A brand is a simple thing, but because we can’t put our hands on it or hold something tangible up to show what a brand looks like, it’s a bit mysterious. And to the small or solo business owner can feel all too much like a weird waste of time. That unfortunately leads too many people to ignore their brand and go about doing the work of their business.
In fact, there are a number of famous marketing consultants and speakers who will tell you to forget about working on your brand and just figure out what you’re going to do for marketing. I’ve heard some even say something akin to “branding is stupid.”
The funny thing is the same “branding is stupid” people will turn around and have you write every single detail about your ideal customer, determine how you want to position yourself in the marketplace, and make your marketing share a cohesive message about who you are.
Newsflash: that’s branding.
Your brand includes your logo and your website, certainly, but it doesn’t stop there. Here’s how I define your brand:
BRANDING: The perception of you in the marketplace based on the experience of YOU – both personal AND your business – that you provide through all the methods of communication you use including social media, video, email, on webinars, on stage, and face to face in person. It’s what you say, what you do, and how you say it and do it.
While my Mom and Dad were recently visiting, the topic of Facebook came up. Overall, my parents disapprove highly of Facebook and they don’t like how and what I post. They think “it’s too personal.” My husband, also a small business owner, and I tried to explain to them Facebook, for anyone in any kind of business, is about building your brand one post at a time.
Here’s a snapshot of my most recent Facebook posts from yesterday:
What can you learn about me from these posts:
- I like food: Food is one area of commonality among all human beings. We must eat to survive. Food is the great equalizer. HOW I eat and what I eat tells a bit about me and how I live my life. That’s part of the experience of me.
- I’m in business: Social media is about being social, yes. But don’t forget if you are in business, you need to throw in a business post or two once in a while. As you can see, neither of my two business-related posts on this day suggested you go “buy my stuff.” But the message is clear, I have a website, and I’m leading a challenge right now.
- I have a life: I’m wishing a friend and colleague happy birthday and sharing a story about my family and our dog.
Well, from just these 5 Facebook posts on this one day you can learn a lot about me. You can see I use smiley face emoticons and more than my fair share of exclamation points, and post funny, quirky, inspirational, sweet things and often with gratitude, regularly connecting to and directly mentioning others in my posts. Looking back now at those words, that’s pretty much my personal brand summed up.
So when people contact me about working with me, or having me on their stages or podcasts, they don’t ask what it’s like to work with me. They usually only ask, “What kinds of programs do you have and how can I get started?”
I make A LOT of sales to people I am connected with on Facebook and other forms of social media. Why? Many have told me directly it’s because they enjoy the experience of me as much as what I can teach them or help them achieve.
When you are 100% clear on the experience of who you are and what you want people to feel and think and learn ABOUT as much as FROM you, making a sale becomes easy because you’ve already built a relationship with the person – sometimes only in their minds. People will feel like they have gotten to know you, without ever meeting you, or even without ever interacting with you online because you share openly and freely who you are and what you’re about via social media, video, on stage, on webinars, and through your email list.
You’re far from vanilla.
It’s impossible to fade into the background and look like everyone else.
You’re YOU and the only YOU there can ever be.
It’s as close to being magnetic as you can get. Being you is how you attract the kind of people who will love to work with you – and who you love working with.
And that is where the problem comes in because it looks almost mystical. But nothing could be farther from the truth.
When you tap into the experience that is YOU and know how to share that effectively, business (and life!) becomes a lot more fun and profitable.
When you get clear on your brand and communicate that effectively, your business will change and life gets a lot more fun in the process. It’s one of the things I help my clients do. If you are interested in learning more about how I work with my clients, you can check out a few details on my website here.
Me and my big mouth. (Or maybe I should say “fast fingers” instead.)
When my friend and colleague, Kelly McCausey over at SoloSmarts.com mentioned on her Facebook page that she was issuing a challenge and tagged a few other friends, I chimed in something about how fun a throwdown is. And then she invited ME to do it, too.
Well, I can’t turn down a challenge – it’s my competitive nature. So here is the challenge, as Kelly described it:
Answer my challenge, create your own Best of the Blog list and leave a link as a comment and I promise to share it with everyone in my community (just like I’ve shared mine).Rules of Entry:
- Your post must list and link to at least 10 blog items you’ve chosen as faves.
- Tell your readers you’re answering my Challenge and link back to my post.
- Leave the link in a comment on my post.
- Give your post some social media love of course!
- Deadline: 5pm Eastern on Tuesday, December 30th
Did you catch that last line, I highlighted it in red so you wouldn’t miss it? yep. The deadline was only a few hours away.
My first thought… dang, do I even have 10 posts from this year? LOL I share a lot of content in a lot of places, but Kelly’s challenge is a reminder to me to blog even more frequently with some of that content.
So without further ado, here is my list. I decided to share categories:
First, I see part of my job as protecting my readers from scams, so I post whenever I hear about a scam against speakers:
Then there are lessons learned that speakers can use:
(No image – just a cool music video!)
If you want to be a successful speaker, but you’re not sure where to start, here are a few ideas about that and getting past the nerves!
This was a promo I wrote for a webinar that people loved because of the title and how the post pointed out the obvious that just because the advice is common, doesn’t mean it makes sense!
And then was a product I created called Speaker One-Sheet Templates where I shared a bunch of training on how to use those to get more speaking gigs and such, so even if people didn’t use my templates, they could definitely benefit from the posts.
And finally, something you should do in your business, if you haven’t done yet:
Yesterday I was at an event where I had the honor of sharing lunch with and learning from Hugh Ballou, leadership expert and CEO Space faculty member. Ballou has been written up in Forbes magazine, and is the author of several books where he shares leadership lessons from his more than 40 years as a conductor and leader of music ministry at one of the biggest mega-churches in the country.
My biggest action item take-away from his presentation is to be successful, we should run our business on our own personal guiding principles and to communicate those guiding principles clearly with everyone we work with.
Different from your mission statement, vision statement, business plan, marketing plan, or strategic plan, your guiding principles are your values, clearly defined, that drive your work. Note the short definition from BusinessDictionary.com:
“Any principles or precepts that guide an organization throughout its life in all circumstances, irrespective of changes in its goals, strategies, type of work, or the top management.” (my emphasis added)
Interestingly, this definition fits perfectly for small and solo business owners, experts, speakers, and consultants because we often change our goals, strategies and even sometimes the type of work we do by adding or subtracting products and services. Even if you don’t have all those other business-y pieces, Hugh Ballou asserted, when you have your guiding principles in place, and those you work with from clients and customers to joint venture partners and even vendors know what you’re about, it’s easy for them to interact with you at all levels. Ballou shares his own guiding principles for his personal life, and for his business on his website.
“The bottom line: leading without guiding principles is like trying to sail a boat without a rudder.” ~ Hugh Ballou
So keeping that in mind, here are my own guiding principles for my business as a speaker, author, and consultant:
Be Myself: In all communication, including on social media, on stage, on video, on TV, in emails, and in person, I will be who I truly am, not a stylized version of me, or some pseudo-representation of who I think people want to see. When people meet me after seeing me online or in the media, I always want their reaction to be, “You’re just like how I thought you’d be!”
Be Creative: I will look for creative and unique solutions to challenges for myself and my clients, and enjoy the creative process as it unfolds. This includes being open to the possibilities I have not yet considered.
Be Grateful: Realizing that all I have is a gift from God, I will show my gratitude and thanks for the good that comes into my business and my life.
Be Compassionate: Remembering that I have felt confused, scared, frustrated, and angry at times, I will respond with compassion when others are feeling the same as they interact with my business and online processes that sometimes, as all technologies and systems do, will fail to provide the best possible experience. I will also remind others to please be compassionate with me, as I would never intend for something to not work or go as it should and want people to enjoy their experience of working with me and purchasing from me.
Have Fun: If I’m not enjoying myself and having a good time, it’s likely others I’m interacting with are not either. I will look for the joy and fun in most situations and whenever there is a choice, I will choose to laugh.
Be Collaborative: I will find ways to work together with clients and competitors, realizing that serving the world from our own gifts and genius honors not only the people we work with, but gives glory to God for each using our gifts.
Create Win-Win-Win Situations: Unless every party in a professional relationship will benefit, I will not be involved. That means the person I’m working with has to benefit, I have to benefit, and the people we serve have to benefit. If there’s any “lose” involved, I’m out.
Connect and Create Connections: Regardless of how it may or may not benefit me, I will connect people I know to each other and to opportunities so they can serve each other and create win-win-win situations in their own businesses and lives.
Be a Lifelong Learner: Never be too smart to learn more, to improve my craft, or to discover something wonderful about my business or myself that will help me grow, expand, and move forward. Look for learning opportunities and teachable moments everywhere.
Be Inspiring and Inspired: (This one is a challenge for me, but so many have used this word to describe me, I am learning to embrace it!) – I will inspire others to do their best, be their best, and serve the most people possible using their gifts and their genius. And I will actively seek to be inspired by the brilliance and genius of others to do my best, be my best, and serve the most people possible.
That exercise took some time and in-depth thought about how I will run my business, regardless of my goals, or even the work I choose to do. I may amend these as time goes on and as I realize there is more I want to commit to, but even the Constitution of the United States gets amended every now and then. 🙂
Have you done something like this before? If not, consider doing so and then share the link to your own guiding principles in the comments below.
I’d like to introduce you to Faydra Koenig, America’s Crisis Coach.
Faydra is a fantastic coach who I met in the past couple of years and during that time, as we’ve come to know one another mainly through social media, but also at live work events like NAMS and this past weekend at our mutual friends’ wedding, we’ve easily moved from social media buddies, to her becoming a client of mine when she purchased my speaker one-sheets, and, most importantly, now, friends. We text, we chat, we talk about shoes and clothes… real girlfriend stuff.
Last week when I saw her and we were talking business, she was so excited about what she has been able to do with my speaker one-sheet templates product, that I asked her if she’d record a quick testimonial for me, which, as you can see below this post, she did. Today I shared that testimonial on my personal Facebook profile, on YouTube, and will soon put it on the sales page because it’s a great, heartfelt testimonial that speaks to a challenge many folks have.
And that’s when things got interesting.
Apparently, one of my social media contacts, who clearly considers himself a “competitor” of mine (I always look for collaboration; there’s plenty of business fish in the sea to feed all of our businesses), saw Faydra’s testimonial. Within minutes of me posting the video, Faydra sent me a private message asking if I know the guy. I did meet him once, but I can’t say I really know him.
And that’s when she shared with me his message. I’m removing any part of that message which would identify him because who it is doesn’t matter. It’s what he did that provides the learning opportunity. This is copied word for-word (there’s a lesson right there… don’t do something in private that you wouldn’t want on someone else’s blog!). Keep in mind two things:
– I wrote a book called 21 Ways to Make Money Speaking (note his “21 ways” he will help her)
– I do each and every thing for my clients that he offers to help with
Dear Faydra, I just saw your video about Felicia.
I am very impressed with your heart and the way you think and how you present yourself. You come across quite powerful and I am very clear that you really love speaking, teaching, training, making a difference in the lives of people.
I can help you do those things all over the world through keynote speeches, seminars, the internet and weekend retreats etc. Know this…..It is, indeed, a very rewarding, uplifting…..even thrilling path to be on! And it can be VERY profitable!
You become an important asset to the world….way beyond your wildest dreams. If you do what I show you to do, you can create and enjoy the reputation of a very influential, world class speaker and trainer….and make a lot of money doing it. I will help you become a master at P P M. Packaging, Positioning and Marketing.
Below are 21 things I will give to you during your time with me. I have paid out about $250,000 for all this knowledge and experience and have over 25 years of real world experience that I give to you. I will teach you everything you need to know from A to Z.
I will help you implement all of it so you can launch a speaking, training, serving, mentoring career in 90 to 120 days and be functioning at my level within a very short time frame. I will help you implement all of the things on this list through one-on-one mentoring in person and via the phone, SKYPE, internet etc..
1. How to Package yourself as a top expert and a professional speaker so people will be impressed with you and want to consider you for their speaker, trainer or mentor. 2. How Position yourself to act, walk and talk like a celebrity or expert/authority so as to command ultimate respect and high dollars for your services. 3. How to create a promotional one sheet/brochure. I will write this and help design this critical, one sheet/flyer as it pertains to features, benefits and sizzle. (You already have this) 4. How to create a compelling website that is designed to sell you to companies who are looking for a speaker. 5. How to create a compelling DEMO Video that “sells” you. 6. How to get top dollar for any and all of your services and products. 7. How to charge a $15,000 fee for speaking engagements….from the beginning. 8. How to write strong promotional letters you may use. I will do this for you as well. 9. How to create audio and DVD programs to sell…. quickly…within 14 to 45 days. 10. How to sell product at the back of the room. This can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to you. 11. How to Market yourself as a professional speaker via direct mail and the internet. 12. How to get speakers bureaus to represent you. 13. How to create publicity, both paid and free, and media exposure for yourself via articles in print media and radio and television talk shows. I will also provide names of experts who may help with this. 14. How to promote public seminars. 15. How and where to get the names of companies and associations that hire speakers. 16. How to put together and conduct highly profitable weekend retreats. 17. How to get on going consulting and training contracts. 18. How to sell yourself and your products on the internet. 19. How to design of a powerful, selling landing page for your products. 20. Teach you with how to create and have a strong, interesting and compelling stage presence. (You already have this. I will just tweak if necessary)
I will do all this for a one-time fee. My new office number is 123-555-1212
Joe Blow Mentor and Author of the #1 Best-Selling Book And several best-selling audio programs Sold in 50 countries
Testimonials – 4 lengthy testimonials that included the personal email and phone number of each of the people in mentioned.
Before I share with you Faydra’s response, let’s talk about what’s wrong with this.
- It’s all about HIM HIM HIM except for a very short sentence at the beginning, which comes across as empty flattery. When you look at the language, you can see he is highly impressed with himself so she could be “functioning at his level.” Dude is on an ego trip and clearly is looking down on his not-so-hot prospect.
- Zero Homework. Had he actually taken 2 minutes to look up Faydra Koenig, he’d see she is already quite an accomplished speaker, sought-after media personality, and published author of 6 books. His approach to her was ALL wrong.
- He completely ignored the fact that SHE IS ALREADY A HAPPY CLIENT of someone else, for whom she went to the effort of making a testimonial video. That’s like a Republican political candidate trying to get a vote from a campaign donor for their Democratic opponent. Why? The odds are very low she’ll decide to get speech training from someone else.
- Copy/paste marketing. If you’re sending a direct response post card, for example, or a mass email, then, yes, the message needs to be general to people who represent your ideal clients. But when you’re writing to another single, individual person, consider having a personal message. It’s a lot like how the elevator speech doesn’t work to create a connection. Giving a contrived non-personal message in a personal setting is NOT effective communication.
Now, let’s look at Faydra’s awesome response, which, as you might have guessed, I have received her permission to use 🙂 :
While I am unable to say Thank You for your unsolicited and lengthy sales pitch, I would like to offer you some advice from America’s Crisis Coach.
I am working under the assumption that business tactics vary from one business to the other and that it is entirely possible that your standards differ from mine.
Where I come from, one doesn’t ask to sleep with someone on the first date. Rather, a bit of courtship, some dinner and ample amounts of wine are customarily provided before the big leap to seeing ones’ knickers.
Assuming that we had met organically and you had no idea that Felicia and I were, in fact, close, I might not have had such a strong reaction to your faux pas, but the truth is you used her social media post as a way to try to lure me away from her as a potential client. Where I come from, we call that espionage, which is not unlike girl-code. Both would be treasonous to act upon.
I would no sooner be influenced by your lengthy testimonials than I am by your disingenuous remarks about my powerful presentation- neither of which scored you points. If anything, they had the opposite affect whereby I contacted Felicia promptly to alert her to the fact that you are cat fishing her clientele and she should not only publicly out you, but that she should deny you access to anything she posts on social media.
While I certainly value appreciation for my speaking ability, I am offended that you assume that I am lacking the cache that you claim to be able to help me find. The fact that you did zero research before reaching out to me shows me that you are void of many business skill-sets that will help you in your business.
I fear that your business may be in crisis and as America’s Crisis Coach, I would love to offer you my services to help you master marketing, social media engagement and help you grow your tribe, just as Felicia has grown hers, into a loyal base of men and women who are devoted to your services.
Until then, I offer you this advice- do not solicit customers by watching your competition and casting a wide net. Consider building the know, like and trust factor and you may be amazed at the caliber of clients who come your way.
Faydra~ America’s Crisis Coach
I live on the opposite end of CA. About 10 hours away. BUT I am not opposed to meeting up with you.
Now that you’ve read her fabulous response, here is her equally fabulous testimonial video:
Is it good to have happy, loyal, amazing, brilliant clients? Yes it is. And if you’d like to become one of my happy, loyal, amazing, brilliant clients, send me an email, give me a call, or say so in the comments and I’ll be in touch in a non-smarmy, personal way!
Have you ever received an obnoxious sales pitch on social media that made you feel like you needed a shower? Share your experience in the comments below.
Call it a dress rehearsal for my upcoming nationwide launch of my next book, Kill the Elevator Speech: Stop Selling, Start Connecting later this year. Except that will be carefully planned and orchestrated. You see dress rehearsals are on my mind because last weekend was also my script-writing, stage production, and directorial debut for my daughters’ elementary school production of the show I cobbled together called, “An Evening at Vaudeville.” So mixed in with the wild speaking and media appearances, were daily after school rehearsals, with late nights of getting the program finished, pulling together costumes, and getting the volunteers organized. It was definitely a busy week.
However, my appearances in the media last week were more of a confluence of getting out there spreading my message through speaking and decent marketing, mixed in with a little bit of luck, I’ll freely admit. However, there are a few factors that led to me being featured in 5 different forms of media over the course of just one week, that I think could help your business as well.
- Local TV – I spoke at the Batavia, Illinois Chamber of Commerce Women in Business event for a paid presentation about Credibility and Cash Flow in Social Media. The day before the event, I received an email from one of the event organizers asking if it would be okay with me to have the a local film crew to videotape my presentation for replay on their local cable access TV. So some time this week my speech will appear on cable TV. I agreed on the condition that I receive a copy of the recording to use in my marketing.
- The lesson: Whenever anyone wants to record you, ALWAYS ask for the recording. As a speaker, you need that footage to put on your website, make a demo reel from, or at the very least share on social media as continued social proof you’re out there speaking and doing it well.
- Local Newspapers and Magazine – In conjunction with that same speaking gig in Batavia, the Chamber group had their PR pro send press releases to all the local papers and magazines. All I had to do was approve the copy and she sent it out. I did next to nothing to get my name in the media (not to mention the Chamber’s own websites and social media).
The lesson: Speaking for Chambers of Commerce groups, whether paid or free, you always get the benefit of the Chamber marketing on your behalf. That often means placement in local media, which gets your name out there and allows you to become the “go-to” person in your niche.
- Blog Talk Radio – One of my clients, Brian Basilico, has his own BTR program, BLT Radio, short for Business Life Transitions. He invited me to be a guest to discuss my upcoming book, Kill the Elevator Speech, Stop Selling, Start Connecting.
The lesson: Write a book. That’s first. When you have a book, people want to talk to you about it. Next, Blog Talk Radio is a platform that allows the hosts to store the content, so you can go back any time and use it over and over again. If you’re not sure what to say, have a look at Signature Speech(TM) for Authors for a free gift that will get you started.
- Podcast on iTunes – About a month or so ago, internationally-known author, trainer, and podcaster, Alicia Dunams held a contest to see who should be her next podcast guest. Alicia and I had met years ago on social media and then in person at a live event where I was one of the speakers. I was one of the finalists and because my message about speaking would resonate well with her authors, she decided to interview me about leadership and being “all in” – the name of her podcast.
The lesson: Know the people who are influencers in your community and in your niche. Use the internet to reach out a build relationships and meet them in person at live events so they will remember you.
- BBC – International TV – I recently began using a new app called “Jelly” for social questions and answers, which was released earlier this year by one of the founders and creators of Twitter, Biz Stone. I tend to jump on the newest social platforms as quickly as possible to secure my username and to check it out because many of my clients often look to me to talk about the newest communication tools. Then I was emailed by a producer for a TV programme (you have to spell it that way, because, you know, it’s British!), called “Click.” They have 330 millions viewers and were conducting a story on Jelly and would I be available to answer a few questions? Um, let me think…. YES!!!! So we scheduled it and I spent more than an hour getting the camera right, hurrying up and waiting, and doing the 10-minute interview that had to be boiled down to my 20 seconds of fame. You can see it below. They found me by being on the app. They invited me through my website, I’m convinced, because I had video of me on air to show I can do okay in a televised interview situation. UPDATE – The BBC has added the video to it’s own website right here.
The lesson: Be in the forefront in your area of expertise. Know what the newest innovations are and the newest and hottest trends. Plus do what you can to get any kind of local TV publicity. I learned from Shannon Cherry. The national and international media are far more likely to ask you to be a guest when they know you’ll be a decent guest.
That was my big week in media and speaking. I was so wiped out it took me three days to complete this post!!!
So here it is, my big moment in the international press. The story begins at 12:07 and I come in, literally for 20 seconds, at 14:26. Don’t blink!
Note: My Mom is pretty sure I’m a lot like Taylor Swift. If you do something that upsets me, you’ll not end up in a song, but in a speech, book, and/or blog post as an example of what NOT to do. Here’s an example from my day today. I wrote this and sent it in the mail because the COO’s fax contact information is not readily available.
An Open Letter to Robert Friedberg, Chief Operating Officer of
Delnor Hospital, Geneva, Illinois
Chief Operating Officer
300 Randall Road
Geneva, Illinois 60134
October 2, 2013
RE: Patient Complaint
Dear Mr. Friedberg:
Imagine for a moment that your wife, [name omitted but can be found online], had to make her way to Delnor for a procedure. Yesterday, you would likely have reminded her that the main entrance to the hospital is closed, parking can be a nightmare, and to enter the hospital, it’s probably best to park on the north side because that’s where the entrance is now located. She might have been concerned about whatever health issue was bringing her to the hospital, but it wouldn’t be compounded by the stress and chaos of confusion around where to go and how to get into the building.
I wish I had that same “insider information” this morning. But instead I had to learn all that the hard way when I arrived at the hospital today and tried to find an entrance – any entrance – to the hospital to arrive on time for my appointment to get a CT scan as a follow up to the muco-epidermoid lung cancer I mysteriously contracted last year and had cured by the amazing Dr. Mollie McAfee.
Going to the hospital for most people is stressful enough, or in some cases happy and exciting with the birth of a baby, only to be met by the torn up parking lot, then have that stress exacerbated by severe lack of signage and less-than-friendly staff giving vague directions, and a less-than-empathetic receptionist … I’d be hard-pressed to recommend anyone go to Delnor hospital for any procedure.
I was not the only one lost and confused while trying to get to a destination inside your facility this morning. I was followed closely by several elderly people trying to find their way to appointments and simply an entrance into the hospital. Cutting through the cafeteria or going all the way back to the car to drive around to the other side of the building, all with no signage are not acceptable options. There we were marching through the labyrinth of your parking lot trying to make our way to a front entrance that turned out to be closed, being told by a surly construction worker in broken English that the only way in was to walk back through the parking lot another 250 yards and go in “that door over there with the green roof.” They all have green roofs. Seriously.
All of this confusion could easily have been remedied. I was on the phone yesterday with someone from your staff who called to confirm my appointment. At that time she could simply have mentioned as part of her script that the hospital is undergoing major renovations, to park around the north side of the building, and enter at the temporary entrance on the north (or wherever) side, and to arrive with enough time to allow for the limited parking as a result of the construction. Of course that didn’t happen.
Further, the signage in the parking lot and inside the building for construction-related detours is either abysmal or non-existent. Posted just inside the entrance off Keslinger Road is a small sign with so many directions on it, is impossible to read with traffic following behind, construction vehicles in the way, and the disorientation of the chaos. Why are there not signs posted outside every single entrance with an arrow that say, “Hospital Main Entrance During Construction – This Way?” Why is there not a single LARGE sign with the only two necessary directional lines on them “EMERGENCY” and “MAIN ENTRANCE DURING CONSTRUCTION?” Why are there not ANY easily visible signs at that entrance directing visitors where they should park to enter the building?
I run an international communication consulting practice based out of my home in a nearby suburb. As a best-selling author and award-winning speaker, my clients from around the world pay me to find these communication challenges and suggest easy, quick, and low-cost alternatives to fix them. It seems your organization values good communication, based on the accolades for your nurses posted throughout the hospital. As a patient and a professional, I hope you get this right. Each day that passes is a challenge for your visitors and patients alike. I wonder how many dozens have experienced what I have but instead of alerting you, simply told everyone they know that Delnor is awful?
Felicia J. Slattery, M.A., M.Ad.Ed.
To my blog visitors: Have you ever written a complaint letter to the leader of an organization? What results did you get, if anything? We shall see if I hear anything. I’ll keep you posted.
Content creation is one of those exciting and gray areas all at once. Sure, you know in order to develop your speeches, books and articles you need ideas. And living in the world of ideas is fun! That is — until you’re sitting down at the keyboard for a deadline and that dang cursor is there, staring at you…
…Blinking… (is this thing getting louder?)
Almost mocking you. “I defy you to come up with something good enough for the world to read!”
Know the feeling? Yep, me too. The funny thing is, even with notebooks full of ideas I thought were brilliant at the time, I sometimes can’t think of a thing to write about. I’ll admit it. Even though my clients have called me an “idea-generating machine,” when it comes down to my own work, sometimes I just get plain STUCK.
That’s when our guest post by the fantastic Jeff Herring can help you. Check out what he has to say about creating your content and share your thoughts on his 3 stages in the comments section below!
Guest Post by Jeff Herring
Content creation is a great way to bring in more prospects and profits. And you do want more prospects and profits, right?
The struggle for many content marketers, both new and experienced, is consistently coming up with ideas for creating content. I’ve noticed that many go through a few stages in their struggle to come up with content ideas.
Let’s take a closer look at those three stages and more importantly, what to do about each one.
Stage 1 – Ideas are not flowing – When you sit down to create content you have to repeatedly stop and think about what to write about. The flow has not stopped, it’s just not as easy as it normally is for you.
What to Do – Step back and brainstorm. Make a list of content ideas. Don’t edit – just brainstorm. This is something you need to be doing anyway, so you always have a list of content ideas from which to pull.
Stage 2 – Ideas are a struggle – Even when you look at a list of your ideas, nothing pops out for you. It feels like you are seeing the ideas on a list, but they are not making sense in your head, and not making the trip from your head to your fingers.
What to Do – Take a trip to your supermarket and check out the titles on the covers of the magazines in the checkout line. Thousands of dollars have been spent deciding how to title these articles. Find titles that you can use in your niche and get busy creating great content.
Stage 3 – You are beginning to believe in writer’s block, even though it does not exist. Ideas are not only not flowing, ideas are just plain stuck. Your frustration level is high, and you’re honestly getting a little bit frightened by your lack of ideas.
What to Do – Go to your topic in EzineArticles and look at some of the top articles in your niche. See which ones are getting lots of traffic. Choose an idea that you know will appeal to your community and simply do a better job with it.This is not plagiarism. This is research because you are simply looking for ideas. You are not copying what someone else has said, you are just going to do a better treatment of it because of your skills.
The Next Step – Your next success step is to grab your spot in our upcoming webinar “Your Content Is Their Solution: 7 Powerful & Profitable Reasons to Unleash Your Content Now (Bonus Workshop Included – unleash your own content in 20 minutes or less)” Hosted by Felicia Slattery on Wednesday June 26th at 12 pm EDT – Join us here => http://JeffHerring.com/felicia
Not only is June a great month for me personally with my birthday kicking off the month, but it’s fabulous professionally because it’s also Effective Communications Month! This year marks my 6th annual celebration of communication in business done in a way that honors the humanness of people involved in the communication, marketing, and speaking processes.
I think you’re gonna love what I have planned! I’m hosting a Grammy winner, a former opera songstress, and a best-selling author who’s books have been translated into 21 languages. No we won’t be talking about the music business, but how to effectively get YOUR message out to the world to attract more (and better!) customers and how to communicate with the customers and audiences you have.
I’ll also be featuring interviews with my clients who will share with you communication tips and tools that have worked for them.
Finally, in addition to the free webinars, interviews, videos, and posts, I’m also launching a number of classes and programs during the month. The first of which is my popular 21 Ways to Make Money Speaking Fast Action Group. It’s a small group of people who will be bringing in more and better money speaking before the end of the summer. Join us!
Here’s a rundown of more of what you can expect:
Up first on Wednesday, June 5, I’m being interviewed by Gary Loper on his Building Better Relationships radio show. We’ll be talking all about my upcoming book, Kill the Elevator Speech: Stop Selling, Start Connecting.
Business people everywhere are taught that we need an “elevator speech” just as much as we need a business card, a website, and air to breathe in order to be successful.
But the crazy part is NO ONE likes to give those canned elevator speeches and NO ONE likes to hear them because they’re usually full of blah, blah, blah meaningless marketing drivel and feel so contrived and just yucky. I need a shower just thinking about it!
More importantly, evidence proves even the most well-crafted and best-delivered elevator speeches don’t work to bring in new business.
So if no one likes them and they don’t work, let’s stop doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results! We’ll talk all about it and you’ll discover something BETTER!!
On Tuesday, June 11, Join Grammy winner Mike Stewart and Felicia Slattery as we share the easiest and most exciting way to make online video for your websites, blogs, video emails, Plus for the first time, Mike will be exploring the new video apps live from his iPad that allow you to make incredible videos.
Discover how to get free visitors to your websites, have friends share your videos on Facebook, Pinterest, your blog and YouTube to rise in Google using Mike’s new concept, the Social Media Video Quadfecta. With the new iPad mini already out, online video has never been easier, or more affordable to master and we will show you in this fun and educational webinar!
In a brand new webinar, my friend and colleague Janis Pettit, is going to share with you the insider system that she uses to generate a healthy 5-figures-per-month in sales. She’s calling it: Experts Freedom Formula — How to Finally Leap to Making an Extraordinary Income, a Profound Difference and Creating Financial Freedom.
However there actually is one strategy that top earning experts, coaches, consultants and service business owners use to do exactly that. It’s not something they often share. And it’s so effective that they not only make an amazing income, they also have raving fans, followers and happy clients because they get stellar results.
Those are the first three big events happening. More to come include webinars with Jeff Herring, Shannon Cherry, Susan Baroncini-Moe, and the fantastic Bob Burg! I’ll also be featured on Kelly McCausey’s world-famous podcast for solo entrepreneurs, as well as presenting some webinars of my own.
Also this month, I’ll find the time to finish my author’s version (that is – pre-editing!) of my Kill the Elevator Speech: Stop Selling, Start Connecting book.
Check back regularly for links, details and information about all the fun events and information I’ll be sharing all month long to celebrate Effective Communications Month! If there’s anything you’d like to see, leave a comment below.
Improve Your Speaking Skills – 5 Tips to Stop Saying Um and Ah When Speaking on a Teleseminar, Webinar, or In Person
Today’s blog post comes thanks to a question on Facebook that one of my online friends, Sharon McPherson, saw, tagged me, and recommended me to help with. So thanks Sharon!
Here’s that question as it appeared on Facebook:
As I read this post, I realized I get this question A LOT and have for years. In fact I even wrote an article about it – I knew I did, I just had to find it. It’s on Ezine Articles here. Apparently I never put that article on my own blog (oh if I had a nickel for every time I knew better, but didn’t do something I’d have a second home on the beach already!). I’m fixing that today, and updating it just a bit.
You see, many business professionals think they sound OK when presenting their content on teleseminars, webinars, or even in person. But it’s when they listen to themselves on the recording later or are confronted with a set of transcripts that they realize they have a few issues to improve. The good news is we all can improve when we take that first step: realizing we need help.
One of those problems is ums and uhs; also “like,” “you know,” and other verbal crutches show up a lot in too many presentations. If you want to cut those out, here are my top 5 suggestions for the most effective ways to get past the ums so your message comes through loud and clear:
- Be Aware
This is the important first step. Many people simply have no idea they rely on verbal pauses or disfluencies until they hear themselves on a recording. The first step in overcoming any addition is to recognize and acknowledge that you have one. And truly, people who say um and uh too much are addicted to their crutch words. Having an awareness that you make this mistake will get you that much closer to stopping it.
- Practice Out Loud
If you have a tendency to um and uh, the reason is often because you have an idea of what you want to say next, but you’re not totally certain. So you insert a verbal filler to fill the space while you figure out the next word. Practicing out loud will get you to the point where you are completely comfortable with what you’re saying, and therefore not have the need to um or uh (or at least greatly reduce it). If you plan on delivering the same material multiple times, you’ll have to practice much less often as you gain more experience. If you can, record yourself while practicing so you can hear where you tend to um and uh the most.
- Work From Detailed Notes and Not a Script
You’d think a word-for-word script would make it easier to stop the ums… and it can. But only if you have experience making a script sound natural. Otherwise you’ll sound like you’re reading. That’s the opposite extreme of um and uh and sounds just as bad. Use detailed notes and be sure of the points you want to make.
- Focus During Your Presentation
Listen to yourself as you present your speech or teleseminar. Do not think about anything else other than what you are saying, how you are saying it and your audience: IN THAT MOMENT. People will um and uh when they are distracted from their planned comments. For example, while on a teleseminar, shut down your email, Facebook, and other instant message features so you won’t be visually interrupted (sometimes just the sound of those things can distract you enough to trigger an um.) Don’t try to multi-task while leading a call or doing any type of presentation. Focus and pay attention to the moment.
- Connect with Your Audience
Here’s a fun test to do the next time you’re practicing with a friend: try to say um while making direct eye contact. It’s nearly impossible. Why? Because you’re having a conversation and um isn’t a word. Um doesn’t fit and doesn’t make sense. While you’re having a 1:1 conversation, you would likely avoid um and uh. Make your presentations much more conversational and your um and uh will disappear. On a webinar or teleseminar where you can’t see your audience members, you could post a photograph of your ideal client or audience member where you can see it to remind yourself you’re talking to actual human beings and not just to your computer screen.
Is it crucial to get rid of all the ums and uhs? Experts disagree, but in my decades of experience as a speaker, audience member, and instructor, I haven’t thought less of a speaker who had outstanding content with an occasional um or uh. You don’t have to eliminate every um and uh when the rest of your message is solid. The time to get concerned is when your audience is listening for your next um instead of paying attention to your message. So fix what you can, give yourself a break, and um, keep on public speaking.
As to the reply that Contentrix doesn’t know what I offer – for someone who has verbal fluency issues, I offer several personal services. I will watch a video or listen to a recording and analyze the challenges in both content and delivery, which is delivered as a written report; then I’ll work with and coach the speaker via phone or Skype video chat to improve during a series of private sessions. And I guarantee that anyone who works with me in this intense kind of way WILL improve dramatically.
So now you know!
What kinds of challenges do you recognize in yourself as you speak? And what has worked to help you improve? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below.
At any given time I could have 10-15 games going at once. Interestingly, I’ve only met about half the people I play in person. The other half I know from social media. People see I play, and start a game with me. If I recognize the name of the person from my circles of online connections, I accept and it’s game on.
One of those connections is the lovely and strategic WWF player (that’s my abbreviation for “Words With Friends”), Tracey Thorpe Tarrant.
Tracey is a fantastic person. From her Facebook feed, you quickly learn she is beyond your run-of-the-mill animal-lover. She’s such a devoted rescuer of pets from high-kill shelters, she actually formed her own rescue organization, Claws and Paws Animal Rescue, of which she is the CEO. She saves many animals from too-soon deaths and too-sad lives in the Georgia county where she lives.
Yesterday, my friend, Shannon Cherry was commenting on Facebook about how her search for a new Virtual Assistant was yielding some less-than-ideal results, at least with one applicant.
As you can see, that led to a whopping 37+ comments about virtual assistants. A few of those comments were from some who could do the kind of work Shannon needs. And one of those people was my friend Tracey Thorpe Tarrant, the “dog rescue lady!” – and apparently Virtual Assistant and Online Business Manager. Who knew? Not me. And I am her market.
I told her I had no idea that she did customer service work for businesses like Shannon’s and mine. All this time I figured she was living off the dog rescue business (if that’s even possible).
She quickly commented that she should maybe, once in a while, post about her business. I agree!
Then I asked her if it’d be OK for me to write a blog post about this simple mistake so many people make when networking online (or using one of the many games apps to do so as well).
It’s interesting because I see mistakes at both ends of this spectrum. Some people don’t post enough (or at all) anything work-related but others post way too much, and only work-related things – never anything personal.
The trick to social media, and any networking online or offline, is to communicate the whole of who you are as a person. This whole person communication is one of the most beautiful parts of social media, as far as I’m concerned. Because we are in charge of sharing what we choose about our lives, we get to easily build relationships around a number of things we have in common with others, bit business and pleasure.
Knowing what to talk about and what to leave out can be a challenge. But think of social media as a platform where people want to get to know you a bit. The WHOLE you – business as well as personal.
There is a similar mistake I see a lot of entrepreneurs and experts making; not necessarily leaving out or not talking about what they do for a living, but that they also do (or want to do) speaking for their ideal audiences. If people don’t know that you offer a particular service like public speaking, how can they hire you for it? So many of my clients come to me asking for help, and that’s one of the places I always start. It’s likely they haven’t even mentioned in their bio or about page or anywhere that they do public speaking on their area of expertise.
Want to be sure you’re not making any more common communication mistakes? Pick up my free report Costly Communication Blunders today.
In the meantime, I’d love to know what kinds of things you like to talk about on social media? Please share in the comments below.