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Posts Tagged ‘audience’

Humanizing your brand

Posted by Vicki Moulton on February 22, 2011

Borrowing an idea from a Mashable article I just read about preventing “badvocacy” (which is a new way of describing how certain unhappy campers can badmouth your business through social media channels), I’m thinking today about how brands can and have become completely dehumanized.

It’s easy to think of a huge corporation with a well-known brand as having no soul, as though everything were completely automated and run by robots. When something goes wrong with that company’s product or service, it’s easy to get angry at the machine. It’s not personal; it’s business. (Hey, didn’t Tom Hanks’ cutthroat bookseller character say that in the movie, “You’ve Got Mail”?)

So what happens when it’s your small business that draws the ire of an unhappy customer? And then, when that unhappy customer goes on Yelp, Facebook, and Twitter to complain about your company, how are you supposed to react? It certainly feels personal when you’re the only person behind your brand, like someone is mad at you–not your company, but you personally. It’s really hard to combat a growing chorus of online negativity if you don’t already have a personal association with your brand.

Now think about the positive side. If your business succeeds in making a customer happy enough that she wants to help other customers find out about you by singing your praises on Yelp, Facebook, and Twitter, does that feel like personal praise for you as a person or like good publicity for your brand? Any kind of feedback in this fast-paced online world reflects instantly on your brand, positive or negative. And that also reflects on you, the person behind the brand.

If you want to help your customers feel like they’re either shaking your hand in thanks or slapping your face in anger, put a human face on your brand. Post your photo on your About page, and use it as your avatar when commenting on posts and websites. It’s much harder for the viral feedback machine to go completely negative and out of control if your brand image is personal, warm, smiling, and human–just like everyone else.

Posted in communications, MarComm, marketing, messaging | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Blurring the lines

Posted by Vicki Moulton on January 12, 2011

Well hello there! Remember me? No? Well, I can’t blame you for that. It’s not like I’ve been using this bully pulpit regularly.

I’m the first to admit that I’ve neglected this blog over the past several months. Part of my excuse is situational–moving from one coast to the other, getting through a second pregnancy while keeping my business going and making sure my toddler didn’t get into trouble, then having the baby just before Thanksgiving–and part of it is attitudinal, meaning most days I just didn’t put blogging at the top of my priority list.

Now that the baby is giving me longer stretches of sleep at night, I’m starting to see a third reason why I didn’t keep blogging here in 2010: the lines between business and personal have blurred to the point where posting something on Facebook feels kind of like blogging. But that’s a big lie because short, pithy little FB posts are absolutely no match for original thoughts and essays carefully written and purposefully shared on a business blog with a specific goal for a particular audience.

Case in point: I met my fabulously talented logo designer, Jenny Decker, through an online communications networking group. We completed a barter arrangement, meeting once in person, and then kept in touch via email. Then we became “friends” on Facebook, learning more about each other’s personal lives through postings and photos, and comparing notes on parenting babies and toddlers. Then I asked Jenny to join a small women’s entrepreneur group, further blurring the lines between our separate businesses and our personal lives. After that, she recommended me to one of her clients, who then hired me, and pretty soon I was reading her family blog and asking what she remembered about the last months of pregnancy while sharing my own toddler-raising advice and inviting her to read my birthing story on a personal blog after calling to ask how she invoiced a particular type of client.

So is this a personal friendship or a friendly business connection? The answer is both, and it’s the inevitable merging of these worlds that has so many businesses falling behind because they don’t know how to leverage these relationship-savvy social media tools.

If you’d asked me a few years ago whether I would someday have business colleagues in my social media network and actually develop real friendships using tools like Facebook, I would’ve said hell no. In fact, I actively avoided revealing my location, profession, and everything else about myself online in any capacity for many years. (I’m still unlisted in the local phone book–but that’s another story.) But I’m noticing that the people who steer clear of social networks are the ones who aren’t connected in any meaningful way to what’s happening in the business world today.

Yes, social media can be all about personal branding and marketing, especially if you’re using these tools to get more business. But it’s also about knowing where your audience, customers, potential employers, and colleagues (past and present) are spending their time and energy.

Dropping by the social media water cooler once in a while is good for your reputation and keeps you in the loop, at least for as long as those folks are sipping water. It reminds them that you’re still there, still interested, still part of the team.

Whether these people knew you way back when or just met you last week at a networking event, they’re all part of your ever-widening circle–what some might call your sphere of influence. It’s actually smart to keep these folks informed about your activities. Just try to keep the truly personal information (the embarassing stuff you wouldn’t want publicized on the evening news) off Facebook, or else your sphere will shrink before you know it.

So, in the effort to win back some blog readers in this new year, I invite you to visit my Facebook fan page and follow my posts (Twitter account to be revived soon) as I share my thoughts and experiences with clients, colleagues, and friends. We’re all merged into one group now, so let’s have some fun while we’re at it!

Posted in communications, marketing, networking | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Attracting the ideal

Posted by Vicki Moulton on April 1, 2010

If you’re having the kind of year I’m having so far, then you’ve probably been struggling a bit trying to find the right kind of client for your business. You know, the kind that appreciates what you have to offer, wants to work with you right away, and remains loyal for the long term. In other words, the absolute ideal.

I found this article by Angie Segal of Action Coach very inspiring. It’s reprinted here (in edited form) with permission.

“What Kinds of Customers Are You Attracting?”

How do you get the customers you want and deserve? Are you randomly stabbing at the marketplace, or do you have a plan for getting the type of customer you want to work with?

Here are some tips for planning to attract the ideal client:

First, decide who your ideal client is and write it down. What size are they? Where do they operate? What do they look like?

Next, describe this ideal client to everyone in your sphere of influence. Communicate this clearly. Then ask your partners and alliances to describe your ideal client. How they answer this question will tell you whether you’ve been specific enough.

Find out where you can interact with people who fit your description of the ideal client and attend those functions.

Finally, look at yourself and make sure you present yourself in a fashion that would attract those people. In other words, dress for the job you want.

Clarity is a key element in finding your ideal clients. Once you are clear on whom you are trying to meet, and your actions are in line with that, it’s easy to find your ideal!

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Posted in communications, MarComm, marketing, messaging, networking | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Managing social media time

Posted by Vicki Moulton on November 4, 2009

social media face_cr2As a small business owner, I can attest to the incredible time-draining potential of social media sites like Facebook. If you’re not careful about managing time spent on these sites, a quick updating session can turn into an all-day marathon.

Here are some great tips (from SmallBizTrends) for getting the most out of social media tools to help market your business:

*Be purposeful. Make a list of what you’re trying to accomplish with social media, and identify the actions that will help you achieve those goals. Don’t just click around on shiny baubles. That’s a neverending game with no winner.

*Focus your attention. Figure out where it makes sense for you to engage–Twitter, LinkedIn, a local listserv–and limit your time and energy to a handful of useful sites. Then outline what, how, and when you’ll be engaged beforehand to help maximize your time.

*Avoid overload. Use tools to help you manage the stream of information coming in. For example, if you’re using Twitter, a 3rd-party tool like Tweetdeck can help you manage conversation and schedule tweets ahead of time.

*Set limits. Schedule social media time the same way you schedule in all your other commitments. Set aside time to talk to people, to tweet fun things, to connect with your audience on Facebook. This helps users learn to trust that you’ll be online regularly.

Small business owners have an advantage over big companies because they already know how to talk and engage their customers in a more personal way, making communications more human and relatable. Social media sites are a perfect fit for small businesses.

Don’t be afraid of jumping into the social media pool. The water is a lot warmer than it looks.

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Posted in communications, MarComm, marketing, messaging, networking | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Zinging along

Posted by Vicki Moulton on September 28, 2009

zing_girlI just signed up for a virtual seminar on October 1-2 by Mary van der Weil (of Zing Your Brand fame) called The Brand Reinvention Summit (a.k.a. The Blah to Zing Summit).

Here’s a bit of promo material for the summit that I found particularly thought-provoking, not only for my own business but also for my clients and colleagues:

Looking to reinvent your brand so you can get a leg up in today’s economy? Take on the role of Brand Agent/Provocateur and watch your business turn around and take off!
In today’s over-saturated and over-competitive marketplace, you are your BRAND. So it needs to be highly individualistic, energized and hugely compelling. It needs to stand out – and show up – and communicate your unmistakable ZING across to your target audience.

I’ll post a review here after the summit. Here’s to all of us finding our “zing”!

Posted in MarComm, marketing, messaging | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Breaking down the wall

Posted by Vicki Moulton on August 18, 2009

wall

What was the last marketing campaign that got your attention?

Maybe it had a great “hook,” a catchy slogan, or a jaw-dropping image. Or maybe it just followed the basic guidelines for breaking down the wall between the messenger and the audience.

1. Define your message.
What are you really trying to say? The heart of your campaign should be one simple message. Make it easy to find, not buried underneath clever headlines or hidden behind slick images.

2. Get to the point.
The average reader’s attention span is much shorter than you think. If someone is quickly scanning your ad, they need to see your main point immediately, or you’ll lose that potential client’s interest altogether.

3. Keep it clean.
Give the piece some breathing room (i.e., white space). Find one image, instead of three, that captures the essence of your campaign. Don’t fill up the page with endless paragraphs. Fewer, more carefully chosen words will communicate your message more effectively.

4. Know your audience.
Who are you trying to woo with your campaign? What is their main concern? How can you help? Your message should reflect an understanding of your audience’s core business.

5. Always be closing.
The old sales mantra also applies to marketing. The “call to action” must be prominent. Go to this website. Call this number. Get your coupon here. The goal is to bring in more business, to close the deal. Make it easy to find, and the new business will follow.

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Posted in communications, MarComm, marketing, messaging | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Chatting up the inbox

Posted by Vicki Moulton on July 20, 2009

audience of oneTo drum up business from an increasingly demanding and belt-tightening clientele means finding new and innovative ways to keep the lines of communication open. Sending a one-size-fits-all eblast to everyone in your prospects list used to be a great way to get at least a 1% response (or higher), which meant serious business if you had a huge list.

But in the fast-paced, Twitterfied world of instant media we live in today, this old email marketing standby just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Making things personal by crafting specific messages for small groups or individuals will result in more click-throughs to your website–and more money in your wallet.

I found some great ideas about email marketing from this July 16 post at BtoB Magazine: Conversational Email Marketing Techniques

Posted in communications, MarComm, marketing, messaging | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

To tweet or not to tweet

Posted by Vicki Moulton on April 1, 2009

That seems to be the question in the freelance community right now. To become a regular user of the ubiquitous Twitter, announcing my actions in short little quips to a legion of followers (yes, a legion), I think I should have something interesting to say.

If Twitter is to be used as a marketing tool, there should be obvious value for me and my audience. At the moment, all I’m hearing about Twitter seems to be just a bunch of noise.

I do update my status on Facebook regularly, but I try to say something either funny or interesting about what I’m doing. And at least I know my audience on FB–people I’ve personally approved to see my profile and read my updates. Twitter opens up that audience to just about anyone online.

I don’t think I’m ready for the world to know everything I do, right when I do it. That just doesn’t seem like a smart move. Yet.

Posted in communications, freelance, messaging, networking | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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