“Only Connect” – Why I’m Renaming My Blog

Posted on March 2, 2009. Filed under: Small business communications | Tags: , , , , , |

connect1It’s all about taking action, folks.

“Sea Change” requires a name change
I’ve had this little blog since the end of November, and its existence has coincided with a fascinating sea change in the way I do business.  What started out as a vaguely self-absorbed exploration of my own life coming to terms with and even thriving with ADHD (yes, grown women can have it too) insisted on evolving into a place where I could talk about my business.  At the same time, I went from de facto employee with one major client and a couple of side projects to full-time business writer and PR and Marketing consultant.  In December, I thought this blog was going to be about the area of expertise where I’ve always had a sharp edge: getting your message out to the right people, at the right time, in the right language.

I had no idea that social media was going to become such a huge part of the picture. (See “Social Media: My Christmas Project Run Amok” for my initial thoughts as I dove into the pool).  But here I am at the beginning of March – and helping clients get a feel for social media has become as much a part of what I do as the actual writing and editing consults.

Time to take action
Then this morning on Twitter, one of my good buddies ADHDParenting (actually, Debra Sale Wendler) asked which pitch was more interesting: “Kids w ADHD 5 conditions under which child can pay attention. OR, 5 things that MUST happen B4 discipline works”  Forgive the formatting folks, she only has 140 characters to pose the question.

Well, give me the “5 Things That MUST happen” even better – “5 Things You Can Do”.  Why?  Because it’s information you can act on.  I’m always harping on about how “what X is” messages pale next to “what X does” messages.  And it’s time to apply that message to myself.

What X Does > What X Is
“The Message Maven” may be what I am.  Actually, I’m kinda tired of the term “maven” – so even that may need a facelift. You’re going to be more interested in what I do – even better, what I do for you, or what I wish we could all do a bit better.  And the answer to that is in one of my favourite literary quotations, from the novel Howard’s End, by EM Forster.

Only Connect.  That’s what we are aiming for each time we reach out to friends, potential clients, mentors, whoever.  It’s the bedrock philosophy behind everything that happens on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, YouTube and any number of other social media sites, blogs, bookmarking services and what-have-you on the Web.  It’s a second-person imperative, for you grammar geeks out there.  I’m asking myself and the whole world to do something, and something good: to touch people with our messages.  To affirm the community that we are a part of, online and off.

Thankfully, the URL and feed of this blog will stay the same, so I don’t have to rewire all the places that I feed this blog.  It’ll still show up on Facebook, LinkedIn, MetroCascade, and feeding to my Twitter Account through Twitterfeed.  Yes, if you want to turboboost your blog in the same way, I can help you…

I hope you like the new name, the new focus and the new energy that comes with it!

Advertisements
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Connect With Your Clients – Create a Plan

Posted on February 3, 2009. Filed under: Small business communications, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Are you a small business owner who wants more business?

I believe – as do 99% of marketing and sales professionals – that business is built on the strength of your client relationships.  Sure, there are strictly transactional sales processes, like when I pick up some gum at a random corner store, but they don’t sustain business for the long term.  (Hmmm, I’m sure there’s a post about the decline of the local corner store there.  Remind me.)

How do you want to connect?
That said, how do you build relationships with clients, or with the people that you hope to make your clients over the longer term?  By connecting with them in a variety of ways.  Let me give you an example:

Mind mapping my communications plan
This morning, I pulled out my roll of newsprint to get a handle on the many ways I want WordSpring to connect with my target market, and become a successful business.  In less than 10 minutes, I had a spider-webbed mind map of the various ways I want to interact with and provide service to my clients.  Some of them will bring in money, and some of them are simply smart ways to help them know, like and trust me.  I’ve included a picture of my handiwork – it’s not beautiful, like Christine Merkley’s drawings, but it is at least a framework for me to follow.
03-02-09_09421
Remember to include the other details
I can’t overemphasize how important that framework is, no matter the size or scope of your business.  My little web is going to form the basis of my communications plan, which I will write out in further detail and make a part of my business plan.  Here, I have mapped out the “what” of my plan.  As I convert it into a more detailed document, it will include the “why”, the “how often”, the “what method”, the”who is it for”. 

Communications plans work for EVERY business
These are the steps I go through with my clients as well, in preparing communications plans for them.  When it is done, you can actually figure out exactly how often you “touch” your client base, and for what purpose.  You’ll also know how much time and money you are spending on each activity, and be able to calculate the much-talked about Return on Investment. 

The advantage of diverse communications
You know what is the best part of a multi-faceted communications plan?  You are planning a diversity of relationship-building communications, and not restricting yourself to what comes naturally.  Your chances of making that crucial connection increase vastly because you are using a variety of formats.  Heaven knows, many people don’t read blogs at all, while others are happy to use Twitter, but couldn’t imagine stepping into a business networking meeting.  And yes, some people would probably rather get a nicely written note or even printed newsletter from you every so often than deal with anything on-line.

Obviously, my business lends itself naturally to this process.  What is marketing about, if not connecting?  But believe me, it is important as well for mechanics, chiropractors, and ink jet refillers.  Tell your people how you go about your work, why you are unique, and why they – as clients – are important to you.

You don’t have to do this alone
Perhaps you are so busy working in your business that you would rather delegate some of this communications planning work to someone with experience.  While the core information still has to come from you, the small business owner, most reputable PR and marketing professionals will work with you to create a communications strategy.  Certainly in larger companies, communications plans drive the marketing department activities, and marketing is in constant communication with the executive to make sure that their marketing efforts fit with the overall company strategy. 

Here’s your challenge: take 10 minutes and a big piece of paper.  Jot down all that you do to connect with your customers.  See if it forms a picture that you are happy with.  And why not send me a comment with your results?  I’d be happy to give you a hand, if you need it.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )

A Lifetime of Persistence Pt 2

Posted on December 7, 2008. Filed under: People to Follow | Tags: , , , , , |

We left off Napoleon just as he was promised a typewriter in exchange for changing his wild habits and working toward some better ones.  Martha Hill, his step-mother, had great hopes for all the Hills, and even 115 years later, we could learn a lot from the way she handled her husband and stepsons.  Here’s a quote from the book, “A Lifetime of Riches” by Michael J. Ritt Jr. and Kirk Landers:

“[Martha] patiently constructed a close, individual relationship with her troubled stepson.  She didn’t force the stubborn, hot-tempered boy to do things, for this would most certainly have produced failure.  Instead, she treated him like the person she wanted him to become – an intelligent, hard-working, independent lad who would set constructive goals for himself and achieve them. ”

” ‘People are wrong about you, Napoleon,’ she said.  ‘You’re not the worst boy in the county, only the most active.  You jst need to direct your energy toward accomplishing something worthwhile.’  In the course of this conversation, Martha suggested that Napoleon consider becoming a writer because of his keen imagination and gutsy initiative. ‘If you will devote as much time to reading and writing as you have to causing trouble,’ she concluded, ‘you might live to see the time when your influence will be felt throughout the state.’ ” (pp. 8-9)

How important it is to have somebody believe in you early in life!  As adults, we are in large part a product of the messages we are given about ourselves early in life.  We take those on and make them part of our identity.  That’s not exactly news – the “self-esteem movement” in child development circles of the 1980s and 1990s was built on that. 

At the same time, notice how Martha Hill’s belief and support was accompanied by some real expectations.  She didn’t just say “You’re smart honey, and you’re really wild, and that’s the way you are.”  She directed that energy in a new direction.  What’s more, she persuaded Napoleon to be responsible in himself for that change in direction.  She suggested a goal, but ultimately it was Napoleon who internalized the goal and worked with passion and diligence to achieve it.

This is something I try to instill in both myself and in my children.  We are all working to become something.  What is the worthwhile thing we want to do?  Who is the person of worth we want to be?  How can you reveal that person of worth right now?

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...