Category Archives: Communication

Build Your LinkedIn Company Profile

Image is everything in the business industry, whether you’re selling cars or running a marketing firm, people will always judge the caliber of your business based on how well you represent your brand.

One of the easiest ways to lose customers is by not being accessible or visible online. It’s extremely important to build and maintain your company’s online image or profiles through social media networks.social_media_marketing

Facebook and Twitter are usually the go-to social media channels that business build their company profiles. Though easily kept, these social media channels can be like shooting an arrow without a target, you can set them up, but there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to generate a following.

LinkedIn is considered the largest professional networking site in the globe, with hundreds of thousands of networks spanning across dozens countries and hundreds of industries. By building an attractive company profile (image) on LinkedIn, not only will you be able to reach thousands of professionals in need of your services, but you’ll be able to generate a pipeline of business just by being accessible to LinkedIn consumer markets!

But how does one go about building an attractive company profile? Consider the 5 rules of LinkedIn company profiles:

1. Using SEO strategies

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a marketing tool used by companies that places keywords within the body of content generated by that business. That body of content can be an article, blog post or even a social media profile. You can use SEO to build an optimized profile, which will make it easier for professionals to find your company profile a lot easier.

2. Be Straightforward With Your Business Title

Give your clients a reason to connect with your company profile! Have an attractive headline that summarizes who you are and what you do. Use riveting statements and compound adjectives to set up your profile header.

3. Grow Your Network

LinkedIn is known for connecting professionals and through social networks, why not connect with other companies and professionals too? Building a profile on LinkedIn doesn’t revolve around attraction of consumers, it centers around relationship building! By connecting with groups, companies and other industry professionals, you’ll be able to grow your network substantially, make your presence known across multiple industries, making it easier for prospects to find you.

4. Appealing Content and Stellar Recommendations

Content is everything on LinkedIn. The first few lines of your profile summary will either captivate or lose your client base. Make sure to make your profile content appealing. Don’t just embellish your summary, be factual, direct and creative. Rich Gorman, nationally-recognized creative marketer emphasizes the need for simplicity in content creation. So, when you’re writing your summary, don’t over think it! Be sure to expand on your strengths, recognitions and past projects. It would also help to ask past clients to write and upload recommendations for your profile to give you that extra boost of credibility.

5. Follow Up With Connections

One of the rules of proper netiquette is thanking those who follow or like your page in social media. The same rules apply with LinkedIn. Once someone begins to follow your company, send them a message thanking them. Not only will you be building a relationship with the person (potential client) or company, you’ll be building on your reputation as a company that takes the time to acknowledge all their clients. You can also build on that relationship by following up with them on a regular basis.

Forget Facebook and Twitter, if you really want to connect with potential customers, create and build your LinkedIn profile! There’s no doubt that soon after, you’ll be generating a lot more leads than you would’ve in non-professional social media sites.

How to Market A Startup Company

by Jenna Smith

Many things are involved when you start a business, especially if you plan to achieve the ultimate success that others have. Someday information written about you may read like the Forbes profile of Charles Phillips. But before you reach that level you will have to take care of the details related to starting your company. Besides basics like choosing a company name you will also need to find ways to get the word out about your business. 

Whether you have a physical storefront or your business is based online, it is best to include both offline and online marketing. The more methods you use the more people you can potentially make aware of your business. Decisions about which marketing methods will be used should be based on your target market and your budget. The goal should be to reach an interested audience without blowing your budget.

Getting Started With Online Marketing

A little research will help you find numerous online directories. These listings are great places to add information about your company. Ensure that you select the best-suited category. Include your business name and a bit of information about the services or products you can provide. Be sure to include the URL of your business.

With a little effort you can find various online forums and community sites that your target audience is likely to visit. Members of such sites can create a profile. In many cases you can add you business information, including the name, description, web address, and contact information. Get involved in discussions; make informative posts and ask questions.

Social networking sites are also great places to promote your business, and besides being free, this method is easy. Just post updates and announcements that will make others aware of what your company has to offer.

Informative articles, blog posts, and press releases are also wonderful ways to spread the word about your business. When done correctly this can set you up as an expert in your field. Every post added to your blog will potentially increase the traffic to your site, which means you will have increased opportunities to make sales.

Offline Marketing

Simple brochures, handouts, and business cards are inexpensive ways to promote your business in the offline world. Some related businesses that target the same or similar audience may allow you to leave printed material in the store, lobby, or office.

Becoming an active member in professional associations for your industry is a fabulous way to network and spread the word about your business. You may also want to consider placing print ads or even sending out post cards and coupons.

The Special Art of Marketing and Promoting Your Blog to the World

Have you recently decided to start your own blog, either to generate some side income or to voice your opinions on a topic you are passionate about to the world? You have likely already registered a domain name and signed up for a reliable web hosting service. You have probably spent some time exploring WordPress, the most popular content management and blog publishing tool available on the web today.

Now it is time for you to write and publish quality content to your blog. It is imperative that you understand the most important rule of online blogging: Content is king. In order to create a successful blog that enjoys high traffic flow, it is critical that your blog features fresh, original and engaging content. This should be the type of content that your readers would want to bookmark or email to family and friends.

Once your blog features some truly useful and interesting content, it is time for you to engage in a very special art: Promoting and marketing your blog to the roughly 2 billion Internet users worldwide. Let’s take a look at some key items you need to be aware of in order to excel at this art.

SEO and Backlinking

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an intricate part of creating a successful blog. On the Internet, content is currency. The major search engines, including Google, Yahoo and Bing, will rank your blog or website largely based on the content found on your site. You will need to do some keyword research based on your blog’s niche in order to create an SEO optimized blog. You can use the free Google AdWords Keyword Tool to compile a list of keywords that are in high demand but face low competition. This will allow your blog to perform well on search engine rankings, which translates to higher traffic flow.

Backlinking is an important practice that is very important to SEO. To keep things simple, backlinks are essentially links “back” to your blog or one of its pages. You can write guest posts on other online blogs that share a similar niche as your blog. Generally, you will be allowed to incorporate your blog’s link within this guest post. As you can see, backlinking is a means to get your blog’s link out there to as many sources as possible. This will increase overall traffic flow to your blog in two ways. The first is that many readers of those blogs you submitted guest posts to will land on your website. The second is that search engines reward quality backlinks with higher page rankings.

Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter

Currently, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter are the most popular social networking sites on the Internet. Your blog should strive to develop a presence on each of these powerful networking tools. It is very easy to create a customized Facebook page solely for your blog. You can invite friends, family and your current readers to join your page. If the content on your blog is truly appealing and useful, there is a great chance that plenty of Facebook users will join your page and visit your blog. It is also important to include pictures and videos on your page to attract Facebook users. The new Facebook Timeline gives you the ability to add a large cover photo. You can use this space to showcase some element of your blog.

Pinterest is the fastest growing website ever, according to Fortune Magazine, which makes it an important weapon in your social networking arsenal. Pinterest is a virtual pinboard-style photo sharing community. You can create a Pinterest page for your blog and create visually appealing “pins” that showcase various elements of your blog. 80 percent of Pinterest users are currently female and so it would make sense for you to try and target this base. Does your blog include any themes that would appeal specifically to women, such as beauty, fashion, home decor or exotic recipes? If so, you must use this tool to market and promote your blog.

Twitter is another powerful networking tool that belongs in your social media arsenal. You can very easily create a Twitter profile for your blog. This networking site provides its users the ability to write and post 140-character “tweets” that the world can see. Did you recently post a sensationally phenomenal article on your blog? You can write a brief headline and incorporate the link to your article.

Of course, you should follow other users on these social networking sites who belong in the same niche as you. This increases the chances that your links will be disseminated to the appropriate sources. You should also include a button to all the major social networking sites directly on your blog so that users can easily share the content on your website to the world. WordPress has several plugins that will help you add these all important buttons.

Analytics

It is vital to your marketing and promotional strategies that you closely track and monitor your analytics in order to understand how and where your traffic is coming from. You will be able to determine how much of your traffic is coming organically from search engines, through backlinks and from social networking sites. You have the ability to determine what exactly users searched on search engines to land on your page. You can really adjust and fine tune your strategies based on this information. Google Analytics is an excellent free tool you can use to track and analyze your analytics.

Your blog will gradually experience increased traffic as you implement these important practices. Never forget the most important rule of blogging, however, which is that content is king.

Rick Henderson is an avid fitness blogger, online instructor for The College City. Rick has utilized all these techniques to excel at the art of marketing and promoting his blog to the world.

Why You Have to Keep Repeating Your Message

Over the past weekend, I took a really interesting communications course.  We were exploring the nature of conversations.  I won’t get into the details, but one concept that really made my light bulb flash was this idea that we treat conversations (the words we say to each other) as if they were physical objects.  And they are not.

Conversations use words – and words are not objects, words are invisible and as soon as you say them,. they disappear.  While objects take up physical space.

Do this experiment — pick up an object – any object; pen, cup, phone — any object will do.  Place it down on the table, then walk away.  Then come back.  Assuming that no one has moved it, it will still be there.  It’s an object – it doesn’t just walk away or disappear on its own.

Now – hold your hand in front of your face and say “Hey all you customers, click on this link, walk through my door and buy something!”

Did you SEE anything come out of your mouth?  Did people suddenly come walking through your door?  NO – because words are invisible.  They are not objects.

So here is the problem — we THINK that when we say something or have a conversation that it’s just going to be there — like that cup.  And guess what?  It isn’t.  We forget.  We forget most conversations in the instant that they come out of our mouths.

This is the reason we forget people’s names so quickly – they are usually SAID in a conversation.  That’s why the best way to remember a name is to attach it to a visual object.  Because we are wired to relate to the world that way.  Just saying a name doesn’t necessarily make it stick.

THIS IS WHY ADVERTISING MUST BE REPEATED

Until I had this communication session, I only understood that advertising had to be repeated because people didn’t remember it — because I knew that.  I was taught that, I could see that people forgot.  But I didn’t know WHY we forgot.

We don’t forget because we’re stupid, and your customer don’t forget because they aren’t interested — advertising messages are forgotten because they are a communication and part of a conversation — so they just disappear.

Now that you know that — you can really begin to see new and creative ways that you can get your messages across in ways that people will remember.

This is why Three-dimensional Direct Marketing is so effective.  It’s a message that is attached to a physical object.  If you keep reminding people of that message with additional physical objects you will be more successful.

This is why social media conversations that include Twitter, Blogs, Facebook and LinkedIn need to be nurtured and repeated because — they occur in the ether (quite literally) they are certainly more of an object than just words said in a conversation between two people – but they still scroll by on our screens and disappear.

Interesting isn’t it?

So do all conversations disappear and how do you keep them alive?

All conversations disappear.  But they are more alive when they are IMPORTANT to you.  So if your computer or car suddenly break down beyond repair and you go searching for replacements – these trigger events suddenly bring conversations around computers and cars to life.  They appear on your radar, suddenly you notice cars and computers everywhere — you have conversations about brands and customer satisfaction, etc.

As a business it’s up to you to be prepared for these trigger events and make sure that you have current ALIVE and relevant conversations about these things going on all the time.  You are going to think that you are boring – that everyone has heard this a million times.  But guess what — they have forgotten.  Because up until that point – everything that you’ve written, said and done was invisible to them because it didn’t matter.

After your customers make that purchase, the conversation will be alive for a little longer and then it will disappear again as they go back to the conversations that are important to them.

The Lesson

Repeat your message. Repeat your message.  Keep repeating your message.

Don’t worry that it’s old or boring. Don’t think that people know what you are talking about.  They are not paying attention to you or your product, they are paying attention to what’s important to them.  So stay in the conversation with your customers and keep your message alive.

A Process to Deal With Difficult Customers (and Other People)

You’re having a wonderful day when…you get a call or an email or something from that one client or customer that just sends you completely off the deep end.

You feel the anger well up from the pit of your stomach to the solar plexis and then you might even feel your face starting to turn red.  “Why does he or she ALWAYS do this?!!!”  I’m sure there are a few choice words that go along with this thought.  Maybe you dream about ditching this customer once and for all and think about how your world would be much better off if you didn’t have to work with people like this.

This kind of thinking and feeling will do nothing but get you and your marketing efforts in trouble.  Here’s a checklist and a process that you can use that will get you feeling better AND improve your relationship with that difficult customer or person in your life.

The Enemy is REALLY Us!

  1. Look Inside first. It’s a psychological fact that the things that piss you off about other people are really about YOU.  So the first thing that I do when someone else is upsetting me is go inside and see what it is about that they are doing and saying that hits home.  Usually it has something to do with making me feel stupid, or inadequate or it just doesn’t make me look good or as perfect as I’d like to look to the outside world.    Whew!  I feel better already.
  2. Ask yourself “Do I like who I’m being?” I might see myself as a fair person, an honest person or an understanding person.  And when I allow myself to be upset by something someone has done — then I’m an angry bitchy person.  Hmmm — those don’t match up.  This is where I remind myself of who I am in this case.  Am I a leader?  Am I a solution provider — (yeah – this is where your marketing message hits the road.  It’s great to say that we provide solutions – until the customer asks us to do something we don’t want to, like to or is hard).
  3. Where have I broken promises or agreements? There are two kinds of agreements and promises; the written kind and the psychological kind.  The written agreements we make are relatively straightforward.  It’s those psychological ones; the ones that have assumptions attached to them that tend to get prickly.  Maybe I said I would keep my customer updated on how things are going – but because we were running late and I didn’t want to give them bad news — I decided to run away and avoid it.  Now they are mad.  It helps to get clear about these things and put them into perspective.  If I’m not sure — I simply ask.
  4. What commitments have I made that I haven’t been living up to? It’s easy to say nothing — but when you really think about how many times you tell people that you will do something or send something and then you get sidetracked or the phone rings or another fire erupts, you might not get back to them or do as you said.  It happens we’re all human.  It’s just that sometimes it’s those things that we remember and then get mad at them for getting mad at us.

How to Use These Insights as Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Jeanne Bliss wrote a book I absolutely loved called I Love You More Than My Dog. In it she talks about the five decisions companies make that get customers to fall in love with them.  One of those decisions is to say you are sorry when things go wrong.

I’m not advocating being a doormat.  I’m simply saying that this is a terrific customer service strategy.  Take a moment to look inside and see where YOU might have an opportunity to take responsibility for the experience your customer is having.  After all, you can’t change THEM, but you can change the experience you deliver.

Here’s a quick process:

  1. Listen using the “helping” filter.  Usually, we’re listening from the “I’m right and you’re wrong” filter.  Listening from the “I’m going to help you” filter will make you a nicer person AND will impress your customer.  Customers don’t leave because you made a mistake – they leave because of how you dealt with it and them.
  2. Remember your brand promise. Do you go around saying you provide solutions?  Well then find a solution.  Focus on what you promise as a brand and then come up with a solution that supports that impression.  This is where a lot of marketing dollars and time go to complete waste.  Your customers will be aware of your brand based on their experience with you.  So when you’re solving a customer problem, solve it with your brand in mind.  Ask questions that come out of the benefit you promise to deliver.
  3. Make it right. The bottom line is to make it right.  That doesn’t mean that you fall down on your sword.  It means to find out exactly what’s important to your customer and make it right.  Find a solution that supports your brand promise and makes the customer happy.  And that might mean making a referral to another provider.

Marketing gets most expensive when your actions don’t match your message.  Not only that, but you can actually put yourself and your business in legal trouble when you do things that go against what your marketing message says.

Be yourself, be honest about what’s happened that doesn’t match the expectations and you’ll find customers choosing you despite your mistakes.

Word-of-Mouth 2.0

In the world of business, nothing has changed and everything has changed.  The best marketing strategy any business can use has been – and continues to be Word-of-Mouth or Referral Marketing.  It costs the least, and yields the most loyal and profitable customers.

Today I had a chat with Paul Sheiter, founder of  Hedgehog Leatherworks.  They make knife sheaths for survival enthusiasts.  Paul uses a rather simple, low-tech word-of-mouth, referral marketing strategy.  In fact, he has a policy against deluging his customers with e-mails and sales pitches.  He calls it the “No Dry-Hump” policy.

In fact, he runs a fairly steady conversation with many of his loyal customers primarily using e-mail.  When he’s thought of a new product, he shares it with the group via an e-mail, a picture and some questions.  His customers respond.  And then Paul really listens.

“Listening to what your customers actually say to you about your product is harder than you’d think.” he says.  “One time, I had it in my mind what I was going to do and then decided to ask my customers.  They chose something completely different from what I had in mind.  I had to let my idea take a back seat to what a fairly significant portion of my customers wanted.  We launched the version they wanted and it’s doing very well.”

Another critical focus of Paul’s strategy is focusing on the intersection between what you do well and what your customers want.

“My customer is the wilderness enthusiast.  But I find that a lot of military people also buy my products.  It might be tempting to start developing something to fit their needs, but I don’t know anything about their military experience in the field, but I do know a lot about survival.”

As an aside, Paul’s business is doing very well.  His focus is on providing the absolute highest quality product out there — and his customers know it.  For a young, tech savvy entrepreneur, Paul has his marketing philosophy and strategy planted squarely in the basics.

The core principles of building a brand and a promise that people will want to share with their friends – never goes out of style.  Our tools and vehicles for accomplishing these things might change.  But the end result stays the same.

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Toilet Paper Entrepreneur NOT Afraid to Be Outrageous

Mike Michalowicz loves lots of things; family, life and his work.  In addition to these basics I would also add, being funny and goofin for the camera. 

I’ve been reading his new book “Toilet Paper Entrepreneur” and although I’m not finished yet, I’ve beenstruck by his energy and outrageousness.

“It works for him.”  I thought.  He’s a funny guy.  He’s a happy guy.  He’s a successful guy. But what about “the rest of us?”  Are we afraid to be outrageous?

I’d say YES!

Would you just look at all these videos?!  If you’re having a bad day, just click on over there and take a look.  You’ll be smiling in no time.

Outrageousness works.  If you have the guts.  And if you’re an entrepreneur, we know you have guts, so why are you afraid to let your story out?

“I’m afraid to alienate all my potential customers.”  Well, you don’t want EVERYONE to be your customer – just the special people.  Your customers will choose you and be loyal to you the more they relate to you.  So don’t be afrraid to be yourself – it will attract customers you like that will like you back.

“I’m just not funny and energetic like Mike.”  You don’t have to be.  Look at people like Ben Stein and Steven Wright.  These are two individuals who have made the dead pan work.

“What’s my company’s hook?  What do I focus on?”  This is where you have to dig deep.  Think back to what passions and peeves you have about your business.  Think of a definig moment when you were energized to get something done a certai way.

Here are some other examples of entrereneurs behaving outrageously:

Larry Olmstead at Fast Company – There are several examples here – some were successful and some were a bust. 

Jim Kukral puts more of a local twist on his idea.  He does a wonderful job of outlining his step-by-step approach .

What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve done to promote or define your business?

Should You Say Anything to Get the Business?


I know I’m preaching to the choir here. But why do we accept thing from some messengers that we wouldn’t do ourselves.

This post is not about politics, it’s about telling people what they want to hear.

Polls have shown that we don’t vote for people who tell us what we need to hear. We choose our leaders based on what we wan to hear.

What if we chose our cars that way? Our doctors? Our friends or spouce?

Use This Simple Outline to Get What You Want From Any Conversation or Presentation

10139644Whether you realize it or not, the only time we say anything is because we want something.  Now, that "something" could be information, or motivation, or maybe just as simple as "Pass the salt."  But any way you slice it, I believe that most of the conversations that we have are persuasive in nature. 

Most of us don’t realize this.  We forget that the key to getting what you want, is focusing on the person we’re talking to.  We forget that everyone operates on the software called "It’s all about me." And so we go through life having ineffective conversations that leave us – and the people we’re communicating with painfully unsatisfied.

Many years ago, I ran into a book called "Say it in Six." The premise of the book is that anything that needs to be said, can be said in about six minutes.  Too much time is wasted in meaningless meetings where no one is clear on why they are there and what they hope to get out of it.  Even worse, they tend to drag on and on with no clear action plan.  Ron Hoff, the author, has laid out a simple and clear outline that guarantees not only quick and painless meetings, but more importantly, the secret to getting what you want out of most meetings or presentations. 

A Simple 5-Step Outline that Puts You in Control

  1. What’s the Burning Issue?  Hoff says that if you have more than two people in a meeting and you’re not clear on what the burning issue is, you might as well just go back to work.  The Burning Issue is the real reason that there is a meeting or that the group has asked you to speak or report on something.  This is basically a no BS sentence that hits the listener square between the eyes.
  2. Overview. After you say the burning issue, the voice inside the audience’s head will instantly say "What?  How can you say that?"  And this is where the overview comes in.  This is where you put your data.  This is where you explain how the burning issue came to be.  but whatever you do – don’t just throw mind-numbing charts up there and leave the audience to come to their own conclusions. TELL THEM in the title of the chart, exactly what the numbers say and mean.  For example, 2007 sales have the lowest margins in 35 years.
  3. Idea Made Tangible. At this point, the audience is thinking "Oh NO!  What can we do about that?"  This is where you tell them what your idea, proposal or solution is.  Keep it clear, simple and if you can at all use some kind of physical example or prop to demonstrate this idea – all the better.  You’ll immediately see a relieved look on their face- because you’ve already done the thinking and processing.
  4. The Payoff – Why this is good for you.  Right after the relieved look, will come instant distrust – "But wait, that’s a good idea, but what’s in it for me?"  So, just at they think this, you launch into the benefits (from the audience perspective) of why this plan or idea is the ideal solution.  How will their life be better, easier?  How will they save money, time effort, etc.
  5. What you want them to do.  By this time, the audience can see that you’ve done all the work; you’ve identified a problem, researched the cause, come up with a solution, identified the benefits and now all that’s left, is to feed them the final bite – here’s all you have to do to make it all happen.  Tell them what to do and be prepared to have them do it.  If they need to sign something to approve it – have the paperwork there and ready, if they need to register, have it ready, if they need to give you money – have the order forms there.  Make it easy for them to say "yes."

Use This Outline Eliminate Lazy Presenting and Lazy Listening

I’m not going to lie to you.  It takes a lot of work and a lot of thinking, processing and strategizing to pull this together.  Many of us are lazy thinkers and lazy listeners.  The overwhelming onslaught of information makes it nearly impossible to process.  The impromptu meetings make it nearly impossible to prepare meaningful information.  But this outline truly cuts through the morass of meaningless babble and BS that plagues most meetings and presentations.

If you can take the time to really think through what meetings, presentations and conversations are all about, and then organize your thoughts in this way.  People cannot help themselves but to say yes to you.  After all you’ve already done all the thinking and spared those of us listening from doing the heavy lifting.

So get out there and get what you want!