business, customers, Marketing, Social Media

Good Communications 101

Be a good communicator.

communication-project-manager

Everyone knows that in this Social media-marketing world, crowded with people of all ages, talking, tweeting, posting, reviewing, hash tagging….geez, how does one define a good communicator?

Like chit chat at a party, the noise being created today by “communications” is best described as chaos, but if you stop a moment and look around, you will see that nothing has changed from the days of three-martini lunches in smoke filled bars.  People want to make connections with each other. So put down your IPhone for a moment and figure out how to connect to people.

Writing, and I am not talking about novel/screenplay quality stuff.  I am talking about finding your voice in the written word.  Why do people freak out when it comes to writing out the simplest things?  The world of social media has given those fearful of writing a voice.  A one word-hashtag loving-emoticon-120 character-loving voice.  Better to make a connection and communicate something, then nothing at all.  Now that doesn’t mean you should write awful text.  Yes, you must write well.  Think about what your one word message is and then write about it.  Take time to look at it, decide if it says what you want.  Put it aside (if time permits) and then re-read and hit send.

Images.  I personally believe that humans think with their eyes. Use them. It is a known fact that posts with images get about two to three times more interaction than ones that are text only. Now a cute kitty will not make your quarter numbers more interesting, so think a moment before you attach irrelevant images to your posts, but add them.  Get a file going of images that resonate with you and when you are “writing” go there and see if anything makes sense to use with the posts. And remember that sometimes text is just as powerful as an image, step back and look at your communications.  What did you respond too?

Video. There are 60-year old women in the Midwest using YouTube to create thousands of followers over quilting…why then can’t you figure out how to use video to reach more people? Sit down and figure out what your 3 to 5 minute message should be.  Have props.  Take a speech class, or go to Toastmasters if you are uncomfortable with speaking, but find your voice and make a video.

Social Media has lots of mediums, pick one or two. Ok, Twitter and Facebook are the most talked about social media platforms, but there are other things that might suit you better. Google+, it is growing and easy to use. Yelp, a must in today’s service world.  Pinterest is your back up personality when it comes to business. SlideShare is my go to place when I want to see what the world is presenting. And do not forget to keep up your LinkedIn site.  It is your public resume.  Update it, post articles, and join groups.  Turn off the TV at night and begin to “socialize” a bit.

Respond.  And do it immediately or you will drown for sure. I have posted moderate to bad reviews on Yelp and when the owner responds quickly (or in many cases at all) it makes me feel like I matter to them and will give it another try.  And it’s not the freebies that work here, it is the response time.  If you got a letter in the mail you would respond, right?  Show you care.

Keep Your Focus.  Don’t let someone’s critique of your service make you freak out. Our parents were right when they told us, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all.”  That is your mantra here.  Respond, but with a level headed approach.  Anger only hurts you.  Answer and respond to what they are really asking you.  Look within their posts and figure out what their agenda is and why they asked or posted such comments, then respond respectfully.

Good Luck!

Design Bear
http://www.designbsquared.com

business, customers, Design, Marketing, Social Media

Small Business Marketing

Inc Magazine published a great infographic today.

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It confirms what we all feared….drum roll….the old rules of marketing still apply.
*sigh

What?  No Facebook?  No Twitter?

Well, yes, but take a moment to remember the old rules.

Word of Mouth, Customer Remarks 86%
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Of course, in today’s tech world, word of mouth might be on Facebook or Yelp, but it is the review of a person who has experienced your product or service.  I meet people all of the time who have never heard of Yelp, or they say “I am not a restaurant so why should I bother?”  Well that doesn’t cut it anymore.  Dentists, Malls, Gas Stations, Graphic Design Studios, and even Restaurants, get reviewed through social media on Yelp.  I use Yelp to help me get addresses and directions…it is much faster than google by a long shot!  It matters.  Pay attention and respond to what your customers are saying.  Make it part of your business and  the happy customers will review you too.

Networking with Other Businesses 53%
Networking

I know, we all hate new situations.  Sweat and discomfort.  We gotta do it.  Just remember to do it regularly and correctly.  I just love it when a business owner goes out without business cards.  I have mentioned before why I think business cards are so important, but if you are going to meet other business owners, this would be networking 101.  But, even before you stuff that card in your bag, you need to make it a habit to go out and network, and not just with groups of people you like!  There are so many networking groups that it would take a full eight hours a day to get through them all.  LinkedIn Groups, Meetups, Local Chambers, local everything for that matter.  Just get a newspaper (yes the kind with black and white ink) and you will find several groups in your neighborhood that meet regularly.  Just attend.  Then attend again.  Smile, listen, shake hands, and hand out your business card.  It is human contact in a very non-contact world. You just need one new customer a month to make a difference.

Advertising – print, booklet, radio, etc. 52%

printed_brochure_not_dead_yet

Despite what the makers of Kindle want us to think, Print is NOT DEAD.  In fact, there are tons of studies in the tourism industry that highlight how important that take home tri-fold brochure is to the plans we make, or don’t make.  Plans are created and changed by good print pieces.  Once that brochure is made, you can follow it up with an interesting booklet–your story perhaps, and then if its possible, talk with the radio people and get some exposure.  Reading off the side of the cereal box is still accepted practice at breakfast.  We think with our eyes first, so have something to give out.  We all get stuck at the dentist, the train is delayed, the cab ride is stuck in traffic.  Our phones are not the only thing people read.  Place a nice ad once in awhile.  Consult a graphic person of course, and then do it.  It works.

Direct Mail or Email 45%
direct-mail

Most people hate writing.  It is a lost art really.  But nothing resonates more with people than something written.  Think out of the box too.  What would you like to read?  What gets you to open your mail?  Which things do you open first? Pay attention to things that work, and the things that don’t.  Model yourself after those.  But remember, writing can only capture us for so long.  You need a compelling beginning to keep us occupied for 2 minutes.  Throw in an image or two.  Make us laugh.  Have white space to guide us through your piece.  And of course, use good typography!  Apple knew the secrets.  One main font, maybe two colors, readable and legible.  Fancy does not keep our interest.  Learn the basics if you are doing it yourself.

Social Media 41%
Digital-marketing-services

Of course everything comes back to social media.  It is the core of the business world today.  But behind it are people.  People writing, people responding, people serving, people expressing their views.  If you are not using one or two social media sites to promote yourself, you are missing business.  For every person who says they found you there, I am sure there are several more who just didn’t tell you.  That is how social media works.  Its why “check in” offers are so successful.  Its the coupon of the new millennium.

The last is for all the old veterans who are determined NOT to accept Social Media Marketing.  Its fun if you would just stop being right and move on.  But hey, that is a whole other topic all together.

Design Bear
http://www.designbsquared.com

business, customers, Social Media

“If I have told you once, I have told you a thousand times…”

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I started working on a project for an independent school that needed some inspiration.  Like every business, they have challenges to their growth, employees who are unhappy and complain, parents who don’t get what is happening with all the changes, and the children of course.  Change is hard.  Learning new processes is hard.  Adapting to new expectations is hard. Wave after wave of change, and leaders breathless over how to motivate everyone.

“If you’ve told a child a
thousand times and he still
does not understand, then it 
is not the child who is the 
slow learner.”

-Walter Barbee

This hit me like a ton of bricks–all the changes the director was trying to make, her big vision, it was beyond the scope of everyone.  And she was breathless trying to get her people to understand the vision.

Is this what we do to our clients?  Our prospects? Our networking buddies?  Are we telling them, thousands of times, about the benefits of social media, the importance of branding, the misuse of fonts—and they are grabbing their heads and not understanding us—a thousand times?

And is it true, “it is not the client who is the slow learner”?

If I look back at my most recent proposals (and networking speeches) I can see a pattern there…eyes glazing over with a slight drool forming at the corner of the mouth.  I thought it was anticipation, NOT.  It was despair and misunderstanding, just like that toddler who is trying to figure out why people keep yelling at them to hold those metal devices and stick them into delicious food and then put the food in their mouth. “Why?” the child asks. “why can’t I just want to pick everything up with my very convenient fingers, like I use to do, and fill my mouth?  Why do we have to use those metal things?

Perhaps its time to sit back and look at our pitch and proposals from the perspective of the other side.  They don’t want to change, they don’t want to think about change, they don’t want to learn new stuff.  They want 1992 back when we just placed a yellow pages ad and waited for the phone to ring….I know, from the social media side you shake your head and cannot figure out why you have to tell them again, in a louder voice why these things are important and necessary.  “If I have told you once, I have told you a thousand times…” I hate the expression, and I think I understand why.

Anyone figured out a better way to spread the word?  Tell me, tell me a thousand times please.