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creative concepts for effective communication

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Posts Tagged ‘communications’

Fostering creativity

Posted by Vicki Moulton on April 6, 2011

It’s always fun to find a blog that imparts wisdom. Today I found out about a great blog from a company called Talent Grow

For many of my colleagues, the idea of fostering creativity is something completely natural. For some of my clients, it’s completely alien.

One of the Talent Grow blog posts hit home for me today, and I’d like to share. Here is an excerpt from a January 2011 post called “Creativity is for Everyone“:

What can everyday, ordinary people do to become more creative?

  1. Exposure to creativity begets more creativity. The more people are surrounded by or allowed to witness creative thinking, creative ideas, and creative problem-solving, the more likely they will be to model that kind of divergent thinking.
  2. Positive emotions and lowered risk-aversion increase creativity. The more positive and uninhibited they are, the more likely people will be to think more creatively. If they feel like they have to act very seriously and be perfect and error-proof, the less likely they will be to take risks or let down their guard. Their creative thinking will be stifled as a result.
  3. Take yourself outside of your comfort zone. Being in a new and different environment, or using things in ways they weren’t meant to be used, can help creative break-through thinking and spark new ideas.

Posted in communications, MarComm | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Time is money, honey

Posted by Vicki Moulton on March 4, 2011

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend toward rudeness among business contacts, and it’s time to stand up and say something about it.

Would you expect a client to wait more than 30 minutes for you to show up to a meeting? How about a good friend or maybe a member of your family? It’s considered good manners, and good business, to show up on time to your appointments. If you are unavoidably detained–accident on the highway, family emergency, stuck in another meeting–then at least send an email or a text message comunicating the delay. Don’t just leave your client, vendor, or friend twisting in the wind, wondering what the hell happened to you.

I’m not the most punctual person in my personal life, it’s true. If you are one of my friends and we plan to meet for coffee, I am likely to be running about 5 minutes late (or more, now that I have a new baby). But I do not show up late for business appointments or conference calls. I am prompt and professional enough to expect the same from my clients and associates. Making someone wait more than half an hour to hear that you’re running late is just rude. And if you’re the client, and you do this repeatedly, you should expect to be billed for that time.

Just because you run a small business does not make your time any less important or valuable than your client’s or colleague’s time. Be clear about your expectations for professionalism, and your  reputation will reflect that. And if your reputation is solid, that’s great PR for your business.

Posted in communications | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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 »

In praise of clever slogans

Posted by Vicki Moulton on September 28, 2010

You see them everywhere, those little taglines designed to bring a company’s purpose to life. Some have even been set to music (remember “plop plop, fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is”?).

If you’re a business owner, you’ve probably been through the exercise of creating your own slogan. But have you ever stopped to think why some slogans stick with you, even after just one viewing?

The slogan’s job is to raise a question, touch a nerve, or identify a need. The slogan is not your only marketing tool, and therefore it does not need to be all things to everyone.

The slogan IS…

  • memorable
  • an enhancement to the overall brand
  • focused on the customer benefit and/or key differentiator between you and the competition

The slogan IS NOT…

  • a definition/explanation of the company name
  • an explanation of the logo design
  • a literal statement about how the company functions

Think about some memorable brand slogans and how they say a lot with very few words (and remember that all of these companies hired big ad agencies to create these slogans–all trademarked and used here for illustration purposes only):

  • Nike: Just do it
  • Kaiser Permanente: Thrive
  • Avis: We try harder
  • MasterCard: Priceless
  • GE: Imagination at work
  • Allstate: You’re in good hands
  • ING: What’s your number?
  • Weight Watchers: Watch yourself change
  • Capital One: What’s in your wallet?
  • Taco Bell: Think outside the bun

I particularly like that last one. There’s something clever about how it takes an overused business term and turns it on its head while slamming the competition. (Or maybe it’s just time for lunch.)

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

Moving west

Posted by Vicki Moulton on August 5, 2010

Hey, still here… Just on the other side of the country. And P.S.: the weather is great!

It’s official: Movick Marketing has moved to the west coast! The family made the move to Oakland, California, and so did the business.

Here is the new office number: 510.530.1580. The blog, Facebook fan page, and Twitter feed have been on summer vacation while we’ve been completing the move and getting set up in the new location. Look for increased activity this month… and continue to keep us in mind for all your marketing communications projects!

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

Coping with changes

Posted by Vicki Moulton on April 16, 2010

What’s the difference between an excuse and an explanation? The answer depends on what you’re trying to achieve. If you need to buy more time, maybe build up a little sympathy for your situation, then that’s an excuse. If you need to clarify misinformation with a matter-of-fact statement, then that’s an explanation.

My excuse for not blogging recently has to do with a whole host of changes happening in my life, which have turned my attention away from the blog as a business marketing tool… but only temporarily. (Fear not: I’m still here, ready to work!)

When changes started happening about a month ago, I originally intended to take just a few days off from blogging, Facebook, and Twitter. A few days turned into a week. One week turned into two. And now here it is, mid-April already, and I’ve let myself fall out of the loop entirely. My good intentions were completely dashed to hell. Clearly I wasn’t coping well with the changes happening around me. And while all of this was going on, I had two computers crash and burn, culminating in the loss of three weeks’ worth of data and email. (Insert angry, frustrated expletives here.)

Sprinkled throughout these weeks filled with challenges were emails and phone calls with potential clients, meetings with colleagues and collaborators, and successfully completed projects for steady clients. So actually the work didn’t stop–just my means of communicating with the wider world.

Where does that leave me on this warm Friday afternoon? Feeling motivated to get back into the groove, glad to have posted something new here and on Twitter before the weekend, and intending to embrace those life changes instead of letting them derail me. Change is good. (Yes, it is.)

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

Keeping bad attitudes at bay

Posted by Vicki Moulton on February 25, 2010

It’s not just people working in traditional office environments who must navigate the snarkiness of colleagues and clients. Those bad attitudes can exist–even thrive–in the faceless, expressionless, contextless world of email.

Take the example of a vendor of mine who emailed me to complain that one of her competitors had been invited to work with me on an upcoming project. The message contained words and punctuation–no images, video, or audio to simulate a face-to-face conversation–but the attitude was palpable. “Is this an official plan now, using both of us? It’s fine… I just need to be kept in the loop!”

First of all, I wanted to shout at the email on my laptop, whom I decide to work with and how often I work with them is entirely my decision. You don’t have an exclusivity clause in our verbal contract. Dial back the attitude, missy.

Of course, I did not type this into an email reply. I want to maintain professional communications at all times. But my initial reaction to this brazen display of bad attitude got me thinking: how would I have handled this confrontation if it had happened in my office instead of on my laptop?

Protecting the reputation of my company is a priority, and so is maintaining civility in any discourse with vendors and clients. No matter how rattled I might get on the inside, it’s important to keep a cool exterior. My professionalism demands that I show everyone at least some measure of respect, even when they misbehave. Having the veil of email between us actually makes it easier to think before responding… something I might not have done so effectively had that vendor been standing in my office whining about not being chosen first.

Deep breath. Count to 10. Engage brain before speaking. This is all good advice–for both the personal and the professional in all of us.

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Posted in communications | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pushing past paralysis

Posted by Vicki Moulton on February 17, 2010

Ever have one of those days that just feels “off,” right from the moment you open your eyes in the morning?

I had one of those days yesterday. And even though I’m aware that some of the folks I met at a networking event last night might be reading this today, I just have to be honest: I wasn’t in my usual rah-rah-let’s-go mode. In fact, I almost didn’t show up.

It would’ve been so easy to just stay home, avoiding the crowds, the hand-shaking, the quick room-scanning, the u-turns to avoid running into certain people. But I knew I’d regret that decision eventually. I also knew that this was an opportunity I could not afford to pass up, even if I was in the wrong state of mind to begin with.

As a small business owner, I’m particularly susceptible to feeling overwhelmed with a long to-do list and crossing stuff off just to give myself a break. There are no staffers to send to networking events on Movick Marketing’s behalf. I am my company’s chief ambassador. I can either accept that responsibility, and all the gripping-and-grinning that goes with it, or I can go take a nap and let my company drift away.

Pushing past that feeling of near-paralysis–getting yourself out there, keeping your commitments, honing that elevator speech–is critical to keeping the momentum going, especially for small businesses just getting started with word-of-mouth marketing. It’s never okay to give up just because you’re not in the mood.

After about 45 minutes at the networking event, I woke up and started to get into the spirit of things. By hour 3, I met some really interesting people, gathered some promising business leads, and wondered why I’d ever felt like staying home.

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

 
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