Saturday, April 4, 2015

Marketing Fails: How Many Have You Seen?

To the owner of the billboard I pass on the highway each week: "USE A FONT SIZE I CAN READ!" Every time I see a billboard with a giant ad with too many words, in a light colored font, and in a font size I can't read, I feel sorry for that advertiser knowing how much money they are losing. This is all because motorists don't have enough time (nor a magnifying glass in the car) to read the print.

But wait, it's not the motorist's responsibility to read the print, it's the advertiser's responsibility to create an ad that everyone can see! I love the large billboards that have just 1 - 5 big bold words, even if they don't make sense. Each time I pass it, I look a little bit closer to try and determine what the ad is for. But ones in tiny, pastel colors don't get an extra glance.

I learned this lesson and I hope you do to; make sure that your prospects can read the print on your ads. Don't assume they can just because you like how it turned out. I reminds me of the unconscious business presenters who create Power Point slides with intricate diagrams or lists, and then stand there and read from the slide.

Friday, April 3, 2015

I've Already Tried That

The title is one of the most annoying phrases I hear that makes me want to scream. As the author of the Amazon #1 seller, Becoming a Conference Speaker: How to go From Attendee to Breakout to Keynote, I'm approached often by those asking me for advice on how they can increase their speaking gigs or how they can make more money at it. Some even tell me they've been speaking for FREE for too long and want to get paid.

So when these inquisitive people approach me and ask me for some free tips, I usually ask them if they are a member of a local Toastmasters club, do they have a coach, or have they invested in some professional development courses. Unfortunately, the typical response is, "Oh, I've tried that already."

One woman when on and one about how awful the Toastmasters club was and the evaluators seemed to enjoy ripping her speeches apart. Barely able to contain my annoyance, I told here that there are other clubs in the area and has she tried out others. Here response was a vague YES, even though I could tell that it was most likely that she hadn't.

I"d like to wear a sandwich board sign that reads, "Don't ask me how until you have actually worked hard at trying options out first." It seems like people in general want a quick fix solution that they don't have to work hard to find, or they just want sympathy for how hard it is to develop and grow a speaking business.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

6 Requirements for Business Meetings that Work

Whether you’re conducting a business networking group or an association meeting, you have the power to focus on the details that get professionals looking forward to attending every time. Although some of these details may seem trivial to some and common sense to others, here is a list of six characteristics the best business events have that produce productive meetings, attract membership and grow attendance.

Have an Agenda and Follow it. This first one might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s more important than you might think. I attended a business networking meeting as a guest recently, taking the place of a friend who was on vacation. At first I was delighted to see that they were using an agenda, but soon noticed that they weren't following it. A bit confused, I asked the person to my left, where we were on the agenda. His response was “We don’t usually follow it.” So I have to ask, why waste paper and ink if you don’t follow your agenda? Don’t risk losing credibility by ignoring details.

Successful Meetings: How to Plan, Prepare, and Execute Top-Notch Business Meetings

Start, Stay, and Stop on Time. It can be very tempting to start a meeting a little late to accommodate late arrivals or because you’re not ready to start, but you owe it to those who showed up on time to give them what you promised. Some attendees may even feel resentful if you don’t start on time. And even if there is great discussion going on at the end of the meeting, interrupt if for a moment to officially close the meeting so those who need to leave can do so, and invite those who want to remain and chat, to keep the conversation going.

Clearly Explain All Things. Never assume that everyone present knows what to do or what you’re talking about. I've been to meetings in which forms, phrases, names, or terms are mentioned, assuming that everyone knows. Take a few minutes at the beginning of your meeting to review procedures and processes. You may have guests, new members, or even folks who just haven’t come in a while so don’t be afraid to review. Your attendees will really appreciate it.

Provide Adequate Breaks if Possible. If you’re meetings run longer than 90 minutes, it’s very courteous to insert short breaks for networking, to allow people to check messages, or to use the facilities. If you promote people meeting each other, they aren't going to do that sitting in their chair listening to the speaker. One business meeting I attended included promises that we were going to meet our next business partner there, yet the organizers did not include any opportunities to meet others in the audience.

Turn the World Into Your Office

Create Atmosphere. Any marketing experts will tell you that it’s not really the coffee that packs the Starbucks stores. Instead, it’s the atmosphere that does it; the music playing over the speakers, the smell of the products, the attractive d├ęcor and the chance to relax with a beverage or converse with a friend. Holding your meeting in a cold gymnasium with metal folding chairs won’t necessarily inspire people to attend. Dig deep to figure out what changes you can make to your meeting atmosphere.

Participation and Fun. Finally, how can you engage your attendees in such a way that make them feel like they were truly a part of the meeting. People don’t want to sit and be spoken to the entire time. What activities can you implement that help people feel like contributors and in a fun way. Could you give away prizes, host a raffle, organize a contest, or some other activity that make your attendees feel important, and at the same time, allow them to have fun. When people are given opportunities to actively contribute, they feel a sense of satisfaction that they helped make the event a success. Look for unique ways in which your attendees can offer ideas or voice their opinions.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Six Things to do to Attract Success in Your Life

The most recent open networking event I attended became my last. I quickly realized that truly effective networking does not happen in a room full of people who come together to eat appetizers, mingle, and share business cards. I’ll remember that evening forever as the encounters became uncomfortable. It seemed to me that most professionals there were only interested in handing me their business card, hoping I would hire them or send opportunity their way. When they asked what I do and decided there wasn’t a match, their eyes began to dart around the room for their next victim.

How Successful People Think: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life

After that uncomfortable experience, I made the personal commitment to only offer my card if someone asked for it. I also make the commitment to always take a person interest in everyone I meet, instead of trying to get my point across. This personal commitment means doing the following things:

1. Remain quiet while the other person speaks
2. Use my entire face to smile at them
3. Look the other person directly in the eyes
4. Think of questions to ask them to invite them to share more
5. Ask for their card and takes notes on the reverse side so I will remember them
6. Connect with them on Linkedin and fill in the HOW I MET THEM section

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I have found that the more I make it more about them and less about me, the more likely I am to create lasting relationships based on sincerity and true engagement. Those I have connected with have actually come back to tell me (and more importantly, others) how important they feel in my presence. This has lead to wonderful opportunities that eventually came back to me in amazing ways. Author John C. Maxwell once said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I hope this inspires you to change the way you interact with others.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Power of Customer Testimony on Video

Have you ever found yourself about to buy a book or another product on Amazon, and then scrolling down to read the reviews? Have these reviews ever motivated you to complete or cancel the transaction? Customer reviews are more powerful than you might think.

What customers say about a product or an experience have a lot of merit. Before I book a hotel reservation, I find myself looking at reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor to find out what others experiences were like. I also leave reviews of places I’ve been to, to help my fellow travelers have a better experience.

How to Shoot Video That Doesn't Suck

What about your customers you’ve served through your business or your own services? Have you thought about taking advantage of using their comments to help others make the decision to use you and your company? Linkedin is one place where you can request recommendations from those you have served, or those who have seen you perform your service and can attest to the quality you deliver.

Recently, I asked the members of a group I started to, to give their testimony on video about their experience attending our organization meetings. At the conclusion of one of our network meetings, I recorded several members who were willing to speak on camera to share their opinion or our group. Below you will find that video to watch. Where could YOU use video testimonials to attract more customers?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

12 Ways of Pissing off Producers and Ruining Your Chances of Getting on TV

One way of growing your brand and expanding your influence as an industry expert is to become a much sought after contributor to television news programs. That means creating relationships with the producers of those news programs and giving them what they need to do their job… content. All it takes is a little humility, professionalism, patience, and persistence to make it happen.

But all too often I’ve met people who don’t get it and instantly ruin their chances of ever getting on those programs. They’re also the ones who tend to complain as to why they aren’t getting the business they expect. To give something for the rest of us to learn from, here are 12 ways of never getting on TV, courtesy of those who've burned their bridges before us.

Don’t Watch Local TV Programming: Major network affiliates offer local news programming to feature both local and national stories to inform and educate their viewers. Ignore your local stations and don’t take the time to find out if they offer a morning, midday, or early evening local news magazine shows that features local experts.

Don’t Contact Your Local Stations: Most major affiliate network stations have local offices and studios that are staffed by receptionists. Don’t waste your time, trying to find their contact phone numbers, or asking for the names and email addresses of the news magazine show's producers.

Don’t Bother Introducing Yourself: Because you’re far too busy and have so much to get done, don’t reach out to the local producers with an introductory email explaining briefly who you are and what information you can provide them with, to help them beef up their segments.

Don’t Send them Leads: As an industry expert, you’re probably constantly watching for the latest trends and producing content such as books, eBooks, articles, blog posts, and more. Don’t bother to help a producer out by sending an email containing a 3 – 5 bulleted story lead each week that you can comment on. You have way more important things to do.

Take Your Sweet Time Replying: If, by chance, a TV news program producer does respond to one of your leads, wait a few days or even weeks to reply. Better yet, have your assistant reply instead or ignore the email all together. You can’t possibly be expected to fit in one more thing into your day.

Make Your Existing Appointments More Important: When a producer needs an on-air contributor, they may ask an expert to come in at a moment’s notice, or very early in the morning, or even very late at night. Decline the producer’s request by being too busy or unwilling to move existing appointments. This way they are sure not to contact you in the future.

Let Them Know How You Were Inconvenienced: If by chance you get invited into the studio for an on-camera interview and it is cancelled or postponed, place a call or send an email to the producer letting them know how inconvenient that unexpected change was. I’m sure they will apologize and make it up to you.

Demand to Speak with Their Boss: If you have gotten all the way into the studio and your segment is suddenly preempted for breaking news and you’re dismissed, let the producer know how angry you are and demand to speak to her boss about being inconvenienced.

Call and Voice Your Disappointment: If the segment in which you were interviewed did not air on the date and at the time you were told, call or write the producer to let him know how unfair it was for you to have invested your time and effort for no reason. I’m sure they’ll make sure it never happens again.

Do Not Send a Thank You Note: Save your money and don’t buy a box of thank you cards. Forget about sending off a short note of thanks to the news program producer. You can use that valuable five minutes for other more important matters.

Let Them Find Their Own Expert: Once you establish a relationship with a TV show producer, they may contact you out of the blue, when they are seeking commentary on a topic that is close to, but not exactly within your area of expertise. Let them know that you can’t help them or just ignore their request all together. Do not recommend to them, any other experts in your network that may be more skilled at providing what they’re seeking. Why bother helping them if you’re not going to benefit from the opportunity.

Send a “Nasty Gram” Letter to the Studio: Without notice, your emails to the producer are coming back undeliverable, stating that the producer is no longer working there. TV producers experience lots of stress and are under great pressure, which means the person in that position may change frequently. But that’s not your problem. Send an email or letter to the studio describing your inconvenience of having to start the process of finding the contact information for the new producer, all over again.

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As ridiculous as some or all of these points might sound to you, I’ve seen or heard unconscious professionals making these exact mistakes. I coach experts in growing their speaking business. I help my clients understand how busy producers are and what it takes to grow yourself as an industry expert that producers call first. I welcome comments on how you’ve seen others make these mistakes, or new ones that I did not include in this piece.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Remove Toxic People from Your Circle

One night my wife and I were leaving a business social event. We couldn’t help but share with each other what lingering feeling we had after listening to this other couple bicker with each other and complain to the rest of us. Neither of them had anything encouraging to say and the presence made us want to leave. That’s the night several years ago, that together, we decided on two very important things going forward.

Our first important decision, as entrepreneurs, was that we needed to surround ourselves with only encouraging and supportive people. Over the next few days we began ‘cleaning house’ by listing all the adults in our lives who we felt were toxic, and removing them from our guest list. These are the people who complained and berated others, bickered with each other in front of others, and the ‘doubting Thomas’ who usually tell you every reason why your new idea won’t work.

The second thing we did was to promise each other to always speak respectfully and kind to each other and about each other if the other was absent. We promised never to air any issues we have with each other in public and to address them with each other privately. This also includes not making each other the butt of a joke or busting on each other in a humiliating way.

To cultivate an effective relationship and life as entrepreneurs, it’s critical to remain positive, encouraging and to always focus on gratitude for all of the gifts that appear in our lives each day. Steer clear of the ‘crabs’ that will always try and pull you down to join them in their bucket of misery or misfortune.