Monthly Archives: September 2019

Sep 30

The Importance of Being Inefficient

General Info

The Importance of Being Inefficient

I turned 40 years old in April. One major goal of mine I’ve aspired to maintain: be the same weight at 40 as I was at 30. Aside from lifting weights four days a week, I knew I had to step-up my overall activity to maintain that goal. I figured that walking 10,000 steps per day and tracking them with my Fitbit would do the trick, but little did I know the benefit it would have on my business life too. That benefit?

The importance of being INefficient.

Wait, what?

The psychology of good intentions

How many apps have you downloaded for your smartphone that you’ve never used? There are apps to help you get motivated, and apps to help you relax. Apps to track to-do lists, and apps to track the things you’re not doing. Maybe you’ve checked out the latest Fitbit models with hopes that a new gadget would push you toward your goals?

Just the process of downloading an app makes you feel productive. Why? You’re visualizing a new & improved version your future self. “The new me is going to be so much more organized,” you tell yourself. After downloading the app, you go back to your normal life feeling great about how your future self will use the software.

Nothing changes, though. The improvements don’t happen because the work doesn’t get done. The same phenomenon applies to new gym memberships and New Year’s resolutions.

How do I know this? I’m as guilty of this as anyone. I absolutely hate wasting time, and oftentimes I’ll only be halfway through a task before thinking of ways to improve the process. I’ve downloaded at least six photo-editing apps alone to help me crop a picture in three seconds less than normal. The net result? This dreaded message:

Here’s what I realized about walking 10,000 steps per day — there are no apps, software, or systems that will accomplish it for you. You simply have to put in the work. Instead of finding ways to be more efficient, I find myself being deliberately INefficient.

Instead of competing for that perfect parking spot in a crowded lot, I park further and further away from buildings I visit just to add an extra couple of hundred steps. I look for an excuse to spend more time doing something that’s impactful to my goals.

How can this apply to you? What could benefit your business life that’s deliberately INefficient?

This may run contrary to what you’ve read about success in business. Heck, it even contradicts some of the stuff I’ve written myself.

Once I stopped being obsessed with efficiency, I found myself spending my time doing things that mattered to both myself to other people. 10,000 steps per day transcended my personal health goals and created a series of habits obsessed with effectiveness.

Are you letting efficiencies get in the way of effectiveness. 

Please share with a friend who would benefit.

Sep 23

Social Media Scene: How to Compel Your Staff to Share Your Firm’s Social Media Posts

Social Media

Social Media Scene: How to Compel Your Staff to Share Your Firm's Social Media Posts

LinkedIn is often credited with coining the term “employee advocacy” as the active promotion of your company by the people who work for it.

Sounds easy enough … just tell your employees that they need to share good news about your firm or services, and you’re done, right? If this is your strategy, say hello to limited engagement and mundane, template-sounding social media posts from your staff.

If you already have an amazing firm culture, this strategy might work because your employees want to brag about the awesome entity for which they work. But for those firms looking to earn the respect of the tremendous social media force they have within their own walls every day, you’re going to need to work for it.

There is an old adage that states: “We love our parents, because they loved us first.” For those of us as parents, this is both straightforward and inherent. But taking this lesson and applying it to your business is also the best way to make employee advocacy actually work. If you try to implement an employee advocacy program before you’ve shown your employees that you truly care about them, it might not be very well received. You’re essentially asking your employees to love you before you love them.

Let’s think about a service-based organization that’s been around for a while. I bet you’ve seen one of those plaques hanging on the wall of a McDonald’s — usually over the counter, but still visible enough for customers to notice. McDonald’s has been naming an “Employee of the Month” long before social media existed. They do this to show appreciation to an employee that has recently gone above and beyond in their position. This strategy has merit, but it also has drawbacks such as limited reach and a finite amount of real estate on the wall where they can display this act of kindness.

Fast-forward to 2018. Every firm in the world has an unlimited amount of space on their digital and social media platforms. Businesses have the opportunity to create an endless amount of content focused on their employees and their lives inside and outside of the office — what they’re passionate about, their hobbies, their goals. This is the kind of authentic engagement and appreciation that will make an impact in their minds and, more importantly, their hearts. These are the types of posts that make employees want to share things about their employer, because they feel appreciated and cared for by the boss.

Are you doing this for your staff? If not, consider advocating for your employees first before you ask them to advocate for you. Give your employees a reason to care.

What Should Your Employee Advocacy Strategy Look Like?

Outline an Approach

Choose the platform on which you’ll focus first. I recommend LinkedIn since it is business-centric and doesn’t blur business/personal lines like Facebook. Then, create a content calendar that includes an appropriate number of posts highlighting someone/something else three-quarters of the time. Use the other one-quarter to say something about your firm or firm’s initiatives.

Get to Know your Employees

Spend time getting to know your employees. Have a conversation with them focused around what it is they do outside of work or what they are passionate about in their free time. Maybe they volunteer at the humane society or take care of elderly adults on weekends. It’s important to both hear and understand their stories. If you want them to tell yours, tell theirs first.

Create Content

Once you have the information about the staff that you’d like to share, decide the media that best suits their personality and story — video, image(s), simple text or anything else that effectively conveys the message.

Define Success

Employee advocacy can radically extend your reach and awareness. Since employee shares are seen as more genuine because of their very personal approach, more people are going to engage and take part in the content. This expanded network could eventually mean bigger and better business development opportunities. A brand’s online visibility has never been more crucial, and a huge factor in modern-day business includes its social media presence.

The long-term success of any company relies upon its work force, and your employees are the only component that make your firm — by definition — unique. Recognize each employee’s impact on your entire employee advocacy program. It shouldn’t be just the top performers — each person in your firm contributes to a larger cause. Congratulate and recognize their contribution regardless of size.

And finally, let your team have a voice in choosing material that truly resonates with their careers and personal lives. By doing so, you make them part of the entire curation process, and this will result in drastically more authentic engagement.

Have you instituted an employee advocacy program at your firm yet, whether in name or in practice? Are you sufficiently shining the spotlight on your employees before you’re asking them to publicize you?

Sep 16

Why You Need Video Posts on Your LinkedIn Company Page

LinkedIn , Social Media

Why You Need Video Posts on Your LinkedIn Company Page

For a little over a year, LinkedIn company pages have been allowed to do video postings. I don't see a lot of companies doing it, though. Through data, I can show you why you should really be posting video on your LinkedIn company page.

Let's take a deeper look into why.

When you look at a typical company page LinkedIn post you can see some stats at the bottom (when viewing the page as an administrator). Typical posts include status or photo posts. You can see the impressions, reactions, click-through rate, comments, shares, clicks, and the engagement rate. This seems like a lot of data...

But what if I told you that you could gain even greater insights by posting video content?

Here are the steps how:

Step One: Click Show Stats in the lower left corner of any video post.

Step Two: Click on the 'Total Video Views' blue number.

Step Three: Analyze Lifetime Data then proceed by selecting 'Audience'.

Step Four: Analyze further business analytics.

These analytics are GOLD (not literally, but they are pretty much just as valuable).

The analytics include the 'lifetime' of the video (the average length of watch-time by viewers), the views (number of times the video was watched) and the number of  viewers (or unique people that have watched the video for longer than 3 seconds). 

But, if you click on 'Audience' what you'll see is data that we just don't get from typical posts.

THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT. Why?

Walking from right to left on your screen, we see the locations from which people have come. This can be especially useful when trying to target certain audiences by geographic location.

The second column is the job title of the person...which also useful information.

But there is one section that is particularly fantastic.

This is the 'people from these companies viewed your post' section.

If you are responsible for your company LinkedIn page, accessing this data and presenting it to the person who oversees your work will set you apart. Those doing business development and other sales-related roles love to know who's seeing your marketing material. Why is that?

Here's what I discovered after doing 3000+ business development meetings - sales is about confidence more than anything else.

There is a monstrous gap in sales between 'I have never heard of your company before' and 'for some reason your company rings a bell'. Imagine if you empower your business development people, your sales professionals, or other co-workers by saying:


 "We published this video and these people from this company saw it."

How would that make them feel? It would make them feel very confident. It would make them feel pretty darn good, because marketing is helping them do their jobs better.

So what do I want you to do?

Think about doing very simple LinkedIn company videos. These videos don't need to be overly developed or big productions. Just do short bios of people contributing to business development at your company or something you think might be useful for your audience.

Take that data, share it with those who are doing business development, and let them know about your contribution. What you are doing is bridging the gap between 'I have never heard of you in my life' and 'for some reason you ring a bell'.

I hope you found this useful! Have you posted a LinkedIn video on your company page? How did you analyze the data? Did you find something different than me? I would love to hear in the comments below!


Sep 09

Do-It-Once Method: The Easiest Way to Streamline Your Digital Communications

Marketing

Do you ever feel like you’ve written the same email response twice? Three times? Maybe even several times in one day?

If you’re interacting with either customers or prospects, a few themes permeate your email inquires (whether the questions are explicit or implicit):

  • What does X (your product or service) cost (initially and ongoing)?
  • What problems are you solving?
  • How does it compare with your competitor’s products?

When you have a moment, open your email and take a look. Look for those emails you’re sending over and over that have very little (if any) variety. Think about it: when something is typed, recorded via digital audio or video, etc., it lives forever. This is the first step in the Do-It-Once (DIO) methodology. When your company implements this, it will completely change the way you deal with prospects and customers.

The same emails = a Do-It-Once template

Maybe after digging into your Sent Items, you realize that there are, in fact, many similar themes to your email interactions. You’ve gone a step further and created some email templates you use to answer questions you’ve gotten before and don’t want to simply type over again. Saved you some time, right? You didn’t have to type the email itself and you didn’t have to proofread it for grammar or typos. You simply sent the well-crafted template instead.

If you don’t have email response templates yet, you might think you should stop here and create some right now. You could take an hour or so to go through your email, find the recurring themes that would benefit from a prepared response, and type the templates.

Hold on a second, though.

If you’re taking the time to develop the template system, let’s go one step further and make a mechanism by which all of your staff will communicate with prospects and customers the exact same way. Instead of different email accounts containing different email templates (and some having none at all), what if you had a repository of responses — a library of sorts — that everyone could utilize when interacting with prospects and customers? Better yet, what if you could gauge the efficacy of this system by way of data supporting your efforts? We could create a consistent customer experience system.

Whether a prospect or customer or yours is interacting with your most seasoned employee, or someone who just finished their initial training, the written content will be unambiguously consistent throughout. If prospect A asks typical question No. 4, then the corresponding answer will be sent as a response via an email link. Regardless if the answer is sent by the external salesperson, internal salesperson, support staff, etc., everyone involved in the sales process will know what’s already been communicated, and what hasn’t.

You might be asking yourself, “How is this any different than an automated email marketing system? You know, one of those services that sends emails automatically to your mailing list.” Here’s how it’s different: When you and your staff are responding to individual requests — in other words, something that requires you to push the Send button from your computer/phone/tablet — those ad hoc emails are oftentimes unedited and only between two parties. Everyone else involved in the sales process — unless we’re getting involved in the Cc: and Reply All merry-go-round — is unaware of what’s happening.

What if you (or whomever) could respond to an ad hoc request like this:

Sam — Thanks so much for your email! This is a very common question, and we actually wrote an article that we published on our website addressing what you asked, as well as some related concerns. Here’s a link to it …

If you have any other thoughts, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Thanks,
You

Then, you — or whomever wrote the email — updates your CRM system to reflect that you responded to typical question No. 4 with the link to the article on your website. When you’re doing your weekly review of open loops and proposals, you can check the website link to see if Sam clicked on it, as well as what happened after that. Did she read more articles, read customer testimonials, or take a look at pictures or videos detailing your company’s offerings?

Do-It-Once — A Living Repository

This repository is also purposely designed to be dynamic. Let’s say you write an article intending to educate your target customer on gluten-free recipes (you’re running a bakery) as of 2013. Then, you find a 2014 update and the statistics support your content to an even greater extent. How do you ensure that everyone starts using the more relevant up-to-date data? Send an email that says, “Now hear this. Everyone start using this data instead of the older stuff”? How do you ensure that the message was received? Ask to be Cc:’d on all emails relating to this data? If you’re not using an article library — a one-stop source for the accurate message you’d like to convey — the 2014 data may or may not be disseminated. By using an article library to ensure a consistent customer experience, you or whomever wrote the article edits it once on your company website, pushes the Update button, and it’s done. Everyone at your company continues using the same email response and link with no stoppage in the workday.

A consistent customer experience program is simple, but not easy. The concept may seem commonsensical, but implementing a Do-It-Once methodology requires concerted effort to ensure your messages are clear and educational — as opposed to sales-related — in tone.

How would implementation of a Do-It-Once methodology improve your business? Could you rest assured knowing communication with your prospects and customers would remain consistent? How would efficiencies improve? Alternatively, what shortcomings do you see in this methodology?

Sep 09

Here’s the Guaranteed Way to Get Someone’s Attention on Social Media:

Social Media

Here’s the guaranteed way to get someone’s attention on social media:

But first, what got me thinking – I’m speaking at a conference in Vegas next week, and my email address was added to the list where vendors/business partners can reach out.

After receiving dozens of emails stating exactly the same thing – “Come to our booth and meet so-and-so, win a prize, see our latest product/service, etc.” I haven’t seen an email stating why a conference attendee would actually benefit from visiting the booth. 

Email campaigns are kind of like that, right? You email a bunch of people, some open, and a smaller amount of those openers take the action you want.

Social media is much, much different because the goal isn’t to shout at everyone, but to start conversations. 

The guaranteed way to get on someone’s radar, then: find something they’ve done, be it them individually, their firm, or their company, and use social media to highlight it. Tag them (use the @ sign) to ensure they see YOU are publicizing THEM.

Is this more work than sending an email? Yep. Is it more effective? At least 10x. 

And don’t forget this old adage from sales – “Things work so well, you stop doing them.” Make this an integral part of your business development process.

Do you agree with my strategy?

Sep 02

How to Maximize the Results of Your Pitch Competition

Business Development , Marketing , Social Media

how to maximize the RESULTS of your Pitch Competition

A founder of a startup company came to me with a compelling question: “How can we use social media as a strategy before, during and after aevent?” The specific event he was referring to is a popular pitch competition that he is attending with his team. In fact, it is so sought after, only 15 groups can attend this event from all over the world. Preparing a social media strategy is not only a great way to introduce other companies to your followers, but to gain recognition for both you and your brand. Here's what to do before, during, and after your pitch opportunity.

What to do before your pitch competition

  1. Do research on the companies that are going to be attending the event. In this specific case, the Founder and his team will study the other 14 companies presenting at the pitch competition FoodBytes, follow them on social media, and begin their outreach plan.
  1. Come up with an eye-catching message that will make yourself stand out. You can enhance this message by including a graphic (our design team utilizes Canva). When you begin the outreach process, tag the CEO/Founder of the company and FoodBytes (or the host of other events). Here is a sample message: 

“We're looking forward to meeting you at #FoodBytes and learning more about you and your company <use company social media handle> there!” 

  1. Continue to make new connections by following or connecting with CEOs or Founders of the other companies. A great platform for doing this is LinkedIn. Ensure that your LinkedIn profile says a little about you and what you do, and then before try to connect with others.
  1. Create  team pictures with branded designs and add them to your Instagram Page. 
  1. When you begin to use your social media platforms to highlight the other people at a pitch competition, a question that founders and their teams will ask you is, “Why are you doing this for us?” Your answer should be as simple as, “Why would I not do this for you?” Consider this equation: 

 Social media (free) + Research (a little time) + Publicizing other people = GOOD BUSINESS 

Spencer X Smith and Alan Webber from Fast Company

AmpliPhi Founder Spencer X Smith with Fast Company Founder Alan Webber

What to do during your pitch competition

  1. Walk into the event with confidence because people are going to know who you are. You have done your research and reached out to those who are attending the event. Think of your engagement as though old friends are catching up, not introducing themselves for the first time.  
  1. Using Twitter, engage in real-time with other pitches and the event itself. Remember, it's your job to help THEM look good.
  1. Ensure you take lots of photos with the other Founders and their teams to share on social media platforms. Prove that you are who you say you are and celebrate each other’s successes.   
  1. Utilize event hashtags (and company hashtags if you have one) in your posts. It's likely the use of these hashtags will have an explosive amount of activity during the conference, but not so much following the event. Capitalize on where people are paying attention.

What to do for follow up after your pitch competition

  1. Post, post, post!! Use platforms such as LinkedIn and Instagram to showcase what you did at the event. Share the photos you took with other Founders and their teams and tag them to increase engagement. Again, help highlight them and what they do.
  1. Follow-up with the people you met using video messages. Soapbox from Wistia is a great resource for creating video messages. This is a much, much more personal way to share your message and help people recall who you are. Remember, they are going to meeting a lot of new people; you want to be the one who stands out! Don't relegate yourself to simply using email. Use personalized videos through Soapbox to solidify who you are in your prospects' minds.

How do you use social media strategies before, during and after an event? Did I miss anything? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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