2015 Brought Great Momentum…Bring on 2016!!

Statistical gurus at WordPress.com pulled together an annual report full of data that will only lead to bigger and better things in 2016…take a look…and stay tuned..

Thank you so much for helping make this an awesome year!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,000 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 17 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Holiday Hints–6 Great Gifts


With less than three weeks before the biggest gift-giving day in the United States, most of us are scrambling to fulfill all the desires of our loved ones, and perhaps not so loved but necessary, on both our “Naughty” and “Nice” lists.

But when you’re in business, you have another list to consider as well—the “Thank You for Doing Business with Me and Please Continue to Do So” list.

I’ve put together a list of a half-dozen ideas that I hope help you start to make some heavy-duty black lines on that what might be your most challenging-of-all list:

  • 1280px-US_Navy_090818-N-6326B-001_Staff_and_patients_participate_in_a_healthy_cooking_class_at_Naval_Medical_Center_San_Diegohelikopter-cockpit-widok-3082969 An experience: This could be anything that is designed to make long-lasting memories. It’s not a box of chocolates or a fruit basket. Instead, it might be a cooking class conducted on-site in your client’s office for their entire staff. Or it could be a night out for them at the local bowling alley. Individually, it could be a helicopter ride over the city or a 24-hour rental of a luxury car. Maybe it’s a few laps in a race car or reserved box seats at the local live theater venue. Whatever it is, it lasts longer than a few hours or days because it creates memories that will not soon be forgotten.

 

  • A one-of-a-kind: The first thing that comes to mind for me when thinking of this is a bobble head. A personalized, uniquely crafted bobble head. Depicting your glass paperweightclient’s caricature form. All I can say is this is just too fun for them to forget about in the years ahead. Another long-lasting idea that would work for me—a glass paperweight with a personal touch given to it by a talented artist.

 

  • beer of the month clubA subscription: For music lovers, it’s Beats Music, Google Play, iTunes, Pandora or perhaps Spotify. For your book junkies, it might be a one-year with Audible.com. Or maybe it’s a membership in the Beer of the Month Club or the featured monthly fragrances at Herbaria Soap. The point here is that it is a monthly reminder to them that you thought of them and continue to do so every month. You will be “top-of-mind” again each month as the new item arrives, each time they download another favorite tune or with each page they click.

 

  • fitbitA “cool” technology tool: One of the hottest techie gadgets this season is a fitness tracker. FitBit, MisFit, whichever you choose, this is something that will really show that you care about them, about their well-being. You might also consider a 3Doodler pen for your artsy tech-heads or for touch screen glovesthose on your list who always have to have the new tech toys first. Or you might take a look at ways for your clients to use their smart phones and tablets without incurring any frostbite with a gift of touch screen gloves in a neutral or festive color. A digital photo frame is a definite win as well, and it’s a one-size-fits-all!

 

  • cooler gift basketA themed, but personally designed, gift basket: I’m not talking Harry & David here. One personal example I can give for this is a cooler to hold their favorite beverage that is also the color of their favorite sports team. Inside are tickets to the game, sunscreen, beverages, snacks and a ball cap or other accessories with their favorite sports team’s logo clearly displayed. This is an awesome gift…trust me. I’ve been on the receiving end of this before and I still remember it and who gave it to me.

 

  • coupon-1018733_960_720A gift of professional services: Not the services you provide necessarily—or if so, perhaps bundled with others. The gift of a basic tax preparation service from a trusted source. A gift certificate from your local tailor or dry cleaner. Dog walking, house sitting, personal shopper, handyman. The choices are endless. You might even consider purchasing a gift certificate for professional services from your favorite profile manager (that would be me, naturally).

I reviewed a lot of other lists to pull this one together. Ideas for the holidays are all over the web—Inc.com, PCNews.com, InvestmentNews.com, Forbes.com and of course Amazon.com just to name a few. The ideas I have featured here are what I believe are the best of the best. And of course, I’d be foolish not to throw my own services in on that kind of a list.

If you need help yourself or know someone who could use help with developing a professional profile or bio, if your company needs someone to create and maintain a consistent profile, or if you’d like someone to come in and work with your HR and Marketing staff to put the best image forward for all your staff and your company, I’m the one you need.

Together we’ll turn heads…for all the right reasons…

 

 

Taking off your mask…

Venice_Carnival_-_Masked_Lovers_(2010)
Working with a content strategist can help you demystify your message, essentially helping you to remove your mask and reveal the authentic you to your audience without scaring them away.

One of the most exciting trends for 2016 and beyond is the increased higher demand by companies for specialists in the content writing industry. Specifically, companies will be more interested in working with content development experts more so than those who are good writers alone.

Your professional writer should not only be writing content, but also creating a complete strategy for all of your company’s writing needs. If you’re working with a professional writer, be sure you are working with one that has the skills to do this—strategize and prioritize content—as well as the ability to write.

Scribbulus_Diagon_AlleyI’ve acknowledged the advantage of this for years now and have built a business on its very essence. A content strategist like me is often referred to as a content curator as well. A big part of what I do is taking what’s already been created and exhibiting it in the most magical display for my clients’ windows to the world.

Let me dig into this a little deeper.

For example, sometimes it makes sense for your professional writer to write a new piece for you that is inspired by a favorite blog post, but at other times it makes more sense to simply share the original blog with your audience. If you work with your professional writer and add your own thoughts as a part of sharing the essence of the initially inspiring blog, together you will have successfully curated content.

The same is true when your professional writer, aka content strategist/curator, pulls pieces together from a variety of sources—in-house or from external and online places—combining them into a gallery and making you the best in show.

Your content strategist should be continually reviewing all of your content—print, virtual and digital—and working with you to ensure a successful display of your most appealing images and messages. This includes the generation of taglines to be used in a variety of marketing methods as well as your other branding elements and your positioning in the industry and market overall. It includes such things as your website’s FAQ, Bio and About pages as well as your press coverage and so on.

4749271801_b2f57c727a_bOne critical area you may not be thinking about, though, is the rest of your online presence. A content strategist like me will develop a profile for your LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter pages that reflects you in the best light.

He or she will also establish, maintain, monitor and fortify your profile and presence on sites such as Wikipedia as well as those where your customers can share with others their perceptions of you (Yelp, Foursquare, TripAdvisor, etc.)

All in all, a content strategist can help make revealing yourself and what you have to offer to the world a lot less scary. A professional writer with the skills and acumen to strategize with you can help your audience understand why choosing you is such a treat—without the need for any tricks along the way! A word wizard like me, working with you, can create some really big magic…

The 2 C’s and the 1 PB

Back in January, Adam Fridman shared his thoughts on Inc.com regarding communication trends for 2015.1

His first point was a discussion of search engine optimization (SEO), and most anyone in business understands its importance.

The other three he discussed are the ones I want to focus on today, because it is these on which I still educate clients and potential clients seemingly every single day. I like to refer to them as the two C’s and the one PB.

No. 1 C—CONTENT.

And the thing that is most important about content is getting the most bang for your buck. Quality, well-written, comprehensible and relevant content that is published through an outlet or source that can reach your audience and share your message most efficiently and effectively is paramount.

Knowing the most effective methods for leveraging your content is critical. If you can also strengthen your position as an expert while capturing their attention—all the better.

The point I am trying to make is this—one mention in the Washington Post is more likely to have a greater amount of influence than 10 mentions in your hometown newspaper, unless your audience is strictly a local one.

No. 2 C—CREDIBILITY.

Credibility is gained with your audience through content that provides them with real reader value. The content you share needs to be specific. The reader needs to understand clearly how knowing you benefits him. No one wants all crust and no filling when they are eating a piece of pie.

smartphone-982562_1920So you have some really great content developed. Awesome…now what do you do with it? After all, your audience has to hear about you at all to even know you exist. Of course, you naturally get it up on your website right away.

But that’s not enough. You also build your credibility as an industry leader through a consistent and actively visible presence all over the Web. Your content needs to be present in all the right places—LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia, Yelp, Google+, Foursquare and all the other places your audience is searching for the best versus the rest.

and the 1 PB—PERSONAL BRANDING.

You might be wondering, what does personal branding have to do with effectively delivering my company-wide messages? Let me just say, pretty much everything.

While your HR department has stories to tell about the horrors of posts made by employees on their own personal social media pages, personal postings can actually be advantageous with the proper finesse.

2009-02-04-DSC05656Using these online outlets to promote the leaders within your company can help build visibility and credibility for your company and all it has to offer. If you leverage these resources to position your key staff and leaders as industry experts, your company will take the lead in the industry as well.

One of the best tools you should consider for getting this done is YouTube. If your company doesn’t already have its own channel on YouTube, get one. There’s no better way to spread the message about who you are and what you do.

Video captures the eyes and minds of more of today’s audience than any other outreach method. A content strategist like me can help you shape your presence through this medium and gain traction on the otherwise slippery slope of leveraging your online presence to harness industry attention (and media coverage!).

These trends, and those of which we cannot even yet imagine, are expanding much faster sometimes than we can sufficiently gauge. If you are planning to be a player at the table five years from now, you need to start developing and implementing an effective strategy for the cards you are holding today.

French novelist Marcel Proust said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” I say that open eyes can become bored quite quickly when staring at a barren landscape…be sure to keep your crop of content growing in the fields looking fresh, hearty and vibrant.

____________

1 Fridman, Adam. “Four Communication Trends in 2015.” 25 January 2015. Published by Inc.com at http://www.inc.com/adam-fridman/four-communications-trends-in-2015.html

 

It’s all about the base, no trouble…

conference tableWe are now days into the final quarter of 2015. For most companies, this means finalizing the annual report. For others, it means getting started. Pulling together your company’s annual report can put a major drain on your staff’s already overflowing agenda. This is one of those times that it really garners a strong return on investment to contract a professional writer.

If you haven’t yet begun laying out your annual report, there’s still time to bring someone in to lend a hand. A professional writer (like me!) can work on any level you need her to in order to bring it all together and get it off to the printer. And if you’re a seasoned pro at this, a professional writer (like me!) can take a look at everything you’ve done and fine-tune it into a true masterpiece.

With a solid base from which to work, a copywriter will have no trouble writing your final report…and can do so more effectively and more efficiently than all of the in-house staff you can throw at it. That’s because the contracted writer will be able to give it her full attention from cover to cover, with no bias or internal pressures. Another major advantage of working with a freelance writer is that they bring a fresh pair of eyes to content of which people inside the organization might be too close.

AnnualReportHere’s an 8-step outline of the base information you need to pull together your final report with no trouble. Putting this all together to provide to the professional writer you choose or to add to your staff’s already lengthy end-of-the-year projects will make it all come together much more smoothly:

  1. Break down the report into its necessary sections and use a spreadsheet to track each section’s responsible writers and their progress. Designate one person within your company as your writer’s point of contact for this project—do not expect your annual report writer to chase down content from a dozen different departments.
  2. Consider using a cloud system for ease of sharing, such as Dropbox or Google Docs.
  3. Each section of the report is also considered a theme. On the spreadsheet, color-code each of the components to be included in the section/theme. Consider doing this in the final product as well.
  4. Deadlines need to be clear. Be sure to establish them up front, allowing time for research, interviews, draft copy, design work, edits, revisions, and lastly, adequate printing time. Find out what the turnaround time is from the printer and work backward to establish a timeline that can adequately address all the deadlines. Be sure to plan for catastrophes—minor ones at least.
  5. Preliminary information your writer will need you to provide in order to efficiently pull this year’s report together include the previous year’s annual report, competitors’ reports, transcripts from speeches given by key executives over the past year, presentation content, subject expert interviews, product brochures, press releases, news articles, analyst reports and website content. (Do not simply tell your writer that she can find what she needs on your website… you will pay much more for her services.)
  6. 7K0A0947Your firm’s key point of contact is in a crucial role. It’s worth it for him or her to meet with your writer at the start of the project, also introducing her to other key players, or at least scheduling a Skype conference call. This helps to establish a position of trust among everyone.
  7. Your chosen writer will be able to craft 150-, 500- and 750-word versions of the final copy that can then be easily repurposed for use in many other ways by staff throughout the year.
  8. Once your annual report is printed, looking and reading more amazingly than you ever anticipated, consider working with your webmaster to post is as a downloadable PDF online as well. You can always post it in your website’s company information section, but you should also consider placing it online in your “media room” as well. (And if your company’s site doesn’t have a media room, well then we really need to talk.)

Choose a qualified professional writer now and you’ll always have a strong foundational base for this annual project. Remember, it’s all about the base…and with a strong one, it’s no trouble…

Check Mate! Positioning Yourself for the Win

chesspositionpic-300x225When we were little, we all had dreams of becoming the next powerful and beautiful kings and queens of the universe…or at least most of us did. As we continue to evolve as players in the reality game of adulthood, many of us still have our eyes on securing that position on life’s chess board and being the one that gets to exclaim “CHECK MATE!” in the faces of all the other game pieces, a.k.a. our competition.

As a business or as an organization, it is imperative that you place yourself top-of-mind with all your market’s customers—past, present, and future. It’s all about strategy…delivering yourself and your message at the right time to the right place…the same kind of strategy you would use to make the right moves on the chess board and ensure a win.

Many businesses and organizations miss this most important element—they are simply too busy to do what it takes to establish their expert status in the world. When that happens, it’s important to team up with an experienced game player (like me!) that can help you command the board.

Here’s a 5-point strategy map that can help you make all the right moves:

  1. Declare your victory. You might not feel as though you are an expert, but if you are consistently delivering the results that your “fans” are demanding, then you have proven yourself to be a worthy opponent within your market. It is time for you to share your knowledge and experience with the rest of the world.
  2. Say what you mean. Defining yourself as an expert in the field requires that you clearly and purposely share exactly what it is you know and why it matters. Don’t say simply that you provide “customer service.” Everybody does that already. Instead, say something more specific and definitive, such as “I can help you resolve technical issues with your XYZ and connect you with the ABC that you need.”
  3. Look like a professional. The buzzword here is “branding.” Other than the actual acumen, there is nothing more important. Having an entire “identity” that is consistent and connected is vital. A professional headshot, bio, portfolio, website, social media presence and method for sharing your customer successes is absolutely paramount to being the go-to person. Sloppiness is not acceptable…it will attract attention, but not the kind you want to be known for.
  4. Crowd-clan-blogDon’t be the pawn. In chess, the pawn is the easiest piece to capture. An expert shouldn’t be available whenever a customer wants them to be. A seasoned pro will demand more respect, making themselves available on their own terms while also balancing the timeliness of his or her responses. After all, we all have schedules to keep, and there’s nothing wrong with optimizing your availability to times that work for you and for your market. Appearing desperate is never perceived as a positive.
  5. Share in the spotlight. As Jason Gracia said so eloquently in his piece on positioning, “Authority is like glitter—those who come in contact with it can’t help but leave with a little on their sleeve.” In other words, be guilty by association. Link yourself in with the other leaders in the field. Talk with them, invite them to speak at your events, swap guest blogs, review each other’s products and services—be “seen” rubbing elbows and swapping all that glitter.

Implement these strategic ops and soon you could see your name added to the list of champions at the World Chess Hall of Fame over on Maryland Avenue in St. Louis…or more desirably perhaps on the top 10 list put out by Forbes magazine each year.