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A Feel-Good Story About A Cat – And Yes, It’s Relevant For Marketers

Posted on 25 November 2014 | No responses

I was watching one of those TV shows about a boss going undercover in her own business. She was talking to one of her employees, a young woman who was almost completely deaf in one ear.

The boss asked: “What would be different for you if you had a hearing aid?”, and the employee smiled and replied: “I’d be able to hear my cat meowing.”

Isn’t that interesting? She didn’t just say “I’d be able to hear”; she immediately thought of something very specific that had a powerful emotional meaning for her: hearing her cat meowing. (Happy ending: the boss paid for her employee’s new hearing aid.)

Everyone loves a picture of a cute cat, right?

Everyone loves a picture of a cute cat, right?

What does that story have to do with marketing?

When you talk or write about the benefits of your product or service, give specific, concrete, emotion-evoking examples. What do people get to be, do, have and feel as a result of using your product or service? And what would that mean for them? What would it look like in real life?

Avoid those vague, abstract platitudes that I see all the time: “You’ll feel better”, “You’ll take your business to the next level”, “You’ll be more confident”, “You’ll earn a six-figure income”… That’s all very nice, but so what?

How do you find those powerful “I’d be able to hear my cat meowing” examples that touch people’s emotions? Talk to your customers and potential customers, and delve deep to discover what they really want! Then, help them to see, hear, smell, taste and feel what their life will be like when their dreams come true.

I guess I should walk my own talk…

I don’t know enough about the specifics of your business and your dreams, but based on my experience with my clients, here are just some of the goodies you could get to be, do, have and feel when you hire me to work with you on your marketing (whether you’re a business owner or a corporate marketing executive):

  • Identify and attract your ideal customers, who become loyal, raving fans of your company
  • Stand out in a crowded marketplace, because people understand what you do, why you do it, and why they should choose you
  • Write and speak confidently and persuasively about your business, whether you’re writing marketing material, attending networking events or conferences, being interviewed by media people or pitching to potential investors, so you attract more of the right kind of clients, staff, allies, media coverage, funding…
  • Charge more for your products and services, because people perceive that they’re worth more
  • Sell more of whatever it is that you sell, and make more money, so that you and your business can make a bigger difference in the world, and you get to live the lifestyle that makes your heart sing
  • Let go of the fear, confusion, frustration and overwhelm you’re feeling about juggling all the marketing tasks for your business, on top of everything else you have to do
  • Feel relieved and satisfied, knowing that your marketing is getting results and your business is thriving. And then your dad will be proud of you!

If you’d like some of that, let’s talk, OK?

And I’m curious – what do your customers get to be, do, have and feel? Whether or not you want to hire me right now, I’d love to hear about you and your business, so please leave a comment.

Image courtesy of stay2gether at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

You’re Fascinating! Here’s Why

Posted on 20 August 2014 | No responses

Have you heard of Sally Hogshead? She’s a branding expert and an authority on the science of fascination, and she has just launched her latest book, “How the World Sees You”. I’ve followed her online for several years, and I recently listened to a fascinating live webinar by her.

HTWSYbookcover

After several years of in-depth research, Sally has developed a personality profile system that she calls the Fascination Advantage® Assessment. She has identified seven “advantages” – the way you naturally stand out and add value:
Innovation – you change the game with creativity
Passion – you connect with emotion
Power – you lead with command
Prestige – you earn respect with higher standards
Trust – you build loyalty with consistency
Mystique – you communicate with substance
Alert – you prevent problems with care

It takes about five minutes to complete the online questionnaire, and you’ll receive a report that tells you your highest-scoring and second-highest-scoring advantages – combining the two gives you your archetype. You’ll learn which communication styles are your most natural strengths, and are most valuable and appealing to others, so that the world sees you at your best. (I like what Sally said in the webinar: “What you do can be commoditized; who you are is unique.” And this quote from her book: “To become more successful, don’t change who you are. Become more of who you are.”)

Sally’s system fascinates me because it not only helps me to understand (and market) myself better, it also helps me to understand other people, how they behave, and how to communicate effectively with them. That’s important for me, because I’m a marketing consultant, editor and copywriter.

People often ask Sally how the Fascination Advantage system differs from other well-known tests such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (I’m INFP) and the DISC profile (I’m off-the-chart high D and high C). She explains that those tests show you how you see the world (which is very useful to know), while the Fascination Advantage® Assessment shows you how the world sees you, based on the cues and signals that you’re sending, intentionally or unintentionally. Also, most personality questionnaires are based on psychology, whereas the Fascination Advantage® Assessment is based on branding – it gives you clues for crafting your marketing messages, playing to your natural strengths, making a brilliant impression, and communicating how you add distinct value to a team.

I’m a Catalyst

I’ve done the assessment, and my archetype is The Catalyst. That means my primary “fascination advantage” is Passion and my secondary one is Innovation.

  • Passion = expressive, intuitive, engaging
  • Innovation = creative, visionary, entrepreneurial

According to Sally, being The Catalyst means I:

  • make a vibrant first impression
  • am valued for my enthusiastic approach and ability to generate ideas
  • am buoyant and social
  • embrace new situations and relationships with zeal
  • speak with flair and use expressive gestures
  • add value by starting action
  • create change
  • am most likely to contribute when I’m emotionally involved
  • know how to captivate an audience (oh, and I’ll be teaching two public workshops in Hong Kong in September: “Improvising Entrepreneurial Success”, about applying an improvisational mindset to business, and “Give ’Em Something To Talk About”, about the power of storytelling and content marketing)

So The Catalyst usually shines in the spotlight, and frequently seeks personality-oriented careers such as PR, marketing and customer service. He or she is an out-of-the-box thinker who often ignores “the box” entirely, and performs at their best when doing work that demands untraditional thinking. He or she often dislikes repetitive, linear tasks, and can become bored and distracted if forced to adhere to a rigid set of rules.

That certainly sounds like an accurate description of me! So I had to laugh a few days ago when a stranger who wanted to connect with me on LinkedIn wrote this comment: “I found your picture is really good and gave me an impression of energetic and positive.”

Kay framed e

So What’s YOUR Archetype?

Sally has generously given me a code that allows me to invite my friends, followers, subscribers and clients to take the Fascination Advantage® Assessment – for FREE (it usually costs US$37). This offer is valid until October 4, 2014.

To find out what your archetype is, go here and use the code EBL-CatalystKay to do the questionnaire (five minutes of your time, honest!). Then, you’ll receive a report about your archetype and your primary, secondary and dormant advantages. As Sally says, “The greatest gift you can give someone is to show them their own highest value.”

And if you buy Sally’s new book, “How the World Sees You”, and send a copy of your receipt to her team at hello[at]howtofascinate[dot]com, you’ll get access to a whole stack of bonus material about how to apply the ideas. (I don’t get an affiliate fee for recommending Sally’s book; I just like sharing information that I know will benefit the people I care about.)

I’d love to hear what your Fascination Advantage archetype is, so please email me and let me know.

How to Write a Media Release and Influence a Journalist – Part 23

Posted on 15 August 2014 | No responses

This is Part 23 in an ongoing series of blog posts I’ve compiled about how to write effective media releases and pitches, and how to influence journalists and bloggers (with integrity, of course) so you get the publicity you want.

Each part in the series lists 10 (or sometimes more) articles, videos etc. by various people. For a list of links to Parts 1-22, see the Media Relations category on this blog. This series used to be titled “So You Want to Write a Media Release and Influence a Journalist?”

Here are the latest resources:

  1. “How To Get Media Coverage For Your Startup: A Complete Guide” by Leo Widrich (@leowid on twitter)
  2. “Your Press Release Copywriting Is Not Exciting” by Stephen  Marsh (@smcopywriter)
  3. “Hack the Press: How to do PR for Startups” – Slideshare presentation from TheFamily (@_thefamily)
  4. “Pitching tips from a former reporter” by Holly Zuluaga (@hollyzuluaga)
  5. “9 ways to make reporters fall in love with you” by Michelle Garrett (@PRisUs)
  6. “10 Top Tips for How to Pitch a Blogger Effectively” by Hugh Anderson (@hughforth)
  7. “12 Ways to DO and NOT DO a Social Media Press Release – MSF Medecins Sans Frontieres” by Laurel Papworth (@SilkCharm)
  8. “Pitching journalists in the social media era #Demand14” by BLUE (@coxbusiness)
  9. “10 signs of a horrendous press release” by Maggie Holley (@maggiedholley)
  10. “4 ways startups can build relationships with reporters” by Colleen Kennedy (@colleenrkennedy)

Would you like to recommend any other good resources on this topic? Please post a comment (but beware: I’ll delete spam) or send me an email. I won’t list EVERY article I see; I’ll only recommend articles that I think are well written and that add something useful to the debate.

Kay Ross
http://twitter.com/kayross

Twitter Tips and Resources – Part 82

Posted on 14 August 2014 | No responses

This is Part 82 of an ever-growing blog series, with each post featuring links to 10 useful, funny and/or provocative articles/lists/blog posts/videos/sites I’ve come across about how to use twitter more effectively (and how NOT to use it).

Here are the latest 10:

  1. “Tweet THIS, Not That! 12 Things Not to do on Twitter” by Molly Greene (@mollygreene on twitter)
  2. “13 reasons to mute people on Twitter” by Samuel Gibbs (@SamuelGibbs)
  3. “21 reasons why I know you’re not serious about using Twitter for business” by Andrew Knowles (@andrew_writer)
  4. “5 Reasons You Should Never Outsource Your Social Media Marketing” by Garin Kilpatrick (@Garin)
  5. “10 of the Most Annoying Things People Have to Stop Doing on Social in 2014” by Hillel Fuld (@hilzfuld)
  6. “How Automating Your Social Media Content Can Hurt Your Brand” by Jonathan Crossfield (@Kimota)
  7. “Read This Before You SELL SELL SELL Books On Twitter” by Rachel Thompson (@RachelintheOC)
  8. “The ultimate beginners guide to Twitter” by Mike Morgan (@meetmikemorgan)
  9. “Oh dear! People won’t follow you on Twitter? Here is why!” by Greg Savage (@greg_savage)
  10. “Twitter Inc. (TWTR) Users Are 3X More Likely To Follow Brands Than Facebook Users! 81% Of Brands Fear Social Media Presence Due To Possible Misuse! [INFOGRAPHIC]” by Varun Nayak (@umessi10)

For a list of links to Parts 1-81 in this series (which was born on May 19, 2009), see the Twitter category on this blog.

Would you like to recommend any other good twitter resources? I certainly don’t list EVERY article about twitter that I see – I might recommend an article that I disagree with, if I think it contributes something useful to the debate, but I won’t recommend an article that I think is badly written.

Happy tweeting!
Kay Ross
http://twitter.com/kayross

What’s the Point of Marketing?

Posted on 5 June 2014 | 2 responses

Why is marketing important? And what’s the point of marketing YOUR business?

Lots of business owners I speak to – especially in the helping, healing and service professions – feel uncomfortable about the very word “marketing”. They think marketing is pushy, sleazy and unethical (unfortunately, when it’s done badly, marketing can be like that), and they don’t want people to perceive them that way.

So they coyly couch the word “marketing” in terms they think are more acceptable, less scary: “public relations”, “branding”, “publicity”, “building a tribe”, “sharing”…

But let’s get real! Think of all the activities you might do that fall under the wide umbrella of marketing:

  • Researching and designing your products and services
  • Ensuring that every customer’s experience is user-friendly, delightful, amazing…
  • Creating a website
  • Writing effective and shareworthy taglines, brochures, blog posts, enewsletters, white papers, books, ebooks, emails, video scripts, tweets…
  • Advertising
  • Producing flyers and posters
  • Doing surveys
  • Creating videos
  • Sending out media releases and doing interviews
  • Creating promotional materials and corporate gifts: t-shirts, calendars, pens, coffee mugs…
  • Gathering testimonials
  • Doing webinars and teleseminars
  • Printing business cards
  • Having a booth at a trade show
  • Offering discounts, coupons, loyalty cards, membership programs…
  • Offering no-cost samples of your products or services
  • Creating affiliate deals
  • Doing competitions
  • Attending networking events
  • Public speaking engagements
  • Corporate Social Responsibility programs
  • SEO (search engine optimisation)
  • Creating social media accounts
  • Following/liking people and companies on social media
  • Asking people to “Like” your Facebook page
  • Sponsoring worthy causes
  • Getting a professional to design your logo, staff uniforms, shop or office interior…
  • Doing flashmobs
  • Commenting on other people’s blog posts
  • Training your staff

What’s the point of all those activities? It’s to build the “like, trust and respect” factor, to build awareness and word-of-mouth buzz, to be seen as a responsible corporate citizen, to make your company’s online content easily findable and shareable, to establish and nurture relationships, to be seen as a thought leader, to get media coverage…

I.Heart.Marketing

And deep down, what’s the point of all THAT?

It’s to sell more of your products and services, more often, to more people, preferably at a profit, right?!

Just to be clear: I’m not recommending that you sell useless crap, and I’m not advocating mindless, wasteful consumerism. But if you’re in business, you want to sell your products and services and make a profit so that you can keep on serving your customers, employing your staff and making a difference in the world, don’t you? Otherwise your business is just an expensive hobby.

So please don’t be apologetic about marketing.

The lesson: As Sergio Zyman, the former chief marketing officer at The Coca-Cola Company and the author of “The End of Marketing As We Know It”, said: “The purpose of marketing is to sell more stuff.” (I like that quote so much I use it on my website.)

Action steps:

  1. Let go of any beliefs you have about marketing being pushy, sleazy and unethical – they’re not helping you, or the clients who want and need your products or services.
  2. Get very clear that EVERYTHING you do in your business has marketing implications, because everything you do affects people’s perceptions, motivations and expectations about you, your company and your products and services, and that affects their behaviour: they’ll either buy from you or they won’t. (In fact, my definition of marketing is: Managing perceptions, motivations and expectations.)
  3. When you’re considering any potential marketing activity, ask yourself: “How is this going to lead to actual sales?” (I’m not saying it’s easy to measure that process – that’s another story.)

I’d love to hear what you think. Do you enjoy marketing yourself and your products and services, or does it make you cringe? Please post a comment.

Twitter Tips and Resources – Part 81

Posted on 25 May 2014 | No responses

This is Part 81 of an ever-growing blog series, with each post featuring links to 10 useful, funny and/or provocative articles/lists/blog posts/videos/sites I’ve come across about how to use twitter more effectively (and how NOT to use it).

Here are the latest 10:

  1. “7 Twitter Turnoffs” by Sabina Varga (@supergoodcopy on twitter)
  2. “4 Reasons Your Tweeting Immediately Kills My Interest” by Jonathan Payne (@SocialGamePlan)
  3. “10 Golden Rules of Twitter” by Garin Kilpatrick (@Garin)
  4. “Quoting Tweets Is Fine, But Twitter Would Rather Not Say So” by Jeff Bercovici (@jeffbercovici)
  5. “What to Tweet When You Don’t Know What to Tweet” by Douglas Idugboe (@douglasi)
  6. “The Twitter Strategy Guide: 14 Twitter Tips to Take Your Tweeting to the Next Level” by Kevan Lee (@kevanlee)
  7. “21 Social Media Tips You’ll Wish You’d Known Sooner” by Mike Spohr at BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed)
  8. “3 Twitter best practices that unlock business success” by Mark Schaefer (@markwschaefer)
  9. “50 Tweetable Twitter Tips You Wish You Knew Years Ago” by Diana Urban (@DianaUrban)
  10. “How to Get More Readers to Share Your Blog Posts on Twitter” by Diana Urban (@DianaUrban)

For a list of links to Parts 1-80 in this series (which was born on May 19, 2009), see the Twitter category on this blog.

Would you like to recommend any other good twitter resources? I certainly don’t list EVERY article about twitter that I see – I might recommend an article that I disagree with, if I think it contributes something useful to the debate, but I won’t recommend an article that I think is badly written.

Want to share this post? Here are some tweets I’ve prepared for you:

Click to tweet: “Twitter Tips and Resources – Part 81” by @kayross http://bit.ly/1mjapSi #twittertips

Click to tweet: Thanks @kayross for compiling this list of 10 great blog posts full of #twittertips. http://bit.ly/1mjapSi

Click to tweet: To tweet more effectively, see this list of blog posts compiled by @kayross http://bit.ly/1mjapSi #twittertips

Happy tweeting!

Kay Ross
http://twitter.com/kayross

Bridging the Gap – Your Marketing Challenge

Posted on 27 February 2014 | No responses

A few years ago, I was working with a client on crafting the content for her website. In our back-and-forth email discussions about the draft text, I asked her several times to clarify what she wanted to say, and encouraged her to consider how her potential clients might perceive her marketing message. I sincerely wanted her to be successful, and I wanted to be sure that I understood her thinking. Later, she told me she felt that by constantly questioning her, I hadn’t been listening to her respectfully.

I was sad about that, because I felt I’d failed in my duty to communicate clearly with her, in a way that made sense for her. As a professional service provider and consultant, I’ve often found it challenging to find a balance between what my audience or customer says they want and what I want to say (because I genuinely believe it’s in their best interests).

Do YOU face the same challenge in your business? Do you want to know how to build a bridge between what your audience says they want and what you, as an experienced  professional, know they REALLY want, deep down? And would you like to find a graceful, non-hard-sell way to communicate the relevance of what you do?

At the Nan Lian Garden, Diamond Hill, Hong Kong

At the Nan Lian Garden, Diamond Hill, Hong Kong

I recently listened to two calls by Isabel Parlett, The Soundbite Shaman, that really helped me to understand how to do that. The theme of her two calls was “How to Write Business Copy Without Tricks or Hype”.

Isabel has given me permission to give you the link to the recordings of her two no-cost calls. In the calls, Isabel demonstrates what she does by including some short spot-coaching sessions with some of her clients, and she shares tips about how to take your potential clients from what they say they want to the bigger picture of what you see is truly possible for them.

You’ll also learn how to add intensity to your marketing messages through insight, passion and wisdom, not hype. (By the way, Isabel isn’t paying me anything to recommend her, but I’m happy to do that because I’ve had some terrific private coaching calls with her about my own marketing messages.)

The lesson: It is possible – and necessary – to link what you offer with what your potential ideal clients say they want, in a way that makes them feel heard.

Action steps: Listen to Isabel’s calls, and change the way you talk and write about what you do.

What do YOU think? When you’re  talking with your potential clients and writing your marketing content, what do you do to bridge the gap between what you do and what your clients say they want? I’d love to read your comments.

Twitter Tips and Resources – Part 80

Posted on 12 February 2014 | No responses

This is Part 80 of an ever-growing blog series, with each post featuring links to 10 useful, funny and/or provocative articles/lists/blog posts/videos/sites I’ve come across about how to use twitter more effectively (and how NOT to use it).

Here are the latest 10:

  1. “The Number One Mistake Everybody Makes on Twitter” – a Slideshare deck by Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee on twitter)
  2. “31+ Twitter Tips! The Ultimate TWITTER Marketing TIPS List” from Bizolly (@Bizolly)
  3. “12 sure-fire ways to spot a dirty Twitter spammer” by Chris Lake (@lakey)
  4. “7 Twitter Marketing Tips That Really Work” by James Blute (@JamesBlute)
  5. “Twitter 102: The Do’s and Don’ts of Twitter Writing” by Courtney Ramirez (@CourtneyRami)
  6. “100 Must Follow On Twitter 2014 [SLIDE DECK]” by Vala Afshar (@ValaAfshar)
  7. “7 Twitter Mistakes you can’t afford to make in 2014” by Harsh Ajmera (@ajmeraharsh)
  8. “30 Reasons Why James Blunt Won At Twitter In 2013” from The Poke (@thepoke)
  9. “10 Big, Recent Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn Changes You Should Know for a Better Social Media strategy” by Belle Beth Cooper (@BelleBCooper)
  10. “Should I Share What I Ate for Lunch via Social Media? Authenticity vs Transparency” by Pam Moore (@PamMktgNut), with a video, 4m 33s

For a list of links to Parts 1-79 in this series (which was born on May 19, 2009), see the Twitter category on this blog.

Would you like to recommend any other good twitter resources? I certainly don’t list EVERY article about twitter that I see – I might recommend an article that I disagree with, if I think it contributes something useful to the debate, but I won’t recommend an article that I think is badly written.

Happy tweeting!

Kay Ross
http://twitter.com/kayross

The 7 Habits of Highly Annoying Websites

Posted on 10 February 2014 | No responses

Do websites that do this this drive you nuts?

  1. Lots of white text on a black background. (Illegible.)
  2. A loud video soundtrack starts playing automatically as soon as you land on a page. (Give me a choice!)
  3. Pop-up ads. (Somebody give me a sledgehammer. Please!)
  4. They’re just badly written and demonstrate no understanding of marketing or human psychology. (User-unfriendly, unconvincing, frustrating to read, and bad for the company’s reputation.)
  5. When they ask for your phone number, they insist that the only acceptable answer is a 3-digit area code and a 7-digit number.  Oh, and they ask for a Zip code too. (Grrr! Not everyone lives in North America!)
  6. On their Contact page, they only offer a form for you to send them an email, but they don’t tell you their email address, a postal or street address, or a telephone number. (Not helpful.)
  7. They use cheesy stock photos of multicultural groups of smiling, attractive, anonymous executives. (Boring.)

Kay Ross

What other habits of highly annoying websites would you add to this list? (That would make a list of more than seven habits, but hey, that’s OK.)

Photo credit: Kenneth Lim Photography

How to Write a Media Release and Influence a Journalist – Part 22

Posted on 18 November 2013 | No responses

This is Part 22 in an ongoing series of blog posts I’ve compiled about how to write effective media releases and pitches, and how to influence journalists and bloggers (with integrity, of course) so you get the publicity you want.

Each part in the series lists 10 (or sometimes more) articles, videos etc. by various people. For a list of links to Parts 1-21, see the Media Relations category on this blog. This series used to be titled “So You Want to Write a Media Release and Influence a Journalist?”

Here are the latest resources:

  1. “5 reasons that reporter isn’t calling you back” by Gil Rudawsky (@GilComMedia on twitter)
  2. “7 simple yet common press release mistakes” by Mickie Kennedy (@ereleases)
  3. “Press Release Cheat Sheet: 8 Fatal PR Flaws to Avoid” by Erika Napoletano (@RedheadWriting)
  4. “Pitching Bloggers, Part One: The Press Release” by Sara Bozich (@sarabozich)
  5. “Pitching Bloggers, Part Two: Making the Pitch” by Sara Bozich (@sarabozich)
  6. “The Dos and Don’ts of Pitching Journalists on Social Media” by Zoe Fox (@zoebfox)
  7. “11 tips for pitching reporters” by Lee Odden (@leeodden)
  8. “Infographic: 7 surefire ways to frustrate a journalist” by Kristin Piombino (@KristinPiombino)
  9. “Dear PR People: Please take this quiz before you send out another press release or email pitch” by B.L. Ochman (@whatsnext)
  10. “How To Pitch To The Press: The 8 No-Fail Strategies” by Cheryl Conner (@CherylSnapp)

Would you like to recommend any other good resources on this topic? Please post a comment (but please beware: I’ll delete spam) or send me an email. I won’t list EVERY article I see; I’ll only recommend articles that I think are well written and that add something useful to the debate.Kay Ross
http://twitter.com/kayross

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