Tag Archives: communication

O Captain, My Captain: What To Look For When You Need A Business Team

When you’re the one heading your own business, that means you’re in charge. But being in charge doesn’t always equate to being in control. There’s a certain threshold of detail and work past which you simply can’t cover everything all by yourself. Beyond that threshold is where a team can come in handy.

A team is simply a group of people committed to working on common goals. The smallest one you could have could be a duo, whether it’s a partnership with two people supporting each other, or an assistant-ship, with one helping the other manage the load.

The bigger the team gets, the more work can be spread out, and the more a definite leader is needed to help make sure everyone’s responsibilities, work project deliverables, and actions are aligned with the overall goals of the team.

Leadership has to come from somewhere, and since it’s your business, you should know what you need to do to get it to where you want to go. It’s your ship, you be the captain.

What’s more, whatever your particular leadership style, whether it’s authoritative,  more like a coach, or leans towards consensus-seeking (or a shifting mix of all three), there are points you need to be firm on when it comes to your style.
Continue reading O Captain, My Captain: What To Look For When You Need A Business Team

Business By The Numbers: Smartphones

When mobile phones made it to mainstream use by the late eighties to early nineties, they helped untether people from landlines. You could be reached anywhere, any time, as long as you had good reception and enough battery-power.  In the late 2000’s, smartphones basically gave people pocket-friendly computers with voice and messaging capabilities.

The shift was sudden and market penetration took some time, but it did happen. And ever since smartphones came to be an EDC (Every Day Carry) component for most people, businesses have been scrambling to keep up with and adjust to the new demands and changing consumer behaviors stemming from evolving mobile technology.

How are you taking advantage of this particular communication platform to help build a better relationship with your market? If you’re having trouble forming a plan, here are some numbers to help you out:
Continue reading Business By The Numbers: Smartphones

Flawed Design and Gracious Recovery: How Colette Patterns Fixed Their Oversight

Everybody makes mistakes. The real lesson reflects in how you deal with yours, and what you do to help yourself and anyone else affected by them. For this article, we’re touching on what happened after one business  realized that one particular product they’d already  shipped out had issues.

Colette Patterns is a popular website among dressmakers and sewists in the DIY crafts and hobbyist market.

The business, established by Sarai Mitnick in 2009, sells dressmaking patterns — and among their many relationship-building activities, hold sew-alongs with their followers,  doing the sorts of active communication you would expect of a company whose market is composed of people who like working with their hands — mainly DIY-enthusiasts, ranging fron beginners to expert sewists.

By giving their customers a chance to show off their work, talk to their peers about their processes, share and commiserate over their sewing flubs, and by providing an open platform for discussion, critique, and exploration, Colette has established a very good customer base.

They also do solid cross-promotion with their various partners, affiliates, and brick-and-mortar crafts stores, as evidenced by the many articles in their blog and in their online magazine, Seamwork.

Like proud parents with their children’s drawings and a big refrigerator door, Colette also has  galleries where subscribers can send pictures of their finished works, and host sewing challenges as well as having “featured seamstressess” pieces showing the many varied people who used Colette patterns.

They let people take an an inside look at their workings and see how things get done in the Colette Studio.

They also keep updating their tips on building a personal wardrobe.

They also solicit input and stories from their readers, conducting “Sew-alongs” whenever new patterns go out so people can follow step-by-step and see how it’s supposed to be done.

All these areas of sharing and interaction with their market has resulted in a vibrant community for Colette. They have 15,000 followers on Twitter,  16,000 on Pinterest, over 40,000 on  Facebook, and 55,500 on Instagram. Colette Patterns built a solid  support system in their niche with their  fans, followers, and customers  from all their consistent hard work.

A while back they posted an announcement to their website regarding a mistake in a new pattern that had already been selling for a few weeks, in response to feedback about the results of the patters from sewists who used it. Continue reading Flawed Design and Gracious Recovery: How Colette Patterns Fixed Their Oversight

Pay Attention: Using The Power Of Feedback In Business

If you’re not paying attention to where you’re going, you can get seriously hurt. News programs and entertainment programs often showcase the people who make the spotlight by not paying attention to what they’re doing and getting themselves into trouble. Check out the following videos for proof:

If you’re not paying attention, you’re depriving your  feedback system of half of its function. Say you’re busy refining your  marketing  program and you’re getting frustrated with the non-improvement in sales, or sign-ups. What does your data say?

Paying attention is part of the feedback cycle.  Feedback in this sense  is intimately tied to awareness because awareness demands paying attention and interpreting the information that comes in.

Navigation systems  and the code that runs them both undergo rigorous testing protocols to ensure that these machine are pin-point accurate and the codes run flawlessly.  Lives depend on getting the most accurate feedback possible, because the information is used to plot  — and navigate– the real life conditions of transport: airplanes and air traffic, ships and shipping lanes, cars. It works the same for businesses.

It’s remarkably easy to revert to surface-level thinking when you’re doing everyday activities — the demands on us habituate us to be hyper-vigilant about the new things that come in, and so all our attention goes to assessment and handling — not exactly to deep processing. When you’re deluged with incoming emails, phone calls, requests for your help, time, input and presence, sometimes it’s all you can do to just ‘go with the flow.’ Then, in what ever time you have left over, you try to recover. In the long run, this is an unsustainable  practice to keep doing to yourself.

In life, as in business and bingo, you have to actually be present to win. You win by being present and paying attention.
Continue reading Pay Attention: Using The Power Of Feedback In Business

Why You Need to Learn Negotiation Skills

Life is all about negotiation. We do it every day in ways we don’t even recognize as negotiation. For instance, internally, we bargain with ourselves all the time. Five more minutes and then we’ll get up. Finish these last three pages and then we can go get coffee. We weigh our needs against our wants, and try to work things out to get the best possible result that we can out given the requirements of a particular situation.

Externally, we do this all the time. We just don’t think of it like the formal sort of negotiations we see in media. It could be as simple as asking if someone is available to talk to, for example, then suggesting alternative times or ways to communicate, like sending a follow-up email, or leaving a voicemail.  Basically, we ask if something is possible, then we find a way to work with the information and the reactions that we get.

The goal of negotiation is to work things out so that the people involved get what they need amicably, without feeling cheated or taken advantage of. Everyone with a stake in the proceeding gets to have their time, and during it, consensus and concessions are made and given.

At times the word “compromise” can come off in a rather bad way because sometimes we take it to mean “Everyone walks away unhappy, and not with all of what we want.” That comes from seeing all the dramatized negative spin in movies and popular media, and from how we’re socialized to believe winning is the only way to succeed, and for someone to win, someone else has to lose.

We have to understand that that’s not what compromise is about. Compromise is not ‘capitulation’, which is giving in. A compromise is the result of people coming to an agreement on the results they want out of the negotiation, where both parties can move forward.

Negotiation is an incredibly valuable  skill to develop and the more you practice it, the easier it gets .

Self negotiation and self-discipline — psyching yourself into doing something hard or uncomfortable now and rewarding yourself or enjoying the pay-off later, trains you to put the long-term good over the short-term boost, and the more impactful returns over shallower ones. Continue reading Why You Need to Learn Negotiation Skills

Using Video As A Business Tool

With the way mobility technology and media trends are going, we are seeing more and more content being delivered in videos.

Improved transmission speeds and communication infrastructure as well as short-format videos have made this possible, as well the the spread and market penetration of smartphones. Think of how video use has surged in promoting small business enterprises among various social media platforms. Think of the short 6 second format of Vines, or Snapchats, that make it incredibly easy for one to be shared and go viral.

From another aspect, think of the video-on-demand streaming services like Netflix that made it possible for thousands of people to “cut the cord” (referring to cable) and choose their own preferred shows for information and entertainment.  In production, presentation, and consumption, video is a very powerful platform for communication, especially when the power to choose is in the hands of the consumer.

Think of the following:   Education, communication (business, entertainment, and leisure), sciences, and innovation. There’s an incredible amount of overlap in these areas — are you poised to leverage this trend within your own market? Continue reading Using Video As A Business Tool

The 5 Email Bloopers You Wouldn’t Want To Make

Email is the mainstream communication tool for business, and to be professional, you need to be seen as professional. Not just in your personal presentation and the way you conduct yourself in the flesh, but also in the way you communicate electronically. Small things like misspellings or bad formatting can leave a bad impression, whether it’s an inter-office memo or a mass  mailing.

In the sales game, the power now is in the hands of the market. Consumers vote with their money, and they votes decides how business will thrive. Businesses need to make sure that their strategy and tactics to engage their market are relevant, engaging, and personal. While various  social media and mobile platforms are popular ways to connect with target markets, email slips directly into people’s in-boxes, as easy as a newspaper delivered to their front door.

When you commit to using email as your main method of communication with your customers, clientele, and mailing lists, you have to make sure that you come across as someone who is a professional, and a professional is someone who doesn’t cut corners, and does good work. Making mistakes using your email channels can cost your business sales and tarnish your reputation.

 

What are the top email marketing mistakes? Continue reading The 5 Email Bloopers You Wouldn’t Want To Make

How to Communicate Value To Your Customers

Customers are the bread and butter of any business. They make up your market.

Whether you’re involved in business-to business or business-to-consumer (B2B or B2C) sales,  you have  products or provide a service tailored for a specific market.  Without a market, there won’t–can’t–be a business. You use marketing and advertising to inform your customers that you have  products that can provide them with what they want, and help them with what they need.

Customers buy things to fulfill a need. Customers buy thing they believe will give them what they need, or help them get what they want. Customers want value. If they believe your product doesn’t have that, they won’t give it another thought, and move on. How do you tell them that your product has that value?

You communicate it to them.

Marketing and advertising influences the perceived value of things. Think about the all-important Unique Selling Proposition (USP), which uses, well, a unique selling point to hook people’s attention in and get them to buy into the product with that USP.   You can check out well-known examples in the articles below.

As an example, think of the booming  exercise and diet  industry.  Remember the many promises, guarantees and statements you’ve ever witnessed in commercials, whether in print or video. Think of home TV shopping and all their infomercials,  and the many sales spiels you’ve heard.  That should drive the point home.

Marketing is reaching out to your customers and informing your market of the value of what your business provides. That’s it. That’s the goal.

Whether it’s services or products, regardless of the platform you use to connect to them, that’s the goal.

To get back to our example, home TV shopping segments may come across as hard-selling to you, but they certainly know how to put the product benefits forward for the viewers, right?

And get this: QVC and HSN, the two biggest home shopping channels, have been running since 1985 and 1986, respectively. Any business that survives and lasted for the past thirty years and successfully adapted  to the massive industry changes brought about by the internet knows how to reach out to its customers.

What about you? How do you communicate with your market? Continue reading How to Communicate Value To Your Customers

A Guide To Making Friendly Documentation

A good friend is supportive. Non-judgmental. Helpful. They’re there when you need them. I don’t know about you but doesn’t this sound like the kind of thing that would very much apply to good documentation?

What does good documentation do anyway?

  • When new users get lost in the details of figuring out how an unfamiliar system works, leaving breadcrumbs can help them find their way back to the basics and walk them through it, slowly this time, and at their own pace.
  • Sharing helpful tips is one way we build a community on-line.
  • Showing lessons step by step helps people learn to trust themselves as their build their skills, and develop a sense of self-reliability and accomplishment.
  • Giving strong sources lets people do additional research on their own and strengthens your position as a generous source of reliable, trustworthy information.
  • Showing people the evolution of your products — in updates and build specs, or versioning data — helps them understand what changes have taken place and can assure them that errors and bugs have been addressed.

In short: good documentation shares helpful information. Continue reading A Guide To Making Friendly Documentation