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Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

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 »

Open for discussion

Posted by Vicki Moulton on June 20, 2010

I’ve posted a couple of discussion starters on the Movick Marketing FB fan page discussion board, in the hopes that readers would offer an opinion and get a dialogue going.

Topics:

These are hot topics among the marketing communications folks I know, especially one-person shops and small businesses. I’d love to know what you think, so please share your two cents. Thanks!

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

Making connections

Posted by Vicki Moulton on October 7, 2009

lotus lampI’ve been looking over my notes from the “Brand Reinvention Summit” (yes, this makes post #4 about this event… so sue me). Besides the authenticity theme, I found some other good advice, common to most of the speakers, that I wanted to share here–in particular, the idea of connecting with others through and with your brand.

With the following list of quotes, I’m giving each expert due credit:

Kaira Rouda (Founder of Real You and Real Living): “Today’s business is based on true connections, on networking. The way to connect is to tell your story. It helps your customers and employees understand you better.”

Mary van de Wiel (Brand Analyst, Master of Zing): “Make a connection… The explosion of social media has fed the human desire for connection… It’s about telling stories, being one-on-one in meaningful relationships. It allows people to see that you ARE who you say you are. When you feel connected, in a group especially, you feel supported.”

Anita Campbell (Founder/CEO of Small Business Trends LLC): “Are you different? Can your clients connect with you, communicate with you, develop a relationship with you? The client needs to feel comfortable with you as a person. This is not a business-to-business relationship we’re talking about: it’s person to person.”

Anita Campbell: “A passion, a hobby, a travel destination–something like this might be the one thing that sparks the interest of a potential client. You would never know this if you didn’t share it. You want to work with people you like, and so do your clients. This kind of information could provide a common thread.”

Simon Sinek (Author of Start With Why): “Are you courageous enough to be completely open and honest in your business? People tend to be very insecure about how they’re perceived by the world around us. But if you’re honest, people will be drawn to you and put their trust in you.”

Liz Taylor (Founder of Wow-at-Work.com): “Share and bounce ideas off of other people. Connect with others. Get those ideas out into the open. Be provocative. Take a risk.”

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

Making lemonade

Posted by Vicki Moulton on August 3, 2009

yellowRemember your grandmother’s advice about what to do when life hands you a bunch of sour lemons? This classic lesson about turning a negative into a positive can be applied quite handily to any sticky business situation.

SCENARIO: Your client assumes you are skilled in anything that’s remotely related to your actual line of business. The line between what you know how to do and what you pretend to know how to do is getting blurrier by the minute. You like this client and don’t wish to lose potential business by revealing the pretense.

DIAGNOSIS: Your professional brand is not well-defined, and you’re straying from your core mission.

SOLUTION: Take this opportunity to define who you are and what you have to offer. Make a list of your capabilities, and include everything that you’re confident you know how to do well. Make a separate list of things you could do with a bit more time/training/networking help. Leave off items in which you simply don’t have any expertise or would find yourself in over your head.

Next, write a short descriptive statement about the kind of work you want to be doing. You can take elements of this statement to become your mission and your slogan. This should include only the work you want to be known for, and be as specific as you can. If you have a web presence, you can turn all of this into your personal brand.

Then, any areas that go beyond your mission/slogan could go under a “consulting” umbrella, meaning you can always find someone else to help your clients with specific needs beyond your bailiwick. (Hey, I’m connected… I can get you someone for that project. Just tell me what you need!) Definitely keep your relationship with the client, and make sure you stay involved as a “project manager,” even charging a consulting fee (while you learn new skills from the other individual). You might consider partnering with that other expert on future projects.

Once you’ve defined your business, client requests for work beyond your core capabilities won’t cause you angst. To paraphrase Grandma, life may hand you lemons, but you’ve already mastered the recipe for lemonade.

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

Building a cohesive network

Posted by Vicki Moulton on June 12, 2009

mosaic_webI’ve been a longtime member of a private, mostly virtual network of 250+ DC-area freelancers who specialize in various areas within the field of communications (writers, editors, technical experts, web programmers, designers, marketing experts, etc.). A colleague of mine from a freelance gig back in 2000 recommended me for membership, and I did the same for another colleague with whom I’ve worked since the mid-90s.

I haven’t made it to very many of the monthly meetings, as worthwhile as they are, because the location is not close enough to my home office to make it worth the commuting time (usually midday on a Friday, which tends to be deadline day). But I’ve stayed in the group because of the many virtual benefits of being an email away from a few hundred great minds with lots of great advice on all things freelance.

Today I received an email from the group’s founder and most passionate cheerleader, explaining what membership in the group means, how it works, and how it has enhanced everyone’s professional experience. I thought it was so concise and well-written that I wanted to post it here (sans identifying information, of course).

Membership can be extended to anybody any of our members feel (1) would benefit from such membership and (2) would be a benefit to the other members. 

(1) [The group] differs from other lists and online groups in that we are a community.  Some of what we share online is strictly business – rates, job leads, articles.  Much is not – announcements of personal triumphs, pleas for pet causes, the occasional bit of humor.  All is offered warmly and accepted graciously, because in [our group], everybody is somebody’s friend.

(2) [The group's] only criterion for membership is that the person being recommended be someone whose work the sponsor can vouch for.  That criterion gives us the comfort of knowing that everybody in [the group] is considered by someone else to be a pro…

We are an unusual group, and the reason we work so well is that everyone here wants to be here and wants to contribute to the group’s continued success.  It’s quality (of relationships and interactions), not quantity (of member rolls), that we’re all about.

Amen to that.

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

Building on the momentum

Posted by Vicki Moulton on February 23, 2009

Taking a weekend off from real life by going somewhere else can inject a jolt of energy into the creative process. I visited a college friend for two days, setting my own life’s details aside and immersing myself in hers. Listening to her tell stories, meeting the characters in her life, watching the world go by through her car windows, I found some great material for a short story, maybe a novella. (It would only be loosely based on actual people, of course…)

The momentum wave I was riding before the weekend took a little break while I was on my short vacation. But I was constantly thinking about how to apply life’s observations to this creative endeavor called writing, and how that might apply to networking to promote my business. That doesn’t sound very relaxing, does it? And yet, I came home refreshed and ready to get to work this morning, full of ideas and momentum.

Lesson learned: getting out of town can recharge the batteries.

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

Networking can be fun!

Posted by Vicki Moulton on February 4, 2009

Today I was invited to join a networking group of women entrepreneurs in my county who meet monthly to share ideas, strategies, success stories…and perhaps complain a bit about clients. I am already a member of a (mostly) virtual networking group of freelancers in the greater DC area who communicate primarily via email and Facebook. Professional in-person networking, an essential self-marketing tool for freelancers, is a permanent fixture on my career to-do list, and yet I never seem to make enough time for it. So this seems like a great opportunity, and it’s right in my backyard. I think I’ll RSVP yes.

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

 
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