbar estimated that number to be as high as 40%.
 
You can see, if you belong to more than one functioning group, it won’t take long before all your available time is used up.
 
The next area of professional relationships to concentrate on is the Medium. I would describe this level as the one containing your pool of prospects for future work. While this level only requires medium effort, it does require effort. At this level are the people following your blog posts (you are blogging aren’t you?). Then there are the contacts in your email and/or e-newsletter campaigns. How about the contacts in your LinkedIn groups where you post regularly. Probably the easiest to stay in touch with are the people who have liked your FaceBook business page. The idea here is to keep your name and skills out there so potential clients have a way to find you.

In Conclusion

 
The good news here is by having a plan and managing your relationships, you have the opportunity to circulate your brand to many more people than ever before. If you aren’t Freelancing yet, my guess is you will be sooner than you think. So, start now building your contact list, and communicate with them on a regular basis.
Skill #7 Opportunity Management

Skill #7 Opportunity Management

 

Managing opportunities is critical to your success in the new economy.

News Flash! The world economy is reshaping itself in ways unimaginable today. Futurist Tom Frey estimates 47% of today’s existing jobs will be gone by 2030 ( http://bit.ly/2w4whhN ). Further, a study by Forbes magazine ( http://bit.ly/2xkEfmi ) estimates that by the year 2020 fifty percent of the US labor force will be freelancers. This number will continue to rise as existing jobs disappear over the next decade.
 
This means if you are reading this post and you are currently working for someone else, there is roughly a 1 in 2 chance you will become a freelancer by the year 2030. (Full disclosure, I became a Freelancer in 2014.)
 

What’s the difference?

 
As an employee, you typically go to work each day, perform one or two functions, and then go home. As a freelancer, you become part of what is known as the “gig” economy. You may be performing the same function, but you will be doing it for many different companies.
 
Add to that, the fact that most of us are good at doing more than one thing. You will find yourself marketing those different talents to entirely different target prospects. This is where opportunity management comes into play.
 

Marketing to a different audience

 
I will use myself as an example. I am basically a writer. It’s what I love above everything else. If I worked for a marketing firm, I might spend my entire day writing sales letters for product mailers.
 
Writing as a freelancer is a much different process. I may write for any of the following projects:
1. Web pages
2. Blog posts.
3. Whitepapers
4. Case studies
5. Edit books
6. Ghostwrite books.
 
As you can see, the clients that use these services may differ widely. So, one of my challenges is to figure out how to market my services to these different audiences.
 
As it turns out, I also happen to be a good teacher. So in addition to writing, I also conduct community interest workshops at my local junior college.
 

Beginning to get the idea?

 
As a freelancer, one of your continuing challenges is finding enough work. This is what opportunity management is all about. You find yourself always thinking about ways to introduce your self to potential prospects and clients. You also keep looking for new ideas for different types of services you can offer.
 
One of the essentials of being a successful freelancer is to be able to develop multiple streams of income. Some of these will be active, and some will be passive. A good example of passive income would be writing and publishing a book. The work necessary to write and publish a book is a one-time event, but the income from the sales of the book could stretch over many years.
 

Opportunity management is the key

 
You’ve heard the old saying “Jack of all trades master of none”? Well, as a freelancer, you need to be a master of one or two trades, and very good at three or four more. But being alert and always trying new things, will be one of the main factors in your ability to succeed in the gig economy. Start making your list today.
Skill #4 Reputation Management

Skill #4 Reputation Management

 

Why should you be interested in something like reputation management? Well, like it or not, you already have an online reputation. Don’t believe me? Jump online and Google your name and see what comes up.
 

This is important because?

 
In this digital age, how you appear to the rest of the world can have a huge impact on your ability to make a living.
 
Current estimates are by the year 2020, 50% of the US workforce will be Freelancers or independent contractors (http://bit.ly/2xkEfmi ). Further, futurist Thomas Frey, predicts 47% of existing jobs will disappear by 2030 ( http://bit.ly/2w4whhN ). This means there is a 1 out of 2 chance you will be changing careers in the next 12 years. Where do you think employers go to check out people they are going to hire
 
Consider these statistics from one of Frey’s recent posts (http://bit.ly/2yFqvos )
  •  “80% of divorce lawyers use Facebook to find evidence.
  • 65% of recruiters frown on job seekers who frequently use profanity in social media.
  • 68% of hiring managers have decided to hire a candidate because of something they saw on social media.”

My point is simple. If you know people are going to check you out online, shouldn’t you try to put your best foot forward?

 

Personal Branding

 
Reputation management can also be called personal branding. It began to rise in popularity among corporate executives in the early 2000’s. As more and more people become Freelancers, they are discovering the importance of promoting themselves as a brand. In the new gig economy, you are responsible for directing your own career. Social media gives you the opportunity to do just that.
 

So, How do I do it?

 
If you are a Freelancer (or are thinking about becoming one), the first thing you have to realize is you are the product. So, ask yourself, “What do I want to be known for?”
 
Consider the following:
  • What is your area of expertise?
  • Who do you want to work for? (Your target audience)
  • What type of projects are you interested in?

Once you have answered those questions, you can begin to tell your story. Yes, you have a story. When you go to work for your clients as a Freelancer, you have a unique promise of value you’re going to deliver. That’s what you need to communicate.

 

The Story of You

 
There many channels available to tell your story. Here’s a list of the most popular:
  • FaceBook
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Blog Posting
Depending on which one (or more) of these you choose will depend on your target audience.
 
If you intend to become a recognized expert in your chosen field, blog posting is an excellent way to promote yourself. Blogs come in many varieties and range from free to relatively inexpensive. You can also publish blog posts in a range of other social media platforms using a media manager such as HootSuite.
 
Facebook is another way for you to reach your target audience. FaceBook started out as a way for people to stay in touch with one another. Now it has morphed into a platform you can use to inform and entertain your target audience. A word of caution here. There is a lot of trash on Facebook. You will need to monitor your account daily to remove any questionable posts that may pop up.
 
In my opinion, LinkedIn is the best channel for connecting with other professionals. LinkedIn is based on the idea that by connecting with friends (1st Level) you also have access to friends of friends (2nd Level). You can also join groups with subscribers of similar interests. For instance, I belong to a group called the Personal Branding Network that has over 19,000 members. Now there’s a great target audience.
 
Twitter is also a great way to connect with a target audience. You can also use it to send links to your blog posts, Facebook and LinkedIn posts.
 

In Conclusion

 
Telling the “Story of You” is growing in importance and will continue to grow over the years. Positive management of the way you appear in the online world will be critical to your success. One more thing you need to do is to be consistent. Keep your communications and posts on message for your area of expertise. For instance, if you are an accountant, stick to articles about accounting. Don’t wander off with articles about growing orchids.
 
Above all, start today to manage your personal brand online. Choose how you are going to tell your story. Do it well, and you will reap huge rewards in the future.
 
P.S. I am starting a new website that will teach people about personal branding. If this is a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let me know by posting a comment on this post.
12 Skills You Need to Succeed

12 Skills You Need to Succeed

The 4th Industrial Revolution is upon us!

 
Traditional jobs are disappearing. Futurist Thomas Frey predicts 47% of current jobs will disappear by 2030 ( http://bit.ly/2w4whhN ). The workforce is shifting toward the predominance of the Entrepreneur and Freelancer.
 
Forbes Magazine has recently predicted 50% of the U.S. Labor force will be Freelancers by the year 2020. That shift won’t stop there.
 
I recently created a series of posts on the 10 critical skills employers will be looking for as these disruptive trends continue ( http://bit.ly/2v8mXJm ). If we are truly headed toward a workforce consisting of Freelancers, (full disclosure, I am already there) then most of us, myself included, have a lot of studying to do to acquire these skills.
 
Being a Freelancer is a lot of fun. I have found it’s not really a job, it’s a calling. The body of human knowledge continues to grow at an ever-increasing rate. Current estimates are that it now doubles every 13 months. IBM predicts before long knowledge will double every 12 minutes. As Freelancers, we will be challenged to absorb new information at an ever-increasing rate. To accomplish this, we must learn how to manage ourselves better.
 

How are we going to do that?

 
It turns out our old friend, Thomas Frey, has just released a new post ( http://bit.ly/2yFqvos ). In it, he details the 12 self-management skills we all need to develop to be successful in this brave new world.
 
Here they are:
1. Distraction Management – How many times a day do you check your phone? Social Media? Email?
2. Emerging Skills Management – What new skills will you need to acquire to do your job?
3. Communication Management – What sources do you use to collect information?
4. Reputation Management – As Freelancing becomes the predominant profession, how will you promote yourself
5. Privacy Management – How transparent can you afford to be in the future
6. Information Management – How will you manage your personal information inputs and outputs.
7. Opportunity Management – What will your specialty be? Highly specialized Freelancers can charge higher fees.
8. Technology Management – New tools are coming into existence every day. Which ones will be the most valuable to you?
9. Relationship Management – Social media has changed the very nature of personal relationships. How will you handle this?
10. Legacy Management – This life is so dangerous; no one gets out alive. How do you want to be remembered?
11. Money Management – As we become Freelancers, management of our finances becomes more critical than ever.
12. Time Management – We only get so much. How will you spend it?
 
Over the next few weeks, I will be discussing each of these topics in depth. I will also explore why they are important, and how you can improve your mastery of each skill.
Countdown: Skill #2-Critical Thinking

Countdown: Skill #2-Critical Thinking

In my original post in this series ( http://bit.ly/2v8mXJm ), I discussed the 10 critical skills you need to succeed in the chaotic job market of the next few years. Today, I would like to talk about the #2 skill, Critical Thinking.

Just What is Critical Thinking?

 
Critical thinking is one of “those terms.” It has risen to near the top of skills employers are now seeking. Go search for a good definition though, and what you get is a lot of big words and phrases difficult to decipher.
 
Here is a list of elements involved in Critical Thinking stated in simple English:
  •  The ability to analyze the way you think.
  • A self-directed way of thinking using high standards of excellence.
  • A systematic, methodical approach to problem-solving.
  • The ability to think independently.
  • The ability to separate rational arguments from emotional ones.
 

Why is Critical Thinking Important to Me?

 
You are a Freelancer. You hire yourself out to clients and companies to work on various types of projects. Robots and software technology are replacing people at ever-increasing rates. What is the one skill technology doesn’t have? Human judgment.
 
This is where critical thinking comes in. Good critical thinking skills give you the ability to:
  •  Identify a bad or false argument.
  • Build and present good arguments.
  • Think better and more clearly.
  • Develop the ability to see things in new and different ways.
  • Question the status quo.

Here is the challenge. The human brain does not think logically. It makes most of its decisions on emotion and/or preconceived ideas. Having made a decision, people then go back and justify it with logic. What’s worse is once a person has made a decision they will defend it to the death, no matter how wrong it turns out to be.

Developing critical thinking skills helps you arrive at better, more logical decisions at the beginning of the process.
 
These are the skills employers are buying today. Doing things the same old way doesn’t cut it anymore. Now clients want new and different ways of accomplishing things. Making progress requires shaking things up.
 

How Can I Learn to be a Better Thinker?

 

There are lots of online resources to get you started. Google “Learn Critical Thinking,” and you’ll get about 29 million results. One challenge here is language. Many of these resources read like college psychology texts (read boring and difficult to comprehend). My research turned up a couple of good sources I think you will enjoy.
 
The first is a website for “The Critical Thinking Community.” This link ( http://bit.ly/2xrZtj7  ) will take you to a page that starts you on a path to learning about critical thinking. If you want to take your education further, there are a lot of wonderful resources on the site. You can join the community for free.
 
There are lots of books on this subject as well. One of the most readable I found was “Critical Thinking for Dummies,” by Martin Cohen. This book delivers a plain English approach to the subject I think you will enjoy. I have included a link below if you would like to order this terrific book. (Full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate.)

3 SEO Tools Anyone Can Use

3 SEO Tools Anyone Can Use

To the average small business owner SEO is a dark, baffling, process impossible to understand.  Here is post explaining 3 SEO tools anyone can use to improve their blog performance.

3 SEO Tools For Clueless Business Bloggers

07/01/2016 09:26 am ET | Updated 5 days ago

 

  • Liesha Petrovich Unashamed non-conformist, small business advocate. Kyokushin Black Belt. Fighting the good fight at Microbusiness Essentials

SEO is like flossing.

Sure, you know you should be doing it and that it’s important. Yet the whole idea behind having a business blog is to help your site’s SEO. What’s the point if you’re not leveraging your blog to increase your sites rankings?

According to SEO expert Neil Patel, “blogs bring in more traffic. Businesses that blog regularly generate 55% more visitors to their sites than those that don’t.”

Most small business owners can’t afford to hire experts or full-time webmasters to handle their sites SEO. The good news is that even the most clueless business owner can start increasing their SEO with a tool that guide you through the process. And you don’t have to be a tech wizard to use them.

Here’re a few easy SEO tools to help your business blog get noticed:

 

Serpstat: Helps You Answer the Right Questions

 

Although Serpstat is a multi-use SEO tool, one of the best features for business blogging is the Search Suggestions feature. It helps you create helpful content for your blog that your readers will easy find and value.

With a simple keyword like “buy laptop” you can see what questions people are Googling. For example, “why buy a laptop instead of an iPad” is asked by a large number of users. You could easily create a relevant blog post answering that exact question. This tool not only helps you improve your SEO but also your brand’s overall image. You’ll be seen as helpful and valuable, and as a credible authority figure in your industry.

 

 

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Moz Toolbar: Helps You Understand the Numbers

 

The numbers behind SEO can be complex. Moz has an awesome toolbar that shows a few key stats from your website. For example, PA is your individual page authority and DA is your domain authority. Both are calculated by several website factors including follow/no-follow links and Google rankings.

There is both a free and premium version of the Moz Toolbar for both Chrome and FireFox. Moz also has great instructions and best-practice articles that will help you understand and improve your website’s statistics in a very easy way. It’s a great option for new business owners who want to try something easy that’s also useful.

 

 

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Google Trends: Helps You Know What’s Hot

 

While this isn’t a traditional SEO tool, Google Trends is the go-to place to understand exactly what’s hot right this minute. Since Google is the most popular search engine in the world, we can easily see what Google users are searching for.

You can search by country or categories including business, tech, health, entertainment and top stories. You can also see the exact keywords people are using, interest by subregion (on a handy map), the interest over time, and also related searches.

This information can help you create relevant content for your site. For example, let’s say you have a pet-related business blog. The search term World’s Ugliest Dog Contest‬‬ is trending today and this could inspire a post that relates to this topic. Of course, you still have to create valuable and relevant content, but Google Trends gives you an idea of exactly what people want to read today.

 

 

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Small Steps into SEO

 

Stop putting SEO on the back burner. There’s help for clueless business blogger – it just takes a little patience and practice.

There are lots of simple, easy and affordable tools that allow you to ease your way into SEO. You’re already creating content for your business’s blog, so why not take a little time to create better content that will help your site’s Google rankings?

Follow Liesha Petrovich on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lieshapetrovich

Want to Tell Your Story? Here’s 5 Great Tips

Want to Tell Your Story? Here’s 5 Great Tips

The first basic truth of marketing is people buy from people they know and trust.  People want to hear your story so they can know you better.  

Many of us find telling our story is hard.  It doesn’t have to be.  

Here is an excellent post  giving you 5 great tips on telling your story 

5 TIPS FOR SELLING MORE OF YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE USING STORIES

BY: DAVE DEE ON: JULY 8TH, 2014 1 COMMENT


“If you can’t tell it, you can’t sell it.”

So says Peter Guber.

Guber is Founder and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, a business dynamo that spans movies, TV, sports entertainment and digital media.

And I agree!

Guber’s hit films include Batman, Soul Surfer, and Rain Man. He also owns the NBA Golden State Warriors franchise and is co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He also appears on TV as the weekly entertainment and media analyst for Fox Business News, to name but a few of his accomplishments.

How does one person accomplish so much? Peter Guber says he has long relied on purposeful storytelling to motivate, win over, shape, engage, and sell.

He also says that what started as a knack for telling stories in the entertainment industry spilled over and evolved into a set of principles to achieve other goals.

This isn’t the first you’ve heard of the importance of storytelling. Dan Kennedy has long championed the idea that “stories sell.” They can help you capture your customer’s attention and sell your existing products and services better. They can build your reputation. They can engage your customers and turn them into loyal, raving fans. And much more.

And one more way to look at stories—they can serve as your inspiration for a product you create to sell.

Let me show you what I mean.

Here at GKIC, when we hear the same questions over and over from people about a particular topic, we know there is interest in that topic.

For example one area we get a lot of questions about is how to write persuasive copy that sells.

Why do we get a lot of questions about that? Because we have a story to tell about it. (Namely that Dan Kennedy, myself and our team of GKIC copywriters have all created persuasive copy that has sold millions and millions and millions of dollars’ worth of products and services.) This makes our story more valuable.

Therefore, knowing we have a valuable story to tell becomes the inspiration to create an information product to sell.

Here are five tips for finding your story that sells:

1)      Assess. What are the stories you tell over and over again? Do people always ask you about how you get so many customers? Or how you got your start in the business? Or how you are able to raise ten kids and stay sane?

If you are asked the same questions over and over, then chances are people are curious about how you did something and this could be a good indication of “your story” that will sell.

2)      Ask questions and dig deep. Often times, you have a GREAT story, you just don’t know it. Because it’s your life, it may seem boring or irrelevant, but to others, it’s “the” thing that hooks them.

This is frequently revealed when you dig deep and look for a “story behind the story”—much like the greatest journalists of our time do. Journalists find stories by using this technique and accomplish it by asking a lot of questions and assembling facts. In doing this, they often uncover the most intriguing nuggets and reveal the most fascinating part of the story.

What are the details of your story? Are there details you don’t tell very often (because people don’t know to ask you about them,) but when you do, they are riveted? This is the story behind the story.  Tip: You know you are on to something when revealing some details spawn many more questions.

This can also be the most painful part of your life. A great place to look for examples of this are in weight loss stories or rags to riches stories—where the writer describes in great detail hitting rock bottom and the secret that brought them huge success.

3)      Ask what big problems you have solved. Do you have a great story about how you solved a big or common problem? If you have more than one, select the story that best solves the problem and/or choose the problem you can best solve in relation to your prospective competition.

For example, let’s say you can solve the problem of attracting new, high quality customers and you can solve the problem of closing the sale. You are really good at both, however your competition is only good at attracting new customers. In this case, you might want to focus on your story of how you can help people close the sale better.

4)      Make a list of what makes you feel happy, strong and energized. When you find what makes you feel the most energized, often therein lies your story. You’ll discover not only the thing you are best at, but in relaying your story, you will have more enthusiasm which often translates to making more sales.

5)      Ask your closest friends and most trusted business associates what they think your best at.  If you still can’t figure out what your story is and how to turn that into a product, ask your most trusted advisors and business associates for feedback. Ask them their opinion of what you have to offer that is unique and what they think you do best. Ask them for stories or examples where they witnessed you at your best.

So my final question is—What’s YOUR story? Like Peter Guber and Dan Kennedy –when you find that, you’ll most likely discover an information marketing product (or two or three…) that is worth creating.

NOTE: If you want to hear more about how Peter Guber’s set of principles that anyone can use to tell stories to accomplish their goals, then you won’t want to miss Info-SUMMIT.  Not only will you get the chance to meet Peter in person and get your picture taken with him, but you’ll also be there when he reveals his techniques for:

  • Capturing your customer’s attention first, fast and foremost
  • Building your tell around “what’s in it for them”
  • How to create purposeful stories that can serve as powerful calls to action for your business and products.

For more information or to reserve your seat, visitwww.gkic.com/infosummit. But hurry—your chance to save up to $1900 is running out and seats are limited.

P.S.– Get “The 10 Rules to Transforming Your Small Business into an Infinitely More Powerful Direct Response Marketing Business” for FREE. Click here to claim your customer-getting, sales-boosting tactics.

Why Storytelling is Important for Your Business

Why Storytelling is Important for Your Business

One of my readers posted a comment asking for more posts on using story telling to promote our businesses.  

Using stories about your business, your products, or your service is a powerful way to get people to remember you.  And, when people remember you, they will buy from you. 

Here is a great post telling you more about it. 

THE IMPORTANCE OF STORYTELLING FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

For as long as there has been language, there have been stories. Indeed, since the dawn of civilization, stories have been essential to our communication, our understanding of the world, our relationships with one another and the very survival of our species. From early cave paintings and practical warning stories to tales of soaring imagination and comforting tradition, stories have defined humanity through time and continue to shape our world today.

So what makes a good story?

Think back to your favourite story from childhood. (You know, the one you sneaked under the bedclothes and read by torchlight, the one with the dog-eared corners, the one you or your mother has still got in the attic somewhere.) Chances are, the book you’re thinking of contained one or more of these elements:

  • Simplicity – It had a clear structure and few characters.
  • Memorability – Even now, you remember the main plot, character or even the words/rhyme/rhythm.
  • purpose – The story had a message or moral to ‘take home’.
  • Shareability – Whether your mum or dad read it to you on their lap or your friends couldn’t get enough of it, it was something you wanted to talk about.
  • Comfort – You read and re-read it, especially when you were tired, upset or ill, and it never failed to cheer you up.
  • Imagination and adventure – The story whisked you away to a wonderful world of make-believe and excitement, where anything could happen.
  • Character – You could identify completely with the main character or felt as though they were a real person.

For adults, stories are no different. As well as being a quick and effective means of communication, a good story is one that allows us to visit new worlds, imagine new solutions and share ideas. The process of reading a story is fun and relaxing and a good story itself is memorable, shareable and often inspiring. From literature, art and film to business, religion and politics, stories permeate all aspects of our lives and are present across all cultures, languages and societies.

Above all, stories make an emotional connection, which is unsurprising given that our individual and collective lives are, in themselves, stories. Able to make us angry or irritated, and provoke laughter or tears, the sheer power of the story to affect us at a deep, human level cannot be underestimated.

But what does this have to do with your business?

If you are running a business or promoting yourself as an ‘individual brand’, your story is a strong and effective means of marketing. Telling your story can:

  • Increase brand recognition
  • Encourage followers
  • Build a loyal community
  • Maintain existing clients/customers
  • Increase visitors to your website
  • Increase sales
  • Increase clicks/downloads/sign-ups
  • Establish you as an expert in your field

As I mentioned above, a good story is one that is both memorable and shareable. And in today’s fast-paced, socially connected world, that’s very important for businesses and for brands.

Although we are increasingly seeing ‘content creation’ and ‘content curation’ as central to marketing and publicity and the creation of job titles such as Director of Content or Content Marketing Manager show that businesses are taking content seriously, there’s often still something missing, and a lot of business blogs, ebooks, whitepapers and corporate documents are failing to hit their mark because of their lack of storytelling ability and emotional impact.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be running a series of blog posts that focus on how to harness the power of storytelling to build your brand and to communicate effectively with your target audience, whether you’re a small business owner, a self-publisher or a budding entrepreneur. So keep watching this space to find out how the art of story can make your small business more effective, more recognisable and ultimately, more profitable.

For more about what we do, visit our website atwww.callistogreen.com or follow us on Twitter,Facebook or Google+. You can email us too atenquiries@callistogreen.com.

Here’s 4 Ways to Find What Your Customers Want.

Here’s 4 Ways to Find What Your Customers Want.

One the biggest challenges facing us as small business owners is finding out just what our customers and clients really want.  Here is an excellent article that outlines 4 ways to do just that. 

4 Strategies for Getting to Know Your Customers with Mobile

To increase your customer retention and loyalty, it is important to learn as much as you can about your customer base. By recognizing and understanding their needs, wants, and buying habits, you can anticipate and meet their expectations. There are many different ways to learn more about your customers, including a well-crafted text message effort.

Mobile can be used to gain insight about your customers in two different ways. It provides a forum for conversations with your audience to get to know them directly. It also provides an indirect means for understanding your customers through data. You can use both of these avenues to improve the customer experience and achieve your business goals.

Photo Campaigns

One strategy for getting to know your customers better is to encourage them to text you a photo after they’ve purchased a product from you. Consider offering them a special discount in exchange. Customers can send in photos demonstrating how they use your product or similar concepts. This can help you to understand the way that your customers engage with your products, as well as what other items they may want to purchase in the future.


Ask you customers to send in a picture of themselves using your product.

You can advertise a photo campaign in various venues, including in your post-purchase text to your customers. Also give your customers the option of sharing the photos on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media accounts including a hashtag. This not only helps you to learn more about them, it also helps to spread the word about your company. According to CMO, where your customers choose to post also gives you insight into how they will likely engage with you in future marketing campaigns.

Contests and Voting

You can also use contests or polls to find out more about your customers and improve your products. For example, you may want to have your mobile subscribers vote on a new product you plan to bring to the market so that you customise it to their preferences.


Texting is the perfect medium for customer voting

You can increase the incentive for them to vote by entering them into a contest to win something. Text to vote campaigns are easy to develop. You simply create a set of keywords, and encourage your customers to text a certain keyword to vote. Then you tally the winner by seeing which keyword received the most texts.

Surveys

Distribute surveys to your mobile subscribers in order to get to know them better and improve the customer experience. You can send a variety of surveys through your online SMS system, including questionnaires about customer demographics, preferences, an experience with a product, customer service experience, and more. Surveys help you learn more about the customer and their experience with your business.

Analyze Customer Data

Getting to know your customers is not just about directly communicating with them through online SMS or other avenues. You also need to spend some time looking at data that will give you other insights into their preferences and habits. For example, you can look back at past campaigns to see which offers they’ve redeemed, and which have been ignored.

Tracking data across various marketing channels can help you form a more comprehensive picture of your customers. You should look closely at their spending patterns, income, hobbies, interests, location, gender, and other attributes to then define customer groups based on various demographics, according to Business 2 Community.

When you have a full picture of your customers, it is easier to develop targeted ads and offers for your audience. You can also create an experience that matches what your customer wants and expects, which can increase your customer retention and loyalty.

Connecting and getting to know your customers with mobile can benefit your business in many different ways. If you are interested in getting started with online SMS, try FireText for free.

FireText provide SMS Marketing for your business. 
Add SMS to your marketing mix today – find out more.


© 2015 FireText Communications Ltd. All rights reserved

How to Tell “Your” Story

How to Tell “Your” Story

In my last few posts, I have been discussing the importance of using stories to promote our small businesses to potential clients and customers.  The inevitable question is, “OK, how do I do that?”  I recently ran across this excellent article on telling your own story.  This article was actually written for Lawyers, but just substitute your business or profession and see if there is not magic here. 

Our guest blogger this month is Michael Hammond who writes about the strategic use of stories in relationship marketing. This article originally appeared in “The Briefs” published by the Orange County Bar Association.

“Tell Me A Story …”

Pat Conroy, the well-known American novelist, once said:  “The most powerful words in the English language are, ‘Tell me a story’”. Why do stories have such power over us? Perhaps, it’s because long before humans were writing, we were telling stories and these stories – told, memorized, repeated and embellished over millennia – became the wellsprings of human development. Our innate love of telling stories seems to be almost as powerful as our love of listening to them.

In the modern world stories are everywhere.  They provide the plots for books, movies, theater, and television shows. The twenty-four hour news channels bring you the stories of the day. The best teachers, leaders and communicators have always recognized the importance of storytelling and have used them to convey lessons, messages and inspiration. Just think about Daniel Day Lewis’ portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s recent Academy-award-winning movie. A well told story has the power to conjure strong images and evoke a powerful emotional response in the listener.

Think about it, whether we’re meeting an old friend for a drink or a complete stranger on a plane, our interaction is largely defined by the exchanging of personal stories. Dr. Jonathan Gottschall, an English professor at Washington & Jefferson College and the author of “The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human”, said in a recent interview:  “We live in stories all day and we dream in stories all night. … Storytelling is a key competence because it’s the most powerful method we know of riveting the attention of others and of connecting with them emotionally.”

What’s Your Story?

Because telling and listening to stories is hard-wired into our psyche, they are one of our most powerful forms of communication. Harness the power of storytelling in your word-of-mouth marketing and you will tap into the innate receptivity of those you want to educate about who you are, what you do and why. Use stories in conversations with potential clients to demonstrate your expertise, with referral sources to illustrate how you can help their clients, and in social settings to educate people about your firm.

Richard Stone of the StoryWorks Institute advises lawyers to “Look for the drama in your everyday actions to formulate your stories. Just as a good author can find a story where others see only the commonplace deeds of ordinary people, it’s possible for each of us to frame our work in heroic terms. Stories are your narrative assets.”

According to Stone, a well-crafted story about why you became an attorney, why you feel compelled to help people or how you fought to succeed in spite of great difficulty, becomes an important conversational strategy. These stories are like verbal commercials for you, your practice and your brand. Once discovered, these narrative assets can become the hidden gems of your word-of-mouth marketing program.

Finding Your Voice

How do you transform your own many and varied experiences into well-crafted stories?

Read the following prompts and write down the first ideas that pop into your mind when you hear them:

  •  I became a lawyer because…
  •  I’m passionate about my practice area because…
  •  The type of people (your primary client) I like to help is…
  •  The reason I like to help these people is…
  •  I make a difference for people because…

Recall other stories that convey your effectiveness as a lawyer. Don’t bore your listener with a thinly disguised list of your accomplishments; instead, tell them about how your clients have actually benefited from your professional skills. Tell them a story about:

  • A case you just won.
  • An award you just received.
  • Your background or upbringing.

While not yet full-blown stories, whatever came to mind as you read these prompts could be promising and may warrant further thought and development. Once you’ve found your basic story idea, it’s important to flesh it out, expand upon it and add color to it. To add structure to your story, think about the three elements of every typical tale – context, characters and climax.

One criminal defense attorney tells his story this way:  “When I was young, I got into trouble with the law. But before I went too far, an attorney who was an old family friend intervened and set me straight. My practice is dedicated to that man – I want to do for other people what he did for me.”

Stealth Storytelling

At Atticus, we call stories the “stealth bombers” of strategic conversations. On the surface they may enlighten or entertain the listener, but they are also educating them, connect them to your background, highlight your values and reveal your motivations. In short order, the information these brief narratives provide can portray you as an empathetic human being and, because they require a certain amount of self-disclosure, deepen your intimacy with the listener.

Whether you employ long, rambling stories or simply divulge small glimpses of your personal history, having a variety of brief narratives you can use at different times and in various situations can be a valuable addition to your marketing assets. Stories can be helpful in conversations with potential clients trying to gauge your breadth of experience and your depth of compassion; with prospective referral sources trying to determine how well you would serve the clients they could refer to you; and in social settings to educate people about who you are and what you do.

Remember, stories that are humorous show that you are human. You don’t have to be the hero in every story; in fact, stories that portray you in a self-deprecating light can be engaging, heart-warming and among the most memorable.

The Three Cs of Storytelling

Way back in 1982 in his watershed book “Megatrends”, John Naisbitt posed a paradoxical prophecy:  “The more high tech we create, the more high touch we want.” How much more high tech have we become in the last thirty years? How much more do we yearn for high touch today? For human connection? Perhaps this accounts in some way for the psychic pull and the mesmerizing effect that storytelling still has on us.

Jim Blasingame, a leading expert on small business and entrepreneurship, says that we should deliver high touch to our clients through the telling of stories and reminds us of the Three Cs of Storytelling:

Connect – Use stories to connect with prospects and convert them to clients.

Convey – Use stories to convey your experience, expertise, humanity and values.

Create – Use stories to create a client’s memory of you and generate top-of-mind awareness.

Learn the art of storytelling and tap into the power of a good story, told well. You’ll know you’ve been successful – that you’ve really connected with someone – when they tell your story to others.

Michael Hammond is a “founding father” of Atticus and is a Certified Practice Advisor. A licensed attorney since 1983, he has spent his entire career either practicing law or supporting and promoting the practice of law. Michael has a depth of experience in lawyer marketing, one-on-one business coaching and strategic planning.

 

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