Apr 142013
 

In my last post, I focused on my clients who know what tools to use to communicate, but don’t know what to say. This post I’m going to focus on the others:  those who know exactly what they want to say, but don’t know how.

There are two possible reasons for not knowing how:

  • The technology confuses them, or
  • They’re using the wrong words.

Let’s focus on the latter for a moment. Even the most proficient of wordsmiths can get their messages in a twist using blogs and social networks. Why?  Well it’s all down to the way we interact.

Consider this scenario: you walk into a business networking meeting and introduce yourself. Do you:

  1. Loudly tell the first person you meet what products or services you produce, and then without waiting, move onto the second person and do the same until you’ve shouted at everyone and then you leave.  OR
  2. Introduce yourself to the first person you meet, ask their name and what they do and see what common ground you have and wait for an opportunity to meet some of their friends or colleagues.

boringIt’s obvious isn’t it?  But why do people always assume that blogging and social networking is just about the first option and get pissed off when they’re not famous in five minutes?

Just like the world of physical networking, you need to set your expectations correctly. Sometimes potential clients will show no interest in what you have to say.  At other times you may have a seemingly great interaction that peters out and goes nowhere. Sometimes it’s only after you’ve shown up at a networking meeting for the 4th time that someone recognises you and says ….”Oh yes, you’re that guy that does…… I was thinking about that just the other day….”.

So think about these hints and tips:

  • Don’t aim to sell any products or services. Just aim to have a good conversation.
  • Don’t hog the limelight. Shins some light on your customers (or potential customers).
  • Listen to what your customers are saying.  Ask questions to make sure you understand. Repeat what you think you know, just to make sure.  You should be actively learning, not selling.
  • After reflection, comment on what you’ve learned.  Show how you’ve adapted an idea or a product specifically to solve a customer’s problem.  More than often, you’re solving other customer’s problems at the same time, and it shows you’re a trustworthy partner.

Think about it. Are you more likely to get work if you’re the sort of person that asks questions, tries to solve customer problems and actually listens to what they say, or if you’re the person that just sells, sells, sells.

Apr 092013
 

My clients often fall into two categories:

  • They know exactly what they want to say, but don’t know how, or
  • They know what tools to use to communicate, but don’t know what to say

In this post I’m going to focus on the latter.

Blogs are awriters-blockbout telling stories.  Stories about you.  Stories about your business, your products and your services.  Stories that will engage people, stimulate them, annoy them, entertain them and inform them.  But it’s not just about telling and selling.  That’s what your website may be for in the long run, but your blog is that opportunity to tell people about you.

How you came to be in business itself may be interesting tale. Perhaps one you’ve told at a business meeting, or down the pub?  What was the moment you’d decided to take the plunge and start your own business?  What was the catalyst? What has kept you going?

These stories are gold dust. They are the foundation of your business, the reason behind your passion, the thing that drives you on.  You’ve told them before, but probably only in a verbal setting. You’ve never written anything other than a shopping list, but yet you know one of these stories that clinched a sale, built a friendship, or launched a new product range.

Blogs are also about opinions.  Your opinions.  Your customer’s opinions.  Competing perspectives, debate and discussion.   Blogs ask questions.  They don’t just tell and sell, they should solicit feedback.

So think.  Do you have a well worn dinner party story that still has some legs?  Do you have a drastically different viewpoint than your competition that won a customer over?

Now do the following:

  • Keep a notBlank ringbound notebook and pencilebook handy.  Start making a list.   You wouldn’t expect a novelist to be too far away from a pen and some paper would you?  Well you’re a blogger now and the same is true for you.  Write down any ideas you might have, no matter how crazy they may be.
  • Once you have a list of 10 topics, prioritize them in terms of importance to you, what’s in the news,  what you’ve just read on another blog or what’s going to happen in your business sector in the next quarter – you decide, but draw up a top 10.
  • Starting with topic 1, write a short piece.  500 words or less to begin with.
  • If you are responding to another blog post then cross-link to it.  Remember the old adage:  if you quote one source its plagiarism. If you quote two sources its research.  Go and leave a comment on the other blogs and leave the URL of your post as a calling card.
  • Remember to ask questions.  This significantly improves your chances of feedback.
  • Go back to the beginning and re-prioritize the list.  Write your next blog post.

Tell me how you got on.  Did this help you, or was it a load of rubbish?

Have your say. Leave a comment.

Apr 062013
 

Blogging

To me, blogging is at the heart of a good media strategy for any business.  It’s the online version of going to a business networking meeting, having a chat with someone for the first time and handing out your business card.

Sometimes you establish a great relationship with someone who you look forward to meeting regularly. Sometimes it’s just a one-off conversation and sometimes you just know it’s not a relationship you want to pursue.

I see blogging as the written form of having a conversation.  You can just talk and hope someone listens (although I really wouldn’t advise that unless you want to be “that person” who people avoid at parties). You can ask questions. You can start a debate. You can involve other people. You can inflame, annoy, flatter or persuade people, just as you do in real life.

Social NetworksSo what about social networking?  Isn’t that where this conversation takes place?  Well yes, and no. I always encourage my clients to write a blog first and automatically post that blog into social networks.  It’s like handing out your business card to someone, knowing they’re going to pass it on to someone else.  The distribution channels change. The message is consistent.

Your blog (ideally part of your website as a whole) is where you want people to end up.  If you have a conversation in Twitter then your followers on Facebook are probably missing out.  If you use your blog as the heart of your media strategy then everyone can join in, whatever their social network preferences.

If you use social networking automation tools then every link created on Twitter or LinkedIn will be a link back to your blog; the place where your products and services are available to see, not some random advert that Facebook or Google have decided you may like.

In the next few posts I’m going to share my blogging hints and tips. Whether, you see this message on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or Tumblr, I don’t mind. But it’s my blog you’ll be reading.

Jun 112012
 

A number of clients have been asking me recently:

“Pete, what’s the best way to blog? Either I blog too much, or I run out of ideas and don’t blog at all. What should I do?”

I usually respond with suggestions, such as:

  • Make a “hit list” of the top 10 things you want to blog about.
  • Change the list daily and allow things to naturally rise up (or fall off) the list as their importance to you changes.
  • Blog (or schedule a blog) at a specific time on a specific day. Giving you a routine to work to helps.
  • Do some research. Check your favourite keywords using Google Alerts. If something is hot today, it may be a good opportunity to get your blog post on the trending list.

Well, this post from ContentMarketingInstitute.com, takes it a stage further. They recommend an Editorial Calendar, and even go fo far as to offer a downloadble template.  I’m not suggesting everyone needs to have such a formal approach, but if you’re lacking focus and can’t get to grips with how to start, then give this a try.