44 Reasons Why You Got Our Business (instead of that other guy)

You’ve used all the sales tips, marketing techniques and service strategies to land that contract or customer. Competition was stiff but you came out on top. Ever wonder why YOU got the business instead of that other guy? Here’s why. It’s because you…

Sales tips, marketing tips, customer service tips

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People Who Shine From Within Don’t Need the Spotlight

I recently heard a successful performer on a popular TV show preface the advice she planned to give by saying: “I’m just a girl, but…” I almost came out of my chair. Did I hear her correctly? Was this beautiful, accomplished woman trying to diminish herself in front of her peers? OR… 

People who shine from within don't seek the spotlight

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Shreddies Story – How Funny Marketing Surprised and Engaged Customers

Think it’s tough to turn your reputation around or create new positioning? It’s never too late. Consider what Post Cereals’ ad agency did to breathe new life into a 60 year old product and the customer experience.

Shreddies was a breakfast cereal made of wheat squares and sold in Great Britain, Canada and New Zealand. Lagging sales and customers who didn’t want the cereal changed inspired the company to put their creative team to work.

The solution? They turned the cereal 45 degrees and introduced new and improved Diamond Shreddies! Customers would now have a “choice”.

Shreddies Funny Marketing Campaign

The company held hidden camera taste tests where customers said the Diamond Shreddies have more flavor!

They even created a Combo Pack for those who couldn’t make up their mind…

creative marketing

…and invited customers to vote at diamondshreddies.ca for the shape they preferred. Fans created 55 Facebook Groups, videos (see below) went viral and sales shot up 18 points in the first month of the campaign.

All because somebody risked being whacky and let customers in on the joke.

Yet decision-makers could easily have argued, “Harrumph! Shreddies is an established cereal with dignity. Why, it’s a tradition in generations of households. Making fun of our product is just NOT done! Customers wouldn’t take us seriously.”

And that’s just the point. We can’t always take ourselves so seriously. We should be able to:

1. Poke fun at ourselves once in a while. (Read a story where I did that) 

2. Use humor to combat unwarranted, bad reviews. While we don’t want to be disrespectful, there are times when customer requests are so bizarre, they just beg for a humorous response.

3. Overcome a reputation problem or disarm criticism. There are politicians who are very good at this.

4. Strengthen your brand (personal or professional). People with a good sense of humor tend to sleep better, get more promotions, the last piece of dessert and more dates.

5. Humanize a product, program or leadership team. Think of the company picnic dunk tank, employee baby picture contest, “Get Lucky” Trivago commercial or Geico gecko. (Did you know he’s written a book titled, You’re Only Human?)

People want a little levity in their lives, especially during these troubled times. We love humor! It surprises us, lightens our mood and helps us think more creatively. It can make us feel like we’re all in it together.

Read more about the Shreddies story.

7 Super Summertime Reads for Business Career and Life

I love books. When I was a kid, I’d go to the library and bring back a stack of ten at a time. Then I’d lay on the couch and read them one by one. My folks worried about my social skills.

TryABook

That’s why losing all my books in the wildfire was such a blow. But I’m on a mission to replace them. In the process, I’ve discovered some great new reads to add to my list of old favorites.

READING LIST RECOMMENDATIONS

So, for your summertime reading pleasure, here are seven super books – in my humble opinion and in no particular order. (I get no money for recommending them.)

Art Of Work by Jeff Goins

The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant To Do by Jeff Goins. I’ve been following Jeff Goins’ writing for years and he has been an inspiration. This book, on how to live a life that matters, explores six key concepts to help you think differently about what you do and how you do it. Insightful and honest. About Jeff…

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Essentialism

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. I’ve mentioned this one before. What keeps capable, driven people from breaking through to the next level? Success. Focus on a few things leads to success which brings opportunities, but that often leads to the undisciplined pursuit of more. Here’s a video about the book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9x6D09AKBU

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First Break All The Rules

First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Curt Coffman and Marcus Buckingham. If you are a supervisor, manager or frontline leader or hope to become one in the near future, this book is a must-have. The case studies reveal what matters most and motivates employees to better performance. I love it because it includes proof from Gallup Organization research. Read more…

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Blue Ocean Strategy

Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne. From Harvard Business Review Press, this book explores why “red ocean” competition among rivals is a zero sum game. Rather, success is achieved by creating “blue oceans” of uncontested market space, differentiation and value innovation. A must read for entrepreneurs, freelancers and marketing teams. Read more…

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CarrotsAndSticksDontWork

Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work: Build a Culture of Employee Engagement with the Principles of RESPECT by Paul L. Marciano. Dr. Marciano’s Respect Model is one of the reasons why I think this is one of the better employee engagement books. Based on the premise that relationships – both personal and professional – only work within the context of a respectful environment. Every supervisor should read this book! More about the RESPECT Model

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Influence the Psychology of Persuasion

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini. This book explores how we can have a bigger impact on one another. Based on research scientifically proven to make you more effective in human relations. Important concepts for managers, teachers, parents. Here’s a video describing the science of persuasion and the 6 Laws of Influence.

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Take The Stairs

Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success by Rory Vaden. Why short cuts, quick fixes and distractions make it too easy to procrastinate, compromise and accept mediocrity. I found this book hugely motivating. Here’s a humorous video of this author describing why we shouldn’t take the easy way and why discipline is the key to success: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9kjWMyYm7Q

Hope you’re having a super summer! Please share this book list with colleagues and co-workers and on your favorite social media site.

25 Blogging Tips You Have to See

I started blogging in 2006 and have learned a few things that helped my business over the years. So here are 25 blogging tips, how-to’s and lessons learned for writers, non-tekkies or newbies!

 Blogging Tips by Laura Benjamin

Blogging Tips, Lessons Learned and How-to’s

  1. You don’t have to consider yourself an “expert” in order to have a blog. You know something that would benefit others. Just start. You’ll learn as you go. People are drawn to your unique “voice” much more so than the topic you choose.
  2. The more personal you make it the better people like it. Avoid boring, predictable “oh so professional”, corporate-speak writing.
  3. Get your own name as a domain name (Godaddy or Bluehost are affordable resources) I made the mistake of letting my name go when I worked for the City of Colorado Springs and they required I shut down my business. Now, it’ll cost me $900 if I want to get it back. Thus, the reason for my hyphenated domain name!
  4. Blogging adds depth and interest to your website. The good folks from Rainmaker.FM say to now focus on “the media not the marketing” as you build your site/blog.
  5. Your culture, branding or personality can shine through your writing. Be adventurous. Take a camera with you everywhere and take your own photos vs using stock images. In particular, avoid pictures of people in suits with their arms crossed. (You know the ones I’m talking about) Use at least one image in your blog post, preferably at the top. Don’t use pictures from Bing Images or other people’s blogs because of copyrights.
  6. If you’re serious about your business or cause, avoid setting up a free blog site on Blogger, Typepad or WordPress.com. You don’t own that “real estate”, they do. And your  domain name will reflect it. (MarySmith.wordpress.com vs MarySmith.com)
  7. Purchase a hosting package (about $80/year) at Godaddy, Bluehost, etc., connect it to the domain name you bought and then upload free WordPress software to the site. (It’s one of the options you’ll have once you purchase your hosting package and domain)
  8. Get a book on copywriting and write snappy, intriguing blog post headlines. Ex: 14 Strange Ways To…, How to Avoid Goofy People at Work, etc.
  9. Writing the blog is only part of the equation. Distributing it is the other important part. Sign up with an email marketing service (MailChimp, ConstantContact, Aweber.com) and put a signup form on your blog so people can add themselves to your list.
  10. Focus more on building your email subscriber list than spending time on social media. Again, because you don’t own any “real estate” on that social media platform. They can change the rules (Facebook), shut you down or start charging you at any point.
  11. Write regularly. Once or twice a week is good. Subscribers will soon anticipate getting your blog post. You don’t want people to tire of you and tune you out by blogging too often. Try to stick to a schedule.
  12. Make a list of the most relevant keywords your customers would type into a search engine to find you or your business and pay you money. (That last part is very important) Then use these keywords in article titles, subtitles, categories, “tags”, the text of your article, permalinks (what shows up in the URL) etc.
  13. Title your images using relevant keywords rather than IMG0227. Also use keywords in the “alt text” field after you upload the image into the media folder of your blog.
  14. Don’t add people to your blog subscriber list without their permission. There’s nothing more infuriating than having someone add you to their list and then expect YOU to opt out if you don’t want it. There are spam laws against that.
  15. To get subscribers, offer a signup form to people you meet at networking events, conferences, your speaking engagements, etc. Ask friends to forward your blog post to others if they find it useful.
  16. Insert social media “share” buttons on your blog so people can forward your articles.
  17. Use a larger font size. People now read blogs on mobile devices so tiny print is tough on them. It’s also hard on “mature” readers.
  18. You can set up your site so the home page IS your blog. Mine is set up that way at Laura-Benjamin.com OR you can set it up as MarySmith.com/Blog where your home page holds other content about you, the business, your cause.
  19. You could also buy an interesting domain name (Pistachio, LittleGreenFootballs, StuffWhitePeopleLike) for your blog and set it up outside your normal website. Some will do this to take advantage of a keyword rich domain name when their home website doesn’t contain any keywords.
  20. The longer your blog site is up, the better the search engines like it.
  21. Check out Problogger.net – his site is full of very useful blogging tips. His book is worth buying (I get no commission to recommend it).
  22. You’ll also want to take a look at this useful and free “How to Start a Blog” guidebook atFirstSiteGuide.com. I’ve already heard from one friend I sent it to that she now feels a whole lot better about launching her blog.
  23. Here’s another good resource from Mike at StartBloggingOnline.com. His home page is full of useful tips.
  24. StartABlog123.com offers a number of helpful posts as well as a blog platform comparison guide so you can evaluate them all at a glance.
  25. And finally, another useful resource from Matt Banner on how to start and grow a blog.