Five Speaking Tips Demonstrated at Social Slam 2012

It’s hard to beat an event like Social Slam 2012 to whet your content marketing and social marketing appetite. Great presentations and networking along with lots of smart conversations generate energy and fresh ideas. You probably came away with several ideas if you attended. I could lay out a list of tips and topics covered at the event but think other bloggers will provide that information.

The big take away for me is – great speakers make a conference. Everyone has personal preferences so every speaker won’t resonate with every attendee. But great speakers connect with the audience and there were some real stand outs at Social Slam 2012.

Self-Deprecating Humor

It’s hard to be funny in front of a crowd. But there is a trick that works for almost any speaker. Make fun of yourself. If you are smart with self-deprecating humor, you tie the humor into your overall message. Get people to laugh and then they will listen.

Jon Moss of Moss Media Labs delivered a 10 minute slam about LinkedIn. He started his presentation by explaining that he shares a name with a member of the band Culture Club. Googling Jon Moss did not provide the results he wanted until he developed his LinkedIn profile and that helped fix his search problem. The humor was a hit because the crowd could immediately relate to Jon’s difficulty in getting found. 

Jon MossJon Moss – @JonFMoss
If you liked my #solam talk on LinkedIn, how about a little +K http://t.co/YxM3U3qA

Enthusiasm is Contagious

Any speaker that is enthusiastic and energized can get a crowd excited. With the right techniques of audience engagement a speaker can really win a crowd over. Masters of this technique go way beyond making eye contact and asking questions. Masters personalize questions and engage a cross-section of the crowd to make every person in the crowd pay attention. Audience members can’t help but think the speaker’s next question might be directed at them.

Marcus Sheridan of The Sales Lion blog hits the stage like a freaking tornado. No audience member is safe from his engagement techniques. His presentation covering content marketing by blogging was convincing and more importantly fun.

Marcus SheridanMarcus Sheridan – @TheSalesLion
Thanks everyone here at #SoSlam for being such a dang awesome audience and all your kind words!!!

Patience and Cool

Tom Webster of the Brand Savant blog demonstrated how to overcome an epic technology fail. Tom was educating us all about the importance of viewing data with skepticism until you understand how the data was gathered and analyzed. Then his notebook locked up. Technology problems derail most speakers, but Tom was a consummate professional. Despite the glitch he kept the crowd entertained and left us more informed at the end of his presentation.

Tom WebsterTom Webster – @webby2001
For everyone at #SoSlam who watched my laptop go up in flames, here is how I deal with speaking FAILS like that: http://t.co/KBoM4rSO

Make A Memorable Point

How many presentations have you sat through that you can’t remember the point after a day or two. It helps if the title of the speech or presentation represents the topic that’s covered. Sometimes it’s just hard to remember the point though. It’s not your fault for not remembering, it’s the speaker’s fault. She didn’t make her point well.

Billy Delaney of The Small Business Compass gave a 10 minute speech titled “The Spirituality of Social Media”. Billy didn’t use slides. He used sound speaking skills to make a point.

I bet everyone in the room retained his point. “People beg for love and earn respect.” This is transferable to companies. You have to love your customers to earn their respect.

Billy DelaneyBilly Delaney – @Billy_Delaney
Social Slam versus your favorite social media conference http://t.co/krl6ngZo

Have Gratitude

Maybe the most important lesson of all happened before, between, and after the formal speeches were done. Every time I saw Mark Schaefer of Schaefer Marketing Solutions he was ceaselessly giving credit and heaping praise on everyone else that was involved in the Social Slam event. Sincerely showing gratitude might be the greatest speaking skill of all.

Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer – @markwschaefer
What do I write about? http://t.co/s3Vz2pVW

Share your thoughts about Social Slam or speaking skills in the comments section or contact me to discuss your marketing or sales problems.

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Blogging for Sales Leads in the Industrial B-to-B Segment

It’s shocking how few companies in the industrial B-to-B segment are using blogging as lead generation tools. Products and services that have a niche market or user-base, are highly technical or complicated in nature, and are best explained by an expert are ideal things to blog about. But the blogs that discuss industrial products and services can do far more than just describe technical features or describe how-to use the products. Blogs in the industrial sector can generate leads. Good blogs are force multipliers for your marketing and sales efforts!

The topic of generating leads with blogs was discussed during a lively Twitter chat tonight. Most of the posts reinforced the benefits of using a blog as an effective marketing tool. I captured a few as highlights.

Laura FittonLaura Fitton – @Pistachio
Getting your business found is why you blog. It has SEO value, social sharing value, etc. But traffic does not = customers #blogchat

Anyone can create a blog easily and start generating traffic, but that is only the first step in using a blog as an effective marketing and sales tool. According to Wikipedia there were more than 156 million blogs in February of 2011. Proof of how easy it is to start one. The trick is using a blog effectively to serve your purpose. That purpose for most industrially-focused b-to-b companies is to not only generate interest but also leads for your producs or services.

Leslie FineLeslie Fine – @lesliefineint
A lead to me is someone who has the appropriate needs for my services – not just a reader of my blog #blogchat

Blogs are no different than magazine ads or sales calls though. If you aren’t talking to the right people you are just wasting time and money.

Ray GordonRay Gordon – @RayJGordon
Quite often the case! RT @markkilens: Businesses that are the best educators will win. blog=education #blogchat

With the target audience in mind, what topics should you discuss in blog posts then. After all it’s a “chicken or egg first conundrum”. You have to talk about what your target audience wants to hear on your blog before your target audience will find your blog! So educate them. Tell them the tricks to using your products and entertain them with news and topics specific to your customers interests. Tell them both about the beneficial features of your products as well as the shortcomings and the things you are working to improve.

audaciousladyaudaciouslady – @audaciouslady
RT @ValaAfshar: If content is king, context is queen. Blogs have to demonstrate relevancy to your target audience. #blogchat

Give specific examples of how your customers enjoy or prosper because they use your services. Better yet. Let your customers do guest posts demonstrating how excited they are to work with you.

However, the overlooked secret to blogging success is quite possibly what you ask readers to do after they’ve read your post. Maybe you are making the mistake of not even asking them to do anything. Including a call-to-action after every post is a requirement if lead generation is what you are seeking.

marti konstantmarti konstant – @martikonstant
according to socialtriggers.com, one strong call to action per page is best #blogchat people can’t focus on more #blogchat

Blogs are powerful tools to help your marketing and sales efforts. Good blog posts can provide qualified leads to your sales force or can educate suspect contacts and help your marketers move them to the next stage of the buying cycle.

Contact me if you’d like to discuss how targeted content generation could help you generate  qualified leads for your industrial automation or wholesale distribution business.

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What Can $100 Accomplish in a Community?

What can $100 accomplish in a community? Could you take $100 and make a difference by giving it to someone or to a  group in your community? There are a lot of great causes that you could donate money to. And there are without question numerous charities doing good that are worthy of donations. Like charity: water a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations.

charity: watercharity: water – @charitywater
RT @LinkedIn Need a dose of inspiration? Watch @scottharrison, CEO of @charitywater, share his story of transformation. http://t.co/XYTTjhBF

And of course a favorite of mine since my wife and I both are cancer survivors:

LIVESTRONGLIVESTRONG – @LIVESTRONG
Myth Busters: Have you taken the #WorldCancerDayQuiz? http://t.co/jzksDtnI What’s your score?

I donate to these organizations but the donations I make are pretty small and typically their efforts aren’t local. And while it’s possible for those with the financial means, Eli Manning for example to make large charitable contributions. Most of us can’t. 

TwitCauseTwitCause – @TwitCause
Eli Manning: Super Bowl Winner and Charity Giver http://t.co/qGX8ODT3

 A new organization in Chattanooga is trying to make a bigger impact with $100 by pooling some resources and simplifying the tyoical grant process that foundations follow. The UnFoundation pools $100 donations from ten trustees monthly and matches that $1,000 with funds from an anonymous source. That $2,000 is granted monthly to a project that is focused on helping the Chattanooga communnity.  

The UnFoundationThe UnFoundation – @TheUnFoundation
Congratulations to the College Hill Courts Residency Council for winning our first $2000 grant for a community garden! https://t.co/Bk7ehG3M

The first award was given in January to help fund a community garden. Ideally this small garden will help put a dent in growing Food Deserts in areas around Chattanooga. That is a pretty cool way that $100 can help a community.

 The UnFoundation is actively seeking applicants for future grants. Help spread the word!

 

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I can’t understand what you are talking about!

How often do you listen to yourself? Do you ever record what you say on audio or video then really listen? Most people don’t realize when describing things that are a little abstract or complex that they sound nonsensical.

Dan Roam author of “Blah Blah Blah: What to Do When Words Don’t Work” and “Back of the Napkin” gives perfect examples of nonsensical explanations in this short video.

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Customer Engagement versus Customer Satisfaction

I am presenting “Applying Baldrige to the Marketing Function” at the ISA Marketing and Sales Summit. This post originally appeared as a guest post on that site.

How high do you set your customer service bar? Think about the KPIs you use. Do you set goals for those KPIs based on your results from the previous year, against industry averages, or do you actually use benchmarks to ensure you are providing best-in-class customer service. Many companies set the bar too low. They want to satisfy or maybe just satisfice customers and really don’t care enough to put extra effort into gaining their customer’s engagement. Magic happens when you care enough to engage customers. They become fans. Fans are force multipliers for marketers!

Engaged customers don’t tell their coworkers and friends that your product isn’t easy to use. Engaged CustomerEngaged customers tell you why it isn’t easy to use and specifically how to correct it. Engaged fans are willing to tolerate beta releases because they know deep in their hearts that you will eventually give them access to Version 2.0 that specifically addresses their greatest needs. Engaged customers tell everyone that your products solve their problems.

If you truly want customers that are fans, customers that have a sense of ownership in your company, you have to measure customer sentiments. You need to understand how loyal your customers are, how many customers you retain, and how willing your customers are to advocate for you. How many of your customers are willing to recommend your offerings to people they know?

These results must be used to close the loop in your customer focused activities. The saying you can’t manage what you don’t measure applies to customer engagement as much as anything else. But results measures like any statistic that doesn’t have a comparison is worthless. Comparing “how you did” to “how you did last year” does not result in high levels of performance. You have to benchmark or compare these measures to someone that you know does those things well. Comparisons compel change and build a sense of urgency especially when they show that you aren’t as good as your competitors or as good as you thought you were.

The good news is it is easier than ever to engage customers. Not that the measures are easier to capture, but it is easier to engage with customers. Social media tools, inbound marketing techniques, and the always-connected world we live in gives us ample opportunities to connect and engage with customers but you have to have a plan. What’s your plan for moving customers down the continuum from satisficed to satisfied to engaged and beyond?

Contact me to discuss your specific marketing and sales challenges, how the Baldrige Criteria can help your organization, or look me up at the ISA Marketing and Sales Summit in St. Louis.

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How do you make networking worthwhile?

Networking is supposed to open doors. But do you know if your efforts are really working? Do you concentrate on maximizing the number of people in your network or focus just on the most powerful and influential to gain benefits from networking? According to Rob Cross and Robert Thomas co-authors of “Managing Yourself: A Smarter Way to Network” in the July issue of Harvard Business Review those aren’t the secrets at all. Diversity and a willingness to give as much or more than you get are the keys. According to the authors:

“The executives who consistently rank in the top 20% of their companies in both performance and well-being have diverse but select networks…made up of high-quality relationships with people who come from several different spheres and from up and down the corporate hierarchy.”

But the question most people have is how do you meet people from outside your regular social circles? Even people that regularly attend Chamber or other social meet and greet functions (especially if you live in a relatively small community) end up seeing the same people every month. If you strictly use the web and social media for your networking you are really missing out. While social media is a great supplementary tools, Face-to-Face conversation will never be surpassed as the best way to get to know someone.

I’ve found three ways to meet people outside my industry and outside my normal social circle.

GoGrabLunch
GoGrabLunch is a great resource for meeting other professionals. You set up a profile on the website, check a few radio-buttons about your industry and experience level and what kind of people you’d like to meet, and pick a restaurant, and set the time and date for your lunch. Others that are registered on the site can grab that lunch date. It’s strictly professional and it’s free.

Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence
There is no better way to meet smart people than through your state or the national Baldrige-based programs. I volunteer for the Tennessee program because as I’ve said before some of the most interesting conversations I have all year happen during training and during my participation on teams. There are a number of ways you can participate either by volunteering or by attending any one of several different conferences and training events.

Google+
I was lucky enough to receive an early invite to use Google’s new social tool Google +. It’s been great. I have regular interesting conversations with people I otherwise would not know through this new social tool. If you have not received an invite yet, you can get a Google + invite here. Try it out.

Don’t stop going to Chamber meetings and other social events but find some new ways to network. Make sure your new ways open up opportunities to build relationships with people from outside your normal social circles. And don’t forget to look for me on Google+ or comment here.

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Eliminate the Disconnect between Marketing and Sales

I am presenting “Applying Baldrige to the Marketing Function” at the ISA Marketing and Sales Summit. This post originally appeared as a guest post on that site.

Are your marketing and sales efforts focused on the same goals or is there a constant struggle between the two? Is the struggle like a tug-of-war between business functions constantly trying to yank the rope out of each other’s hands? Eliminating this functional silo mentality can yield huge benefits by concentrating efforts.

Marketing frequently sees their purpose as developing the strategy and tactics to develop Marketing and Sales Tug of Warand refine offerings and to generate market and customer interest. They grab responsibility for all communications that aren’t face-to-face and design offerings based on the information they can gather and what anecdotal information sales reports to them. They think their efforts can overcome the limits of the sales force. Marketing sees its burden as compensating for sale’s inability to see the big picture.

Sales sees their purpose as developing the market and account strategies and to execute tactics that close sales. The marketing message must be stripped and reconstructed to be usable. Sales gets to determine what conversations take place face-to-face and what gets reported back upstream. Sales thinks their biggest challenge is to overcome marketing’s inability to see what’s required to win business in the real world.

So how do you eliminate the disconnect between marketing and sales?

Set Common Goals

Goals should be Customer focused – centered on listening to customers, building customer relationships, and using customer information to improve marketing and sales functions. These goals should be the same for both marketing and sales in a broad strategic sense. These broad, high-level goals can then be cascaded down through the organizational levels with each lower level setting a goal that supports the broad common goal.

Think of a military commander setting his battle plan. His main objective is quite broad but Cascading Action Plansby the time smaller units establish their plans they are much smaller in scale. However, they still support the broad strategic goal. The General sets the strategy to win the war or decrease vehicle accidents – a Platoon Leader plans to take a hill or to ensure speed limits are strictly followed.

Marketing and sales must similarly agree on the big strategic goals. Smaller units will never establish plans that breach the silo mentality if they don’t agree on broader strategic goals.

Use Process Thinking

Marketing frequently thinks they move a customer to a certain stage of the buying cycle then pass the customer off to sales. Customers might enter the cycle at any stage though and regardless of their entry path they expect help. For instance, consider the commonalities between a conversation that occurs via an inquiry from your website and a conversation that occurs during a sales call. Is one a sales conversation and one a marketing conversation? Is one conversation more important than another? Are the personnel involved in one conversation more likely to be knowledgeable about your offerings and more experienced than the other and thus more likely to answer questions and meet customer expectations in a timely fashion?

It seems a bit short-sighted to have your most talented sales people answer face-to-face questions and some of your least experienced marketers answering website inquiries or participating in social media. If these customer interactions aren’t identified as processes first, it is near impossible to ensure customers get the experience you or they desire.
Once the need for a process is identified and the process is defined, then appropriate resources can be assigned to accomplish the task. Process thinking can then be applied to ensure the tasks are not only adequately accomplished but processes can be continuously improved using traditional quality tools.

The only way to really breakdown business function silos is to want to. If politics get in the way or there is a lack of leadership it will never happen. If the desire is in place however, steps in the right direction are to ensure goals are common between the marketing and sales functions and cascade supporting action plans down through the functional units. Then use process thinking to make sure the correct resources are in place to execute action plans and tasks and to continuously improve them. When the marketing and sales functions are integrated in their efforts big challenges can be overcome and great things can happen.

Contact me to discuss your specific marketing and sales challenges, how the Baldrige Criteria can help your organization, or look me up at the ISA Marketing and Sales Summit in St. Louis.

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Increase Your Odds for Brilliant Insights

Where do your best ideas come from? Do they normally occur when you are slaving away at your desk or during your normal work functions? Or do they come in unexpected places? Do you have places where you can go, where you can plan to go, where you know you will get brilliant insights?
good idea
I watched a Chipotle customer throw away a metal tray last night despite the laminated sign above the trash bin that said “Please don’t throw trays in garbage”. I knew I’d read posts related to Poke Yoke (error proofing) at fast food chains before. I rediscovered this post explaining how In-N-Out Burger uses simple error proofing to prevent customers from accidentally chunking plastic trays into the garbage. While searching for that specific blog post I found another good example of error proofing in the restaurant industry.

Both examples are brilliant insights. Related to error proofing – but brilliant insights. The authors of those posts stumbled upon those brilliant ideas. There was no plan to discover the insights. The authors were especially observant but the insights were pure accidents. Do you also have these moments of clarity, great ideas when you are eating out or in other unexpected places? Wouldn’t you love to be able to schedule these insights?

I have a way to ensure at least once a year I have out of the box, super-smart, brilliant insights. I participate with my state-level Baldrige program every year. In Tennessee, the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence is the resource for Baldrige expertise. It’s also the place where I have my smartest, most diverse, interesting conversations all year.

If you would love a way to schedule insights-a way you can make sure you discover new ways of tackling your biggest issues on a schedule. Find your state’s Baldrige program. If you are located in Tennessee (especially the Chattanooga region) contact me. I’d love to tell you about Baldrige and TNCPE.

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Nail the Elevator Speech with “Small Message, Big Impact”

Small Message Big Impact by Terri Sjodin

Small Message Big Impact provides valuable lessons on the What, When, Where, Why, and How of the Elevator Speech. In her newest book, Terri Sjodin builds instant credibility by describing her experience in crafting speeches and mastering the use of elevator speeches then teaching you how step-by-step to do the same. Terri’s background beginning with the high school debate team and leading to her career as a professional speaker and founder of Sjodin Communications leaves no doubt as to her level of expertise on the subject of speaking.

I was provided a free copy of the book to review but recevied no other compensation and am offering my honest opinion in this review. Kevin Small of Result Source
was kind enough to forward me an advance copy.

The key take-away from the book is the principle that an Elevator Speech is used to move whatever you are trying to accomplish to the next step. No matter what your ultimate goal (an introduction, a referral, a job, a sale…), Terri emphasizes that the Elevator Speech just “earns you the right to be heard.” Don’t waste your three-minute golden opportunity rambling about product features, mutual acquaintances, the weather, or anything else that doesn’t focus on your desired result. That result is to earn the right to present whatever you’re presenting at some later time.

The book teaches readers to use a logical structure for crafting an elevator speech. An Intro, a Body with three supporting points, a conclusion, and a close. Several examples are provided throughout the book. The examples and explanations provide insight of how creative tactics and carefully crafted elevator speeches are successfully deployed by others. There are also some very helpful worksheets that are available for download after registering on the Small Message, Big Impact download site. In my opinion the worksheets and the Frequently Asked Questions at the end of the book are worth the price of admission.

Terri Sjodin doesn’t just focus on creating the elevator speech and the structure though. She uses her vast speaking experience to carefully describe how to rehearse and review the elevator speech delivery to maximize its effectiveness. Some of her analogies toward the end of the book such as comparing the elevator speech delivery to Dancing With The Stars and another using Bagger Vance were wasted on me since I can neither dance or golf. But the book is well written and full of great advice and instruction.

Don’t just take my word for it though. The Young Upstarts review of Small Message Big Impact suggests it’s a must read for any entrepreneur especially those that are prepping for investor pitches. And Jayne Navarre provides insight to what she finds useful in an especially well-written Virtual Marketing Officer review of Small Message, Big Impact.

I highly recommend the book for anyone that has the need to gain the attention of busy people and set appointments. The book will help you focus on and accomplish the main goal of making an elevator speech in the first place – getting the appointment!

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Chattanooga Regional Performance Excellence Group

The Chattanooga Section 1101 of the American Society for Quality is graciously hosting a meeting and letting me discuss why we need a regional Baldrige group and what we can do to get the movement started.

It is easy for all of us to criticize our local school boards, city and county officials, the companies we all work for, and our policy makers at the national level. But rarely during these gripe sessions are solutions to the problems offered. As a matter of fact, we mostly all agree that the biggest problems and opportunities aren’t even identified let alone being addressed.

The Baldrige criteria and the state and national Baldrige programs are ways for organizations to identify and address big problems and big opportunities. Isn’t excellent performance what we all want out of our employers or companies, our schools, churches, and associations, and our government?

The meeting will be held Tuesday, September 26th, at 6:00 P.M. at the Blood Assurance across from McKenzie arena on E. 4th Street. The cost is $12 per guest or member, $6 each for students. Reservations are required by Friday, April 22nd, 12:00 Noon. Comment below or send me an email and I will get your reservation information to the right person.

This is a great opportunity to show your support for the local Baldrige movement or to learn more about Baldrige and the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence.

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