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I can see the overwhelm on people’s faces as we talk about building their small business brand in ways they never thought they’d need to. I can understand. It takes a little discipline.
Your self-imposed plan to tweet once a day will slip. You’ll fail to write that weekly blog post. You’ll get the monthly newsletter out late. It happens.
You want to spend your time doing the work you’re meant to do. Read the rest of this entry »
We all need to express alarm or enthusiasm on occasion.
The operative words are “on occasion” to avoid the one-who-cried-wolf syndrome. Alarm or enthuse too much and you’ve numbed your audience. Even one exclamation point should be a rare thing.
But what are your options in the face of information overload from every corner? How do you get people to pay attention long enough to click to read more or to stop scrolling for a minute to see what you have to say? Read the rest of this entry »
West Wing junkies might recall an episode entitled “Galileo” that opens with President Bartlett at a rehearsal for a Mars briefing. Thousands of students will see the briefing as the unmanned craft Galileo returns from orbit.
Sam, White House Deputy Communications Director played by Rob Lowe, takes one look at the intro written by a NASA public affairs person and wants to change it. The NASA person resists, but President Bartlett, once he sees the intro, also wants it changed.
(It’s a great dialog. You can read it here.)
Bartlett begins to read:
“Good morning! I’m speaking to you live from the West Wing of the White House. Today we have a very unique opportunity to take part live in an extremely historic event which…” Whoa, boy…
Then critiques the NASA person’s efforts:
“Unique” means “one of a kind.” Something can’t be very unique, nor can it be extremely historic.
Bartlett instructs Sam to take over. Sam speaks as if filled with the awe of space travel:
“Good morning. Eleven months ago a 1200 pound spacecraft blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Eighteen hours ago it landed on the planet Mars. You, me, and 60,000 of your fellow students across the country along with astroscientists and engineers from the Jet Propulsion Lab in Southern California, NASA Houston, and right here, at the White House, are going to be the first to see what it sees, and to chronicle an extraordinary voyage of an unmanned ship called Galileo V.”
There you have story.
A story that includes you and me and really smart people. The craft has weight. There’s a broad span of time contrasted with the immediacy of the event. The generic “we” now has form and definition.
And then there’s Galileo the man.
The power of story was not lost on him. Wanting to bring his theories to light but squelched by the Catholic Church, Galileo would cloak his theories in the form of plays. He knew his devotees (his target audience, if you will) would find the messages hidden in the plays. Here was a scientist with a sense of humor who also understood there was more than one way to get a point across.
Storytelling is the newest hot topic even though it’s as old as the heavens. Successful organizations have been noticed and remembered using story in the style of Sam’s rewrite long before we called it story. They know that people want to be taken to a new place, to be delighted or dazzled, to be part of something. Organizations that do this the best, however, are often selling us stuff we don’t need. The with the best stories to tell tend to think their mission or vision is enough. That we should care. That we don’t need to be delighted or dazzled or taken to a new place.
If you don’t know to tell a better story, take the one you usually tell and then give it some weight and some shape. Make it less generic, give an example and flesh it out. Put the example into an interesting context. Helps us care. Take us to the moon.
I went to a natural pharmacy I like very much and saw that flu shots were available. So I decided to get one.
Pharmacist: Do you want it subcutaneous or intramuscular?
Me: I don’t know. What’s the difference?
Pharmacist: One is under the skin, the other is the muscle.
Me: Is there another difference?
Pharmacist: One is a big needle and one is a small needle. Read the rest of this entry »
Knowing how your customers feel about you benefits you just as much as it does them (assuming you actually make improvements to fit their needs).
You can use that feedback to improve services, promote the results you offer and sharpen your marketing message. But it can also build good will…or not.
The key is being and sounding authentic — actually caring whether someone had a good experience dealing with you.
Recently, I had just such an experience with Voicebox, a karaoke place with personal party rooms. The day after a group of us celebrated a friend’s birthday, I received an email saying I rocked (I like to think I did.) and thanked me for bringing my party there. They like to reward employees for a job well done and asked if I’d like to comment. For an added touch, they included our playlist.
On the other hand, there are companies — whose products I use and like — that send surveys I’m initially happy to fill out, only to feel several pages in that I’m working too hard. The surveys smack of statistic gathering, and worse, a veiled attempt to tell me how great they are given the bias of the questions.
That’s when I quit these surveys and leave feeling worse about the company than I did before.
Two requests for feedback. Two completely different ways of connecting.
Sounding and acting as if you really care is also a good way to share your brand voice through your values. For small companies who remain vexed about what a brand is and how to promote theirs, this is one such tool.
(Image: Kevin Dooley)
In any project or effort, there is big vision, small details and everything in between. It all matters, but it’s the details that are most noticed by the end user.
Well, not so much noticed as felt. This is an important distinction.
What is felt is delight…or annoyance. Clarity…or confusion. Satisfaction…or stupidity.
It would be one thing if the customer intellectualized what didn’t work. But most often, they feel lazy, tired or stupid. In The Design of Everyday Things, author Donald Norman explains that people tend to blame themselves when something doesn’t work, even if the flaw is in the design.
You sit down to write your marketing copy. Words flow easily about who you are and what your service or product includes. You can describe the what, where and when with finesse. The only problem is that the reader is going to ask, “What’s in it for me?”
It doesn’t matter if it’s a marketing brochure, a workshop description or website copy. It doesn’t matter if the reader is a devotee. It doesn’t matter how much you think they need your information or how interesting it is. In making a decision to sign up, purchase or read further, your customer is wondering how you can benefit them.