Specializing in social marketing and business communications training

The Main Reason to Ignore your Target Audience

danny-nov-2015If you’re a PR, marketing or branding professional—or you work in sales—you probably spend an inordinate amount of resources trying to “get a handle on your target audience.” It’s time to dump the demographics and toss the generational preferences pie chart.

You must drill deeper than demographics. These days, you must market—with clarity—to one person. It’s essential to create a buyer persona and profile of your ideal client. Note that “client” is singular, not a community or demographic. One human being.

A profile or avatar will provide you with a deep understanding of your prospect.

Think about it. Consumers are craving—no they are demanding—personized attention and nurturing. They want to know that brands—and the people behind them—have invested the time and energy to get more than just acquainted. For this reason, you mustn’t communicate with a mass group such as millennial women or Baby Boomers.

What can you do without a demographic? Focus on one person. Create an avatar as you have done for your own business or personal social media accounts. For example:

Who is your ideal audience? To reach young men ages 18 to 25, how would you create a social media profile for someone in this group? Take the time and energy to brainstorm and create this one avatar.

You may:

  1. Assign him an age.
  2. Determine his level of education.
  3. Think about the region and country where he resides. Does he live with others or alone? Does he own or rent? Is he a college student?
  4. Identify your person’s likes and dislikes. What does your buyer enjoy on Netflix or iTunes? Which social media channels does he prefer? Does he loathe or love tattoos and piercings? Consider his friendships, online games, favorite sports teams and foods, hobbies, clothing and political affiliations.
  5. Understand how he consumes information and communicates. Does your buyer prefer BuzzFeed, The Wall Street Journal or Inc.com? Does he favor online tutorials, podcasts, YouTube or written blog posts?
  6. Consider how he spends his time. Does your person enjoy the outdoors or a gym membership? Does he stay up late?
  7. Think about those closest to him. Is he family-minded, close with his parents, siblings and extended family? Does he have a significant other or partner? Does he have pets? Does he have a lot of friends?
  8. Get a clear understanding of your person’s aspirations. Does he work (or plan to work) in a corporate setting, remote job or part of the gig economy? Is he a spender or a saver? Is he a risk-taker?
  9. List his social values. Is he an animal lover, an Eagle Scout, a volunteer at the local food pantry, or an annual participant in a 5K race for breast cancer awareness? Does he litter? Does he vote?
  10. Focus on your person’s concerns and challenges. What keeps him up at night? What worries him? What scares him?

The next step is to give your person a first name. It’s probably Hunter, Tanner, Matthew or Quinn. (If you’ve named your avatar George or Robert, you may need to rethink some of this.)

The final step is to find a picture (an avatar!) of your person. He may be a face in the LL Bean catalog or on the Best Buy website. You may find him in your local newspaper circular. Clip the picture to the responses you’ve written above. Meet your buyer. Keep him front and center in every aspect of your marketing, PR and branding brainstorms. Think: What would Tanner do?

The real application

Now, market and communicate with this individual. You have taken the time to get more than just acquainted with your prospect. You’ve gone beyond a crowd of young males ages 18 to 25. You’ve paid attention. How can you show your buyer he’s special?

  • Market to his needs.
  • Communicate in the language, phrases and buzzwords that will resonate with him.
  • Choose images, memes and graphics with care.
  • Customize Snapchat stories and Instagram accounts.
  • Invite user-generated content from events that he can relate to, and share with his friends.
  • Use list-building and auto-responders tactics to share free content in the format HE prefers.
  • Follow him on different social media accounts and share his content when appropriate.

Compare this approach to reading one of your favorite books. If you’re like me, an author who can make the reader feel as though they are speaking directly and only to him is magical. Millions of copies of the book may have been sold but it was written in such a personal style that readers feel an emotional connectedness to the author. It’s memorable.

Is your marketing memorable?

8.5 Creative Ways to Grab People’s Attention

New research finds that we have just under 9 seconds—8.5 to be precise—to get someone’s attention. Our attention spans have decreased from 12 seconds in 2000 to just 8.5 seconds this year. No surprise here, but the culprit is external communication.

Video, of course, is the hot commodity these days. And short videos are ideal. This graph reminds us about the importance of snippets:










Based on our limited ability to focus, here are 8.5 things communicators, PR pros and entrepreneurs can do to grab—and hopefully keep—someone’s attention. Whether you’re trying to reach a reporter, your target audience or a social media connection, short form content reigns supreme.

  1. Record a Twitter video. To truly connect with your followers on Twitter, put in some extra (video) effort and you’ll both be amazed. True to his style of recording quick videos on the fly, entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, aka @GaryVee, takes us along on a cab ride in New York and shows how easy it is to use Twitter video. A 10 second clip can truly differentiate you from others, and if you’re pitching tech reporters, this will be impressive.
  2. Nail your headlines and email subject lines. No one will read your content unless the headline or subject line is so brief yet compelling that they simply can’t resist. Choose each word carefully with a focus on a benefit for the reader. Put yourself on the receiving end and be relevant. BuzzSumo can help.
  3. Use Periscope in the morning. Interact with your morning news anchors with Periscope. The early morning news is a fabulous time to use this technology because most people are half asleep and the news anchors are more apt to interact with the few who are engaging and interested in their programs. You’ll feel like old friends in no time.
  4. Read a journalist’s last five posts. Before you pitch a new contact or reporter, read —don’t skim—their last five posts or articles. When crafting your pitch, mention specifics from their previous work. We all appreciate when our efforts are recognized by others. Let reporters know you’re paying attention.
  5. Keep an eye on trending topics and hashtags. These hints can help dictate your content. Run with it while your competition is distracted with other external noise and nonsense.
  6. Incorporate easy tools that help with micro content. Less is more in our attention-starved world. Use memes, Inline Tweet Sharer, Canva and Facebook videos to keep things brief and interesting.
  7. Consider Snapchat. According to Social Media Examiner, Snapchat is one of the fastest growing social networks, with more than 100 million daily active users. Some 70 percent of Snapchat’s U.S. users are between the ages of 18 and 34. With Snapchat, you can create a video narrative with filters, emojis, music and text that will pique the attention of your audience. You can promote a contest or offer a glimpse behind the scenes of an event or conference.
  8. Look at new ways to encourage engagement with millennials. Are you familiar with Comment Bubble? It’s a free tool that allows people to react to videos. You can specify the type of feedback you would like to receive—text, audio, video, or by clicking instant feedback buttons. Here’s an example from SocialMediaSlant.com:










8.5. Repurpose longer content into micro content on Pinterest. If you have a tip sheet-style press release or valuable piece of advice, create a visually appealing image with one or two quick tips. Post it to Pinterest, with a link to the longer content. Many businesses generate a significant amount of revenue from Pinterest. Don’t miss this easy opportunity.

The bottom line: Be brief.









The guerrilla marketing genius of Jay Conrad Levinson

IMAG0387Many of you recall the old commercials and ads that turned Charlie the Tuna, the Pillsbury Doughboy, and the Marlboro Man into household names and brands. I remember watching the TV commercials, in the pre-remote days when people actually watched commercials.

The common thread behind each of these products was Jay Conrad Levinson, who worked on the creative teams that developed these brands.

In the early 1980s, Levinson coined the term “guerrilla marketing,” which sparked a revolution in business marketing, advertising, and PR. He would go on to author and co-author some 60 books, selling more than 20 million copies worldwide.

The “Father of Guerrilla Marketing” passed away on Thursday at the age of 80.

During the past three decades, Levinson was able to use his talents and genius to morph his guerrilla marketing brilliance to include technology and social media.

What exactly is guerrilla marketing? It started with three points, and over the years, has grown to 15.

This is how Levinson has described his concept. “I’m referring to the soul and essence of guerrilla marketing which remain as always — achieving conventional goals, such as profits and joy, with unconventional methods, such as investing energy instead of money.”

Entrepreneurs, myself included, can relate to the energy over money method, just as Gary Vaynerchuk writes in Crush It: “The best marketing strategy ever is to CARE.”

It is Levinson who encourages small business owners to “get back to basics” in marketing. On his list of 200 guerrilla marketing weapons, he includes:

  • A street banner
  • A landing page
  • A vanity phone number
  • Patience
  • Business  cards
  • A meme


According to Levinson’s official website, guerrilla marketing is needed because it gives small businesses a delightfully unfair advantage: certainty in an uncertain world, economy in a high-priced world, simplicity in a complicated world, marketing awareness in a clueless world.

Thank you, Jay Levinson, for sharing your clues and knowledge with generations of marketers and small business owners around the world.

12 insights from Seth Godin on the emotional marketing revolution

godinWant to learn from one of the best social media marketers and business leaders?

Today, best-selling author Seth Godin shared his thoughts on social media marketing, creativity, and business relationships. Godin was the guest on a webinar organized by Vocus, a provider of cloud marketing software.

Godin says the Energy, Industrial, and Mass Media revolutions have given way to the “revolution of our time, the revolution of connection.”

Here are 12 takeaways on the human connection in digital marketing:

  1. “The only asset you can build on the Internet is the connection to people. Connection, the idea that someone knows you, trusts you, and works with you, is not new. It’s 1,000 years old, but it’s new because the people marketing Burger King and Procter and Gamble in 1980 didn’t have this ability to hear back from customers.”
  2. “Highlight and cater to small groups of people who care desperately.”
  3. “Marketing used to be the same as advertising, but not anymore. Marketing is the act of making a product or service that’s worth talking about.” 
  4. “The essence of marketing today is to tell a story to people who want to hear it, in a way that resonates with them so they are likely to either respond or connect to you, or tell their friends.”
  5. “Don’t yell to the masses; whisper to a few. People will choose to talk about it. Give away your ideas. When your ideas are widespread and you are trusted, you don’t have trouble making a living.”
  6. “If you’re not ranked first, second, or third on search pages, you’re invisible.”
  7. “What products are you going to make that are worth talking about?”
  8. “Permission marketing is real permission—the privilege, not the right but the privilege—of delivering personal, anticipated, and  relevant stories to people who want to get them. Not to everyone, not by spam or exploiting your company’s privacy policies. But instead by earning one person at a time; it’s the privilege of showing up. Here’s the measure: If the recipient thinks it’s spam, then it’s spam…Here’s how you know if you have the privilege: ‘Would we miss you if you were gone?’”
  9. “The Internet takes word-of-mouth and leverages it by a factor of 1,000…every single day.”
  10. “Remarkable means worth making a remark about.  Not you making a remark because you work for the company. It’s about people making a remark because they choose to, they want to, because they can.”
  11. “We can’t sell everything to everyone. The market has fractured. Instead of radically shifting the way the media has, most companies and charities have only shifted a little. The fast-growing public or private companies who have made a huge impact in the last five years (e-Bay, Instagram, Facebook, and Amazon), are built around connecting tribes. Connecting people who share a passion and interest. All human beings want to feel like we are a part of something.”
  12. “If we expect to build connections, we have to expect to be generous. There are no secrets or shortcuts. No one wants to connect to the selfish person.”

Nos. 5 and 8 are among my favorites.

Which points can you relate to? Which ones do you need to improve?


(Image via)


What does social media mean to you?

fence graffitiCommunication, conversation, and connection.

These are just a few of the words used by 10 Twitter stars who I asked to define social media.  Don’t mind the abbreviations; the goal was to offer a definition in 140 characters or less. 

Feel free to comment below and share your own 140 character snippet.

1. SM allows me to participate in discussions about entrepreneurship that I hope will one day change the world. I also get to give back. @BrianMoran

2. Social=meaning friendly gathering. Media=form of communication. Reminding us to gather friendly when we communicate with others. @JessicaNorthey

3. SM has totally shifted the way that small & large businesses connect with audience. It is about the hand shake, conversation, relationship online. @MamaBritt

4. Social Media = Global Diversity – The ability to have a local, national or global & inclusive conversation. Do you have what it takes? @FleeJack

5. Social media is a great way to share insight & connect with people globally. It’s the perfect give & get communications medium. @Rieva

6. Welcome to the ‘Age of Influence,’ where anyone can build an audience, build relationships, effect change… and make a difference. @TedRubin

7. Social media is a great way to connect and inspire your target audience. It is also a great place to build real relationships with those you want. @RayHigdon

8. It’s an opportunity to ‘meet’ people you would have never met otherwise, to share what you know and learn some too! @LeadToday

9. SM is an unprecedented opportunity 2 elevate/expand ur influence. Each tweet/share is a chance 2B more informed, amazed & appreciative. @AngelaMaiers

10. SM gives me the ability to make wonderful connections with people that would be all but impossible in an analog world. @MackCollier

Be sure to follow these folks on Twitter and other social channels. They are smart, savvy, and succinct!

5 secrets to relationship-based selling online

Communicating online isn’t about technology. It’s about tapping into technology to connect with human beings.

With all the typing and tablets — and the absence of seeing a human face — it’s easy to forget that your online credibility is directly linked to relationship-based selling.

Don’t think numbers, think people.

Relationship-based selling is about helping people and organizations solve their business problems without the hard sales push that all of us loathe. It’s about truly putting the needs of others before your own.

This is the secret to building credibility in your social media circles. The digital landscape is vast, yet there is no room for selfish.

Yes, you have a mortgage to pay. Yes, your car needs an unexpected repair. Yes, your kids need new sneakers.

But when you’re able to put these challenges aside and not be driven by your own drama, you will come from a place of service and gratitude.  Conversely, when you chase numbers, you almost always fall short.

Remember that desperation is very unappealing in business.

How do you let followers, friends, and connections know that you care deeply about their success?

Consider these five social media tips to build your credibility and relationships

1. Listen to the conversations. Don’t throw yourself into an online chat or dialogue until you have a sense of the players and personalities. The benefits of this are two-fold. First, you will determine if this particular forum is appropriate and hits your target audience. Second, you will gain insights about the players and their interests, areas of expertise, and work.  When you do your homework, your posts, tweets and content clearly show readers that you “get it.”

2. Stay up-to-date. Pay attention to industry twists, turns and trends. By keeping your finger on the pulse of the HR and recruiting industries, you will quickly discover the hot topics and issues your prospects are paying attention to. To save time, subscribe to e-newsletters, RSS feeds, and Google Alerts that filter important information from the Web.        

3. Focus on solutions. Write for the reader and forget the sales pitch. It’s easy to outline problems, but people are looking for answers. Be willing to offer your knowledge without the expectation of receiving anything back. Your day will come. That’s the way the universe works.

4. Share good information from other people.  Forget ulterior motives. The content you provide can — and should — come from other people and sources. Your generosity will be noticed — and appreciated. This also takes the pressure off of you to be the sole creator of content.  To ensure your credibility is being boosted, check the link and content for accuracy before sharing.   

5. Be a guest. Offer to be a guest blogger on a popular website. Offer to be the guest expert on a Twitter chat or webinar. Put yourself out there with the single goal of openly sharing your expertise and insights.

When you position yourself as a credible expert in your field, people will want to buy from you. You won’t have to sell anything.


14 social media tips for the rest of 2012: Nuggets from the pros

I was thrilled when Liz Wilson at Paper.li asked me (and several others) to offer nuggets of advice for Social Media Day. Below is her original post. It’s filled with terrific insights and advice.     

What’s on your mind about social media as we come up to Social Media Day (@mashSMday and #smday) on June 30?

I wanted to know what people think really matters about social media at the moment. So I asked some of the people I follow on Twitter and some colleagues what was on their minds. What came back varied from engaging employees, to meeting Twitter contacts in real life, to being more visual, sharing less, and treating people like people, not avatars.

My question was:

Can you share one aspect of social media that you think people should pay attention to in the rest of 2012?

A big thank you to everyone who replied.

1. Let’s use social to change the workplace

@richardblackham Richard Blackham, klusterr

Richard BlackhamFocus on being more open, more collaborative and more transparent. This will lead to more accountability and better conditions for the less fortunate of us. Let’s focus on the global workforce by letting them have their say…and be heard. We’ll all be better off if we do. That’s what social is all about.

2. The power is in the virtual/real life connection

@nigelcameron Nigel Cameron, futureofbiz.org

Nigel Cameron Social media is still thoroughly in social beta. It’s still not entirely clear what it is all about and where it is going, which is why smart people are enthusiastic and disparaging and everything in between. But we are beginning to recognize the power of Twitter and other networks for scouting. Here’s how we find and test ideas, seek out people, explore frontiers. The real power lies in the virtual/real life connection; when VR meets IRL, digital meets analog. I love my friend Whitney Johnson’s coinage of Twirl: What happens when you meet a Twitter friend IRL. Some of us do this all the time and it packs a mighty punch!

3. Today’s networks will fragment into specialized functions

@graham_dodge Graham Dodge, Sickweather

Graham Dodge Just like the major television networks that lost market share to the multitude of niche cable networks, today’s major social networks will be fragmented into specialized functions and areas of interest. This will be accelerated in 2012 by brands looking to support platforms that can best target their customers and include them in the social media conversation.

4. Invest less in personal expression and more in what can help you become the ‘person-to-go-to’ for a very specific topic

Robin Good@robingood Robin Good, Masternewmedia.org

Everyone is sharing content and pushing through their social media channels whatever interesting stuff comes their way. So not only we are increasingly bombarded by news and information, but now a growing number of our social contacts are adding more of the same by re-sharing lots of news and stories that we are already getting elsewhere.

If you want to stand out in this ocean of noise, there is one simple recipe that you will see gain adoption, slowly but steadily

  • select a very specific niche
  • identify a “tribe” behind it and its specific needs, and
  • start sharing the “cream” of whatever is relevant to them on that theme.

Become the authority for that specific topic by consistently providing valuable news and resources on that topic only.

If you are looking to leverage the Internet as a means to gain greater trust and authority, invest less in personal expression and sharing whatever can fill your channels, and more in what can help you become the person-to-go-to for a very specific topic.

Robert Scoble explains it clearly in this video: (it’s only 1m44).

5. Understand you’re talking to people, not profiles or avatars

Chris Guillebeau @chrisguillebeau Chris Guillebeau, The $100 Startup

I’d like people to pay more attention to relationships. By that I don’t mean ‘ignore online media and focus on offline things’, because online is real and significant. But I mean that I’d like people to more clearly understand that when they converse online, they’re talking to other people, not just profiles or avatars. I’d like us to focus on how we can serve those people. Can we inspire them? Educate them? Make them laugh? If more of us did that, I think the world would be a better place.

6. Think visual for content marketing and social media

@marketingprofs Ann Handley, MarketingProfs

Ann HandleyConsider what role visual content will play in your content marketing and social media. The rise of Pinterest and Instagram and infographics and other visual platforms and tools means that organizations and individuals need to broaden their view of what kind of content they share, and how they share it. Why? Because generating and using interesting visual images is another way to tell your story. In this age of social sharing, an image is worth a thousand slogans. (Ann is co-author of Content Rules, newly released in paperback.)

7. Employee engagement

@kdhungerford Kelly Hungerford, Paper.li

Kelly Hungerford Social media can bring a company not only closer to its customers and end-users, but also its employees.  I foresee more companies leveraging this and adopting practices that will enable better listening and engagement with employees as well as customers. The advantage would be greater transparency and trust between the company, the employee and the community. The result could be not only heightened customer and employee experience but also the delivery of more stellar services and products.

8. Vet the information you see on social media before you share

@mjenkins Mandy Jenkins, Zombie Journalism

Mandy Jenkins People should work to get a little bit more savvy about vetting information they get via social media. Working in news, I’m obviously very sensitive to the spreading of misinformation online. While journalists are and should be verifying news online, we could use help from the non-journalists out there. I think everyday users of social media are more sophisticated about spreading rumors than they get credit for – they want more and better ways to know that what they’re spreading is real. Some of that can be done with clear, widely shared resources on trying to find original sources or spot rumors. It just comes down to people asking themselves, “Who is behind this account? How do they know what they claim to know?” And thinking for a moment before hitting retweet or share.

9. Feel and be felt, without worrying about personal brands or social media strategy

@evrenk Evren Kiefer, Evrenkiefer.com

Evren KieferGenuine connections never go out of style. Social media extends our reach. We exchange links, relevant pieces of information, we click ‘like’ buttons and heart-shaped icons. Great! We also worry about tools and buzzwords way too much. On #smday, do we want to celebrate the machines that connect us or the connections themselves? The ultimate purpose of the network is “to feel and be felt” as Ze Frank puts it in his jaw dropping Web Playroom TED talk. Great bloggers and videocasters like Ze Frank, Heather Armstrong or The Bloggess don’t sit around worrying about their personal brands or social media strategy. They demonstrate a form of honesty and boldness I envy. It isn’t easy, there’s always room for improvement but isn’t it worth trying?

10. Focus on how social media can actually help you

@mathieu_mateo, Mathieu Mermoud, Paper.li

Mathieu Mermoud When using social media, we sometimes get the feeling that a) they are evolving so fast we lose track, b) there are too many of them, so we can’t choose, and c) they are, ultimately, just a popular and trendy way to waste one’s time. So consider how social media can help you in your life. Then find the one that fits you best and learn how to take advantage of it, personally and/or professionally.

11. The rise of the users’ power

@raymondmorinv2 Raymond Morin, Virage 2.0 

Raymond Morin The fast growth of Generation C has created a new social power that is changing the way we act and interact as a modern society. Enterprises and organizations can’t control their brand and their image as before. Now, with the convergence of mobile technologies and social media, users have learned how to benefit from their new power. The influencees are becoming the real influencers, forcing professionals and businesses to adopt new attitudes.

Mobile technologies combined with cloud computing can foster better online collaboration between professionals, organizations and users. But before that can happen, professionals, governments and enterprises will have to re-establish a strong bond of trust with their audiences. They will have to learn to be more generous by sharing knowledge, and get close to their users through engagement. They will have to think beyond the social score and ROI performances, revealing more authenticity and transparency. They will have to learn to become more ‘social’, and to give before receiving.

12. Quality, not quantity

@beaseitz, Birgit Seitz, Paper.li

Social media is a success story because it allows everyone to take part in public media. It is pure democracy, with all the opportunities and risks that entails. Among the risks are the widespread belief that “the more followers I have, the more ‘likes’, ‘shares’ etc, the more ‘successful’ in social media I am. But at least a lot of people believe it.

This is going to change, since the gap between what is posted and how people perceive it is continually widening. And the sheer amount of content that is posted and published every day needs to be managed somehow. The only ones who can bring order from chaos are the curators.

The new direction: quality, not quantity. Reliability. Added Value. Even tighter integration between offline and online. To provide not just content that is ‘good enough’ but is better.

13. Use social media as a way to reach people you could never have reached before

@sueyoungmedia Susan Young, Get in Front Communications

Sue YoungUnderstanding the ‘accessibility factor’ that social media provides to each of us is something I believe is sorely overlooked. Social channels have given us access to business leaders, decision-makers, thought leaders, and prospects that we have never experienced before. For example, on #Follow Friday (Twitter), it’s fine to mention the people in your circles, but be sure to include people whose attention you are trying to get. Retweet one of their tweets. On LinkedIn, join groups where your ideal clients hang around. The days of trying to score an appointment with a decision maker, only to be turned away by the snarky “rejectionist” aka receptionist, are waning. Our point of entry now is social media. Are you using it effectively?

14. Educate the people who aren’t kind or generous

@lizwilson2, Liz Wilson, who curated this post

Liz WilsonFor me social media has been a friendly, welcoming place so far. People have helped me get set up, said thank you for very small things and generally been nice all round. It’s not always like that, and I’d like the good guys to find ways to stop the bad ones ruining it for others. I never want to read about another young person who is distraught because they were bullied on a social network. I don’t know how it can be done, but I hope we can all try.

10 everyday decisions for social media success

Verrazano Bridge, Brooklyn, NY

Every day, we make hundreds of decisions. Most are so mundane that we don’t even think about them. Things like hitting the snooze button, what shoes to wear, which bathroom stall to enter. I would hope that our business decisions take a bit more consideration.

What decisions and choices can you make daily that will impact your social media relationships, activities, and business results?

 Here are 10 ideas:

  1. Decide to stretch yourself. Mentally and emotionally. The results will appear in every area of your life, including online.
  2. Decide to join a new chat or online group that can help you learn more about your industry.
  3. Decide to share useful information from someone else, because it’s that good.
  4. Decide to explore (and even try) new technology that’s relevant to your work. 
  5. Decide to listen and observe more than you type. It’s OK to be a fly on the social media wall.
  6. Decide to work your lists, categorizing people with mutual interests and industries, and getting rid of those who you never interact with. You know, the retired lady in Montana who quilts and posts pictures of her grandbabies. She may not be the best fit for your business.
  7. Decide to respond to every comment or post on your blog or profile pages, and write meaningful and relevant comments on other posts and walls. This does not mean, “Great post, I really liked it.”  Decide that mediocrity is for someone else.
  8. Decide to think and add value to every interaction.  Hint: This also works IRL.
  9. Decide to find your voice.  If you want to be a mime, go to the French Quarter in New Orleans.
  10. Decide to be the most enthusiastic, sincere, and helpful person in the world.

Bonus: Decide to use this checklist as a map for the new year.

10 Ways to Transform Your Communication in 2011

I blinked and the decade was gone.

Here we are in a new year and a new decade. Consider the enormous changes we’ve experienced in the past 10 years. VCRs, fax machines, turntables, hard-wired phones, Sony walkmen, and clunky pagers are some of the communication vehicles and toys that have morphed into something else, or simply become obsolete. 

How has your communication changed these past 10 years? What will the next 10 years look like?

Let’s start slowly, with 10 ways to transform your communication right now: 

1. Simplify. Texting or 140 characters are great reminders that we need simplicity in communication is beneficial to all. It helps the speaker/writer distill key information for the recipient.   

2. Think headlines. Without being a total dork, communicate in eight words that are relevant, punchy, and captivating.

3. Write for the reader. Have you noticed we exist in a turbulent world?  Deliver your message with care and a willingness to help others. Your words can have a powerful impact on others. How cool is that?

4. Consider the platforms. Writing blog posts may be passé in a few years. There are new vehicles and mediums for the everyday Joe to reach millions of people. Discover what is available to you and what best fits your business, skills, and needs.

5. Remove the earbuds. If you truly want to alter your communication, get out of your own head. Listen to the sounds of the world around you, as annoying as they may be at times. Even if you don’t open your mouth, your nonverbal communication will be shouting.  

6. Get in front of the camera. Video is hot this year, and isn’t going away anytime soon. Forget camera-shy or a bad hair day. Learn how to be comfortable in front of a basic flip-cam. It’s a huge opportunity for engagement.  It’s no longer a medium that’s exclusive to Katie Couric or Anderson Cooper. We all have access to the same tools. These tools have power.

7. Tell the story. Develop your critical thinking skills by refining your written and verbal communication. Understand the importance of connecting to other human beings through the fine art of storytelling.       

8. Use metaphors. Metaphors are extremely influential in business, sales, and leadership. They offer a simple analogy and image to others that they can immediately relate to. They evoke emotion. When used correctly, metaphors build consensus and bridge communication gaps.  

9. List things. When writing, use bullet points; when speaking, go for numbers. This separates ideas and helps people to quickly “get it.” When talking to someone, try phrases such as, “There are three reasons we should amend the budget…” This mentally prepares listeners for what’s to come. It will also help you relate only concise and key information. “First, we need another public hearing on the budget. Second, the current proposal will force us to break a promise and raise taxes. Finally, we should rethink our emergency spending allocation.” Bang, bang, bang.   

10. Consume carefully. Be selective with how you consume news and information. How do you share and communicate with people, both online and IRL?  Mix it up a bit. Ipads, Kindles, Facebook, text messages, YouTube, and tweets shouldn’t be your only forms of communication and learning. The human factor can not be ignored. Oh, Skype doesn’t really count. 

What would you add to this list?

P.S. I’m getting rave reviews from people who have signed up for my free, 21-day video series, “Speaking of Communication.” I invite you to access the series here.  Become an ace communicator!

2 Reasons Your Company Needs Brand Ambassadors in Social Media

Who is the president of your fan club? You know, your biggest cheerleader. Who is the person with fierce loyalty who absolutely believes in what you represent? (Let’s exclude relatives from this.)

In our world, these fan club presidents and cheerleaders are also known as your brand ambassadors. Regardless of their title, social media channels will help them cheer you on and tout your business far and wide. They market for you when you are asleep, in meetings, driving your  car, or coaching soccer with the kids.

I recently interviewed Shel Holtz, an online communication authority with more than 30 years of experience consulting with companies including PepsiCo and National Geographic. He told me that its essential employees in small and large companies have access to the Internet and social media channels while at work.  Shel maintains if they don’t, you’re missing huge opportunities. 

1. “Superficially, organizations might think they’re protecting themselves, but in keeping employees from networking in ways that they’re comfortable doing it, it prevents employees from engaging on behalf of the organization. I don’t mean as official spokespeople, but to talk enthusiastically about where they work.”

2. “There is no better way to get someone to believe in a company’s product than employees being enthused when talking to their social networks about the quality of the products and services that they work on.  There are countless ways that employees can improve a company’s bottom line by engaging with their own networks.  So this really means that there has to be a shift away from preventing contact with employees to educating employees how to behave in those kinds of contacts.  There is no better recruiting tool.”

Consider these brand ambassadors the new way of gathering testimonials or business references. The greatest difference is that brand ambassadors do what they do without being asked. Talk about authenticity and credibility.

Unsolicited testimonials from people who think you’re the best thing since sliced bread are priceless.