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Small Business Coaching: Revive Your Profits, Revitalise Your Perspectives, Reinvigorate Your People

The New Era of Socially Conscious Business

Today we have a guest post from the very amazing Annie Infinite - creator of Saucy Social Media and author of 'Go Fractal'

Social and digital media have changed the world and business forever! I can say this with absolute authority as this is where I play. No longer can business leaders and owners hide behind closed doors and have immunity from their decisions. Now through the social and digital media channels everyone has a vote, and they are voting whether you are there or not.

Every business, every corporation, government and person is now under a microscope and held up to the light of integrity, globally conscious decision making, engagement with their market, quality control and more. Once more the world has a voice and it is just getting louder.  I for one welcome it with open arms, because it is through the true voice of each of us that change happens.
We welcome this change, the shift to a more aware and globally conscious world!

Here are some of the shifts in business and marketing consciousness that brand a business as a modern one:

1.    Your Company has a Grand Vision of the Future
Not only for the company itself but for the whole world, it stays on track with this vision through every decision it makes. You understand that for every choice made there are not only business consequences and reasons, but there are global ones. Every decision made reflects this mindset.

2.    Your Business is Done with Integrity Daily & Becomes Known for It
To do this a business needs a set of values it does business by.  Every person working in and on that business needs to know about the core values and also do business with and for you in line with those values. Your core values must be so ingrained in your company that you would hire and fire according to those values. Your first step is to figure out the core values of your company, by asking: what do you believe in and what do you stand for? Figure out what is important and do business accordingly.

3.    Your Company Does Business in the Here and Now

Businesses that incorporate this sign of happiness  are aware of trends and opportunities in the here and now. They do not worry  about what happened in the past other than to learn and move forward with new awareness. They do not repeat mistakes and are constantly evolving. Businesses that do business this way are also very aware of the effect of the day to day toil on their emplyees and make room for enjoyment in each and every day.

4.    Your Company Has an Appreciation Mindset

This is not about a grandstanding gesture for public viewing, it is about your company being grateful for its employees, grateful to the companies you do business with and even grateful for your competition and showing that in private and public ways. Does your business only contact an employee or a customer when something is wrong or only when you want to sell them something?

 Do you compliment your employees regularly for the work they do for you? Do you honor your loyal customers out of the blue with some small benefit or just a thank you card to let them know you are grateful for their return custom? Businesses who do this engender loyalty and word of mouth recommendations that help them to grow. "Everyone has an invisible sign hanging from their neck saying, 'make me feel important.' Never forget this message when working with people." – Mary Kay Ash

5.    You Are in a  Business You Love
Doing what you love and turning that into a business is the most satisfying thing you can do to earn a living. When you do business doing what you love you never have to worry about feeling motivated, or surviving the down times. Your excitement levels never lag because you love doing what you are doing so much, you would do it for free.  I believe that when you are in the right business, you will feel very much like you are in love, you will get that thrill in your veins when you work on your plans, you will get goose bumps of excitement as you see your vision coming to fruition...

“The more meaningfully we’re engaged and the more we believe that what we’re doing is meaningful, the more happy we are,” says David Mensink, a psychologist with the student counseling centre at Dalhousie University

6.    Your Business Embraces Change
Staying up to date is just good business, this means listening to what is happening in the market place and to what your customers and audience is saying about your business and your niche. John F. Kennedy said: “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

7.     Your Business Makes Time to Celebrate
It only needs to be a small occasion, yet celebrating those small successes paves the way for larger ones, it allows everyone to know you are on track and it allows everyone to become involved with the growth of the company. Happiness is contagious and the happier everyone involved is the better. Great campaigns have been built on a celebration for a company's success and this can be a way for a company to give back to its customers too.

One company I know of has a weekly 'Awesomeness Report" that is collated from every employee at the end of each week, they are asked for a summary of their successes from their time in and out of work and this is published via email to every employee celebrating the small and large successes in the lives of everyone. (That has to be one of the best ideas I have ever heard of!) Think of the movie 'Legally Blonde 2' where Elle introduced the idea of the 'Snap Cup'..

8.  Businesses Actively Seek Ways to Add Value
Giving and sharing is great PR for any company, adding value is a requirement of any company that expects to achieve its goals. Remember giving always comes back to the giver ten-fold, whether you are a company known for giving back to the community, to your employees or to your customers or all three – giving and adding value can only increase the happiness of the company and the culture of your brand. Your business actively seeks ways to enrich the lives of others on the planet who are not as well off, through charity, giving and supporting those who do.

9. Business Can Be Fun!
This is where corporations can take a leaf out of some of the most innovative companies in the world. Innovation and inspiration come from making life fun and fun and happiness can help put things in perspective. Make sure your company is filled with laughter daily. Go take a look at Google's offices and you will get the idea that they value creativity and innovation.

Steve Jobs from Apple said, "Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they're not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do."

About Annie:

Annie Infinite helps people find their authentic voice and project it out into the world with integrity, passion and authenticity. Annie Infinite is the owner of Saucy Social Media a social media management, consulting and training company, specialising in the strategic use of social media to get you the results you need: social media auditing, creating social media strategic plans, social media management and education (workshops) and training (in-house) in social media for businesses.

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That YouTube That You Do So Well

Today we're welcoming Guest Blogger Lauren Neilson from ISP Media... enjoy!

YouTube is well known and well used. With something from just about every category you can think of from music, to charity and not-for-profit, through to education - it really does seem to have it all.

Now owned and run by Google, the site has a global reach with the functionality and brand awareness to back it up. But can it help you promote your business, products and services?

YouTube opens up a world of promise for business to promote their products and services, showcase your knowledge and expertise, monitor the success of advertising campaigns, encourage new interest from previously untapped or unreachable markets, enhance your brand awareness and more.

While there is a lot of time and effort involved, the broad ranging benefits of this channel are impressive and extremely cost effective.

It is very easy and free to open a YouTube account; however, you will need a Gmail account to sign up. If you do not have one they will happily walk you through the registration process (also free).

The site is very easy to use and has a familiar social media layout and feel to it. The navigation is clear and easy to follow and you can edit just about everything to suit you, from your colour scheme right through to your home page layout.

How can I use this site to benefit my business?
  • Create your own unique channel URL to direct users to that links back to your site and has your unique profile
  • Embed your web address on all video files that you upload to guide users to your main site
  • Integrate YouTube with your other Social Media tools (Twitter, Facebook)
  • Broadcast free training videos to encourage interest in your business
  • Embed your video files into your web site or blog
  • Showcase your TV advertising in another medium
  • Send a video message to clients to complement or introduce your eNewsletter
  • Visually launch new products simultaneously with your offline launch
  • Promote and showcase your services
  • Promote and showcase your products in action
  • Promote and showcase yourself
  • Broadcast seminar or speaking engagements
  • Tag your video files with keywords to increase your searchability
  • Categorise your video to make it easier for interested parties to find
  • Use the YouTube community as a global focus group
  • Get visual testimonials from your clients and put them on your blog and web site
  • Discover real time trends in your industry by subscribing to related channels
  • Guide clients to your video files anywhere in the world with the click of a mouse
  • Encourage people to subscribe to your channel and gain a new audience for your business
  • Utilise YouTube’s analytics tool, YouTube Insight, to hone your campaigns
  • And if you get really popular, consider selling product placement in your videos
If it is a bit much initially, then simply create your free account, beef up your profile and begin engaging with the YouTube community. You can do this through searching, watching, selecting favourites and adding subscriptions to your account. Then when you are ready to launch into video, you will not be the new kid on the block!

I would like to end with a polite warning - this tool has the ability to bend the time space continuum to suck your valuable time into a vortex! It is extremely easy to get lost in space and time with YouTube. Not only is the content intoxicating, it is just a hop, click and a jump over to the myriad of Google tools (toys) and if you are not careful, you can spend hours in the exhilarating maze that is Google!

My hot tip is to treat YouTube and Google (including its ever expanding applications) like your grocery shopping, i.e. only visit the items on your list, follow this rule and you should be able to avoid spending over your allocated time budget every time!

About Lauren:
Lauren Neilson, co-founder of ISP Media - an internet marketing and web development business launched in 2000, has been has been researching,  socialising, blogging, publishing, surfing, writing, commenting and more recently tweeting about internet marketing strategies for over 9 years. You can find Lauren and ISP Media on LinkedIn, Twitter, the ISP Media Blog and most other places where Australian business meets the web! Please feel welcome to get online and get social with Lauren and ISP Media!
Connect here:  Email    Twitter    Blog    Website     LinkedIn - ISP Media     Lauren Neilson's LinkedIn Profile    

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If content is the vehicle, then the accelerator is your bliss!

Image: FlickrCCYtseJamPhotography

Many businesses build their brand by educating potential customers. Informative, high quality content promotes what they do and demonstrates their expertise.  However, it pays to think of your content as the vehicle – i.e. content is plentiful and everyone has some!

What makes the difference and accelerates your results (besides an effective content marketing strategy!) is how you express your bliss.

Would you prefer to do business with a person who loves what they do and expresses it in all the ways they interact with you, or with someone who has one foot in the grave and simply can’t be bothered in making your experience with their business blissful?

The same applies to anything you write or produce as video or audio – how do you express your bliss?  When you have clarity and enthusiasm in expressing what you know, it’s contagious… and that is the point of content marketing… when you do it well it will accelerate how fast you can share your bliss with the world!!  

Here’s two examples of sharing business bliss through content marketing that really kick butt!!  Is it time to up the ante on how you share content with prospects?

Video: Doing Great Work (rather than bad or good work...)
Slideshare:  140 Twitter Tips from Kyle Lacy.
How do you share your bliss through sharing content?  What strategies have worked best for you?  Share your comments below, or find out more about Content Marketing.

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7 Reasons Why Your Small Business Must Have A Content Management Strategy

Via Flickr: Intersection Consulting

Marketing guru Seth Godin has said ‘Content marketing is the only marketing left.’   New technologies mean traditional mass media is fast being overtaken by brands as publishers of content.  It’s easy to publish content online, but much more challenging to achieve tangible business results (like sales!)  Why?

As a business coach, I see a common marketing mistake that many small businesses make – they mistake participating in social media for actually having a content management strategy.  Here’s seven reasons why small business owners need to start with the strategy rather than the social media networks…
  1. Activity (or busyness) in social media domains does not equate to goal achievement. It’s expensive to create content (time and/or money) – if your content distribution strategy isn’t clear you’re shooting blindly and wasting valuable resources.
  2. Publishing is now marketing and marketing is now publishing. Your influence stems from your value.  Your value stems from your content and your relationships.
  3. Until you answer the why… e.g. What are the informational needs of my customers?  What pain points can my brand address?  What brand story are we telling?... your strategy will be incoherent and won’t deliver results.  Relevance is key.  Listening is core to success.
  4. Google already pushes Twitter updates through their organic search results and in February 2010 it was announced that Facebook Fan Page content is next – what keywords, key messages and topics will you be found for? The rules for being found by organic search are changing quickly!
  5. Without a clear and relevant content marketing strategy, you’ll attract followers who are irrelevant to your business – there’s no point having 50,000 followers if they aren’t in your target audience.  How do you feed your ‘ideal client’ into your traffic generation strategy?  With content your ideal client needs!
  6. Productivity – without a clear strategy, there will be no clarity about how all the pieces of your social media marketing connect together… which means it’s impossible to manage the distribution and flow of content in a meaningful way for your prospects and partners.
  7. The answer to every question you have about online marketing of your business will come back to ‘it depends… on your content marketing strategy.’  Without one, your ship is rudderless.
Want to explore how to develop an effective content management strategy for your business?  Attend the Revive Coaching Playshop in Brisbane on 8 October 2010 - Book today.

What is your best strategy for managing content?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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To Blog or Not to Blog… Blogging Made Easy (Part 2)

Via Flickr: Annie Mole

If you are publishing content on a blog, you need a strategy.  Without one you are shooting at moving targets and missing opportunities to hit the triple jackpot of being visible, valued and visionary! John Batelle, creator of Wired magazine recently stated that for brands to stay relevant and develop a true online experience for their customers, they must master the art of content creation.

Here are a few tips to take the mystery out of blogging... whether you are a technophobe, unable to string a sentance together or just completely confused... ;-)
successful blogging is possible!

  • Blogging technology:  If your website does not have its own inbuilt blogging system (many content management systems do) then it’s better to use with your own domain name rather than other free software.  You can use sites like Facebook or a Ning site as an alternative however you cannot use your own domain name and you lack control over your content – far from ideal!
  • Content marketing strategy:  It’s essential to have a clearly developed content marketing strategy… why, what, how… etc! Without a strategy you’ll waste a lot of time and resources.
  • Valuable content: You should only blog if you have plenty of valuable content that your target audience would be interested in.  Contrary to some of the advice out there, writing inane dribble about nothing won’t do you any favors in the search engines or elsewhere!
  • Writing alternatives:  It doesn’t matter if you can’t write – use audio / video / photos and put just a few words around each idea.  Or, record your ideas and have someone transcribe and edit them.
  • Developing connections: Get over the idea of ‘I don’t know what to write’ by talking to people about their challenges in the area your business serves.  Write about the solutions to those challenges in a way that invites people to respect you and share your ideas with others.
  • Meeting deadlines:  invite other related professionals to ‘guest blog’ on your blog on a monthly basis – gives you more great content and they’ll probably promote your blog to their followers.
  • Promoting your content: ensure you promote your blog posts in other social forums – ‘build it and they will come’ is generally only true in the movies!!!  Your blog offers the core content, social media are the outposts that create visibility.
Want to develop an effective content management strategy for your business?  Attend the Revive Coaching Playshop in Brisbane on 8 October 2010 - Book today!

What is your biggest challenge with blogging?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Social Media: Rules of Engagement

Today we're welcoming Guest Blogger Lauren Neilson from ISP Media... enjoy!

Since social media has exploded onto the scene, a new set of cultural rules have emerged to accommodate each tool and it sometimes it can feel like there is a secret handshake to gain access that no-one told you about!

Firstly, it is important to understand that all social mediums were not created equal! Socialising approaches are different for each channel, for example, I would not post on my blog in the same tone that I tweet, and I would utilise a different approach when updating my Facebook page in comparison to updating my LinkedIn account.

The manner in which you relate to your followers, fans, friends, tweeps, readers, contacts and associates, should mirror the social sophistication of the platform you are communicating through. Now, I can almost feel you breaking out into a cold sweat and asking yourself not only how you are going to figure this out, but when could you possibly find the time?

If you are just beginning, don’t be afraid, embrace social media with open arms, revel in your newbie status and take the time to learn the ropes as you go!

To get you started I am going to share with you some universal rules that span all platforms. Then as you ease into each of your chosen social mediums, your confidence will begin to soar and you will be wondering how you ever lived without them!

Give and Ye Shall Receive
Sharing is all par for the social media course. Sharing your expertise, your ideas, your thoughts, yourself and your business with others, is a great way to get noticed. Answer questions, offer solutions, suggest someone that can help if appropriate - by giving as much (if not) more than you receive – you will be well on your way to social media stardom.

Avoid Becoming Known as a Keyboard Cowboy
While the term is reasonably new, the “type” is as old as the hills. Remember the old adage, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Well this is one saying that for the most part, should be adhered to. Trashing people or companies online is a sure way to get noticed for all the wrong reasons and you are sending it global – so the whole world will know to avoid you!

Cheats Never Prosper
Do not forward Mafia War invites to your professional contacts, do not send them links to test their IQ, and for the love of all things digital, do not offer to reveal the secrets of getting thousands of Twitter followers with one easy click - you will become very unpopular very quickly! Phishing and spamming your followers, friends, fans and tweeps is just not on!

Don’t Throw Stones in Glasshouses
The online community may be separated by distance, dots and digits, but they do tend to look after their own – you never know who knows whom online. Forgive those who may have wronged you in a previous life and move on, build a bridge, seriously - just get over it! Don’t air your dirty laundry out on the world stage for all to see, it is very unbecoming and is generally frowned upon in social circles!

Be Your Own Value Add
Before you hit the send live button, you should consider asking yourself, “Am I adding value in any way by sharing this information?” Try to share more than just a never ending list of your product or service specials, provide hints, tips, and suggestions, and physically interact through meaningful dialogue with the people in your chosen community. Do this and they will return the favour. Social media is about participating not advertising!

Practice Active Listening
Some people will use social media to vent at you, to you, about you, or your business. Before you shoot back a heated or defensive response, take a minute to actually listen to the real motivation behind their barrage. If you take the time to listen, you may actually learn something new about your business, resolve the issue amicably and potentially gain a client for life! 

Show Some Respect
This is the easiest rule to follow and probably the most critical. Be professional and polite, if you would not want it done to or said about you, then don’t do it or say it within your community. Consider this - If you would not direct your comments about people in a face-to- face situation, why would it be appropriate to do so online. Use your offline moral compass online – it’s that easy!

It’s all about the Relationship
The final overarching rule is to use social media the way it was intended. Build quality relationships with the people you interact with through your community, engage your readers and be engaged by others! This medium is a fantastic way to grow your network of quality professional and personal contacts, some you will most likely never meet in person, but that won’t stop them from referring you to a friend, offering quality advice when you ask for it or brainstorming with you to help get you over a hump!

Happy socialising!
About Lauren:
Lauren Neilson, co-founder of ISP Media - an internet marketing and web development business launched in 2000, has been has been researching,  socialising, blogging, publishing, surfing, writing, commenting and more recently tweeting about internet marketing strategies for over 9 years. You can find Lauren and ISP Media on LinkedIn, Twitter, the ISP Media Blog and most other places where Australian business meets the web! Please feel welcome to get online and get social with Lauren and ISP Media!
Connect here:  Email    Twitter    Blog    Website     LinkedIn - ISP Media     Lauren Neilson's LinkedIn Profile    

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Start a creative revolution in your business!

Now, at this point, many hard-nosed business owners will be thinking, "What do you mean creativity? Have you forgotten we're in a recession? Got better things to do with my time and resources!"  So, this is the moment when I’m going to ask you to forget your tunnel vision, and focus with total laser vision instead! I promise you won’t be sorry!

Marketing Guru Seth Godin says that “Ideas That Spread, Win”.  Now I bet you are thinking, yes, but my product isn’t interesting enough, isn’t innovative, isn’t new, isn’t….. whatever!

Just because what you are selling may be “boring”, does not mean you or your company should be! So, if your business was offering something boring, say a blender, what could you do to make people take notice of your offer? Take a look at this...

Is it cheesy?  Sure!   Is it cheap advertising? Well how would you like to spend $50 on props, make 5 ‘homegrown’ videos and get over six million views on YouTube within one week? BlendTec make the world’s best blenders, but until they thought creatively about their marketing, no-one knew! 

Is it worth starting a creative revolution in your business? Well, as business owners and managers, you know that results are where the rubber meets the road.  Since the introduction of the videos:
  • Overall sales increased 43% in the first six months;
  • Blendtec's consumer sales increased 500% in 2007;
  • Website traffic increased 650%;
  • The extended ‘Will It Blend’ campaign has received over 100 million views on YouTube;
  • The campaign provided a breakthrough in market segmentation – previously the company was primarily a commercial blender manufacturer;
  • Marketing department is now a profit centre for BlendTec!
So, what can we learn about combining creativity and marketing?
  1. Be compelling, be quirky, be different.
  2. Be entertaining, be surprising.
  3. Be willing to experiment.
  4. Solve a problem or provide proof your product works.
  5. Create a personality for your business.
  6. Be prepared to leverage your success.
  7. Use social media to your advantage!
Creativity is about culture.  What can you do to encourage creativity in your organization?

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Social Media is Buzzing for Small Business

Everywhere I look at the moment there is buzz around using social media as a marketing tool!  Twitter and Facebook are constantly in the news and the growth of 'how to' information is almost overwhelming.  It was refreshing to come across some great social media statistics today that shed some light on what's really happening out there! Over 800 businesses were surveyed by Michael A Stelzner from the Social Media Marketing Industry Report and the tangible results being achieved were very encouraging, especially as using social media is free (except for your time investment):

  • Generated exposure for my business (81%)
  •  Increased my traffic, subscribers or opt-in list (61%)
  • Resulted in new business partnerships (56%)
  • Helped us rise in the search rankings (52%)
  • Generated qualified leads (48%)
  • Reduced overall marketing expenses (45%)
  • Helped me close business (35%)
So what is your social media strategy?  If you don't have one, now is the time to start!  Email me if you'd like my free 'Get Started on Twitter' guide! Of course, for Revive Coaching clients, there will be a much more comprehensive guide coming your way soon!

Just for the record, after being on Twitter for less than two weeks, I received my first prospective client enquiry!  How does it get any better than that?

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Social Media for Business: Choose your objectives wisely!

Lately I’ve been exploring the many benefits of using social media for business, with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all getting more attention than usual.  Social networking can be a big timewaster, or it can really make a difference to your business – it all depends on your objectives!

Most people jump in without knowing why they are using a specific social networking site, don’t know what they want to get out of it, don’t know how to use it effectively, and then say ‘it didn’t work for my business!’ Here are five uses for social media which will help your business grow…if you effectively strategise your actions and interactions!!

1. Building profile – for many small business owners, you are the brand – represent yourself well!
2. Building relationships – engaging two-way interaction is essential – learn to listen.
3. Educating prospective clients – offering new information, insights and ideas will encourage quality lead generation to occur over time.
4. Market research – be observant, find out what's important to your target audience right now...
5. Creating collaborations, joint ventures and partnerships with complementary businesses.

For another 50 ways to use social media, see this great list from Chris Brogan.

Want to see how my strategy plays out?  You can connect to me here:

What else have you done or seen that can make social networking effective for businesses? Share it in the comments section below. If you'd like some coaching on marketing strategies, call the Revitalization Experts

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