I don’t remember the exact day when my school stopped serving complimentary lunches and we, the students, had to pack our own…but it was some time around Grade 1. Although I’m fuzzy about some details, I remember the the lunchbox and the anticipation of learning what lay inside like it was yesterday. My box was decorated with my favorite superheroes: Wonder Woman and Superman. I proudly toted it all the way to school, holding it up every so often to stare at my heroes – my mother’s warning, “Don’t open it up until lunchtime” flashing through my mind. I remember arriving at school and having to part with my box, resting it carefully on a shelf in the cloakroom, turning around every so often during class to catch a glimpse. When the lunch bell rang, I raced to grab my lunchbox and ran to the lunch table. Hands shaking, I open the clasp and began pulling out the contents. My heart sank. What lay inside wasn’t the Twinkies and pizza I had imagined all day, but an apple and a baloney sandwich. Lunchbox letdown.
Throughout my life I’ve experienced these moments. Moments when I had high expectations, only to be disappointed by reality. We’ve often been told never to over-promise and under-deliver – D’uh. And some brilliant business person out there told us the solution is to under-promise and over-deliver – a statement I vehemently disagree with. I love Seth Godin’s response: Make big promises and deliver. Simple.
I’m a big fan of Seth’s. I read his blog every day. I’ve bought all of his books and audio books. So, when he released SHIP IT, I raced to amazon to purchase a copy. I waited eagerly for the package to arrive at my door. When it finally did, I ripped open the outer envelope and experienced that familiar feeling again. My heart sank when I pulled out the tiny little pamphlets. But wait, I told myself, the magic will surely be inside. So I spent time reading through the sparse pages, consuming the content of the 30 questions. These pamphlets and the content inside came nowhere to meeting my expectations. All I can say is Lunchbox letdown.
What types of experiences have you had that haven’t met your expectations? How did you handle them?
Have you used SHIP IT? What did you think?
HARO (or, Help a Reporter Out) is an online tool that connects reporters looking for an expert or story angle with qualified sources, like you and me. Every one of us has an area of expertise – from dealing with bridezillas to consulting small businesses on communications to being an expert on all things chocolate. Nearly 30,000 members of the media (including The New York Times, ABC News, HuffingtonPost.com) have quoted HARO sources in their stories. It’s as easy as creating an account & reading the daily emails and responding to a request and you could be quoted by one of the Nation’s power publications.
Even reporters use Google to find answers to their story questions. In fact, many actively seek experts on a particular topic by using web search. Some of you may have heard about Alec Brownstein’s uber creative approach to landing his dream job. In a nutshell, he recognized the popularity of vanity Googling (that’s when people Google themselves) – so using Google Adwords, he bid on the names of 5 prominent creative directors that he most admired so that when they Googled themselves, his listing would ‘hopefully’ appear in the top search results. The campaign cost him $6 and landed him a job with Young & Rubicam (Y&R) New York. Why not translate this idea to the reporters you’d love to be quoted by.
If you author a blog you are likely pumping out high quality content in your area of expertise. Why not repurpose great posts by way of new releases? Also, many credible industry outlets are looking to aggregate industry-specific content on their blogs. Check out BizBash Hive for one example.
We do business with people we know, like and trust. This concept extends to PR as well. Take the time to build relationships with the people who make decisions on content. Twitter is a great resource for this. Here’s the top 10 PR Lead Sources to follow on Twitter …but please keep in mind that it’s important to stay relevant to your area of expertise. Take the time to search Twitter for relevant contacts.
If you author a blog, SEO can be one of your best friends. Think about how people would search for an expert in your field. Hint, it’s probably your industry keyword + expert. Ensure you’re ranking for this search word / phrase.
I was in the process of training one of my clients on social media. I had him schedule 5 minutes every morning to read industry publication blogs and an additional 10 minutes choosing one story to comment on. On his first day, he left a comment on a very popular Branding publication’s blog post. By the next day, his comment had been highlighted by the publication and featured in a story. 15 minutes trumped years of my client trying to get quoted by this publication.
This one goes without saying. If you have a press release, consider these 20+ free resources for getting your releases in the hands of the media.
Consider conducting research or collecting data that can be helpful for identifying industry trends. Journalists often seek valuable and credible research sources for stories.
When I first began speaking about social media, almost 4 years ago, most of the conversation revolved around what is social media and why businesses need to care about it. Today, however, most people know this. These days people are challenged with standing out from the sea of noise online, maximizing resources, selecting the right tools to engage their audience and getting results.
This is why I created my Social Media Strategy workshop, which will be held on November 2, 2010 from 12:00pm EDT – 1:30pm EDT. It will provide you with the tools to create a plan to achieve success. You’ll learn:
Book now to take advantage of Early Bird pricing.
Check out what one attendee said about our Kickstart a Killer Blog in 7 Days webinar:
“Once again, you knocked it out of the park! Your webinar was high energy and clearly articulated. It was the perfect blend of technical and creative, and you armed me with an arsenal of tools for managing every facet of my blog and online presence. I would wholeheartedly recommend it for new or veteran bloggers alike. Your understanding of social media and branding is truly a great gift – thank you.” – Carolyn Ray
The past few years have been, quite frankly, devastating to many businesses. Budgets have shrunk or disappeared altogether. Many companies are scrambling to fight over a shrinking piece of pie. And, worse, many others are fighting over the crumbs left over by their competitors.
I was recently speaking to an event company about this very issue the other day. They have seen their revenues shrink dramatically over the last couple of years. As a result, they have been tempted to take on significantly smaller projects to get their feet in the door of large corporations, in hopes of being able to work on their large projects.
Here’s the problem with this model:
If you were pitching Apple’s annual 5,000 person gala event, would you show them a $1,000 event you’ve done? Of course not. It sells your business short. It puts you in a box and tells your potential client that you’re a $1,000 event company. Working on a client’s small events in hopes of scoring their large events can have a similar outcome.
Reputation is one of the biggest assets a company can have. You can’t buy a good reputation, you earn it. And, you earn it with every single transaction your business has when engaging your customers or your employees. If your business isn’t set up to do small events, you’ve opened yourself up to 2 problems:
Just imagine what you could accomplish if you refocused your resources to attracting the types customers you do great business with or growing your existing customers. I will guarantee that this time will be worth significantly more short and long term than taking small projects to cover your overhead.
Before you think about taking on that small job, ask yourself what the cost to your business will be. If there’s a risk of devaluing your business, under-servicing a client, de-motivating your employees or affecting your reputation, don’t take the project. And remember that turning down business can be one of the best ways to build confidence and reinforce your expertise.
You’re not alone…Welcome to social media guilt. It’s all around us. We can’t escape from those dreaded two words (SOCIAL MEDIA). They appear on the cover of magazines, newspapers, our favorite TV shows are on twitter and have Facebook pages, our friends and family talk about the funny videos they recently saw on YouTube. No, social media isn’t going away. But I’m here to tell you that you no longer need to feel guilty.
I would much rather see many businesses focus on the fundamentals of the business before they think about social media. Namely, business model.
Social media is in many ways changing many business models. I only need to look at my husband’s industry to see a great example of this. Michael was a head hunter for 20+ years. Now, approximately 90% of all employers use social media to find and attract employees. The headhunting business model needs to be significantly revised.
I can say the same for associations. I’ve been a member of a number of industry associations and they all hung their hat on Networking and Education. Here’s the problem with that value model. I can now network with more people, across the globe, without ever leaving my office. Instead of being in a room with a handful of people – many of them not my potential customers – I can now use keywords online to find the right prospects for my business, find out about their fears & frustrations, needs & desires, contact them, build a relationship and offer a solution all before I ever meet them in person. Oh, and as for education, well at the click of a mouse I can find the answer to virtually any question I have. I can sign up for a growing list of webinars, read industry blogs, participate in wikis, converse in Twitter chats, and the list goes on. Associations need to revisit their business model.
If you’re business model is unremarkable, you’ll likely be unremarkable online.
Spend the time getting to know the space before jumping in to anything. Listen. Find examples of companies you think are doing a great job and identify where their success comes from. Find companies that are doing a terrible job and ask yourself why. Listen to your target market online and find out what their needs are so you can create a compelling solution. Don’t get bamboozled into being everywhere just because everyone else tells you that you need to be there. Be where it makes sense to put your business to connect with your audience.
We all have limited time and resources, yet we all have limitless opportunities. Smart businesses do only what they can be exceptional at. Why divide your time between 10 different social media sites, when you can be exceptional on 1. Imagine the value to your brand when people recognize you stand for incredible insights & expertise.
The next time someone tells you that you just have to check out that new social media tool, tell them that you’re too busy being exceptional.
It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada – and for those of you, like me, who had no idea why we celebrate Thanksgiving on a different day than our friends to the South, here’s a little explanation. Now, what is consistent is that our goal for the day is to give thanks for our blessings.
A few weeks ago I was honored to be selected by the TedxToronto team to attend their conference. I feel blessed to have shared a room with so many smart, progressive, young people. But one of the experiences that impacted me the most was an honest story from the creator of 1000 Awesome Things, Neil Pasricha. If his blog sounds familiar, you might be familiar with The Book of Awesome which has been sitting on Amazon’s bestsellers list for (I think) about 20+ weeks now.
When Neil started his blog, though, things were not so awesome. His wife had just left him, his best friend had just committed suicide and he felt utterly alone and sad. During this time, he was searching for something to be happy about. His mind kept going back to his father who, as a young adult, immigrated to Canada from Africa. His father spent this time in his new country like a child experiencing things for the first time. This appreciation of the little things was the impetus of Neil’s blog: 1000 Awesome Things. Each day Neil shares small things that makes us happy. From putting your own shoes on after going bowling to living with someone who doesn’t mind killing spiders, each anecdote is guaranteed to put a little smile on your face and retrain you to love the little things in life.
As I write this post, I’m preparing to celebrate my birthday with my closest friends. Friends, along with family, are the most important things to me. But I also cherish the friends that I’ve made throughout my career. People like Richard Foulkes, who even if I don’t get the opportunity to see him often, has the wonderful ability to always put a smile on my face. Or, Carol Moxam who is one of the brightest lights I think I’ve ever met. Samuel J Smith and Ray Hanson who have totally inspired me to take more risks – and Ray’s beautiful wife Nicole, an amazing lady who just had a baby boy. All of the #eventprofs who challenge me with new ideas. And, my incredible clients – I can’t believe that READY2SPARK will be celebrating our 1 year anniversary in just a few months.
I’m extremely thankful to you for sticking with me. For reading my thoughts and for challenging me with great ideas, hearty questions and amazing comments.
I’m truly thankful.