I just saw a short video that reminds me of the importance of telling a ‘good’ story. It’s compelling.  It keeps your attention ALL the way through to the end (where the ‘point’ is made).

CLICK the above image to view the video.  It’s worthy of 60 seconds of your time.  Oh yes, it’s funny.  And if you think it’s not, you need a vacation — enjoy your July 4th holiday!

Storytelling is a ‘practical’ art but you can learn to do it — practice!!

I attended a social media workshop today.  Local marketing gurus were assembled by Eric Lopkin, President of The Modern Observer Group.

Joel Leyden, the first speaker, asked a great question . . . “How did you learn about this program?”

In spite of using ‘Meet-Up’ to promote the event, the bulk of the people were in the room because someone they knew had shared the ‘news’ about the event with their ‘network’

Power of The People (We Know, Like and Trust)
While the topic was social media, I wonder how often, in our digital, nano-second mentality online world, you take the time to reflect on the most potent social medium available to your business . . . word-of-mouth?

Your Social Network is both online AND offline — leverage them both!

When you ask someone to engage with you . . . a conversation or a click . . . you’re asking them for two valuable commodities . . . their time and their money.

If you ask, you presume (or, hope) there’s some value in that connection, potentially, for you.  But where’s the value for the other person . . . i.e. your prospective client?

Feed First, Ask Second
Whether you’re trying to make friends with a neighbor’s new dog or a new prospective client, offer them something for the effort they must make to connect with you.

Special Reports and Special Relationships
A valuable commodity to exchange is your expertise in the form of a white paper or special report.  Not only is it an item of value — which generates reciprocity towards you, it also helps to build the perception that you are, in fact, an ‘expert’ in your field.   Creating these ‘gems’ once may be difficult but once you have them, you can use them again and again.  Sweet, non?  Here’s one of my own as an example.

Create Items of Value to build goodwill, reciprocity and position yourself as an expert in your field.

I get to talk with different business owners about their marketing.  Sometimes it’s a casual conversation while waiting for a meeting to begin.  Other times, it’s a formal one that’s key to a project we’re working on.

Flavor-of-The-Week Marketing
But more often than not, I find business owners change their marketing tactics about as often as they change their underwear.  That’s a lot more frequently that it should be, too. (their marketing, not their underwear!).

Marketing Momentum
If you change what you do for marketing too often and/or without good cause, you risk losing the momentum that a consistently applied marketing message, media and method can generate for you.  That’s not good marketing and it’s definitely not good for . . . you!

In marketing, being consistent is a good thing

Of all the low-cost-to-use marketing media that a small business or professional practitioner can use today, a blog must surely be one of the best ways to promote your business to the marketplace you seek to attract and position you as an expert in your field.

But there are ‘right’ ways and ‘wrong’ ways to blog (like anything).

I just read a thought-full article that cites 30 ways to blog the ‘wrong’ way.  It’s insightful. Two of the 30 ways to screw up a blog include the following:

#13:  write 1,000 word plus text-dump posts without any paragraphs or formatting.
#29: fail to use social media like facebook, Twitter or Stumbleupon to help spread the awareness of your blog.

The other 28 great ideas are worth the time and effort it takes to click on this link and read the rest.

Blogging is (still) one of the best media for marketing you and your services around!

Andy Sernovitz is a genius.

He’s also the author of this great book (revised) that’s truly ‘New and Improved’.

What I like about Andy and his company (Gaspedal — is that cool or what!) is that he’s got a SINGULAR focus.

You never wonder, “What does Andy do?”.  It’s clear as a bell.  He helps his client companies generate and leverage Word-Of-Mouth as a means of promoting their business, products, services, brand and . . . as a result . . . generating more business and profits for his clients after they spend time and money with Andy.

This is a good guy, folks.  He’s got great ideas.

Do yourself a favor and buy this book.  It will change your business.  And only for the better.

Buy this book!

So often in marketing we hear the word MEDIA and images of TV, radio and print publications spring into our mind’s eye.  And those are all legitimate media for communicating with your marketplace.

But as Robert Frost, the Vermont poet, wrote about in his famous poem “The Road Less Traveled . . .” there are many media which are ‘less obvious’ but no less effective.  Actually, they may be even more effective in some ways and for some practitioners.

What any medium of communication must do is help you connect with people in the market/s you seek to attract and serve.  When you frame the issue that way, suddenly you realize that maybe ‘mass’ media not only isn’t effective for you but it’s very expensive relative to the results you might see from it.

Consider offering less ‘advertising’ that’s about you and more ‘helpful information’ that’s more about your prospective client.  A well-written report on ‘How To . . .” do something your prospects want to do but don’t know how (like how to hire the right firm in your field!) will not only be attractive but differentiates you as a possibly ‘Trust-worthy Advisor’.

Choosing media for your marketing is a key element in your overall marketing planning and activities

You’ve heard that ‘Content is King’?  It’s true!

I know people must get to Know of you (awareness), Like you (preference) relative to other providers in your field and Trust (confidence) that you can (and, will!) ‘deliver the goods’ before they’ll do business with you.

That’s even truer if you’re in law, accounting, or any field of business consulting.

Building a preference for you and your brand . . . is where ‘educational content’ becomes relevant.

If you offer a service . . . what you’re asking a prospective client to buy is . . . YOU!  Faith and trust in your ability to deliver a valued outcome that, let’s be honest, is not going to be enjoyed until some time in the future.

Offering information that helps a prospect make a good decision about the kind of services you offer will help differentiate you from other providers who think saying, “Trust Me” is really going to cut it.

Educational content not only makes buying less risky for your prospects, it also makes it more likely it will be with you!

I was just reminded of how BUSY we all are.

A friend asked me to post / re-post on my facebook page about a great little audio on “How To Craft a Simple and Compelling Sales Message”.  I did.

Unfortunately, I almost immediately got a response back from another colleague on my facebook wall with a not-so-thinly veiled complaint that, “I’ve listened to this guy for 6 minutes and he STILL has not addressed the topic!”.

We live in an age of microwave mentality.  The internet has both expanded our horizons and contracted our patience.  Unfortunately, whether you like it or not, if you ignore this reality, it will cost you dearly in terms of your prospects’ attention, goodwill and revenues.

With online media, make your point . . . quickly, succinctly and effectively!

By now you’ve learned what you need for an effective testimonial:
1.  OBSTACLE . . . that prevented action with you in the first place
2.  RESULT . . . enjoyed as a result of actually using your service/s
3.  KEY ELEMENT . . . that produced the result enjoyed
4.  KEY BENEFIT  . . . your service produced for your client
5.  ADDITIONAL BENEFITS . . . easier once the first one is defined

So your last question, “Is there anything else you’d like to say?” may (or, may not) provide something new.  But, you never know until you ask!

I interview people for articles I write and I like to use a similar question after I’m ready to stop.  Funny, but simply asking, “Anything I did NOT ask that you’d like to address?” often generates some of the best parts of my interviews.  Not always, of course.  But often enough that I’ve trained myself to pose that question to someone I’m interviewing.

When you think you’re ‘all set’, remember to pose this final (and sometimes very revealing!) question