Ali Brown – Business Bliss in Two Weeks

Alexandria_BrownAs you’ve been witnessing, what “success” means to entrepreneur/mentor Ali Brown has changed a lot in the past few years.

She likes to describe it as finally finding her “business bliss.” And the more people she talks to, the more she realizes this is really the ongoing goal.

Yes, we all want to make more money and have a successful venture. And it’s fun to have accolades and build something powerful. But it’s the vehicle to our bliss.

There is so much interest on this subject that Ali has decided to host a LIVE web show on this topic, in two weeks on June 17.

It’s called “Business Bliss Live: More Money, Less Stress, Real Purpose”, and I hope you’ll join Ali. It’s free and you can reserve your spot here now.

Ali’s calling it a “web show”, because she’s going to have more fun than usual. And a few surprise guests! She even rented a TV studio for the occasion.

Take a look here now to see what Ali will be teaching and sharing during this special 4-hour LIVE web event!

And of course, reserve your spot now so you can join Ali! http://smallofficecommunicator.net/Bliss_p01

I’m really looking forward to it!

DanSig-02

 

 

 

 

P.S. The dictionary says Bliss is “supreme happiness… utter joy and contentment.” Want to find your Business Bliss? Reserve your spot here now for this free event: http://smallofficecommunicator.net/Bliss_p01


How to Use Visuals in Your Marketing Stories

Last blog post I told you about how to ensure that your marketing story is something that your audience wants to read. Now I want to explain how the words that you use, the images that you include, and the format of your marketing story makes a difference in how your audience perceives the story.

Use The Natural Talents of Your Audience

Human beings are natural story tellers and also love to listen to stories. Our imaginations are amazing and limitless. Words form pictures in your reader’s mind. The words that you choose can make or break you. If your words prove you don’t understand your audience then you’re in trouble.

Even a 450 page book that has no imagery what-so-ever can be thoroughly enjoyed when read by the right audience, as long as the author was creative at putting together the right words that brought forth the images they wanted their audience to envision. If the author studies their audience well enough, and uses the imagination of their audience, they will weave a winning marketing story.

Find Descriptive Words That Speak to Your Audience

It just goes to show that if you use the right descriptive words to appeal to your audience’s senses that you can actually make them think about exactly what you want them to think about at exactly the time you want them to think it. That’s very powerful stuff. Due to the technology you may be using to tell your stories you can also consider the format in which you present the information.

Research keywords that your audience uses, and words that bring to mind the images you want your audience to think about. If you want to take your readers on a wild ride through the rapids, you can do that with your words. If you want them to feel comfortable, relaxed, and serene your words can do that too. The fact is, words matter.

Choose the Right Imagery

Will you write a paper, a blog post, a slideshow, create a video, or a combination of all of them? Your choices are many. It’s important to ensure that any imagery you use doesn’t take away from your words and lead your audience in the wrong direction. Use great care when choosing the graphics that go with your story to make sure that nothing is confusing or contradictory. Use words that go with the images and vice versa. Use colors, formatting, and fonts that are easy for your audience to read and understand.

Images can go far in helping back up the words that you use in your marketing story. They can also convey many more feelings and emotions more quickly than words alone. But, only if you are very careful and selective when choosing the images. The saying, “a picture is worth a 1000 words” is very accurate, but you don’t want them to compete with the actual words that you use to tell your marketing story. Consider the emotion or action you want to evoke as you choose the images.

Visuals in your marketing stories are very powerful elements that you need to take the time to learn to employ. You can do this by talking to your audience, sharing images on social media with quotes, and learning what your particular audience likes by simply asking them. My next blog post I will talk about the different ways you can repurpose each marketing story in order to get even more traction.


Integrated marketing Communications – Live Meeting Openers

Meeting_Room

One of the really exciting integrated marketing communications tasks that rightly belong to we, The Small Office Communicators, is creating meetings to solve problems and introduce new products and concepts. I’ve got several posts and an article that go into some of the thinking that triggers the need for a meeting (listed on a post here, and this article). I’d like to assume, for now, that you have done all the thinking and planning, and now are starting to develop content – starting at the beginning… The Meeting Opener.

What is the, “Meeting Opener?” From my perspective, when I start a meeting, I want the attendees’ attention focused on the here and now and in that room, not a spat with a spouse, a surly taxi driver, a missed wake-up call or anything else that might distract their focus.

Over the years, Meeting Openers have taken several forms:

  • Thought Pieces that tend to be a bit slow moving and rich with quality imagery and motivational words.
  • Inspiring and Motivational Openers that do just that, inspire and motivate… but rarely have the punch to get attendees to pay attention.
  • Exciting Head Grabbers – just like they sound!

Having grown up creating meetings that, “opened with a bang,” I generally favor the Exciting Head Grabber style. The simple reason… I want my attendees focused on the meeting at hand, ready to contribute, and to leave the meeting motivated and willing to implement the strategy or product we are introducing. And you most easily get that with a bit of loud and exciting.

So why do we need Meeting Openers?

  • Focus attention in that room at that time
  • Establish the “theme” of the meeting
  • Establish the problem that will be addressed
  • A possible tease as to what solution will be offered

In other words, let the attendees know just why they are gathered in that room at that time and get their attention… that’s it, that’s all! After that, it should be productive and informative content that will be of value to the attendees – remember, they are asking, “What’s in it for ME?”

Just for perspective, the meetings I did for Minolta, which had national and international audiences, generally started with arrivals the day before to accommodate travel disruptions, a cocktail reception/dinner that evening, and the opening “Main Tent” General Session the next morning. After the decompress and socializing of the evening before and the loud and exciting meeting opener, we pretty much had their attention, and could proceed with business confident that our attendees would, “get the message.”

So where do we get those Meeting Opener Modules that will grab the attention of our attendees? There are two places: create them yourself or pay to have them created, or purchase/rent them from companies who create them specifically for that purpose. I’ve done both, and prefer to, “build it myself” (which may include hiring a production company to build it for me). But often that’s not in the budget, so it’s time to look outside, and there are quite a few companies that have created rental meeting elements that are quite good. The reason you can purchase/rent these modules for so much less than it would take to create it yourself or have it created is that the production companies are selling/renting them to many customers, thus spreading out the cost. And don’t think they’re getting rich by renting you a module. By the time they pay all the rights and clearances for the music and images they use (which they MUST do), plus the labor to assemble them into an exciting show, there ain’t much left. And the reality is that they have LOTS of modules that they have produced, and some may only sell a few times. But we really don’t care about them… if we successfully light a fire under our attendees, it’s money well spent!

OK… all that said, I’ve generally found it moderately difficult to find meeting openers that I would like to show the audiences we had. But my audiences are not your audiences, so I would recommend doing a search on Meeting Openers, or Exciting Meeting Openers, and then start digging. It will take some time because you‘ll have to look at a BUNCH of modules to see which one fits your audience and budget and how you want your meeting to feel. A brief aside here… when we did the audio tracks for the many programs I did at Minolta, it often took hours to find good pieces of music to use, searching hundreds of tracks for just the right ones for MY program. Lots of the music was great, but it just wasn’t for my show. So searching for a meeting opener module is not something to plan for a quick 15 minute searching session. Most likely, it will take hours. Thank goodness for the internet because these days, we can sit on the couch with a laptop and surf and sample while watching a ball game.

Also look for modules that can be customized. Some meeting module shops create programs that have several places designed into the show where your logo or meeting graphic can be fairly easily dropped in. Including this may be included in the cost, or be slightly extra… but it is worth it to, “make the show yours!” Your attendees will appreciate the extra effort… they’ll think you really built it for them.

So as you build your meeting, use the Meeting Opener to:

  • Focus attention in that room at that time
  • Establish the “theme” of the meeting
  • Establish the problem that will be addressed
  • A possible tease as to what solution will be offered

When you do that, you’ll start your meeting, you’ll “move your audience” to where you want them for the rest of the information that you and your presenters will deliver.

DanSig-02

New Article – If You Didn’t Measure It, You Didn’t Do It!

Quick Note:

As promised, I found the article, “If You Didn’t Measure It, You Didn’t Do It!”

You can read it here.

DanSig-02

 

How to Tell Stories Your Audience Wants to Read

Last blog post we talked about putting a twist on traditional stories. It’s important to tell creative stories that your audience wants to read. But, how in the world do you know what stories your audience wants to read?

You may be tired of hearing it but it all goes back to knowing who your audience is. Repeat that out loud. Know Your Audience. If your audience loves unicorns, you better figure out a way to make unicorns part of your story. If your audience loves order and neatness, that needs to be there too.

As mentioned previously, everyone wants to feel like they matter, are understood, belong to a group, and to simply be happy. How they get to that point is different for each individual and is not universal. It’s up to you to study your audience so that you can determine how best to ignite that passion without your audience for your products and / or services. Marketing with stories gives you a way to do that in a creative manner. But, exactly like all marketing: You must know your audience.

Start With Your Audience’s Problems — Pinpoint a specific problem that a member of your target audience has. Craft a story around that one problem with the solution to that problem being part of the moral of the story always remembering to tell your audience what to do next.

Ask Your Audience What They Want — Talk to them, form open communication paths with your audience. You can do this with email, social media, or through your website’s blog. But, however you do it, your audience must always be at the center of every story, every product, every service, and every thought in order to be successful.

Give Your Audience Solid Examples of Success — Using feedback from your customers, and solid statistical research show your audience what success looks like. Infographics, images that help tell the story and other visual elements will help make it more readable and interesting.

Entertain Your Audience with a Twist — Make it not boring. No one is going to read your stories if they’re boring. Create a hook and carefully craft a story that will entertain your audience on their level using marketing stories that they will want.

Audiences who read, relate and engage with your marketing story are a lot more likely to answer your calls to action whether that is to sign up, buy now, or call. Stories are in our DNA, tell a compelling one that resonates and you will win over more customers that you did before. Remember, it’s not about selling, it’s about telling your story in an interesting and engaging manner that your audience wants to read. You can’t do that if you have not taken the time to get to know your audience.

Next blog post I will tell you how to use visuals to make your stories really stand out. I’m not just talking about graphics, but how your text looks, and how you can use certain words to draw pictures in your audience’s mind.

Recommended Post: The Fail-Safe Guide to Planning a Marketing Campaign

Just read a great Marketing Campaign article by Lynsey Bowen, The Fail-Safe Guide to Planning a Marketing Campaign. It is a great extension to my posts:

Strategic Communications: Communications Plan Analysis Part 1

Strategic Communications: Communications Plan Analysis Part 2

Strategic Communications: Communications Plan Analysis Part 3

It also ties in with my article at Ezine Articles: Think First! The Right Steps to Effective Communications

And finally, what I’ve been saying for years, “If you didn’t measure it, you didn’t do it!” This was actually an article I did several years ago that I must resurrect… next on the calendar.

By all means, read the Linsey Bowen’s post and my four posts. They constitute a good basis for your marketing and marketing communications efforts.

DanSig-02

Putting a Twist on Traditional Stories

Last blog post I told you about several common mistakes made when marketing with stories. This blog post is going to talk about the idea of putting a twist on traditional stories to add interest, fun and excitement to your story.

When telling your brand’s story, or your customers’ stories, a great way to peak interest is to do a play on traditional stories that we all grew up with, know and love. Boy meets girl can become boy meets product or service. Girl meets her prince charming can become girl buys her own park avenue suite because she followed your method to start a six figure business.

There are many ways in which to approach this. We can take some lessons from TV shows that use tried and true methods for bringing in new audiences, and exciting the ones they have. You know as well as I do that when something is good, people talk. If your story is good, and told in a unique and interesting way it will be shared.

The Guest Star — Know any movers and shakers who like your products or services? Ask them to tell you and your audience their story.

The Hero — It’s fun when the story culminates with a product or service saving the day and making someone’s life easier.

Coming of Age — This is a classic story where the main character has a revelation about a problem that changes his or her life.

Spin Offs — Remember the Taster’s Choice’s coffee commercials or the Country Crock commercials that became their own little series? The same can happen with a well told story about one or more of your consumers with follow ups and behind the scenes additions.

Drama — If you can add some drama into your stories you can shake up your audience in new ways. You can add obstacles in the way of your main character and then only at the last minute let your product or service form the solution that sets your character free.

Humor — Nothing is better than humor to sell a product or service. If you can find the humor (and your audience can too) in the needs, desires, hopes and dreams and even problems that your product or service brings to fruition or solves then you’ve got story gold.

Finally, it’s okay to use different forms of content to get your story out, in fact it’s best. Don’t just use one way to tell even the same story. Use text, audio, visual, images and more to make marketing with stories come alive. In truth, the biggest sin outside of understanding your audience you can make is being boring.

Next blog post we’ll talk about how you can avoid being boring by figuring out in advance what stories your audience wants to read.

Guest Post – Is Your Time Worth What You Think It Is?

Alexandria_BrownTime is the most important asset you have—and unlike money, once you’ve spent it, you can’t earn any more. That’s why it’s so important to make the most of your 24 hours, especially as a business owner.

So, how can you become more productive and profitable, without working insane hours and sacrificing your personal life? Read on for a few steps on how to start managing your time like a successful entrepreneur…

STEP 1: Discover how much your time is worth

The first step to maximizing your time is to understand what yours is really worth. This is an exercise I do with any client who has a time crunch. It’s great to help you gauge what your time is generally worth. (IMPORTANT: This is NOT a formula for determining your rates, but it can be used as a start.):

Income ÷ Hours worked = Hourly Rate

Let’s say your income last month was $16,000 and you worked eight hours a day for 20 days. That’s a total of 160 hours. So, your hourly rate would be calculated like this:

$16,000 ÷ 160 = $100 Per Hour

Based on this example, your hours are worth $100. Now, let’s find out if you’re spending every hour of every day on $100 activities.

STEP 2: Take an honest assessment of the TYPE of work you do

Now, think about the tasks you do for your business. Are they key business tasks, or supportive business tasks? (Key business tasks are those directly related to growing the business and driving it forward, like networking for new clients and opportunities, creating a new product line, etc. Supportive business tasks are those that support your key activities, like invoicing, organizing, etc.)

You want to work ON your business by focusing on key business tasks—not IN it (by overwhelming yourself with supportive business tasks).

Think about it: If your business doesn’t run unless you’re managing it all, all you’ve done is swapped a job with an employer by employing yourself as an administrative assistant, bookkeeper, etc. And the truth is, it will be very hard to run a successful business this way. Quite a wake-up call isn’t it?

I have clients track their time for an entire week, and then share with me what they discover. They hate it, but it’s VERY enlightening!

STEP 3: Delegate your tasks

You are the boss—so let someone else help manage and do the supportive business tasks, so you can concentrate on developing the strategies that will make you more money and take your business in the direction you want to go. The more you learn to let go and delegate to other people, the more you can focus on your REAL job: those core business activities.

Here are some of the duties and responsibilities you can easily hand off to someone else:

* Accounting and bookkeeping

* Administrative tasks

* Customer Support

* Booking Travel

* Managing your calendar

* Email and web marketing

* Office/Home Cleaning

And that’s just a start.

Although you’ll have to spend a little money up front, outsourcing will help you get ahead in the long run. Let’s go back to that hourly worth example we calculated earlier…

If your hourly worth is $100 per hour and you pay someone else $20 per hour, and you use that hour instead to generate revenues for your business, you’ve just made a leap in your business—and much faster than if you had tried to handle everything by yourself.

So, what kind of skilled professionals can you hire to help? For starters, consider a Virtual Assistant (VA). They can handle a slew of tasks, from scheduling appointments, paying bills, and even managing your projects and supplier/vendor relationships. I got started with www.AssistU.com, but you can also Google other resources.

There are also thousands of talented professionals looking for contract work on sites like Elance.com. In many cases, you can browse the portfolios of providers and invite them to bid for the work you want done. And best of all, ask business owners and friends you know if they can recommend someone to you.

If you want a little more help with this, take a look at my “Millionaire Time & Productivity Secrets” program. You will learn 101+ of my personal success strategies for managing time and being productive. (Many of my clients tell me it’s their favorite product of mine!) Find out how to make more money, stay focused, and achieve your best resultswhile still having energy and a life!

Ali Brown Signature

 

 

 

© 2014 Ali International, LLC

“Entrepreneur mentor Ali Brown teaches women around the world how to start and grow a profitable business that make a positive impact. Get her FREE CD “Top 10 Success Secrets for Entrepreneurial Women” at www.AliBrown.com

Integrated Marketing Communications – Fascinating Corporate ID Story

Just saw a fascinating integrated marketing communications story in Ad Age. A Norwegian grocery chain is building an entire Corporate Identification program around the grilling season (of course, my grilling season is year ’round… but in Norway, it might be a bit tough in the winter). They’re creating an alphabet out of grilled meats and vegetables and will create ads, tee shirts, and other items using their new, “hot off the grill” alphabet. Bet you they have NO trouble being identified as the source of that advertising… plus, they’ll probably get lots of additional PR pickup because of the novelty. This tracks through on what I said about consistency in messaging… everything must look like it comes from YOUR COMPANY, and cannot be confused with anyone else.

You may not have to go to the level of creating your own alphabet (though this is not the first time original type “fonts” have been created to support one company’s ID), but the important message remains to ensure that ALL of your materials look like they come from you.

Enjoy the story here.

DanSig-02

Common Mistakes Made in Writing Your Story

Last post we talked about 7 steps for crafting a credible marketing story. This time we’re going to go over some common mistakes made in marketing with stories. We’ve touched on some mistakes before but we’ll delve into them a bit deeper this time. These are common mistakes made in all types of marketing, including marketing with stories.

We know why storytelling is so important already, it’s because human beings are wired to hear stories and act on stories. That it’s in our DNA. This is how children have been taught morals for centuries, and how we learn and entertain ourselves since the beginning of time. First as oral stories, often using pictures drawn in the sand, on tablets, or on cave walls, and finally as written words. As powerful as story telling can be there are some things that should be avoided.

Industry Jargon / Buzzwords — Just don’t do it. Industry jargon sounds like someone just opened up a thesaurus and went crazy making word salad. Talk like you’re a real person and people will listen. Business buzzwords can kill a great story faster than a telemarketer calling you at midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Misleading or Inaccurate Words & Phrases — Nothing is worse than clicking through to read what looks like a compelling story to find it’s just another sales page. Don’t trick your audience, they won’t appreciate it, and it won’t work. We live in a time where the public is exceptionally intelligent and knowledgeably about pretty much anything they want to buy, don’t treat your audience as if they’re anything but. Also, make sure you really understand the terms you’re using, even if you think something is common knowledge, double check the terms you use to ensure they are accurate. If you want to use terms such as “C’est la vie” spell it right and know what it means.

Incomplete Arguments — When you make any statements of fact, be sure to finish your arguments. Remember the rules of who, what, when, why & how. If you form a sentence that is meant to be an argument for something or against something then you need to answer all five of those ideas within the argument for it to be complete. Always frame your thoughts in terms of how your audience will read them and answer the questions with facts to back up the story.

Poor Writing Style — The best sentence structure is short. If you can avoid long paragraphs, complex sentence structure, and remember to add white space, you’ll make your points easier to read. People like reading chunky content. Use lists, appropriate fonts, and avoid the desire to use fancy colors that make it hard for your audience to read.

If you think about it, with the advent of the Internet we’ve really come full circle. We can now share our stories in a whole new way using all the senses, must like our ancestors did when sitting around a campfire drawing in the dirt, except now we can do it with far reaching technology. Stories can be written, made visual with added pictures, and we can even add audio if we desire to make them more interesting, sharable and compelling. Some things never go out of fashion.

Next post we’ll talk about some of the ideas mentioned here that can help make your stories more exciting, interactive, fun and memorable.


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