Master, Pro, Guru, Expert, Opinion Leader…

7 Jul

“Strive for mastery, big or small. Your audience will be impressed.” That’s the closing line of this quick video, narrated by Beacon PR’s strategist Rebecca Henley (and we think she says niche funny. Don’t you? Ha!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3XmzpBRNbg Well, what do you think about that statement and the idea that being THE pro will matter to your target audience?

Example one for your consideration: Do you think most preachers know Dr. Moeller’s general position on hot topics today? Just take a preview of the topics highlighted on the left pane of his blog http://www.albertmohler.com/. He’s taking a stance and staying in the content marketing arena regularly. If you’re a prospective seminary student or a pastor looking for the next book to read, do you see how it’s easy to respect Dr. Moeller’s level of notoriety and industry-recognized expertise? Do you think professors and other leaders are eager to be part of his administration at Southern Seminary?

Example two: When a colleague expressed interest in adding another monitor to our office for presentations, why do you think I was so quick to mention a client who can advise us from concept to installation? Aspen Custom Electronics knows the latest in digital signage, beyond just a conference room style TV set up. They’ll mount it and I can stay focused on doing what I do – not putting screws in the wrong place or investing in last year’s technology instead of the modern versions. I trust them with that decision and want to rely on their expertise.

I could go on! Look to the global marketing for your industry, the regional habits of your subject area and your local perspectives. Do you see gurus? The go-to person?

While every campaign Beacon touches is completely customized and no one size fits all, my bet is that your audience will care about your level of expertise, at least to some degree.

Strive for mastery, big or small. Your audience will be impressed. In today’s information age, content is king. Your ability to create meaningful material for the web-scouring potential customers out there will be crucial to your success. Harvesting success stories from existing customers and turning them into branding ambassadors and/or additional content creators will be another key aspect of your marketing programming. Gone are the days when marketing plans consist of direct mail, enews, media hits, signage, ads and a few special events. Regular content blitzing into every channel viewers may be peeking is the name of the game. Content marketing is the game changer and your marketing budgets and plans need to be keeping up. Your website is the hub, so ensure that it’s built on the best platform with the greatest security for the future – all centered around a content manager that empowers dynamic updates and customization. Gone are the days when “experts” had to have PhDs and spent each waking moment in research and teaching. Some still do, but you can add a megaphone to your brand through positioning yourself or others on your team as the guru, expert and go-to pro. Find your niche (neesh, as Rebecca would say 🙂 ) and build your level of expertise to such a fluent level, you have information and content pouring – oozing – out of you with confidence and clarity. Package that in a meaningful, relevant, powerful, professional yet real and fast manner. Your audience will stand up and take notice while competitors look on and wonder how you’re churning it out. Building momentum from the expertise you can portray through effective marketing systems will help add fuel to the fire when editors take notice, stories are placed, and visitors pour in. Be THAT GUY. Be the guru. Make it happen. LOVE IT every step of the way!

:: Need help? Beacon can explain content marketing more and help you find your voice and prioritize the right channels. Here’s to your mastery! ::

Advertisements

Is Leadership a Pass/Fail Journey?

5 Jul

Is leadership a pass/fail journey? If so, what are the criteria, who are the judges and when are grades reported?

Many leaders don’t even acknowledge they’re leaders. They have a position and they view their daytime hours as a job or possibly a career; but not exactly leadership. Some equate leadership with some level of management – like you’re only in “leadership” if there’s a VP in your title. YOU are a leader if you’re a mom, a student, a teacher, an administrative assistant or a CEO. Whatever our path, we all have points of leadership and the potential of guiding others and an overall group in a certain direction. So, while there are basic performance expectations of your position at work (whether carefully crafted forms in a corporate procedure and protocol manual or even just loosely stated expectations from a loved one), your pass/fail journey through leadership efforts doesn’t work that way.

How do you define good leadership?

Focus on the kind of leader you WANT to be. Starting there is wise because you zoom out from the realities of today’s pressure, circumstances and limitations. You take the lid off and really dream. How do you want people to describe you in the future? Invest some time to envision your future as a leader. In Cathy Jameson’s new blog, http://www.CathyJameson.com, she sets a tone for what will continue to be a great outpouring of her beliefs about “leadership of self and others”. Check it out. Also, drop by Cathy McCullough’s resource for leaders, http://www.LeaderHuddle.com. Meanwhile, think carefully about your goals as a leader, personally and professionally. Write those goals and put plans into motion to begin making them happen.

Focus on who you are today. You can’t set out to be a subject matter expert or reputable content marketing creator (hint for our next blog) if you don’t have that skillset, haven’t done that research and/or aren’t qualified. Be an expert before you set your sights on being a leader.

Treat leadership like a skillset you must craft. Prioritize the agenda laid out before you on your ideal leadership goals. Then you’ll define your own criteria, you’ll study the traits of great leaders and learn from others to refine your weaknesses into strengths and to amplify your innate positive qualities. Work for leadership and you’ll find that you’re passing one day at a time, as judged by all audiences including the one that may matter most to your future: you!

:: Rest well. Work hard. Be led. Do right. We’ll be cheering you on! ::

P.S. Here’s a quick video to get your wheels turning in exploring your leadership plans, in the voice of Beacon PR designer & strategist Rebecca Henley. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbPpx4hdr74

Keeping in Touch in a Meaningful Way

11 Mar

Ironic that this long, unexplained blogging absence takes place just before my next scheduled blog topic is entitled “keeping in touch.” Right? I mean it makes the point that keeping in touch is tough! It takes time and effort. So, you got me. I get it. I’m not so great at keeping in touch. One of my best friends from high school came to visit me this weekend. What a blessing. Another long time dear friend hasn’t had a returned call from me in months. She knows I love her, but that’s unacceptable behavior if a friendship is going to continue to grow. Keeping in touch is not an easy thing. However, let me go ahead and make the case for its importance, because our most successful clients are GREAT at keeping in touch and it makes a big difference.

Keep in touch. That’s one thing. Keeping in touch in a meaningful way. That might be another. Here are three quick considerations for being great at meaningful marketing communications.
1. Be real. It’s working well for clients and even celebrities to let their personal side show in social media. Keeping in touch with a network audience with small insights into our lives may seem awkward at first, but the staggering statistics of traffic on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and more prove to us that users like getting the inside scoop on you and your organization. There are good ways to post and not so great ways to post, for sure. That’s a blog for another day. Once you get over the initial awkward “I don’t need the world to know every bit of my life or business,” feelings and you jump out there with something interesting to people, you’ll start to see it’s not so hard. Everyone has their own social media personality. Some post frequent sarcasms. Some brag on others (their kids, their favorite businesses, colleagues). Some only creep – reading everything that’s posted and never commenting, liking or sharing so it’s as if they were never there. No trail left behind. Just creeping in silence. Some never make their own posts but they like and comment on everyone else’s lives, photos and events. Find your way and keep it real, with just the right touch of vulnerability so people know you are to be trusted and get an idea of the full dimension of you. For a business, you might highlight members of your team. You might include some testimonials. You might mention a “lesson learned.” It’s good that they see the real sides of you, not just the polished, pre-approved marketing messages you’ll use on brochures & tradeshow graphics.
2. Relevance and timeliness go together. The first part of being relevant is knowing the content and your audience well enough to speak to the heart of the matter. Timeliness is often a crucial aspect of being relevant. Be where they are. If your audience is full of Chamber of Commerce groupies, then support those causes and don’t be shy about your mission. If your audience is conservative and family oriented, supporting churches and schools will help you be seen and trusted; making it easier for you to find that common thread of interest and relevance to what matters most to them. Following up on a great conversation you had with so & so within the week that you have it is also going to be better received than a note a year later “remember when…”, although both are better than no note at all. Pay attention to what matters TO THEM and that will help you package your marketing as relevant to them. Then, follow up regularly on these ideas, leads and areas of interest so your timeliness and relevance pack the right formula for a relationship to begin or deepen. The key to this is KNOWING THEM. I have Google Alerts set up for some people in my life so I can follow them, their business or an issue in their industry and send them notes or links of interest. They love that I’m paying attention and caring. The second key is KEEPING UP. It’s one thing to pay attention and another to take a step and engage. Even the most outgoing person can feel shy about such a thing, but people want to be loved and heard and cared about so – go ahead – reach out and follow through with that meaningful contact.
3. Schedule time until a habit forms. If you have a hard time keeping up with follow through and getting in touch with people who work with you or with customers/vendors/media who need to hear from you often, schedule time, make lists and build tools to enable that process. Treat this like a system in your day that must be nurtured. Make a database of contacts you can comb through and then schedule time to do that combing. Allow someone on your team to read and clip media or grab links that might be interesting in your industry to those you care about and then, when they turn those findings in to you, forward that timely information along to your list and track it so you have it handy in the future if it’s mentioned again. I have a family friend who owns a bar and he read about how many days it takes to form a habit. He wanted his recently new bar/restaurant to be the hang out place for a certain group of people. So, he built plans to incentivize them to come into his bar every day for 30 days. By that time, it was part of their schedule and a routine they’d grown accustomed to – not to mention the interdependence they’d formed with one another. That group still comes into his establishment regularly and has set the tone for the type of clientele he continues to attract. While it may concern you that people are going to the bar every day (another blog topic… 😉 ), the point is well taken. You must train yourself to pay attention and establish a system for keeping in touch well.

So, here’s a dare for you. 1. Think of the five people who matter the most to you, personally. Write them an old fashioned letter and tell them why they’re so important in your life. Deliver that. 2. Think of the individuals who have mentored you, used your product/service or inspired you in some way professionally. Get in touch in the way that will be the most relevant for them and tell them how much you appreciate them. Gift lover – get a gift; word smith – write a note; twitter head – tweet ‘em. 3. Schedule one hour each week to start a “get in touch list. Add these contacts to your list and continue adding to it. Follow through, building systems along the way.

Yes, I’m taking the dare too.

:: Love ya’ll. Happy 2nd Quarter 2013 (yikes!) ::

John or Juan? Being audience aware in your content marketing

11 Mar

Do you find yourself in a new culture sometimes – litarally or figuratively? Venturing off into unknown areas of political or cultural sensitivities can be tricky, for sure. Jargon cripples you; doesn’t save you or make you look smarter. Misprounouncing a name you could’ve researched can matter quite a lot!  In Beacon Sales Trainer Lane Bruder’s joking voice, “c’mon folks. Pa’ ‘tention.”

Ask the right questions and pay attention so you may anticipate those new territories and handle them a little more smoothly.

–         Being  aware of your industry and context will always give you invaluable insights.

–          Then, be confident in your own competence. 

–         Asking questions is ok if you’ve done the obvious research.

–         Honesty is always the best policy, so keep it real and represent yourself with truth.

–         Watch the jargon and acronyms. Be simple, straight-forward and relatable.

–         Don’t try to sound smarter about something than you are.

Ask intelligent questions, do your research and be sensitive to those around you. Whether they’re Juan or John may be important to them and the future of the project, relationships and results.

Understanding difference (generational, gender, region, personality style, birth order, religion, corporate, industry, etc.) is a huge conversation – a book, not a blog. While that’s one of my favorite subjects, I’ll spare you all that’s whirling through my head and just urge you to never take a big marketing leap or accept an introductory meeting without appropriate information so you can be sensitive to those around you.

Remember the “You first and me too,” rule from a previous blog, which reminds us about always putting others first but not allowing ourselves to be disrespected in the process. Put others first by being awesome at what you do and by researching all relevant issues before you embark in any direction. Then, be open, honest and approachable as you propose your ideas and marketing solutions for the best of the project or organization.

:: Shout when you need help. After all, we are here to light your way to relationships and results! ::

Drop the “I” and Identify With Your Audience!

2 Nov

I have x years of experience. I provide the following services. I sell the following products. I, I, I = blah! What reader is going to hang on to hear how awesome you are when all that’s going through their mind is a determination to find an answer to their question; a solution for their need; an entertainment for their moment? They can link away from you as fast as they linked into you. If you miss your moment to relate to your reader and engage your viewer because you’re coming from I – I – I land. Well. That’s tragic.

Here’s our Beacon marketing challenge to you for today: Focus on the reader, viewer or person you’re talking to! Make it about them. You only have so much time to make your message fit into what’s relevant to them. Replace I – I – I with you – you – you. Rephrase even the most standard of statements so your audience always gets the point in a way that’s oriented to them and not you. Shut up and listen. Engage. Have enough integrity to identify with others!

My mama always told us “You first and me too” when she was teaching us how to deal with others. Her point was that we should always be mannerly and put others first, whether we’re opening a door for someone and following them in or simply listening to someone present an idea before tossing out our viewpoint.

This “others oriented” way of living is not innate and it isn’t always rewarded, but we think it’s the way to be. Certainly, I’m telling you now today without question, it IS the way to market and effectively communicate a promotional campaign. YOU FIRST!

The “me too” amendment was also important when it came to mom’s lesson. Putting others first without ever asserting one’s own needs can be unhealthy in personal relationships. Doormats who can’t stand up for themselves can be victimized or enablers, among other things. We must be as “self secure” as we are “others oriented”.

In marketing, the “me too” is also important because you will have a chance to tell someone what solution you provide once you understand their problem, need or desire. So, your “me too” opportunity to present your side of things can actually be more on target and better received because you appropriately let the “you first” mentality lead you right into an understanding of the other person’s pains or hopes. As you deal with others, think “you first” and then feel free to communicate your needs in a way that matters to them. You first and me too.

Harsh as it may seem, people just don’t care about many of the details marketers might feel compelled to share with them. So, fight the urge to list the details about you and your brilliant expertise or years of experience. Instead, identify with what’s important to them. Take a note out and write “I, I, I” on it. Now put a big “X” over those letters. Then, write “Identify”. Then, post the note in a prominent place to remind yourself to drop your own story and, instead, seek ways to identify with the other person. What are they into? What benefit do you/your organization offer to them? Listening and identifying with others will create a huge difference in your communication and the success of your internal and external public relations.

Have enough integrity to drop the I and instead, identify! Run your business and live your life with integrity. Relate to others and eliminate the me/I in your mentality, language and ultimately, your strategic communications message. Watch language barriers that suggest a we/them or us/you way of thinking. Be on the same page – and do that by identifying with them first.

:: Here’s to a wonderful weekend for you…and I. For We! For Us Together! 😉 ::

Get the “how” questions out of your way

22 Oct

Sometimes you know what you want and where you want to go, but get hung up trying to understand HOW to get there.

How do you find time to move the strategic ball closer to the goal?

How do you create and maintain a list that is going to work for your direct mail, enews and referrals?

How do you choose certain software over another?

How do you craft a message to resonate best with the decision makers in your audience?

How do you measure, maximize and report the ROI from what you’re doing so far?

How do you justify a change in yellow pages ads and a new SEO campaign?

How do you make room in the budget so your reception area matches your branding better?

How do you retain business you seem to be losing because of the way people are handled on the phone or at first impression?

There are so many “how” questions swimming in your heads, right? It may seem easier to just chip away at the same ol’ daily tasks that may or may not be moving you in the right direction so the list of “how” questions continues to grow but never thoroughly, proactively be addressed.

I will always remember when Jordan stormed back from a meeting with a client who’d made the comment, “Oh I could do this myself if I just had the time.” While on the surface, she knew they meant they could write something up, she also knew at a deeper level that they couldn’t master the messaging like she could. She’d been immersed in their cause for months, interviewing many and researching much. So, this flippant “Oh, I could do this” comment from the client felt like a huge statement of her/Beacon’s lack of value to the project at hand.

Certainly, some people have a greater level of expertise in marketing or strategic communications than others, yet the in-the-trenches, daily task-oriented knowledge is invaluable to the success of programming and communications as well. Thus, a partnership is required to responsibly address the “how” questions.

In the case of this example, it wasn’t long before Jordan’s client not only saw the value of the expertise of a team understanding and pursuing his goals thoroughly, but he developed a mutual flow of information so he could do what he did best, while we answered some of those “how” questions and moved things ahead comfortably. Sometimes the best way to get past the molehill of “how” questions before they become a detrimental , costly mountain,  is to partner together at a deep level so we can help advise you on the very best “HOW” – the strategy to the tactics to get it done.

:: Hope the “how”s aren’t getting in your way today! ::

GOOD thinking

16 Oct

Do you apathetically sell widgets? Or is your company really contributing something good?

When I asked the question, “What are you doing?” of my oldest daughter who was then a toddler, she used to crack me up by responding “good.” I think she had “good” hard wired into her social graces catalog of responses since adults often ask “How are you doing” and reply “Good” to each other. But her spin on the “What are you doing” question had me thinking…what if we all could honestly say we are DOING GOOD? Would we not be more committed to our days’ agendas and committed tasks?

Are you doing good? Are you excited about your work? Are you thinking it through with a balance of practicality and creative flair? It is our hope that you are loving what you do and that you are doing something you consider to be good; to be worthwhile.

At Beacon PR, we consider our work to be our ministry. If you’re doing something good, you’ve tapped right into the heart and passion of the Beacon PR team. You’re going to be passionate about what you do and about doing it well. One common theme of all Beacon clients is this – they are good people doing good things. Good thinking breeds passion for excellence and a continued striving for the next level. We love to see a client or potential client who’s on the “good thinking” pathway because we know that will inspire our creative experts and business savvy to round out the picture with every little detail and to fully develop those creative power-punches.

:: Good People. Good Deeds. Good Thinking. Beacon PR & you. Now that’s G! Chuckle… ::

For a quick tour of the ABCs of Marketing – including “G is for Good Thinking” with the Stillwater Mediauras app, visit www.DefineYourAura.com to print a flyer of root images and scan away for interactive videos.