Ledonne Brands https://ledonnebrands.com Start Small. Brand Big. Mon, 12 Nov 2018 08:11:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.1 https://ledonnebrands.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cropped-Favicon-1-32x32.png Ledonne Brands https://ledonnebrands.com 32 32 How to maximize views and engagement on your LinkedIn Article https://ledonnebrands.com/2017/05/03/how-to-maximize-views-and-engagement-on-your-linkedin-article/ https://ledonnebrands.com/2017/05/03/how-to-maximize-views-and-engagement-on-your-linkedin-article/#comments Wed, 03 May 2017 14:53:34 +0000 http://www.ledonnebm.com/?p=736 Last week, my good friend Tim Foley published his first article on LinkedIn. (Woo Hoo! Go, Tim!)

Prior to publishing his article, he reached out to ask me for some advice on posting.

In rapid-fire succession, I quickly texted him the top 6 tips that have helped me use the LinkedIn publishing platform to grow my business from about 500 to 3,113 connections, land me press mentions, and acquire customers internationally.

Tim utilized the tips and his powerful network to receive 171 article views, 22 likes, 4 shares, and 6 comments. The coordinating caption for the article netted him 1,360 views in the feed, 26 likes, and 3 comments. Not too shabby at all!

I was so impressed with his piece, that I want to share the tips with a broader community. So, without further ado, here are…

The top 6 things you can do to maximize your article’s exposure on LinkedIn:

  1. Use photos from real life or visually appealing photos, NOT corporate stock photos.

Whether viewers are consciously aware of it or not, bland corporate stock photos SCREAM solicitation and have no emotional impact on the reader. You want your photo to disrupt the reader’s action of aimlessly scrolling through the LinkedIn feed.

Most sponsored updates and photos from publications like Forbes or Entrepreneur articles (content that is highly visible in the LinkedIn feed) features stock photos. So, if you have a more interesting, emotionally compelling photo, you can capture their attention using differentiation.

When I was writing my article, “Stop Swimming in Shark-Infested Social Media Waters,” I almost grabbed a cliché image of a younger woman or man on social media. As I scrolled through the 100+ images that were clones of each other, I realized I was NOT excited by anything I was seeing in the photo.

I instead opted for the image below, figuring it would make people look twice when perusing through their newsfeed.

The tactic worked. The article had over 200 views, the majority of which came from my SECOND network, not my first. While the photo isn’t the only reason for the article’s success, the piece did receive more exposure than comparable thematic articles I’ve written in the past that featured typical stock images.

     2. Publish the piece on multiple platforms.

I’m a huge advocate of small business owners not spreading themselves too thin on social media. As such, I only actively market/engage on two platforms– Facebook for my weekly show and LinkedIn for my articles. Since my LinkedIn articles stem from my Facebook shows, and since my Facebook network is larger than my LinkedIn network, I sometimes publish the links to my LinkedIn articles to Facebook. When I do this, the article sees a spike in views, which in turn boosts the article’s popularity on LinkedIn, ultimately gaining it more views on LinkedIn. See what I mean here:

Key takeaway: If you have a large following on another platform, use it to increase views on LinkedIn, which will effectively boost its popularity on LinkedIn, and gain you more readers.

     3. Shout it out to the LinkedIn editors.

Few people realize that you can tweet at the LinkedIn editors. It’s just about the only thing I use Twitter for anymore. If they see an article they think is newsworthy, you increase your chances of it taking off in Pulse.

     4. Write long form caption copy that prefaces the article. Also, tag people in the caption when you can.

Think of the caption for your article as you would a trailer for a movie—it provides context and excitement for the main attraction.

So, instead of just publishing the article, or having a short intro like “Here are 3 things you can do to increase your social media following” write longer form copy like:

“Four years ago, I had 50 followers on Twitter. It was so discouraging that I almost decided to abandon the platform altogether. Before leaving, I decided to give it one last push. I studied up and learned from experts like @Gary Vaynerchuk and @Amy Porterfield and kept my head down for three months to build my network. I couldn’t believe the results. I was able to set meetings with the CEOs of three Fortune 500 companies, and I gained a guest blogging spot in Forbes. Here’s how I did it.”

As you can see in the example above, you give the reader a compelling reason to read the article. They understand how reading it could benefit them as it did you.

     5. Know when to post.

Hubspot says that the LinkedIn community is most active from 7:30am-8:30am, 12pm, 5-6pm Tuesday-Thursday. We can safely assume this is because most business professionals are using the platform during working hours, and Monday and Friday’s are spent either diving back in from the weekend or checked out thinking about the weekend. Personally, I always find the strongest time to publish is early morning. You let momentum build for the rest of the day.

     6. Use narratives when you can.

Of all the advice Tim used in his article, this was the one he REALLY took on, and he did it wonderfully and in a way that I haven’t seen many do it. Tim shared how volunteering helped to greatly expand his network by using a story with a clear beginning, middle, and end. He supported this story with coordinating photographs. It was real, it was relatable, and it was endearing.

Remember, facts tell and stories sell. People connect to examples. Create an emotional response in your reader by weaving in a narrative that shows your key points in action.

There’s no doubt that publishing on LinkedIn can have a HUGE impact on your business and your influence. In addition to taking these 6 tips on, I highly encourage you to post consistently (at least once or twice a month if possible). Consistent publishing and LinkedIn activity mean increased brand awareness that will build your reputation as a thought leader. While Tim did a solid job at incorporating these tips into his article, it’s important to know he is a VERY active LinkedIn user with a strong, highly-engaged network. This enforces a point that I share with a lot of my clients– personal branding is not a short-term play, it’s a longer-term strategy that takes serious commitment. However, if you dedicate yourself to it, you’ll see phenomenal results like he did, even with your first article!

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Marketing and the Need to Belong https://ledonnebrands.com/2017/04/27/marketing-and-the-need-to-belong/ https://ledonnebrands.com/2017/04/27/marketing-and-the-need-to-belong/#comments Thu, 27 Apr 2017 11:43:15 +0000 http://www.ledonnebm.com/?p=732 I started last Saturday morning like I do most—I drifted in and out of sleep until finally, half-awake, I grabbed my phone and logged into Facebook. (Don’t judge me.) As I opened the app, I was immediately bombarded by a video of a pregnant giraffe walking in circles with two hooves hanging out of her. “Oh,” I thought, “I guess April is finally having that baby.”

Many of my friends were sharing the video, so I decided I would follow along.

I called out to my boyfriend, “Chris, come here, that giraffe is finally having her baby!”

He came over, glanced at my screen, then looked at me with an almost audible eye-roll and said, “What’s the big deal? Couldn’t we just YouTube a video of a giraffe birth? They must happen all the time.”

“No, we have to watch it!” I answered.

Why though?

He was right. There really isn’t anything all that spectacular about a giraffe having a baby. Sure, they are lankier than your average babies but other than that, it’s a very natural phenomenon. People and animals have babies every day.

But there was a reason I had no desire to YouTube a giraffe birth and every desire to watch THIS giraffe birth; and that’s because our good friends at Animal Adventures Park, the animal park in Harpursville, NY where April lives, tapped into one of our most primitive needs—the need to belong.

The Need to Belong

The need to belong is a fundamental part of the human experience.

According to psychologists Roy Baumeister and Mark Leary who studied belongingness, our desire for acceptance is so strong that when we lack belongingness it can cause effects like decreased levels of health and happiness.

They also stated that people who lack belongingness suffer higher levels of mental and physical illness and are more prone to a broad range of behavioral issues, ranging from traffic accidents to criminality to suicide. (Source: Aaron Ben-Zeév Ph.D., Psychology Today)

Why is this need so strong?

As many of us are aware, Abraham Maslow pointed out that “love/belonging” ranks third after physiological needs (like water, food, shelter) and the need for safety are met. But our need to belong may actually stem from those bottom two categories.

Psychologists C. Nathan DeWall, Timothy Deckman, Richard S. Pond, Jr., and Ian Bonser explain, “Humans evolved in small groups which depended on having close connections in order to fulfill survival and reproductive needs.” Tyler F. Stillman and Roy F. Baumeister add to this saying, “Unlike other species, humans receive most of what they need from their social group rather than directly from his or her natural environment, suggesting that the human strategy for survival depends on belonging.”

In fact, belonging is so critical to the survival of humans, that Darwin mentioned “love” a whopping 95 times in The Descent of Man and only mentioned “survival of the fittest” twice.

How to tap into this need when marketing

There is a tremendous opportunity for marketers and business owners to tap into this fundamental need to belong when communicating with customers.

I don’t mean this in a manipulative way, either. I mean creating a genuine connection with your customers like they have with other social groups, that fosters a long-term relationship that fulfills their desire to belong.

But how do you do this? How do you create that initial connection that then grows into a large following that propels other people to join?

It doesn’t take a psychological study to realize that a human will naturally gravitate to social groups whose members share the same characteristics, values, goals, and traits as they do. Given that this is the basis of strong relationships, it is imperative that your brand clearly articulates it’s driving purpose and values. This creates a point of relatedness and connectedness for your customers.

Let’s take Animal Adventure Park who has this clearly articulated vision:

“Our goal is to communicate an appreciation for living things through the use of the human senses; allowing our guests to get up close and hands-on with our animal ambassadors.”

How fitting, then, that they invited an audience of people to witness and take part in April the Giraffe’s pregnancy over the course of months.

We became a part of April’s journey. We had a vested interest in her pregnancy (Animal Park is even allowing viewers to name the new calf), and as many of our other friends and family started watching, April became a subject that satiated our need to belong.

Your company’s purpose becomes the cause of connection for your community. Your customers will engage with you not because they want to purchase something, but because they see it as an opportunity to belong.

Sports franchises are some of the most profitable and sustainable organizations in the world. They are masterful at making people belong. So much so, that although many of us drop serious money supporting our teams, you’ll never hear us refer to ourselves as “clients” or “customers” of the organization. We are fans. We don’t do business with the team, we belong to that team.

When you shift your mindset from that of a company to that of creating community, your marketing efforts will explode, your customer loyalty will increase, and the level of engagement you currently have with stakeholders will transform in monumental ways.

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5 Signs That It’s Time To Rebrand https://ledonnebrands.com/2017/04/11/5-signs-that-its-time-to-rebrand/ https://ledonnebrands.com/2017/04/11/5-signs-that-its-time-to-rebrand/#respond Tue, 11 Apr 2017 14:43:27 +0000 http://www.ledonnebm.com/?p=719 Last week, I wrote an article about how to communicate effectively with graphic designers to ensure you are happy with the quality of the work.

After publishing the piece, I had a reader reach out and ask a great question:

“How do you know when it is time to rebrand?”

I thought it was a great question for two reasons:

1.    Rebranding is an investment.

Often, the design work isn’t the most expensive part of the rebrand. Updating all of your company’s collateral, apparel, and other brand assets add up…quickly.

2.    Rebranding challenges your clients’ current perspective of you.

Even if you are updating your company’s look for the better, it will come as a shock to your customer base. Just as Instagram recently rebranded for a much cleaner, more modern look, it was met with pushback as users struggled to absorb the new look after clicking the same icon for years. Same thing with Uber.

So, how do you know it’s time to rebrand?

Here are 5 compelling reasons that can justify the time and the expense involved:

1.    You’ve outgrown your current brand.

Many companies start out and play to their location. For example, do you recognize the name Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo?

Probably not. The small radio repair shop founded in Tokyo in 1946, who gave Japan its first transistor radio and the world its first transistor television, rebranded as “Sony Corporation” in 1958.

2.  Your brand is vague.

If you tell people the name of your company and they have no idea what it means or what industry you are in, that’s a problem. Sure, calling yourself “Success Solutions” gives you the bandwidth to work on a myriad of different projects, but it does nothing to inform your prospects about how you specifically help them.

3.  A merger or an acquisition.

This is rather obvious. If you acquired a company or merged with a company, inevitably, someone is getting a rebrand. Perhaps one company has a brand that speaks better to the company’s vision, or perhaps one has a better reputation. This happened when ValuJet merged with AirTran in 1997. ValuJet’s name was tarnished due to poor safety ratings and the crash of Flight 592 in 1996, which resulted in the death of all 110 passengers aboard. The company obviously opted to use AirTran’s more favorable brand.

4. Are you expanding your offerings? 

If your brand’s name is prohibitive in adequately describing the products or services your company offers, it’s time to rebrand. This was the compelling reason Steve Jobs rebranded Apple Computers to Apple, Inc. in 2007.

5. Do you have a reputation you’re trying to escape or replace?

My favorite example of this is the “Tiny Home Movement.” The millennial desire to live the life of a minimalist, travel around and leave a low carbon footprint has served as the perfect trifecta for the tiny house craze. After watching a commercial for HGTV’s “Tiny House, Big Living,” my mom half-jokingly remarked, “I’d love to know who rebranded mobile and prefab homes into ‘Tiny Houses.’”

While this was more of an organic, societal movement, I think it’s the perfect example of how a new name can reposition a company in the customer’s mind.

If you are considering rebranding your company, think beyond your logo, and ensure you take the necessary steps to come up with a cohesive brand image. If you need help identifying what these are before you invest money, here’s something to help.

 

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Preventing Frustrations with Graphic Designers https://ledonnebrands.com/2017/04/03/preventing-frustrations-with-graphic-designers/ https://ledonnebrands.com/2017/04/03/preventing-frustrations-with-graphic-designers/#respond Mon, 03 Apr 2017 18:00:32 +0000 http://www.ledonnebm.com/?p=714 Recently, I needed some design work done for my brand. Under a tight timeline and with many of my go-to designers busy, I headed to 99designs.

I scoured the site, found a portfolio I absolutely loved, then contacted the designer and sent over some quick examples of work I liked and my requirements for project deliverables.

We agreed on a price and she got to work, however, when I received the designs back, I wanted to cry. They completely missed the mark for me.

We went back and forth a number of times, but I felt each edit just moved further and further away from what I was looking for. I decided to close out the engagement and send it to someone else.

Now, as tempting as it was for me to blame the project’s shortcomings on the designer, ultimately, I blame myself. I was so rushed to receive a design, I didn’t take my customary approach of sending over a creative brief to kick the project off.

Whether you own a one-person business, a neighborhood restaurant, or a Fortune 500 company, it is inevitable that you will work with a graphic designer to create collateral and marketing material for your brand.

Like my experience with 99designs, I see many business owners become frustrated with the design process. They spend money to receive designs that are completely off base from what they were picturing, or they go through an endless cycle of edits only to receive work they are resigned to, or worse yet, never use. Wasted money and wasted time.

To prevent this from happening, it is critical that you take accountability for your role in the design process. As a client, you need to clearly articulate your expectations for a project.

Here are some helpful tips for making the design process go as smoothly as possible:

1.    Send over examples of work that you like and don’t like and explain why.

Always send designers examples of similar designs you like and descriptions explaining what you like about them. Conversely, send the designer examples of work you dislike and what you dislike about them.

2.    Make sure your feedback is specific.

Instead of saying, “I don’t like it,” comment on specific aspects of the design you’d like to see edited. Examples include font, layout, use of pictures/illustrative elements, colors. When commenting on these aspects of design, be as descriptive as possible. Saying it needs to “pop more” is vague and subjective. Instead, give descriptive feedback like, “The colors are too muted, I think we should use brighter ones.”

3.    Ask questions.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions before you dismiss designs. Understanding why a specific design was proposed and what the thought process was behind it can help you narrow down a design direction that will lead to more effective edits without having to start from scratch.

4.    If you’re going to invite others to provide feedback, be very intentional about who they are.

Treat this part of your business as seriously as you treat the rest of it. Sending out a proposed design to your mom, neighbor’s sister, employee’s cousin and other random constituents so you can get “objective feedback” is a dangerous game to play. Without being involved in the entire design process and understanding the context or goal of the design, their well-intentioned remarks can adversely impact the design process. If there is a group of people that will oversee approving designs, communicate that early on to your designer and get very intentional about who those people are. (I.E.: Our VP of Sales will sit in because she has frequent contact with our clients and understands how they perceive things.)

 

Engaging in the design process and hiring a graphic designer should be done with as much care and attention as you pay to the other areas of your business. It is important to map out your specific goals, intentions, timelines, and expectations for your project before you engage a graphic designer.

If you’re looking for a framework that will set you up for success, go ahead and snag the one I didn’t use in my anecdote above.

It covers the 11 key areas you will want to outline to your designer, along with examples of each so you are clear on what you’re looking for and the design process can go more smoothly.

 

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Stop “Strategizing” https://ledonnebrands.com/2017/03/28/stop-strategizing/ https://ledonnebrands.com/2017/03/28/stop-strategizing/#comments Tue, 28 Mar 2017 14:43:14 +0000 http://www.ledonnebm.com/?p=710

As a professional marketer, I’m often hired to develop strategies for my clients. Given my profession, what I’m about to say may sound a bit jarring.

Strategizing may actually be stopping you.

I know, it sounds intense, but I’m going to share a story from my own business to illustrate what I mean when I say that strategizing may be doing more harm than good.

The course that never was…

About a year ago, I decided to develop a LinkedIn course to teach consultants, coaches, and individuals in the professional services space how to successfully use the platform to become industry experts and thought leaders.

I sat down and started typing out the course.

I outlined my modules and lessons, then started writing in painstaking detail every moment of every video. No kidding, not only did I type out my talking points, I detailed which words would flash on the screen and when, and marked cues for when the camera would switch from me to the computer. I would then ponder if that was really the best sequence.

I would pause and start researching camera crews, strategies for production, and how to create the most engaging backgrounds.

I would step away from that and sit on a webinar about successfully launching an online course. I would freak out because I wasn’t doing some of the stuff that they said I should be doing, so then I went back and changed things around.

Every change caused a domino effect that required changes to the next portion of the course.

On and on I went, in this cycle of trying to figure out the best “strategy” for launching my online course; and while I was doing a lot, guess what I wasn’t doing?

Launching an online course!!!

This went on for a year, and here we are in March of 2017 and LinkedIn has now changed its UI, is owned by Microsoft, and a good portion of my 20+ pages of meticulous notes have been rendered useless. I spent so much time strategizing that the content became obsolete.

I soon realized the best strategy for launching an online course is to just launch an online course.

So, I signed up for an online course platform and started loading content into the program, figuring I’d adjust it as I went along on the live version. In under a week, my actions yielded way more than my strategizing ever did.

Why so many people get “strategy” wrong

Now, I realize you’re probably reading and thinking, “But wait, there has to be some preparation before I jump right in, right?” I wholeheartedly agree. There is no way I can launch my course without all the necessary prep work.

However, I do want to take a step back and address a fundamental misconception regarding what strategy is and what strategy is not.

I find many people have the following belief about strategy:

“There is one best way to do something and it’s very complex and you must have a ton of expertise to implement it. I don’t have that expertise so I will spend a ton of time researching and learning, then I’ll create the strategy and when I’ve become an expert, then and only then will I execute.”

Sometimes, whether we realize it or not, we have this assumption:

That there is one right strategy, that it is currently eluding us, and that if we could ONLY gain access and understanding around that strategy, THEN we’d produce results.

This is where we race right through the space of proper preparation and into the land of paralysis by analysis.

In reality, a strategy is just a course of action to reach a goal.

Take the example of going to San Diego, California from Washington, D.C.

There are many different courses you can take to get to San Diego. Some are longer than others, and some are shorter. You could take a train, you could take a plane, you could take a car, or you could do some combination of all three.

You could map out infinite options and then you could spend infinite time debating exactly which one will get you to San Diego the fastest, and the whole time what you are not doing is actually getting to San Diego.

At the end of the day, it’s more important to just choose a plan and know that inevitably, you’ll probably have to do some course correcting along the way. Either way, you’re not stressing about whether you’ll actually make it to San Diego, you’re just taking action go get there and using checkpoints, i.e. measurable results, to assess whether or not you are on course.

Assessing the best strategy

Now, there are undoubtedly circumstances where one strategy will be far superior to others. Oftentimes, we engage experts to help us determine this.

Keep in mind, though, experts become experts by way of experience. They didn’t enter a field inherently knowing all the right answers.

They tried, they failed, and they tried again. Through this process of trial and error, they came to know which strategies are better than others.

If you are in a position to engage an expert to help guide your actions, by all means, do so. But if you aren’t, don’t get stopped because you are not an expert. Remember expertise is gained through experience, and experience is the result of taking intentional actions towards a defined goal.

Sometimes you’ll get lucky and other times you’ll learn, but every time you’ll gain experience inform your next move.

This is how the blend of strategy and action produces results.

Don’t be stopped by strategizing

Where are you getting stopped in your business? Really take a look and see…

Are you really strategizing, or are you subconsciously stopping yourself from performing because you are afraid to fail?

Sooner or later, you’ll have to take action. You may not have all the answers up front, but action provides access to answers, so get out of your head and get on the court.

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What many consultants forget about (but many clients are looking for) https://ledonnebrands.com/2017/03/21/what-many-consultants-forget-about-but-many-clients-are-looking-for/ https://ledonnebrands.com/2017/03/21/what-many-consultants-forget-about-but-many-clients-are-looking-for/#respond Tue, 21 Mar 2017 15:32:27 +0000 http://www.ledonnebm.com/?p=706

Last week, a reader reached out to me with an idea for a blog post. He’s a marketing consultant, and he frequently requests a portfolio of work from other consultants that he wants to partner with. Even though he sees their portfolio as a non-negotiable in assessing their quality of work, admittedly he doesn’t have a portfolio of his own work.

He was incredibly self-aware when he said:

“I’m honestly shocked by how many people don’t have a working portfolio or easily-available set of samples. (Myself included, which is why I know it’s such a rarity.)”

He has a point.

While marketing agencies and huge firms typically feature case studies and digital portfolios of their work, surprisingly many consultants do not (myself included).

As I pondered why this may be the case, three ideas came to mind:

1.    We focus on testimonials and forget about portfolios.

When I was putting my website together, I was so focused on collecting client testimonials to feature compelling stories and statistics about how my work positively impacted their business. After all, “Facts tell. Stories sell.”

However, what this quote omits is a key concept: approximately 65{b70789d127c08e430ee622ef228f970cb02a448e08788bca70e3c33c285e2b6e} of the population are visual learners.

What’s more? In a study called “Not Quite the Average: An Empirical Study of Web Use,” researchers discovered that on the average web page, users have time to read at most 28{b70789d127c08e430ee622ef228f970cb02a448e08788bca70e3c33c285e2b6e} of the words during an average visit; and 20{b70789d127c08e430ee622ef228f970cb02a448e08788bca70e3c33c285e2b6e} is more likely.

This is problematic when it comes to written testimonials. Readers are not going to take the necessary time to read through an entire diatribe about how wonderful your services are.

2.    When you shift to an entrepreneur mindset, sometimes you forget about your portfolio.

When you’re interviewing for a job with a hiring manager, it’s customary to bring a portfolio of work to prove to the organization that you know what you’re doing. When we open our own business, we sometimes skate on referrals and testimonials and forget that they are not always enough to land an engagement. Clients, like employers, want to see a collection of work.

3.    Falsely thinking that portfolios are for creatives only.

While this conversation was in reference to the marketing industry, having a portfolio isn’t exclusive to designers, developers, and marketers. If you’re an accountant, a real estate agent, a lawyer, or some other type of professional service provider, having a portfolio is a great practice. Not only will it help build credibility quickly, chances are many of your peers don’t have one so you can have a leg up in your industry.

This leads me to my next question…

If you’re not in a creative field, how do you develop a visual portfolio?

It’s hard for an accountant or a lawyer to have a visual representation of the work that they produce.

This is where video comes in. Video is the perfect hybrid of taking written client testimonials and displaying them in a visual format.

There are a few key things you’ll want to keep in mind when producing these videos:

1.    Get a good amount of b-roll.

Straight-to-camera interviews don’t give enough visual context about how much you helped your client. You need to interlace b-roll into your testimonial videos. B-roll are the type of shots where someone is on screen taking an action and there is a voice over from an interview playing over top of it.

So, if your accounting client is talking about how much time they were spending on invoicing and how confused they were using QuickBooks, you want to have a shot of them looking stressed out and perplexed while on a laptop.

Then, when they discuss how much time you saved them and how much business they were able to take on as a result, you can cut to a clip of them smiling while consulting their new clients.

This gives visual evidence to how their life was before you helped them and after you helped them.

2.    Formulate great questions.

When left to their own devices, clients’ default reaction on film will be “It was so great working with Kait. She really knows what she is doing.”

This is a problem. While it is very kind of your clients to talk about how wonderful you are, they are not describing the pain points they had before working with you and the benefits they experienced after they worked with you.

It is your responsibility to ask great questions that elicit these kinds of responses.

A testimonial should have a storyline:

  1. Beginning—Client was struggling with x and felt a certain negative emotion because of it
  2. Middle—You worked with client
  3. End—Client experience positive benefit 1, 2, and 3, as a result and now feels this way.

If you’re stuck on formulating these types of questions, download my testimonial guide here. I include questions that are designed to illustrate pain points and benefits when working with your clients.

3.    Make it a part of your systems.

With all things in business, if collecting a visual testimonial is not part of your defined business systems, you will forget to do it or you’ll put it off thinking you’ll get around to it “When you have time” or “When you create your new site.” This is a missed opportunity. Client excitement and satisfaction are at an all-time high while working with you and right after working with you when they are freshly experiencing the benefits of your services. THAT is when you want to capture their story.

I am so grateful that this gentleman was humble enough to bring this up as a topic for me to write about, and it’s definitely something I’m going to employ this year.

If you have any questions about marketing that you want me to dissect in a weekly blog post or my live marketing show, email me atkait@ledonnebm.com.

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How to truly become a person of value https://ledonnebrands.com/2017/03/14/how-to-truly-become-a-person-of-value/ https://ledonnebrands.com/2017/03/14/how-to-truly-become-a-person-of-value/#respond Tue, 14 Mar 2017 15:36:02 +0000 http://www.ledonnebm.com/?p=700 As I sit down to write this article, I find myself a bit hesitant. Of all the consultations, workshops, and group coaching I lead, a good 95{b70789d127c08e430ee622ef228f970cb02a448e08788bca70e3c33c285e2b6e} of them can easily boil down to this one fundamental concept.

So, why am I putting it out there? Admittedly, the whole “giving the milk away for free” thing came up, but I’m choosing to set that to the side, because I know what I’m about to say can make a difference for you and anyone else who may read. And that’s what matters to me.

The fundamental concept

When people reach out to me to audit their social media, they are usually frustrated because they feel they are putting out a ton of content while seeing very little return.

I get it. Social media can feel incredibly overwhelming. It can seem like an energy-sucking endeavor, and for what? A few likes and comments?

If you find yourself feeling this way about your social strategy, all the content in the world isn’t going to help you.

No, content is not the answer, context is the answer.

Why does context matter?

The default way of being for most humans is to be self-centered. It’s important to distinguish that I didn’t say, “The default way of being for most humans is to be selfish.” That is not what I’m asserting here. But, if we are being really honest, we can take a close look and admit that we live in the world from the lens of what is going on with us.

Even if we are helping others—our friends, our family members, our clients—we are doing so because they matter to us.

Once we can get straight with ourselves and acknowledge that we are designed to process the world from the context of “Why does this matter to me?” we can step outside ourselves and choose a different approach—“Why does this matter to you? What matters to them?”

When we listen, hear, and speak from that angle–that rare perspective of really getting another human’s motivations, story, and desires– we are free to bring real value and solutions to people.

Why this matters for social media

If you dedicate your social media as a way to educate and inspire your audience with content that will make a real difference in your readers’ lives, you’ll begin to realize the true power of the platform.

It is an impactful tool to drive business to you.

I love this quote, and I think it does a brilliant job at illustrating this very point:

“The goal is not to be successful. The goal is to be valuable. Once you’re valuable, instead of chasing success, it will attract itself to you.” –Source Unknown

Comments and likes will begin to shift into offline conversations where the value you offer makes an impact.

How to incorporate this into your social strategy

When posting to social media, whether it is for personal reasons or for business reasons, keep in mind that no one reading lives your life, is in your profession, or has quite the experience you’ve had.

Duh.

But I think we often forget this. We post from the perspective of everyone has traveled down our path, and will understand what we are about to say. Because of that, we assume people will know why we are sharing certain things.

Our job is not to share or to produce content; our job is use our unique experience and skill-sets to translate a message that will educate, motivate, or inspire the reader.

The question shifts from, “What can I share?” to “Why will the reader care about what I’m about to post?”

Really. What matters to them? What lights them up? Does the article, picture, or sentiment you’re about to share speak to that?

If it doesn’t, go back, and get really intentional with your messaging.

Set the stage for why you are sharing this and why you think they should care about it. As evident as it may seem, readers won’t “get” what you’re putting out there unless you preface it.

Notice the difference between these two posts:

 

Which one would you read?

Become a person of true value

I challenge you to consider context when posting to social media. I challenge you to extend this into your personal social media posts as well.

Too often, social media is scorned as a place for mindless chatter and pontification. What if, instead, social media was the way that we could really contribute to people in our lives? What if it was an extension of us showing up as a better friend, a better spouse, a better daughter or mother?

Extreme of a perspective as it may be, there is an opportunity to shift that perception of social media; and along with that, it is our privilege that we have tools that allow us to have such an impact on the lives of others.

How are you using your impact?

 

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Stop swimming in shark-infested social media waters https://ledonnebrands.com/2017/03/07/stop-swimming-in-shark-infested-social-media-waters/ https://ledonnebrands.com/2017/03/07/stop-swimming-in-shark-infested-social-media-waters/#respond Tue, 07 Mar 2017 14:35:01 +0000 http://www.ledonnebm.com/?p=697 Last week, I presented at the Baltimore Business Journal’s first social media marketing series. I was tasked with reviewing the various social media channels, and which audiences aligned best with them.

After edits and cutting 4 slides, the presentation landed at 20 slides. (Seriously, do you know exactly how many social media channels are out there?)

I first discussed the old “tried and trues” of social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter), followed by the highly visual newish-comers (Snapchat, Instagram, and Pinterest), and then I moved into my favorite category…the below-the-radar-high-value platforms. (I really need to work on a shorter term for those.)

The Social Media Channels You’re Not Thinking Of

Now, I probably spent the most time on this last category because I find them to be the most lucrative if you practice intentional actions and consistency.

Some of these channels don’t immediately come to mind because you’re not categorizing them as “traditional” social media. However, when you examine them, they fit all the qualifications of a social media platform, and often times have a HIGHLY engaged, untapped user base.

Let’s review 3 channels that you can start to see serious returns from. The best part? I guarantee you that your competitors aren’t using them.

1.    Quora

Quora defines itself as “a platform to ask questions and connect with people who contribute unique insights and quality answers.”

Essentially, it is a Q&A-based social media platform. I love it because a lot of professionals don’t spend time using it as a lead-source but a lot of lost and confused consumers and business owners are on there actively looking for YOUR expertise. Set up a profile, type in the keywords that relate to your industry, and start using it to build credibility and rapport with potential clients.

While I was giving the speech, an audience member wisely asked, “Hey, I can’t spend a ton of time wading through questions that may not even be in my geographic area. How can I make it work?”

Great Q, and here is my A. Use Google Alerts. Set up a Google Alert using the format “Quora+ (relevant keyword to your industry + geographic area). So, for example I may set up a google alert for “Quora and branding and Baltimore.”

2.    Podcasts

I LOVE podcasts. Here’s why—you get uninterrupted attention spans. Think about it. In other social media feeds, you are fighting for your prospects’ attention. You have to battle your competitors, algorithms designed to keep business posts down, and the noise of your prospects’ network (their friends and family). With podcasts, you don’t have to worry about that.

Most people listen to them while in transit so they are spending one-on-one uninterrupted driving or transit time with Y-O-U.

Now, do you don’t have to create your own podcast. In fact, it’s better if you are a guest on one that already has momentum. That way you are edified, it takes little of your time, and you get to benefit from an established audience.

The secret? Don’t wait for podcast owners to reach out to you. Email them—they’re far more receptive than you think.

3.    Medium

I actually cut Medium from my presentation last week, so here’s a little bonus for those of you who attended, and a new platform for those of you who did not.

Medium is a blogging platform. The best part? It does all the work for you. It will link you up to your connections on the platform AND it lets you import previous blog posts.

You do not need original content. So if you’re already blogging, go ahead and move them all over to your Medium profile, kick back, and enjoy the benefit of extended reach. Double bonus: publishers are on this platform looking for new, fresh talent.

When it comes to social media, your options are endless, and new ones are released every day. To prevent overwhelm, find a channel where your ideal customer base engages, and become an expert at it.

Surpass your competition by examining the platforms they aren’t paying attention to and your customers are (like the ones mentioned above) and watch your business explode.

Want to watch my weekly marketing show where this conversation first took place? Tune in here:

Questions about alternative platforms? Are you using them? How have the worked for your business? Comment below.

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Invite people to be a part of your journey instead of pushing your services https://ledonnebrands.com/2017/02/28/invite-people-to-be-a-part-of-your-journey-instead-of-pushing-your-services/ https://ledonnebrands.com/2017/02/28/invite-people-to-be-a-part-of-your-journey-instead-of-pushing-your-services/#respond Tue, 28 Feb 2017 15:09:34 +0000 http://www.ledonnebm.com/?p=687 Lately, I’ve been noticing some compelling Facebook ads as I scroll through my feed.

I was so impressed with some of them that I took screen shots:

 

You see, as a marketer, I make it a point to observe ALL advertising—the good, the bad, AND the ugly. I love seeing what works and what doesn’t work.

It’s a fun practice to take on, and in being so analytical, I’ve become severely desensitized to the intended effect of the ads (i.e. I am much less easy to influence). That’s why the sure sign that an ad is done well is when my first instinct is to purchase the product instead of strategically dissecting the ad that it was featured in.

Both of the above ads had this effect on me.

Now, there are a number of reasons why these ads worked so well one me:

1.    I am absolutely their target demographic.

I am a millennial female, I take pride in my appearance, and with the layers of data that Facebook can provide marketers, I’m sure they know that I have an account open at Sephora and frequently buy beauty products.

2.    They placed it on a channel that I’m frequently on.

I’m sure they have ads on Instagram and Pinterest, but it was because they appeared in the medium that I most utilize (Facebook), I saw the ad.

3.    They use inclusive language instead of promotional language.

These advertisers know that I trust the opinion’s of others more than I do the messaging of company’s and their ad plays to this. From the SaveHoney ad that adopts the “we” standpoint, to the teeth whitening ad that actually features beauty bloggers trying the product (not promoting it), they are inviting me into the journey and making me feel included.

All of the above reasons are advertising best practices, but there is one that I haven’t listed above that I want to explore. Neither of the above ads used highly-produced professional photography or videography. They used images and videos that you would see on an Instagram or Facebook feed, subtly noting that these could be consumer-generated vs. company generated. Subconsciously, this has a positive effect on their viewers. When scrolling through the feed, people aren’t blowing by it because it looks like an advertisement, they are pausing and looking at it because if even for a moment, it looks like something a friend or acquaintance (NOT company) produced.

What does this mean for professional services?

Now, many of you are probably thinking the same thing, “That’s all well and good for companies who sell consumer products to a highly social generation like millennials. But I’m an accountant or author, I can’t do the same thing.”

Sure you can, and you can probably do it better!

How to make this work for you

You are a person. As I said before, the reason that these ads work so well is because we think an individual, not a company produced them. From that line of thinking, you have a leg up on companies because you’re a human, not a corporate entity.

Here are a few tactics to try on:

1.    Next time you give a presentation, instead of promoting the points of the presentation, share in your excitement and/or nerves.

We all get nervous. That’s a function of being a human. Do you have a big talk or presentation coming up? Stream a live video and ask for suggestions of what to talk about. In the video share how excited and flattered you are by the opportunity to talk. It’s endearing to watch people’s careers take off. Include people in your journey and allow them to be excited for you. It’s better than just throwing boring points from the presentation out there.

2.    Show product creation or utilization in live time.

If you have a new product or widget you’re using to serve your customers, share learning lessons from using it and document your biggest findings from it. Let’s take the case of an accountant. Sure, you can talk about why you’re accounting firm is the best, but doing a demo on QuickBooks and writing an article talking about the most underutilized featured of the program is much more intriguing. It will entice people to connect with you.

3.    Share pictures and victories of your team.

Win an award? Great, share pictures LIVE from the event. Have a team bonding day? Great, share pictures from that. People will buy into your culture, so invite them to be a part of it by giving a behind the scenes view of your company.

There are many ways that service providers can build genuine rapport with their audience online, and often times they can achieve it with significantly less effort than a large company who has to humanize their product.

Let the organic nature of social work for you. It’s cheaper AND more effective.

Curious to hear from service providers how you infuse this type of advertising into your marketing plan. What have you learned? Comment below.

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Is technology killing professionalism? https://ledonnebrands.com/2017/02/21/is-technology-killing-professionalism/ https://ledonnebrands.com/2017/02/21/is-technology-killing-professionalism/#respond Tue, 21 Feb 2017 14:09:41 +0000 http://www.ledonnebm.com/?p=681 It’s an intense question, but one I hadn’t even considered until a couple weeks ago.

Let me start by giving some context here.

I was in the middle of booking a branding and social media engagement with a high-end real estate firm. My assistant was tasked with scheduling the appointment, and during the communication it came to my attention there was a bit of confusion.

To ensure everything was clear, I called my clients a few moments before heading into a 7pm seminar. He didn’t answer, but texted me to acknowledge the call while I was in the three-hour seminar. I arrived home at 11pm that evening and was in the midst of responding to his text when my boyfriend stopped me dead in my tracks.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“Answering my client. It’s important I get this resolved!”

“Kait, it’s after 11pm and you’re about to text a client you haven’t even met in person. What kind of precedent are you setting for the engagement?”

“Oh, yeah, good point,” I thought to myself as a put the phone down, “Probably not a good one.”

You see, as well-intentioned as my action was, and even though my client texted me, my boyfriend had a point. I was blurring boundaries by texting a client that late. Not to mention that stress it puts me under as a business owner to be “open” nearly 24 hours a day.

In a conventional business, you have set hours. When you’re a business owner, you are ALWAYS working. But this hyper-connectedness doesn’t always lend itself to professional boundaries.

Answering emails and texts at all hours of the day may occur as responsive and caring to you, but could read as a bit unprofessional to others.

A client of mine had an encounter with this. She was in the search of a vendor to help her with marketing and was looking to interview a freelancer. He missed the first call and proceeded to text her late at night to talk about scheduling and her product. She was completely turned off.

In addition to the unconventional hours that channels like texting may promote, it is important to also look at the level of communication sent on these platforms.

Texting is a medium that breeds familiarity and shorthandedness whether you’re aware of it or not. Abbreviations and informal responses are not a tone you want to set with clients. I would advise texting be a tool that you can use to quickly get ahold of someone if need be, but otherwise you want to use it to guide them toward an email exchange or phone call. This helps put professional boundaries in place for how and when you communicate with clients.

I would argue the same for any social media messenger service. I receive a ton of inquiries on Facebook messenger about my services, and I always advise them to email me to continue the conversation or book an appointment. While Facebook is a place that is 90{b70789d127c08e430ee622ef228f970cb02a448e08788bca70e3c33c285e2b6e} dedicated to my brand, it is also a place where I share my personal life, and while I have no problem connecting with clients on the platform, I’m not going to use it to have full-blown business conversations. The same thing applies for LinkedIn. Even though it is a professional platform, all prospect inquiries are directed to an email exchange. It helps me keep my head clear. My inbox and phone line are the places my business occurs. My social media channels are a place that feeds the inquiries to those appropriate places.

I’m curious to hear what you all think about this, and what channels of communication you use when connecting with clients and prospects. Comment below. 

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