Introvert to Impromptu Presenter: How Do I Do It?

“The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some it’s a Broadway spotlight, for others, a lamplit desk.” ~ Susan Cain

What’s it take to run a successful business?

For me, as an introvert, I needed to develop social confidence. That meant attending public events. Lots of them. In my first 3 years of business, I attended 3 to 5 networking events, within a 150 mile radius, per week. When my confidence wanes, or when I get too comfortable, I add more to my agenda.

This week I attended my first Medici Magic Meetup sponsored by the Medici MediaSpace, a new co-working space in St. Louis. Upon entering the room, several pairs of eyes turned to greet me—always an anxiety-inducing situation for an introvert. However, I implemented my GOYA strategy for a successful event, which included the dreaded saying hi to everyone in attendance. Individually.

Next, each of the 15 attendees were offered a moment to introduce themselves. When my turn came, with heart rate and blood pressure soaring, I introduced myself as:

A content development service which attracts clients and guides them through the sales funnel, plus an introvert coach to help introverts achieve their social goals.

Next, we were briefed on Medici’s event format where the audience chooses the discussions. No longer one to let my social fears hold back opportunity, my arm fired into the air, terrifying my brain into whipping up a topic before I was called on: Content Creation: Where are you in the Sales Funnel?

Throughout the first 4 mini-presentations, I listened, participated, while putting together an on-the-spot discussion. With 20 minutes left in the 2 hour meetup, Josh Levey, a co-founder for Medici, pointed to me and said, “I want to say first that you are the most fun introvert that I ever met!” (Thank you, Josh!) I stood, anxiety returning once again, and shared a quick story about being an introvert, my 2-hour parking lot panic and my reward system of chocolate. The crowd enjoyed my story and I noticed a woman, in the back, with a bright smile directed at me. My presentation went well, I received great questions, replied with solutions, and concluded with a call to action.

The result:

  • Several attendees and I had extended conversations
  • It was suggested I do a Ted Talk about my introvert experience—an opportunity that I would never have considered <2 years ago!
  • I arranged an interview for the Missouri SourceLink
  • I’ll be an upcoming guest on the TLC Radio show
  • I provided an introduction for one of the attendees

As I was heading to leave, Theo Clark of TLC Radio, called me aside and introduced me to the woman with the bright smile: Brittany Blount, executive assistant and radio producer with TLC Radio. As a fellow introvert, she was eager to ask me, “How did you do it?”

Again, I was flattered. I shared that I still experience anxiety and it’s an ongoing process to accomplish my goals. Then she asked, “How long did it take you to get over it?”

“It’s not something you’ll be totally rid of nor will you want to,” I explained. “There is strength and joy in solitude, thriving in our own company, and working in a quiet environment.”

With pen and paper ready, Brittany was ready to catch every nugget:

  • Acknowledge and accept your introvert tendencies; that includes the anxiety in social situations. Practice at home, in front of the mirror, and if you are comfortable, in front of family members.
  • Recognize your weakness: which part of a social situation is hardest for you: convincing yourself to attend? Introducing yourself to others? Entering an existing conversation? Exiting a conversation? Once you identify that, ask yourself what it will take to move past the fear.
  • Practice & prepare; have your tagline, elevator speech, and answers to potential questions memorized. Know them so well that you can present without freezing or Filler Words.
  • Go with a goal: what do you wish to accomplish from this event? You are there for a reason, so have your goals memorized so you don’t flee when the discomfort appears.
  • Make the situation about others: start by saying hello and asking them to share what they do. Then listen. But be ready, they’ll ask you the same question.
  • Reward yourself: not before, not during. After! Have that reward waiting for you in the car or at home.
  • Relax: even with your reward and the satisfaction of reaching your goal, you’ll be exhausted. Find a quiet place. Block off noise, people, and distractions. If that’s difficult for your family to understand, let them know you need some undisturbed time alone.

Getting to where I am now isn’t easy and requires ongoing practice, refining, pushing past self-doubt and sometimes tears. What keeps me going is the desire to solve content catastrophes for my clients—making the client my priority. With time, patience, and understanding, you can do it and remain true to yourself.

To learn more about my GOYA Strategy and introvert coaching, call me at 314-856-5747 or write me at kris@kristhescribbler.com

Kristen Edens
An introvert in business

Spell Check, Auto Correct and Human Error: Which is More Accurate?

digitalart at freedigitalphotos.netWriting is a task that has haunted many of us throughout our lives. It started with all those essay-writing classes in high school and college. As we slogged through the horror and boredom of writing a persuasive essay on school uniforms, we wondered what possible use this would have when we grew up.

Now that you own a business, you know: we must write convincing messages to attract our audience.

The stakes are much higher too: a paycheck vs a grade.

We always seek ways to make writing easier, but despite the inventions, it’s one of those tasks that will continue to require personal attention. Consider the following paragraph:

Deer Fiends,

I’m righting today to explain the importance of spelling and grammar. Too many people really on spell check. Adz you can see it isn’t reliable. How due ewe feel reading this? Ids it confusing? Too many people right fast than hit sent. Allot of use don’t like two right. Or you won off them? Unless you love to right, it’s a chore and most business owners don’t want two spend to mush thyme. Shore, this is an extreme example, but it represents the value of care fool writing and rereading.

Terrible, right? However, this passes all the ‘check’ features. Even though we try to set aside some undisturbed time to create our content, interferences often occur. Plus, if we are running behind schedule and the writer’s overwhelm builds up, then the tendency is to just write then hit send. How many times have you spotted your own errors just after hitting send?

To avoid these mistakes, try one or all of these ideas to help:

Ideas come at any time; have a notepad and pen available to scribble your ideas down. Don’t lose that thought. Now is a good time to write fast.

Just write: while this can be detrimental when we’re in a hurry, when you are initially writing a blog, a letter or even an email, it’s okay to write fast. That way you’re one brain cell ahead of the internal editor.

For emails: add the recipient’s address at the end. It’s too easy to be in the midst of an email draft and accidentally hit send. Ugh! After your e-signature is added, then it’s safe to add the email address and hit send.

Let it simmer: yes, we’re all in a hurry, but stepping away from your computer long enough to stretch your muscles or get a drink is enough time to cleanse the mental palate. Return to your document and reread. How many errors did you catch?

Is it lengthy? The longer the document, the easier it is to miss our own mistakes. During your simmer stage, let a co-worker read your work. Let him or her make the changes or send the work back with track changes. It may slow the progress—a little—but this step eliminates the embarrassing mistakes, and the potential to lose your audience.

It’s normal to make mistakes, but when it comes to business writing, don’t rely on spell check for your messages. The human touch is your best tool.

Happy writing!
Kris the Scribbler

photo credit goes to digitalart of freedigitalphotos.net

Integration: Combining Your Gifts for a Knock-Out Content Marketing Plan

Part 5 of the 5-I series

Growing a business, developing a brand and integrating your efforts into your marketing plan all play an important role in your business success.

Each part represents something only you can deliver to your target market and it’s up to you to use your talents and time to integrate those tools for success.

So how do you get started?

The good news: there is no wrong way.

The bad news: it takes time.

The good news: your choices are entirely up to you.

More good news: the combinations are almost endless.

What will you choose?

If you need a refresher, take a look at the links to the previous 4-I installments that discuss individuality, image, inspiration and innovation. Next, how would you answer these questions?

  • How can you integrate your discoveries into your marketing plan?
  • What options are best suited for social media?
  • Which is suitable for your website?
  • Which will work as a blog?
  • What is worthy of a trade journal article?
  • How about a newsletter?
  • Or a press release?
  • Which discoveries would make informative presentations?
  • How could you apply your knowledge or experiences into a video?
  • Where can you teach about your product, service, idea or discovery?
  • Get creative: what ideas do you have?

News, discoveries, and events are all content worthy and are suited for the options listed above. Which excited you? Jump on those now. Which scare you? Build on your successes before you tackle one of the options that scare the willies out of you. If teaching terrifies you, then don’t feel pressured to do it. However, tackling something that scares us or is way outside our comfort zone may lead to unexpected results.

Below are two examples that demonstrate the 5-I topics. One outlines a plan for a fictional landscape company, the other outlines a plan for a fictional medical office.

The Green Scene Landscaping Team has discovered a new method for eliminating dandelions from the lawn. Here is a content marketing plan for The Green Scene Team:

  • They’ll start by writing a blog about their method then provide links to their social media sites.
  • Then they’ll share the discovery on industry-related Linked in groups.
  • They’ll also share with LI groups focused on their target market.
  • Team members will create youtube videos of the process and share links.
  • The owner may consider writing a white paper or booklet. This information product may be used to increase revenue or to handout at tradeshows, networking groups, or home & garden shows. It could also be a giveaway for newsletter sign-ups.
  • Offer how-to webinars or classes at local nurseries, garden centers or community gardens. Include handouts or a booklet for attendees.
  • Write a press release informing contacts and groups about the webinars or the dandelion elimination process.
  • Consider direct mail postcards to inform past and current clients of the new service offering.
  • The Green Scene Team will write a case study about how the new process solved a client’s dandelion disasters. They can share it on the company website and include the story in their next newsletter. Maybe the client will do a video testimonial for the Green Scene!
  • They’ll ask opinions, gain feedback, offer discounts or contests for the funniest story that comes from their dandelion discovery.

As their visibility grows, they’ll continue to collect testimonials, recommendations and referrals from satisfied customers. These make great excerpts for a website or social media channels. Along the way, they’ll continue to write blogs, articles and other marketing pieces that develop from their experiences.

Another scenario:

Dr. Steven King (spelled with a ‘v’), Sports Specialist, has opened a private practice and is now accepting new clients.

Dr. King’s integration formula will follow some of the steps similar to the Green Scene, but will vary by order and format.

  • He’ll start with a press release announcing his new practice. He’ll send this to his contacts, past clients, peers, and his target market and referral sources. His goal will be to first develop awareness and share contact information.
  • Next, Dr. King will send a follow-up press release announcing the details on his open house. He’ll include incentives like contests, giveaways or health screenings.
  • He’ll post this information on his social media sites, perhaps write a blog about his reason for opening a private practice and share 5 Reasons Why a Sports Specialist is Important for High School Intramurals, for example.
  • He may create a brochure or flyer to handout at networking or association meetings. He’ll share his brochure with target market sites such as schools, Urgent Care Centers, YMCAs, fitness centers and similar locations.
  • The day of the event, he’ll meet and mingle, answer questions and interpret health screenings and discuss important issues with attendees. Much of what he hears and discusses will become future content for his blogs and newsletters.
  • He’ll have a promotional item to give away; perhaps a magnet that has tips to identify a muscle strain from a sprain.
  • Dr. King will have a drawing for a free sports physical, and will collect email addresses for his monthly newsletter.
  • Share pictures and stories from the open house on his social media sites, making sure to respect privacy concerns of attendees.
  • He’ll write a blog about common summer sports injuries, for example, and post it on his website. Then he’ll share the links on his social media platforms.
  • Then he’ll put together a newsletter which welcomes his new ‘followers’, introduces his staff, includes links to his blog, provides information on his next event and possibly addresses news in his specialty.
  • He could create a video on field treatment of a sprain and share the links online.
  • He’ll ask for questions or provide tips of the day on his social media sites. He’ll respond to questions and comments, which may inspire new blog topics and will keep the cycle flowing.

How do these ideas inspire you? What ideas come to mind for your business? Whether established or a start-up business, there are plenty of opportunities to integrate your own unique blend of individuality, inspiration, image and innovation. Remember: News can come from anywhere. Not only does one idea give you dozens of ways to reach a market, each of them is content worthy.

Are you still struggling to put it all together? Give me a call or send me a note. We’ll figure out an integration plan that’s perfect for you. It takes time, patience and persistence, but it’s definitely possible.

Happy writing!

Kristen

Inspiration: The Magic That Gets Us Moving

Necessity is the mother of invention but inspiration is what gets us where we’re going; it helps us choose our careers, it gives us direction and purpose. When effectively shared, it also attracts and motivates our customers. But how do we accomplish this?

First of all, inspiration is defined as (from Miriam-Webster online):

  • the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions
  • the act of influencing or suggesting opinions

However, it’s difficult to be inspiring and innovative when a business owner is responsible for every aspect of their business. We all have only two hands, a limited budget, and 24 hours to work with. So how do we get it done?

Start with ideas

  • Ideas come from taking a chance or stumbling upon something unexpected.
  • Or going with an idea that sounds a little out-of-the-ordinary.

Add a little bit of your individuality to your idea and inspiration is born. Then others become curious and more aware. Then they share. We’re all starved for the latest, newest, greatest thing. Sometimes we won’t know we want it or need it until you have come up with it—and then inspired us to want it or need it!

Experiment with your idea

Once you’ve got a new idea or approach—play with it:

  • Blog
  • Website
  • Social media
  • Direct mail
  • Photos
  • Events and appearances

For instance, develop that idea with an event. Write a blog article or news release about it. Share it everywhere—from online to in person. Your potential clients often end up finding you (or your event) online before they meet you in person.

  • Are you an artist? Set up a small display at a café.
  • A dental office? Offer special rates to self-insured or military families.
  • A landscape designer? Demonstrate your skills and creativity by designing and planting the green space within a cul-de-sac island.
  • A social media expert? Create a webinar on the newest trends for business owners.

Implement your results

  • What were your results?
  • What did you learn?
  • What feedback did you receive?
  • How will this inspire you to improve yourself, your business and those who seek you out?
  • Use these results to adapt your idea to better solve their problems.

Not only will you learn a lot from each experience, this is all news worthy. Write about it and share it with your existing followers. Small businesses and entrepreneurs are where the best ideas come from. Begin experimenting with your ideas but remember these tips:

  • Do not hesitate
  • Be visible & be available
  • Take chances: the unknown may be scary, but it has the potential to make things happen!

Happy writing!

Looking for Business Feedback? Body Language is a Cool Tool

  • Knowing our audience.
  • Understanding their needs.
  • Finding their pains.
  • Identifying their weaknesses.

Some of this can be learned just by observing a prospect’s body language.

Even if you think you don’t read or understand body language, there are basics you pick up on without realizing it. Consider these scenarios:

  • You meet someone at a networking group and you share your tagline with each other. How will you know if the person is interested in learning more about you? What facial visual cues will you observe? How will his posture reflect his interest?
  • You’ve already had two phone conversations with a prospect and now you are meeting to discuss details about a service she’s going to purchase from you. You’re ready to close the deal but she’s hesitant about something. How can you tell? What actions or cues are you observing that give you this hint?
  • You’re attending a trade show and you’re booth is looking great: you’ve got your newest products, your handouts are displayed prominently and you even have a free giveaway. But people pass your booth by. Do they look at you? Your booth? What is happening elsewhere?

But remember: body language works both ways. Think about what your behavior and actions are telling others. Do you look interested? Friendly? Professional? Desperate? Are you smiling? Are you distracting yourself—with your cell phone or something else? Are you approachable? Are you invasive?

Body language reveals a lot about ourselves and others so how can we apply this to our business and our professional lives?

We already implement services such as surveys and questionnaires but getting out and interacting with our clientele and our prospects enhances the experience.

As you get to know your ideal customers, watch their body language. If someone is looking unhappy, uncomfortable or uncertain, respond to it. Find out what they need. What is the source of their problem? Ask them their opinion on how you and your business can help. Not only will you gain insight into your product and service offerings, you’ll gain several blog topics to write about. Your discoveries can lead to social media posts and news to address in your newsletter. Remember: anything can be content and body language interpretation may be one of those secrets that give you unexpected results. Use these tools and what you learn to become the solution provider they need.

If this still leaves you a little baffled, take a look at the Body Language Cheat Sheet. Read through this then study the next group of people you mingle with. Experiment with different events and settings: church, malls, clubs, parties with friends, networking events, and others. We reveal ourselves differently in each location.

What discoveries do you make?

Peace and plentiful writing!

Kristen

 

Know-Like-Trust is Important for Interviews too!

When you hear the word ‘interview’, what comes to mind?

  • Sitting in front of a panel of strangers hoping to impress them enough to hire you
  • Being swarmed by a horde of reporters shoving oversized microphones into your face while bombarding you with nagging, invasive questions

Either scenario conjures up sweaty palms and elevated blood pressure.

There are, however, opportunities when interviewing can be fun, effective and beneficial: for an upcoming blog article, ask-an-expert for a newsletter, or to get feedback about your latest product or service. To make these interviewing experiences stress-free, applying a few lessons from the ‘know-like-trust’ approach makes the process easier for the interviewer (ER) and the interviewee (EE).

In general,

  • people like to talk about themselves
  • everyone has a story to tell
  • everyone has an experience they want to share
  • everyone has an opinion
  • they are eager to share, but protective of their knowledge

Sharing with friends and family is easy, but outside that circle, it takes a little nudging and a lot of trust and confidence to get people talking.

Let’s say you want to interview an expert on interviewing techniques for small businesses for the company newsletter coming out in 5 weeks. Now is the perfect time to begin and that starting block activity is:

  • Call the interviewee (EE)

While it’s tempting to communicate solely through email, the strongest action is to call. Why? This is your chance for a personal introduction. This gives the EE a chance to hear your voice. You instantly become a real person, and your voice is that first recognition point.

  • Introduce yourself

Along with voice recognition, knowing who he will be interviewed by makes the process less of a mystery. Tell the EE your name, your business name and your title, if applicable. The more he knows about you professionally, the more at ease he will feel.

  • State the purpose for your call

Let the EE know that you will be interviewing him for the upcoming newsletter. Keep it simple and brief. Remember: This is ONLY an introduction, NOT the interview. It’s tempting to initiate the interview now to spare time and hassle later, but take a deep breath and save all the critical questions for the main event.

  • Set up the interview time.

Here’s the tricky part: make it work around his schedule not yours! If your EE says Thursday evening at 10pm is the best time because that’s when the family is in bed and he’ll have some quiet time, then agree to it.

Arrange an interview at least three days in advance, if possible. This gives everyone time to think about the interview, review questions, research, and think about replies.

  • Ask their preferred date, time, phone number and contact method.

Some will prefer cell phone, others their home phone. Some prefer speaker phone and others still through skype. Whenever possible, perform the interview in person or over the phone. A person’s voice and body language is more expressive and informative than Q&As through the email or surveys.

  • Give hints of the questions to come

Each interview will have different questions, but the basic format is to ask a few questions about the EE’s experience and training, how it relates to the specific topic and how his answers will help the readers of the upcoming newsletter. As an extra bonus, tell the EE you’ll follow-up with an email that outlines some of the questions you’ll be asking. Why some of the questions? Because if you conduct the interview well, some comments the EE makes will inspire other questions from you. Ask for the preferred email address in order to send the interview details and questions for the interview.

  • Give an estimate of the interview length.

Thirty minutes is an acceptable timeframe that most people can fit into their busy schedule. Also add that the session may go longer based on response and additional questions. Your EE will appreciate this tidbit.

  • Ask him if he has questions or concerns.

By this time, you will have addressed the major issues that come with being interviewed. If there are additional questions, answer them briefly and honestly.

Here’s a sample script for the introductory call:

“Hello Steve,

This is Kristen of Kris the Scribbler and I’ll be interviewing you for the upcoming article on Interviewing Techniques for Small Businesses. Is there a time and day in the next week that will be convenient to conduct the interview?…

That’s perfect. I’ll give you a call on Thursday, 6:30 Eastern time. Do you have a preferred phone number you’d like me to use?..

I’ve got it. I’ll also use this number to call on Wednesday for a reminder…

I’ll send detailed questions in an email, but the basics will deal with your expertise on the subject and how it applies to small business. Do you have a preferred email address you would like me to use?..

Thank you. The interview will last about 30 minutes but may vary depending on your replies and additional questions or comments that may come up for either of us. Do you have any other questions?..

Thank you for your time. I’ll follow-up with that email shortly.”

  • Follow-up with an email summary

Once the introductory call has ended, send out that email within an hour. Be sure to summarize everything you discussed, the details of the interview, and include all your contact information—invite the EE to research you, too! Copy and paste your basic questions (about 10) into the body of the email. This saves the EE a step, building that trust and comfort further.

If the interview is scheduled through a third party, repeat the process with this person as well and send everything off to anyone involved in the process.

As the day of the interview approaches, rehearse your questions. Research your EE. As you learn more, scribble down additional questions that come to mind. If there is time, ask a few of these.

One day before the interview, call to remind your EE. If you reach voice mail, leave a message.

Example: “Hello Steve. This is Kristen from Kris the Scribbler and I’m calling to remind you of our interview scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday at 6:30pm. If you have questions or concerns, call me at… Thank you for your time.”

The day of the interview: call a few minutes early. Avoid giving your EE any reason to become angry. Even one minute late could lead to resentment when his day is already busy. All that comfort and trust you built up could fizzle in less than 60 seconds.

During the interview:

  • Avoid all that cheesy, “Hi, how are you?” stuff. That’s just filler that signifies nervousness or unpreparedness. Take charge, but be friendly.

“Hi Steve, this is Kristen. Are you ready to begin your interview?”

  • Ask if he has water or something nearby, explaining that the process can create a dry mouth and having something to sip makes the process easier.

Start with simple questions such as something you discovered while researching your client. I once discovered an EE had a hobby of skydiving. I opened with that—something she loved—even though it wasn’t related to the interview’s purpose. It immediately eases the EE and gets you right in the mode for the main questions.

  • During the interview, let your EE talk!

Avoid interrupting unless he gets way off target. If he does, ask a question about something earlier in the particular answer that gets you both back on track.

  • Write or record the answers.

Recording is best, but if that option isn’t available, write—fast! If you can’t keep up, let your EE know that you’re taking notes and will be ready in a moment.

Most often, interviews go longer than the estimated time. If this happens to you, provide a reminder at 35 minutes. If the EE is sounding stressed, rushed or tired, offer to call back at another preferred time. If the session is going well, then continue, saying that you’ll provide another reminder at 20 minutes. Make sure you do all the work, keeping the EE’s schedule and comfort the top priority.

When you have exhausted your questions, ask if there are any last minute comments he’d like to add—either about the interview or anything else that interests him.

Thank him for his time and offer to send a copy of your notes to him—you’ll be creating an outline of the session anyway. Your EE will appreciate this unexpected bonus.

  • End the session.

Make sure the phone, recorder, skype or chat screen is closed before breathing a sigh of relief! Grab your soda, chocolate, beer or take a walk and congratulate yourself on a job well done.

  • Give all that information time to simmer.

An hour or so later (not too long), review your notes, pencil in forgotten or overlooked thoughts, make comments in the margins. Then rewrite the whole thing to make it legible—with the speed the answers were fired back at you, your notes will look a little jumbled. Neaten them up before you forget their meaning.

Though the interviewing process can be intimidating for both parties, the method above makes the event easier for all. Give yourself plenty of time to apply these steps and your interviewee time to prepare. When it comes to your business and theirs, we all want the connections to go well!

To your interview success!

Kristen

 

Testing the System

A writer’s life is thought to be one of the most isolated careers for a person. While I do enjoy the peace and quiet of my home office, I get most of my inspiration from getting out and about. A recent trip to the dentist has created the motivation for today’s blog.

I needed an old filling refilled so while I endured the drilling, the numbness and mouthfuls of dental equipment, I shared ideas for online marketing with my dentist. His questions were similar to those we all face to keep our business top-of-mind.

Dr. D wanted to attract new patients to his dental clinic. During November he offered a $99 cleaning, x-ray and exam. Quite a deal! He had purchased ad space in a local publication to market his special. The result—only ‘a few’ responded to the ad, far less than he expected. When he asked how I discovered his special, I told him it was all by chance: I called to make an appointment for myself. The office manager told me about the special, otherwise I never would have found out—even though I receive the publication he placed the ad in (which I don’t normally read.)

I asked Dr. D about his email marketing plan. While Dr. D was aware of all the benefits and applications of ‘all things online’ no one in his office had time to implement this action.

We all know this to be true, right? Being a business owner, however, and working with businesses that are making the online transition, these are the tips I’ve learned and shared with others:

Start by collecting emails 1 patient/customer/client at a time. So, if you work with 10 clients per day, then you’ll have 10 email addresses at the end of the day. By the end of the month, there’s a potential to collect 30 or more. That’s plenty to start an email marketing campaign.

In Dr. D’s case, his clinic is third generation with 40 years of files to update. For Dr. D and others with an overload of files to go through, it’s tempting to start alphabetically. However, other factors such as visit frequency or age may be alternatives for updating files.

If your customers ask why you want their email address, here are some honest answers:

  • Your office is moving to an online format to save costs for their office and the patient
  • You wish to give current patients exclusive offers and specials before going public
  • There will be no sharing, no spam
  • They will receive emails quarterly or monthly—tell them in advance what to expect so there are no surprises

Input each email address into a spreadsheet now. Why? Doing a few each day is easier—and less frustrating—than sitting hours on end inputting hundreds of emails one by one by one. If you have a huge collection of business cards, there are great services like Cards2Lists that creates a CSV file which is compatible with most email marketing software tools.

By the time you have a decent collection of email addresses—and 40 or so would make a good starting point—you need to find an email marketing tool. You’ll find information about costs, services and getting started tips at Timing is Everything–Sometimes. While this blog addresses the newsletter topic, the basics for finding email marketing software are the same.

You are ready to create once you have gathered your email list and downloaded them into your email marketing tool.

Testing for ROI (return on investment). In Dr. D’s example, he’ll create a new ad—one for the newspaper and one for the email service. His email may read something like this:

Dental Care Specials for the Budget-Conscious

Hello Customer,

As a current customer of Bob’s Dental, I’d like to share our current offer for families and friends. For $99 you’ll receive the three primary services to maintain your dental health: cleaning, exam and x-ray. This service usually costs $199—that’s $100 off for you.

To make it even better, introduce our special to those you know and for every new referral, you BOTH get $25 off your next dental visit.

Call our office for more details or to schedule an appointment.

Sincerely,

Dr. Bob

Click Send. When your customers start calling, ask where they discovered the special. Tabulate the results and compare that with the costs of print vs. online marketing. This is not to say that one is better than the other, but you may find a better response through one method over the other. Or, you may discover that both methods rate equal in response, which means you need to advertise equally in these areas. You may also discover that certain demographics respond better to one marketing format than others. This will be helpful when you have a new clientele you wish to reach. The goal of this test is to discover where your strongest marketing efforts occur, and with which audience groups.

The bonus of these two options (email vs print) is that you don’t need a website, a blog or social media to test ‘the system’. These are basic options and will give you a starting point to determine your ROI.

Yes, getting started is slow and time-consuming, but starting now and starting small is easier than attacking your records all at once. It saves time, frustration and errors. As business owners, we don’t have time for much else!

Peace and plentiful writing!

Kristen

Know Yourself; Know Your Audience

You’ve heard it enough:

  • Know your audience
  • Who’s your audience
  • Write for your audience

We may be tired of hearing the same old refrain, but when it comes to the business world, gaining the attention of your audience is a critical key to success. However, to best define who your audience is, let’s start with something more basic:

Who are you?

Whether you own a business, are a partner in a business or work for a larger corporation, the more you know about what you do, what you offer and how it’s offered, the better you can help your audience. Below are a few questions (with examples) to get you started on the true identity of your business:

1. What type of business are you in?

  • Arts & Entertainment
  • Automotive
  • Business & Professional Services
  • Clothing & Accessories
  • Computers & Electronics
  • Construction & Contractors
  • Education
  • Food & Dining
  • Health & Medicine
  • Home & Garden
  • Industry & Agriculture
  • Legal & Finance
  • Media & Communications
  • Personal Care & Services
  • Real Estate
  • Sports & Recreation
  • Travel & Transportation
  • Other (define)

2. Does your company interact on a Business-to-Business (B2B) or Business-to-Consumer (B2C) level, or a combination of both? Examples:

  • Printing Company printing off brochures for an industry trade show (B2B)
  • Website developer creating websites for new businesses (B2B)
  • Landscape Company offering lawn care services to homeowners (B2C)
  • Meals-On-Wheels for Elderly (B2C)
  • Copywriter: writing content for a business and writing a resume or bio for an individual (B2B and B2C)
  • Laundry Services: services for dry-cleaning & laundry plus contracts services with apartment complexes for drapery cleaning (B2B and B2C)

3. If B2B, who would be your ideal contact person within that business? Why?

  • What is their title?
  • What is their duty?
  • Why are you important to them?

4. For both B2B and B2C, what demographics are you marketing your products or services to?

  • How are they similar?
  • How are they different?

5. Do you sell products or services or both? Examples:

  • Professional Services: An accountant offers tax preparation services to businesses and consumers vs. selling tax software for DIY
  • Education: teaching a class vs. selling educational material
  • Home & Garden: offering landscape services such as lawn mowing vs. selling plants and trees

6. If you overlap in your offerings (products and services) and your business dealings (B2B and B2C), how do your contact people change?

Knowing each of these answers plays a huge part in creating the content and communication your market needs to hear from YOU! If you deal with consumers and businesses, you may find that the ‘one size fits all’ content won’t work for everyone.

The more you narrow the above answers, the better you’ll serve and provide for your audience. Don’t let the idea of reducing (or eliminating) a potential audience worry you too much. You aren’t losing customers; instead, you’re pooling them together into a specific group you can focus all your attention on. And this is what’s called building a relationship!

Take your time studying and researching who you are. Yearly or quarterly reexamine the questions to note any changes in your original answers. Then apply what you have learned to your marketing content. Whether you are writing your own content, someone in-house, or you outsource the task, the more you (and they know) about your business, the more effective your content will be for your audience.

Peace,

Kristen