Sir William Osler (1849-1919), a renowned 17th century medical professor, believed that the best physicians were those who listened to their patients.

Dr. Osler said it best – “Listen to your patient – he is giving you the diagnosis.”

As business owners, we can all take a lesson from this wisdom.  Our clients, like a physician’s patients, can tell us so much IF . . . we will only LISTEN.  What’s troubling them?  What makes them lose sleep at night?  What do they fear?  What do they truly want but don’t have?

By listening to the concerns our clients trust us enough to share . . . we can respond by giving them what they truly want from our relationship — peace of mind.

Sometimes, that may require a specific service or product we can provide.  Sometimes, it’s just being open, receptive and curious enough about what’s happening with a client to LISTEN to whatever is of most concern or interest to them.

Listening . . . may be a lost art, but . . . it’s a key skill we all need to serve clients effectively

Marketers LOVE messages. Avis had “We Try Harder”. Wendy’s had “Where’s the BEEF?”

But sometimes, in fact, more often than not . . . your ‘message’ isn’t some really well-crafted message that appears in the media.

Nope! It’s the ‘message’ communicated by what Jan Carlson, CEO of SAS Airlines called the “Moments of Truth” . . . moments where customers, clients, or patients come into contact with your business or practice.

Ivan Meisner, founder of BNI just posted about such a ‘Moment’ . . . and, truth be told, he didn’t get what you might call a ‘warm fuzzy’ from a recent contact with an insoucient front desk clerk at a Marriott Hotel.  I learned about Ivan’s horrific treatment through a post on Linkedin.  It was a repost of Ivan’s from his blog.  There were a lot of people retweeting and reposting his sad ‘experience’.

Think Marriott Hotels should be happy?  I don’t think so!

The messages customers get or, your staff gives out . . . can make you or break you — especially in this day and age of social media and twittering customers who believe in sharing their good (and, bad) experiences of your business with the rest of the world online!

Being a ‘preferred’ provider, relative to your competitors, is good. It means you’re more likely to end up winning the ‘roses and tiara’ whenever you’re in a competitive situation.

Years ago a major accounting firm wanted to differentiate their audit services. It’s not possible. You have to be both unique AND beneficial. Ted Levitt, the Harvard Business School professor told them that. But he did interview their clients who hired this accounting firm to do their audit.

Ted learned these audit clients didn’t hire the firm because of how well they did an audit. They hired the firm because, “all things being equal” the prospective clients just liked their experience with this firm’s staff better than the other firms’ staff.

Standing out, favorably, to a prospective client depends less on your capabilities than on how prospects perceive you whenever they have an experience with you. Create the right impression – the one prospects want and expect – and you’ll be a ‘preferred’ provider every time!

Marketing is commonly associated with finding and generating new clients. That’s important. But an equally important marketing opportunity is to keep-in-touch with prospects, clients and centers-of-influence after you initially connect with people of interest to you and your business.

Keeping-in-touch is powerful. It’s also a challenge. Two factors will make it easier for you.

First, get permission to do this. Having permission means having the attention of someone. That’s key. Without attention to your message, your marketing will fail.

Second, automate your ‘touches’. Use some kind of email autoresponder to regularly ‘drip’ information of relevance to qualified individuals who have so kindly invited you to keep-in-touch.

Together, permission and automation make keeping-in-touch a SYSTEM . . . and a system will bring you much greater success in marketing your services than if you don’t use one.

Why do some companies seem to get customers or clients or patients who are referred IN to them as opposed to other firms who have to seek OUT their sources of revenues using direct marketing, cold-calling and the like?

The answer? Simple. Some businesses are just more refer-able. They operate in a manner that invites and even demands their customers and clients to become evangelists for the company’s brand.

In a few weeks, Duct Tape Marketing’s founder, John Jantsch will be releasing a new book — The Referral Engine.

I have an advance copy for a review I’m writing and I am most impressed. Rather than being a book of ‘How To’ (although that is present) this book is more about how to be a business that operates in a manner that generates such exquisite experiences for people that they become the ‘raving fans’ and the ‘brand evangelists’ that drive new customers and clients into contact with the firm.
You can get a complimentary download of Chapter 1 of John’s wonderful new book: The Referral Engine

Just click on the cover and you’ll be reading some great new insights in no time!


LinkedIn is a wonderful social network for business.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a ‘User Handbook’ full of ideas on how to get the most value you can from being a part of it.

Here are some quick and easy ways can get more out of being on LinkedIn.

Drop Your Title!

For example, I used to use my title “CCO”. Now, my profile ‘title’ reads: “Helping small business owners attract clients and grow revenues”.

This allows you to inform people how you can help them rather than what you are — which may be lost on them, anyway.

Key Idea

Show your tagline instead of your title

Integrate with Twitter

The new Twitter integration functionality allows you to tweet a message and have it display in your status . . . automatically!.

You can edit your settings to show “ALL” your Tweets or, selective Tweets which you can set up with the hashtag (#) function on Twitter. Very cool!

Key Idea

Use the Twitter integration function on your LinkedIn profile.

Leverage Your Group Memberships

I’ve been writing a monthly article for The National Networker for about two years helping others leverage their marketing and networking to build relationships and revenues. After an article is published, my publisher, Adam Kovitz suggested I post it as a “news article” to the various groups that I belong to on LinkedIn. You can do the same thing with any blog post you write just as easily.

This one simple activity can drive tons of traffic to your blog!

In time, getting people to know of you (brand awareness), like you (brand preference) and trust you (brand value) because they’ve come to appreciate the value in your advice is . . . priceless!

Key Idea

Join the LinkedIn groups where your blog posts or articles will be relevant and post your “news articles” whenever you can.

Join The Conversations

LinkedIn has ‘Discussions’. Are you starting them? Are you commenting on them? If not, you’re missing a huge opportunity to leverage your membership and the value LinkedIn holds for you.

Contributing to LinkedIn Discussions is a great way to position yourself as an authority and showcase your expertise.

Always provide a link to a relevant page on your blog or landing page on your website. For example, if you comment on how to ‘generate referrals’, you should create a landing page where a Special Report on ‘Referrals’ can be downloaded. Remember, you’re offering relevant information in a meaningful context. So don’t just say, “Hey, I’m here!”. Offer value and . . . an easy way to get it!

Key Idea

Participate in the discussions on any LinkedIn group where your ideal clients are likely to be found and post questions to stimulate some discussions of your own.

Respond To Questions

Questions allow you to demonstrate your expertise and build up the “know / Like / Trust” factor you know is so important to your marketing success.

Both the questions you answer for others (and, ask) will be seen by visitors to your profile. Often, what you have to say may be more interesting than anything else a visitor will notice on your profile page.

Key Idea

Seek out questions posed by others on topics you can answer. Use an RSS feed coupled to your Google Reader to show you new questions as they appear and post your answers to your profile as well.

Want To Build Revenues With Social Media?

Check out our Social Media Pro Study Group!

Andy Lopata is a fellow-columnist at The National Networker where we both write a monthly column.  Andy’s from the UK.  And, while we’re geographically far apart, we’re in close agreement about . . . Elevator Pitches.

Elevator Ptches

If you aren’t familiar with the concept, it’s based upon the 10 – 15 seconds that begins with the time you step into an elevator and the time you step out of one.  Maybe a floor or two. Inside the elevator someone asks, “What do you do?”.

Having a prepared ‘pitch’ or commercial response at the ready can turn such a moment-of-truth with a truly qualified prospect for your services . . . into a highly productive one.

Andy argues that these chance encounters, while prevalent in daily business, have deteriorated into a social convention that is often more polite than productive.  He’s got a good point. Listen to him directly:

Why Elevator Pitches May Not Really Work

If you’re honest about it, do they work for you?  Or, are they merely a social convention that prevents sincere connections from taking place between two people in business?

Lopata contends that delivering a carefully crafted ‘commercial’ has become, for many businesspeople, the sole goal of a ‘new encounter’ rather than using it as the starting point for a meaningful conversation with a stranger.  I tend to agree.

What Does Work?

In a word, ‘Listening‘ –– focusing more on what the other person is sharing with you than on what you say in response to their question: “What do you do?”.


It’s only slightly more difficult to listen.  But it’s a lot more powerful.  And, given that it’s a common complaint about people, being a good listener may be better than being a good pitcher!

For session #2 of Social Media Pro — our online coaching course for using social media in your business, we’re focusing on optimizing your brand assets.

One of the many ways to do that is to create quality content and post it on the internet.

Video content is increasingly popular. And, various video hosting services have sprung up to support you in making your video content readily available.

The best known site is Google’s YouTube service. But there are others. One, which I’ve personally experienced (and, none too pleasant an experience it was, I assure you!) is Vimeo.


In my ‘listening post’, I get an alert when certain terms are being cited on blogs. “Vimeo” is one of them. (I have my reasons!)

Why am I telling you all this? Simple. To share three (3) lessons that will ‘teach’ you how this social media stuff really works better than anything less ‘real world’ ever would.

Lesson #1: You Can’t Hide On The Internet

This is true if you’re good. But, it’s especially true if you’re bad. As in ‘bad customer experience’. Why? People talk. And the mechanisms available — online — to do their ‘talking’ is tremendous.

Check it out for yourself: and you’ll see an example of the kind of ‘chatter’ that is waiting for any firm — even yours and mine — if we give people a good reason to want to vent.


Lesson #2: Do NOT P ____ People Off!

In the upper left panel of the above blog, note the number of ‘RE-Tweets’ about this page. This post just went up and in less than a day there are already over 400 re-tweets!!

Now consider this . . . the average social media savvy person has a network online of their contacts. People who are facile with social media are probably pretty well connected. Some people have ‘followers’ that number into the 1,000’s of people.

In just ONE day, this rather toxic post has already been broadcast (retweeted) to a very, very significant number of people.  Probably a couple hundred thousand when you consider these socially connected types each have a network themselves! And, if the source is credible, they tend to retweet the content they receive over and over and over again. Scary, isn’t it?

Lesson #3: If You Listen, You’ll Find Stuff You Can Use

In my listening post, I spotted another related item . . .,2817,2357254,00.asp. Seems Vimeo has a little explaining to do about how it’s doing it’s own business –– in a courtroom!

Oh, it’s a little thing, really — copyright infringements being alleged by EMI — the music industry watchdog for this kind of questionable behavior!

Copyright infringement. Interesting. Because people are claiming Vimeo’s telling them what they can or can’t publish . . . and EMI claims Vimeo is just as culpable in the way Vimeo’s handling their own affairs. Think that’s going to engender ‘goodwill’ from the Vimeo user community?  I’d say the jury is still out on that one!


Let’s suppose . . . you are the chief counsel for EMI. Would knowing about the kind of comments being made online about the firm you’re trying to build a case against be helpful to you? Would it be hurtful to Vimeo? How would you use this kind of information in court? I don’t have the answers. But they’re certainly worth noting, aren’t they?

Look, Vimeo is not a villanous firm. Ok, maybe some appear to argue they’re eccentric and artsy and all. And, yes . . . they appear to be capricious and arbitrary in how they choose to recognize and respond to violations of their ‘terms and conditions’ clause.

But here’s the lesson I want YOU to get . . . social media has made the masses connected . . . in a way we’ve never seen before!

The media that connects all those minds is a superhighway of thoughts that can either build your brand up or . . . tear it down. I say, ‘either’ because, frankly, there’s really nothing in-between. It’s all or nothing.

Now, do you see why it is so important to be listening? And, once you are . . . to respond in a timely and effective manner!

Personally, I’d be giving “thanks” to Vimeo for providing you with a ‘real world’ example of the power of social media on a business. It’s not always a ‘good’ example that teaches us so well. But, what social media is doing to Vimeo is certainly a ‘powerful’ example, isn’t it?

And please remember this — to make social media work FOR you, you must know what people are saying ABOUT you (as well as putting out your own story).

Which is an excellent segue into what we’re going to be learning about in Session #3 . . . on BLOGGING!

Next session . . . session #3 . . . “Blogging” . . . is an excellent way to make sure _YOU_ control the story about you and what you deem to be important to the people — friends and foes alike — in 2010.

Great Minds Think Alike

When Richard Branson, arguably one of the most successful entrepreneurs alive and Seth Godin, one of the most prolific thought-leaders on marketing get together, under the auspices of American Express . . . it has to be good.

It is:

The Point:

LISTENING . . . to your customer (or, client or patient or prospect) is essential to your success.

What’s happening with social media? How does it compare with traditional media?

Check out this insightful (and, brief!) video from Marcel Lebrun, CEO of Radian6 — a cutting edge social media company:

Social media is changing the very foundations on which business is conducted.

The way you communicate and interact is changing how you and your world interact. As a result, social media is arguably the biggest change in business communication since the introduction of mass media when ‘Mad Men’ become the leaders. Now, those leaders are you and me. How cool is that!