Two Reasons Why Your Blog Might Not Be Helping Your Business

Two Reasons Why Your Blog Might Not Be Helping Your Business
Marketing consultant Lynn Serafinn explains how successful blogging requires knowing what readers want when they arrive on our site AND when they finish reading.

I work with dozens of independent business owners to help them develop their online platforms. One of the cornerstones of their platforms is blogging. I believe blogging is a wonderful vehicle for new-paradigm marketing, as it enables us to provide rich content for the public while establishing our brand and expertise at the same time. It really is one of the best forms of ‘selling without selling’ I know.

Used correctly, your blog can be a tremendously powerful asset for your business. However, few people actually know how to use blogging correctly or understand where and how it fits within their business. Today, I’m going to touch upon both of these factors by exploring two critical points in your blog article that render it effective or ineffective:

  1. The beginning
  2. The ending

The subject of beginnings and endings is something I continually find myself working on with my clients. Mastering good beginnings and endings in your articles is contingent upon two things:

  1. Knowing what people want when they ‘knock at your door’
  2. Knowing what people want when they ‘leave your house’

So let’s look at each of these two vital elements of blogging in turn.

Beginning Your Article: Meeting Your Readers at the Door

When you sit down to write your article, it’s essential to take a moment to ask yourself, ‘What would someone type into Google if they were looking for this information?’ Being able to anticipate this question is what I call ‘Meeting Your Readers at the Door’.

Here’s an example of what I mean. Many of our clients have been in various areas of the holistic wellness world, such as naturopathy, fitness, etc. These clients are highly trained in their fields, and have very advanced understanding of their subjects. However, what I notice is that they will often launch into a subject with an assumption that their audience knows why it is important, or how different ideas may be linked.

For example, a naturopath may know that frequent colds and respiratory infections might be due to adrenal imbalances that have compromised the immune system. Because they already know this information, they may begin their article by immediately telling the reader how to restore adrenal balance. While ultimately this might be the information the reader needs to know, it’s not where most of them will be coming through the door. While some informed readers may be Googling the question, ‘How do I balance my adrenals?’ it is likely that the majority will be Googling a much more fundamental and immediately relevant question like, ‘Why do I keep getting sick?’

In this case, a good way to begin your article could be to talk about how, while many people get colds and flu in the winter, some people get long-lasting colds, coughs and respiratory infection many times a year, making them feel like they are always sick.

AFTER you have established that you understand their fundamental question, you can then move on to making the connection between that question and what you are going to talk about in the article. For example, your next few sentences would talk about how chronic health issues are often due to imbalances in the adrenal glands, and give a bit of scientific information on that.

Once you have done that, you will have successfully ‘met your readers at the door’ and told them they’re in the right place. Only then can you guide them ‘into your house’, i.e. begin talking about how to restore balance to their adrenals.

Closing Your Article: Knowing What Your Readers Want When They Leave

Assuming that you are actually an expert in your field and you know what you’re talking about, the middle part of your article will probably be the easiest for you to write. Of course, many will find it a challenge to write in a structured fashion or to explain things in language that is appropriate to their audience’s understanding, but let’s jump over those hurdles right now and talk about the end of your article.

I’ve spoken many times on this blog about being sure to include a ‘Call to Action’ (CTA) at the end of your blog articles. The challenge for many is they don’t often know what that means. Most old-school marketing and sales gurus will tell you that a CTA is where you tell people to ‘act fast’ and ‘buy now’. But new-paradigm marketing – especially in blogging – is different from the old-school approach. The primary difference is that old-school methods view all ‘leads’ as being equal, whereas the new-paradigm approach takes into account the different types of relationship we have with our audience at different points in our history with them.

While this is something we go into in depth in our 7 Graces ethical marketing courses, let me try to give you a brief understanding of it here. People have come to your blog via various channels. Some have found you via a Google search, while others may be connected with you on social media. Others (hopefully) have become your regular readers and loyal followers. All of these people have a different relationship with you.

Those who found you via a search don’t know you at all, while those who know you via social media may be only slightly acquainted with you. Those who are regular readers will know you, your brand and your message much better than the others. Statistically, far more of your blog visitors will be people who know you not at all or very little than people who are your ‘fans’ and loyal readers. It’s just the way marketing works.

Thus, a good CTA at the end of a blog post needs to take into account the journey your reader has just been on. Going back to our naturopath as an example, she met her readers at the door aware of and ready to answer their fundamental question, ‘Why do I keep getting sick?’ Hopefully, her readers got some great answers to this question within the main body of the article. So they’ve already been on a journey from not knowing anything to knowing something. They are in a different place from when they knocked on your door and entered your house. Now, when writing the ending of her article, the question she should be asking herself is…

‘What do my readers want NOW?’

One of my naturopath clients used to end her articles with ‘to learn more about…’ or ‘to understand more about…’ and then sent them either to another article, another website or (sometimes) a place where they could buy her book. But the problem with saying ‘to learn more’ is that it does NOT adequately address what her readers wanted right then and there. They’ve already found out what they wanted to know. What they want right NOW is advice on how to fix their original problem:

  • They asked: ‘Why do I get sick all the time?’
  • They learned: ‘My adrenals are out of balance.’
  • They WANT: ‘Please help me balance my adrenals so I don’t get sick all the time!’

Once they’ve found out the answer to their question, most of her readers will not care about ‘learning more’. They are probably not all that interested in the nitty-gritty technical, scientific knowledge the naturopath has. Yes, they want to feel confident that the NATUROPATH is knowledgeable, but they do not need OR want to know everything she knows. If the information in the article was clear and relevant, what they want now is to DO something. They want to change their situation. They want help. They want solutions. They want to feel healthy again.

Of course, you want to give some of those solutions within the body of your article, or the article will be of little use to your readers. But at the end, your CTA must give options to those who want to go beyond what they’ve learned in the article. For example, rather than saying ‘to learn more…’ my naturopath client could say something like,

‘The tips I’ve shared in this article can help you get started on your wellness journey. But if you’re ready to take serious action to overcome your adrenal issues once and for all, and stop getting sick all the time, my book XYZ provides a detailed but easy to follow life plan. You can check out the book at ABC. And if you feel you need a more personal approach, feel free to book a complimentary consultation with me at XXX so we can discuss what might be the best wellness treatment for you.’

Of course, your CTA can include other things, like inviting your audience to ask questions, leave a comment or subscribe to your blog so they can get more information on the subject. But providing a way for your readers to take action – if that’s what they’re ready to do – is what turns your article from simple content to an organic, no-pressure, new-paradigm form of marketing.

Closing Thoughts

To put all this in ’7 Graces’ terminology, throughout this article I’ve really been talking about three things: the Grace of Connection , the Grace of Invitation , and the Key Relationship with Our Audience . Being able to put ourselves in our readers’ shoes is a quality of the Grace of Connection. Being able to ‘meet them at the door’, guide them into our ‘house, and empathetically know what they really want when they have finished their ‘visit’ with us is all about the Grace of Invitation. And, of course, understanding the subtleties around the different kinds of relationships we have with our readers and where those relationships sit within our ‘marketing funnel’ is all about the Key Relationship with Our Audience .

Unless we are able to step into our readers’ shoes when blogging, we will probably fail to open and close our blog articles in such a way that they serve both their needs and ours. Our articles should not be technical or academic treatises for their own sake, but something that must serve their business, as well as provide information to our readers. And knowing how best to serve our readers requires a deep understanding of the relationship they have with us at every stage of the way.

This complex, but fascinating, subject of relationships is one that I go into detail in my upcoming book The Social Entrepreneur ’s Guide to Successful Blogging. In that book, I also explain how to use blogging as a ‘grace-full’ (as in ‘7 Graces’) marketing tool, that provides value, expresses meaning and creates a closer connection between you and your audience. I also share my strategies for knowing what to write, how to write it, how to promote your blog, and how to build it into the larger structure of your business. If that sounds interesting to you, I invite you to sign up for a ‘launch reminder’ so I can let you know when the book comes out later this year. When you do, you can also download a free 5-page blogging template where I share the exact structure we use with our own clients. You can find all that at http://the7gracesofmarketing.com/blogging-book.

Blogging is an integral part of your new-paradigm marketing funnel. If you’re looking for help building the online marketing platform for your business, feel free to drop me a line via the Contact form on this site to enquire about our upcoming ethical marketing courses, or to set up a free 30-minute consultation to discuss your needs and our 7 Graces Platform Building and Growth Packages.

And, as always, do feel free to ask questions or share your thoughts and comments below.

Let the dialogue continue!

Lynn Serafinn
18 July 2014

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Looking for a Tribe? 

Come join our 7 Graces group on Facebook, and join us at our monthly meetings. They’re free to attend and we have them both in person and online, so you can participate from anywhere in the world. This is NOT a “business group” but an active community where people actually know and support each other.

Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:

The 7 Graces of Marketing BOOK COVER The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sellby Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues

 

Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com

The Social Entrepreneur's Guide to Successful BloggingComing later in 2014

The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project .


Lynn Serafinn author of The 7 Graces of Marketing LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller  The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.

Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

7 Graces Project CIC

Twitter: http://twitter.com/7GracesMarketng

Facebook: http://facebook.com/groups/7GracesGlobalGarden

MeetUp: http://www.meetup.com/7-Graces-Global-Community-London

(not just for Londoners, as we meet also on Skype)

 

 

 

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Systems to Help You Get and STAY on Top of Your Workload

Systems to Help You Get and STAY on Top of Your Workload
7 Graces co-director Nancy Goodyear explains why systems are essential in business and shares a step-by-step tutorial on how to use Trello to manage projects.

You’re a busy entrepreneur, juggling the needs of your clients, your business and your family. It can be hard to keep track of everything; sometimes things fall through the net, and you feel like you’re always running to keep up with yourself. Because you are so behind hand, your work priorities are determined by looming deadlines. Everything is done at the last minute, in a hurry and/or well into the evening or weekend. It’s exhausting, inefficient and demoralising – you know you are not giving anything the time and attention it deserves, and you have no time left for yourself.

What you need is a system to help you get on top of your workload and stay there! A good system can help put you back in the driving seat of your business rather than being driven by deadlines and client demands.

But what is a system? Oxford Dictionaries.com defines a system as:

“A set of principles or procedures according to which something is done; an organized scheme or method.”

So all we are talking about here is a way to organise how something (in this case your workload) is done. And the good news is the most effective systems are simple and easy to use – it’s not rocket science. However, it can take a bit of work to design a truly simple system that works for you. In this article, I’m going to take you through five simple steps that will help you set up a very easy system for yourself, and I will share the system I use to manage my own client work.

Step 1: Identify the Project You Want to Systematise

By project, I mean any job that will take more than one step to complete. The project I’ll use as an illustration is:

Supporting a client (let’s call her Lynn, I’m sure she won’t mind) to produce 12 high-quality blog articles, with Tweets, in 12 weeks

You can see that, clearly, this will require much more than one step to complete – in fact, it will take at least 12 (one for each blog article).

Step 2: Break Your Project into Individual Tasks

Every week, I must help Lynn prepare and post a blog entry and Tweets. But is there anything else? Well, I need to keep track of how well the blogging campaign is working, so I should probably monitor the traffic to her blog from time to time – that had better be added to the task list as well.

So my task list now looks like this:

1)      Blog 1

2)      Blog 2

3)      Blog 3

4)      Blog 4

5)      Blog 5

6)      Blog 6 (and so on, through to Blog 12)

13)   Check blog traffic monthly

So far, I expect this is fairly familiar to you. But to me, it’s still rather vague and ephemeral. You can’t yet really track what’s been done and what hasn’t. The next step is where we really dig into the detail.

Step 3: Break Each Task Down into Actions

An action is the opposite of a project in that it’s something that can be done in one single step, so you can tick it off your list as soon as you’ve taken that step. To test whether something is a task or an action, ask yourself, “Is it complete?” If your answer is “Almost” or “It will be, but I’ve just got to do this one other thing first”, then it’s a task. If you can answer categorically “yes” or “no”, then it’s an action.

Back to my example: If my weekly task is to prepare Lynn’s blog, how will I know with 100% certainty that it’s done and I haven’t forgotten to do anything? For that, I need to break the task into its constituent parts – or actions. So what do I need to do so I can say I’ve completed Lynn’s first blog?

1)      Have I received the article from Lynn? Yes or No?

2)      Have I proofread the article? Yes or No?

3)      Has Lynn amended the article and told me it’s ready for posting? Yes or No?

4)      Have I drafted the Tweets? Yes or No?

5)      Has Lynn approved the Tweets? Yes or No?

6)      Have I uploaded the Tweets? Yes or No?

7)      Have I told Lynn that everything is done for this week? Yes or No?

Are you getting the idea? I know I’m labouring the point here, but it is very important to understand the difference between tasks and actions, for reasons that will become clear in Step 4.

We have now defined the specific actions that I need to do in order to complete the entire project of supporting Lynn with her blogging over 12 weeks. The trouble is, at the moment, it’s just on paper. There’s no way that I can keep track of it other than writing a very complex (and lengthy) to-do list, which I will undoubtedly lose. Which brings us to the next step.

Step 4: Create a System

It’s your system that will help you stay on top of everything, and for this I like to use the online tool Trello. There are other, fancier, prettier online organising systems, but I like Trello for its simplicity and basicness. You really don’t want something all-singing, all-dancing for this; that will only encourage complexity, and complexity is your enemy when it comes to setting up a system.

Let me take you through my Trello client-management system to show you both how Trello works and I how I use it to keep myself organised.

The first thing you need to do is create a project board. Boards look like this:

Image 1: Trello Board

Image 1: Trello Board

In my system, it’s the overview of all my blogging projects (clients), so I’ve called it ‘Blogging Clients’.

The next layer is Lists. These are your projects. When you open a new board, it already has three lists:

To Do

Doing

Done

As you can see in Image 1, you can delete or rename these to suit your own purposes. In Image 2, I have created my own list just for this project (or client). This list has all the information I need about my client (Lynn): her name and the particular support package she is on (we have three packages). This means, when I am working with more than one client, I can see at a glance which list relates to whom and what level of support they should be receiving.

Image 2: Trello List

Image 2: Trello List

The white space underneath Lynn’s name and package is a Card, which is where we get into the nitty-gritty. In Image 3, I have added a card for each blog, plus another card reminding me to check her blog traffic stats for July.

Image 3: Trello Cards

Image 3: Trello Cards

Each card has Lynn’s name, the number of the blog (e.g., 1 of 12) we are working on that week and the dates I will work on it (there are two dates: one for proofreading and the other for posting). Again, I have all the information I need to know exactly where each client is in the process and when I have to do something for them. These are my tasks. If we dig deeper still and open the card for Blog 1, you will see a checklist of all the actions I need to do in order to call Blog 1 complete:

Image 4: Trello Actions

Image 4: Trello Actions

Of course, for 100% success, there is a final step…

Step 5: USE YOUR SYSTEM!

No system will work unless you use it diligently. Every morning, the first thing I do is open Trello and go straight to my Blogging Clients board. I then move all the tasks that are due that day to a separate list called Today’s Tasks, and then, once all the actions are complete and I’ve ticked everything off the checklist, the card moves across to the ‘Done’ list. So today, I can see that I have to finish off blog number 8 for Nancy and proofread blog number 1 for Lynn. At the end of the day, if I’ve been diligent, I can move the card for ‘Nancy – Blog 8’ across to the Done list, leaving ‘Lynn – Blog 1’ on Today’s Tasks to finish tomorrow, confident that I have done everything I need to do to fulfil my obligations to both clients.

Image 5: Today’s Tasks

Image 5: Today’s Tasks

And that’s it. That’s my system. Simple, right?

Closing Thoughts

I know that, for those of you who are global, big-picture people, your brains probably really wanted to shut down and drift off into a world where you can do what you want, when you want, without anything controlling you or pinning you down, somewhere around the time I started talking about breaking tasks into their individual actions – so well done for sticking with me! I promise I’m not trying to clip your wings but rather to create a space where you can have the freedom you need to create, as and when the mood takes you, confident in the knowledge that all the everyday detail that – let’s face it – has to be done if your business is to thrive will be taken care of, because you’ve taken the time to design a great system that will help you keep track of all the mundane but essential details of building and running a successful business.

Please share your thoughts, your experiences and your own favourite systems in the comments box. If you want to take this further and get really organised, I highly recommend a book called Getting Things Done: How to achieve stress-free productivity,by David Allen. It’s my bible for all things organisational.

Thanks for reading, and happy organising.

Nancy Goodyear
15 July 2014

P.S. For more ideas on systems, see Lynn Serafinn’s article
10 Business Systems to Help Your One-Person Enterprise GROW.

NOTE FROM LYNN SERAFINN: As Nancy mentioned, we work with clients all the time to help them systematise their businesses and marketing through our Platform Building Packages, which you can read about on our ‘Work With Us’ page. We have also created two ethical marketing courses, Foundations of Ethical Marketing and Applications of Ethical Marketing, which will be launching later in 2014. In our Applications course, our participants must create systems that work within their own businesses. To be sure you hear about our courses when they come out, be sure to subscribe to this blog (there’s a form at the top right of this page) and/or join our Facebook community at http://facebook.com/groups/7GracesGlobalGarden.

Nancy V Goodyear, Co-Director of the 7 Graces Project CICNancy V Goodyear is a Business Mentor and Coach who loves to help social entrepreneurs and small business owners cultivate their relationship with self, their business and their audience. With a BA (Hons) in Learning Disability Nursing, she has extensive professional experience working in health & social care within the non-profit sector. She is fluent in French having lived in France for some time. She is a graduate of the Coaches Training Institute and the Co-Active Leadership programme. She is also a director of The 7 Graces Project CIC. http://nancyvgoodyear.com

Like this blog?

Then please subscribe using the form at the upper right side of this page, so you can receive our articles to your inbox.

KINDLE users

You can help subsidise ethical marketing training courses for young social entrepreneurs in need. Just subscribe to the blog on Amazon for 99 cents a month (77p UK), and you’ll receive all our articles delivered directly to your Kindle device. All profits go to our 7 Graces Scholarship Fund. You can take a 14-day free trial before you decide. You’ll get a new article 2 or 3 times per week. Check it out at Amazon US or Amazon UK.

Looking for a Tribe?

Come join our 7 Graces group on Facebook, and join us at our monthly meetings. They’re free to attend and we have them both in person and online, so you can participate from anywhere in the world. This is NOT a “business group” but an active community where people actually know and support each other.

Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:

The 7 Graces of Marketing BOOK COVER The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell, by Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues

 

Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com

The Social Entrepreneur's Guide to Successful BloggingComing later in 2014

The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.


Lynn Serafinn author of The 7 Graces of Marketing LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.

Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

7 Graces Project CIC

Twitter: http://twitter.com/7GracesMarketng

Facebook: http://facebook.com/groups/7GracesGlobalGarden

MeetUp: http://www.meetup.com/7-Graces-Global-Community-London

(not just for Londoners, as we meet also on Skype)

Posted in Blog, Business Tips, Nancy Goodyear, New Paradigm, Relationship with Our Business | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

10 Business Systems to Help Your One-Person Enterprise GROW

10 Business Systems to Help Your One-Person Enterprise Grow
Consultant Lynn Serafinn explains how business owners can have more time, make more money and deliver better service by systematising their operations.

I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog that we’ve been piloting our 7 Graces ethical marketing courses over the past year (we’ll be launching them to the public in a few months). One of the things we asked our pilot participants to do was to create and implement systems for their business and marketing. Originally, we course developers didn’t want to ‘spell out’ what we meant by the word ‘systems’, because we respected their experience in business and wanted them to define things their own way. But actually, we misjudged. Over time, we realised that many independent business owners (especially ‘solopreneurs’) don’t actually know what ‘systems’ are. And those who do, don’t always know what kinds of systems they might need, or how to create and implement them.

Lack of systems keeps us stuck in our businesses. Whether you are running a social enterprise or are a sole proprietor service provider, without systems in place, your company will not be able to grow and

  • Your financial situation will always be tenuous.
  • Your work schedule will be erratic and demanding.
  • Your professional performance will be inconsistent.

In short, without systems in place, a sole-proprietor business owner is unlikely to move from ‘flying solo’ to ‘flying free’.

10 Things You Should Systematise in Your Business

So what kinds of things should we be systematising in our business? Why should we systematise these things? And how can we create these systems (preferably cheaply, quickly and easily)? While there are a gazillion things for which a system could benefit a business, there are several that are particularly pertinent to one-person operations, which are vital not just for our business growth, but for our own sanity. Here are my top 10 suggestions:

System 1: Calendar and Appointment Bookings

One of the best things I ever did was to systematise the way people book appointments with me. It spared me from the disorganised, confusing and inefficient ordeal of going back and forth via email to set up appointments with my clients or others who wanted to meet with me. Before I put systems in place, I frequently ended up double-booked, and my clients (who often lived in different time zones to me) would get confused about the time we were meeting. This wasted time for everyone, and made more work for me.

The tool I use to systematise my bookings is a programme called Time Trade. This online software allows you to create different kinds of appointments, define when clients can/cannot book with you, etc. It shows your availability in the viewer’s local time, which means no more confusion over time zones. It shows you as ‘unavailable’ if another appointment is already booked during that slot, which means no more double-booking. It can also integrate with your iCal, Outlook or Google Calendar. The cost of the ‘Professional Edition’ is currently $49 per year, which I feel is well worth the price, having saved me from countless hours of wasted time.

One limitation with Time Trade is that it only allows you to connect one calendar. I like to use my Outlook Calendar, but I also have a PA who needs to see my diary. The solution we used was to set up a Google Calendar that synchs with my Outlook calendar, using another tool called gSyncit. There is a free evaluation version that works just fine to do a basic synchronisation of your calendars. This way, my PA can also enter or edit appointments for me in my Google calendar. These are, in turn, automatically synched back to TimeTrade so my clients don’t book during those times.

If you add no other system to your business, at least systematise your appointments and bookings. When you do, you’ll suddenly realise how much time and mental energy you’ve been wasting by not having this in place.

System 2: Client Contract Dates and Details

Many service professionals work with clients on a contract basis. They might agree to provide their clients with a service over a specified period of time OR they might agree to a specified number of tasks, hours, sessions, etc. Keeping an accurate, updated log of start/end dates and work completed is an essential both for you and your clients. It’s also crucial if you have admin or other staff who will be managing some of these tasks for you. Without a clear record, you could end up paying your staff for jobs they didn’t need to do!.

Creating a system for this could be as easy as making a spreadsheet. Another tool that many people find useful is Trello.

However, creating the system is not nearly as much of a challenge as staying on top of it. So, it’s also a good idea to systematise how and when you’ll go through and update this data. For example, you might set aside the first hour of the morning every Monday to go through your current contracts and job list for the week.

System 3: Invoicing and Taking/Making Payments

Systematising the way your money moves around in your business is also essential. Without it, you’re likely to overlook payments your clients owe you, forget to pay people you need to pay, and drive your tax accountant crazy.

You should create an invoice for every single job you do for someone. This invoice can be as simple as an invoice template in Word or Excel. PayPal also enables you to create invoices.

You can also create nice-looking invoices for free with an online software programme called Freshbooks at https://www.freeinvoicecreator.com/. If you want to make your invoicing systems even more organised, they have a paid service starting at $20 a month.

Whatever method you use, always be sure:

  • That every invoice spells out the exact work for which you’ve been contracted, including start/end dates, quantity, or whatever is relevant. Spelling it all out on the invoice makes in clear for everyone involved, and easy to find if you need to check the terms of your agreement.
  • To devise a consistent numbering system for your invoices, so you can identify them easily.
  • To include your payment details: your bank account details, your PayPal address, or whatever method you use.
  • To spell out your terms of payment clearly, e.g. upon receipt, within 30 days, monthly payments, or whatever terms you use.
  • To send out your invoice immediately upon agreement of contract. Delaying not only means your payment will be late, but it also can result if you both forgetting what was agreed.

If you hire staff or outsourced support, make sure THEY invoice you too. Then, be sure to have a written, standardised system for paying your support staff, so they know how and when they should expect payment from you.

System 4: Blogging and Newsletter Schedule

Systematising your blogging and/or newsletter includes several things. Yes, it means that you create a schedule and timetable for your publications, so you are sure to publish regularly on specific days. But it also means that you set up your schedule so you have time to write and prepare your content (including editing, proofreading, formatting, image preparation, SEO, etc.). As your company grows, you’re probably going to need to hire someone (or more than one person) to help with the preparation. Having a schedule makes things easier and more efficient for everyone.

Systematising your blogging also involves creating a quarterly strategy for your blogging topics, so that you are sure your content ties into your most current offering(s). For example, if you have a new book coming out, then the blog articles you publish in the weeks leading up to the launch should be on topics related to the book, and relevant to your potential readers. If you are getting ready to launch a new training programme, then your blogs should be on topics related to the content of that course.

FYI, I talk in depth about all these things (and many more) in my upcoming book The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging. You can get a sneak peek at that by clicking here.

System 5: Social Media

Systematising social media is something I talk a lot about in my book Tweep-e-licious (with specific reference to Twitter, of course). Being systematised in social media is not just about using automation software; it primarily means having a clear strategy for growth and expansion, and knowing what you want to gain from doing it. This entails:

  • Defining/profiling your audience in detail.
  • Identifying where you can find them (tip: in Tweep-e-licious, two of the methods I use are Twitter lists and hashtags),
  • Creating (and/or curating) informational content on your blog that is relevant to their specific needs and interests.
  • Using your social media networks to direct people to your blog content.
  • Knowing what, when and how often to post to a particular social network.
  • Using automation tools (again, I refer you to Tweep-e-licious) to ensure your content is going out regularly, at the times you know are best for your audience; using the right automation tools allows you to focus on content creation and engagement.
  • Using tools (such as HootSuite) to filter out the ‘noise’ so you can focus on the things more relevant to you and your business.
  • Allotting time in your daily or weekly schedule for the purpose of engaging and building rapport with your network.
  • Using spreadsheets or online applications to monitor how many followers you have, how many clicks your links receive, how many times people share your content, etc.

If you are doing social media in an ad hoc fashion or missing any of the components above, you are unlikely to reap much tangible benefit from it. But if you go through these bullet points and start to tighten up your social media systems, you will start to get a feel for where you are, where you want to go, and how to get there.

System 6: Marketing Campaigns

Any time you have a project, the process should be systematised by creating a detailed timetable. This means breaking down tasks into their smallest components, and saying who will do things and when. If the project is complex (as most are), you will probably need to break it down into ‘sub-projects’ or teams, each of which has its own timeline.

While you may never have thought of them as such, marketing campaigns are projects. They have many ‘moving parts’, all of which need to be created, coordinated and managed.

For example, whenever our team are hired to do a book launch for a client, the very first thing I do is create the timetables. From experience, I know a full-blown launch takes six months to execute. When I create the timeline, I start from the end and work my way backwards. I know how long each major component takes, so I’ll plot them in. Only after I’ve done that can I see where I am right now, and what needs to be done immediately.

After the main project timetable is done, I’ll take each sub-project within the main project, and create separate timetable for each. For example, in a book launch, we would need different timelines for the blog tour, the media tour, the telesummit, the joint venture partner part of the campaign. Typically, we will also need another timeline for the book production itself, to ensure that the author stays on top of what he or she needs to have completed and by when, in order to have the book ready in time for the launch.

Choreographing how all those components dance together is what ‘project management’ is all about. Even if you are a one-person operation, if you have a new product you want to promote by means of an official ‘launch’ campaign, you need a way to systematise it. If you’ve never done an actual campaign before, you might consider hiring someone either to mentor you through the process or manage the project for you. Once you’ve done it a few times, and you have defined the ‘system’ that works for you, you can then hand over most of the administrative and technical responsibilities to other people, giving you time and headspace to focus on your business.

System 7: Client Project Management

By ‘client projects’ I’m referring to when we have agreed to deliver a set of services during a specified period of time. For example, in our 7 Graces Platform Building Package, our team deliver many services to clients over a 13-week period. One part of the service is to edit, proof, format and publish our clients’ blogs. To do that, we need a way to manage the process, so that the clients have their content ready in time, and we have time to deliver what we promised. That way, we all stay on schedule and none of the details inadvertently get overlooked.

My colleague Nancy Goodyear has devised an excellent system for managing client projects, using Trello, which I mentioned earlier. Next Tuesday, Nancy will be publishing an article with details on how she uses Trello to break down every component of a project, to see each project to completion. I highly recommend subscribing to this blog (just enter your email address in the form at the top of this page) so you’ll be sure to receive that article when it comes out next week.

System 8: Article Marketing and Guest Writing

Something I talk about in The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Bloggingis repurposing your blog content in article directories and guest writing on other blogsites. Like any other aspect of our business, getting this systematised makes these marketing strategies far more effective than doing them ad hoc.

A simple way to systematise your article marketing is to create a spreadsheet to track your publication history. Information you might wish to include is:

  • A list of all the directories or blogs where you intend to publish content.
  • Summary of their guidelines or policy (e.g. how many links they permit; their review process, how many articles you need to post to get preferential listings, etc.).
  • Page rank or Alexa rank of the site.
  • Details about their readership, article categories, etc.
  • A link to their author/contributor log-in page.
  • Your log in details (user name, email, password).
  • A list of articles you have already posted there.
  • Dates of each publication.
  • Links to the live articles.
  • Traffic (if known) your articles have received.

With this information in hand, you can easily log into your accounts for each site, knowing what to expect. And by monitoring the traffic you receive on each site, you will see which sites are proving the most fruitful for you, and develop a regular article marketing regime.

System 9: House Style and Templates

A ‘house style’ means a standardised way you content ‘looks’ to the public. For example, the way we format the blogs and the images on this site is a definable house style. We always have a ‘teaser’ at the top of the blog, which we put in bold italics. Recently, we’ve started putting the title of the article and the URL of the blog in the featured image of every post. Those kinds of details give a consistency and a branded feeling to your content, and they also make it easier for new members of your team to emulate.

A ‘template’ refers to the standardised style of documents you use within your business. For example, on our 7 Graces ethical marketing courses, we’re still tweaking the templates for our assignment briefs and course materials. When we do a blog tour for our clients, we always create a bespoke template that we use to structure the blog posts for our partners. When we do a book launch, we use web page templates that we made specifically for that function.

Like house style, templates bring consistency and branding to your work. But they also make your work easier, faster and more effective. Templates are not something you create once and then use ‘as is’ forever. You tweak them; you improve them; you streamline them. But with every improvement, they become a greater resource to your company, making it easier for your company to expand and deliver larger-scale projects.

System 10: Job Tasks

Last but not least, we come to the topic of systematising job tasks. By this I mean systematising the WAY a job is done within your company.

For example, we at 7 Graces support clients with their Twitter accounts using a programme called Tweet Adder. Twice a week, a member of our team (Lucy) goes into each account to follow new people, unfollow dead wood, follow back new followers and search for new people to follow. There are a lot of different ‘tasks’ to do to go through all these variables. The problem is, if you don’t have a systematised order and parameters for working through the tasks, you will end up with very inconsistent (and usually unreliable) results.

To rectify this problem, it was necessary to codify how Lucy goes through all the tasks for each ‘job’ for each client. We broke down all the tasks that had to be done, put them in the most effective order and defined the parameters for each tasks. By ‘parameter’ in this case, I might mean something like ‘how many new people should so-and-so follow this week’ or ‘how many days do we wait before so-and-so unfollows non-followers’.

Putting all of this in writing and making it part of our company systems means that Lucy can get her job done more easily and effectively. It takes out the guesswork and makes things consistent across the board. Furthermore, if we ever need to hire another ‘Lucy’ because the client load has become too big for one person, it will be easier for the new person to understand exactly what they need to do.

10 Things Your Should Systematise in Your BusinessClick Here to View and RePin this Infographic on Pinterest

 Closing Thoughts: How Systems Set You FREE

Creating systems is one of the best things you can do for yourself, your team, your clients, your business and your marketing. Here are just a few ways they can help liberate an independent business owner:

  1. Systems mean you do it BETTER.
  2. Systems mean you do it FASTER.
  3. Systems mean you do it more CONSISTENTLY.
  4. Systems make it easier to CHANGE things down the line.
  5. Systems make it possible for you to hand tasks over to SOMEONE ELSE.
  6. Systems make you LESS VULNERABLE in the event that people leave your team.
  7. Systems can turn you into a ‘TURNKEY’ company, meaning that someday, someone else will do what you’re doing right now and you can finally ascend to the level of CEO.

I hope you found this article useful, and that it has given you some food for thought on how to systematise YOUR business. I know this list of 10 can seem daunting, especially if you are a one-person enterprise. Don’t try to take it all on at once. Try to develop ONE of these systems and really make it work for you.

Then, after you see how much it changes the way you work – and the way you feel ­about your work – start to develop another system, and another, until you find yourself no longer a one-person show where your entire business is ‘in your head’, but an organised, systematised business person with a trained, competent and confident team supporting you every step of the way.

Lynn Serafinn
11 July 2014

P.S.: If you’re looking to bring more systems into your business, reach out to us via the Contact Form on this site. We can set up a Skype appointment to discuss the different options that could serve your needs.

Like this blog?

Then please subscribe using the form at the upper right side of this page, so you can receive our articles to your inbox.

KINDLE users 

You can help subsidise ethical marketing training courses for young social entrepreneurs in need. Just subscribe to the blog on Amazon for 99 cents a month (77p UK), and you’ll receive all our articles delivered directly to your Kindle device. All profits go to our 7 Graces Scholarship Fund. You can take a 14-day free trial before you decide. You’ll get a new article 2 or 3 times per week. Check it out at Amazon US or Amazon UK.

Looking for a Tribe? 

Come join our 7 Graces group on Facebook, and join us at our monthly meetings. They’re free to attend and we have them both in person and online, so you can participate from anywhere in the world. This is NOT a “business group” but an active community where people actually know and support each other.

Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:

The 7 Graces of Marketing BOOK COVER The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sellby Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues

 

Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com

The Social Entrepreneur's Guide to Successful BloggingComing later in 2014

The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.


Lynn Serafinn author of The 7 Graces of Marketing LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.

Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

7 Graces Project CIC

Twitter: http://twitter.com/7GracesMarketng

Facebook: http://facebook.com/groups/7GracesGlobalGarden

MeetUp: http://www.meetup.com/7-Graces-Global-Community-London

(not just for Londoners, as we meet also on Skype)

 

 

 

Posted in Blog, Blogging, Book, Lynn Serafinn, Marketing Tips, New Paradigm, Relationship with Self | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Tell a Good Brand Story and Stand OUT in the Market

How to Tell a Good Brand Story and Stand Out in the Market
Paula Tarrant explains how new-paradigm marketing is no longer about selling but about telling the true story of our businesses and why they matter to society.

As marketers who are committed to a more compassionate, sustainable and ethical ecosystem for the marketplace, we are each looking for ways to stand out in our particular market square, while also promoting the new, positive paradigm. That means that the aim of our marketing is not only to create successful businesses, but also to contribute to increased health and wellbeing for our society and our beautiful planet.

As we do that, we must also remember that some of the business practices of the old paradigm are important to include in the new paradigm. It’s easy to let our enthusiasm run away with us and find we have tossed the good out with the bad.

How do we prevent that from happening? By remembering that there are timeless ways to build up the brands of who we are as businesses and just what it is we are doing in the marketplace. We learn that how we each tell the story of our business is as important as what services or products we are selling.

This new marketplace is relationship driven. The customers of today are looking for connection. They’re looking for likeminded people to do business with. They’re looking for ways to have an experience when they buy your product or use your services. They’re looking for meaning in the marketplace, as well as in the other areas of their lives.

So how can you build your business brand using tried-and-true marketing strategies and do it in a way that feels kind, authentic and in integrity with your values? Here are three ways to begin developing your brand story and setting yourself apart in your marketplace.

1. Know Your Customer

You may have heard the term ‘customer avatar’. It simply means a description of your ideal customer. It’s often a combination of demographics and some psychographics that define your ideal customer profile. While these ways of cataloguing and creating your ideal customer can be helpful, and you definitely want to go through this exercise, you can go deeper.

Imagine your ideal customer. What’s her typical day like? What’s on her mind? Does she have a favorite restaurant? Is life pretty good for her, or is it full of challenges? As you dig deeper and start to tell the story of who your customer is and what her life is like, you gain new insights into how you can meet her needs with your business. You write your business copy in a way that speaks to her, and when she reads it, she senses you are speaking to her. It’s direct, clear, inviting.

You want your customer to know that you know who she is. Another way to show this in your branding is to let your existing customers do the talking for you. Collaborating with current and former customers by letting their testimonials speak for you is brand building at its best. When new customers find you, they are looking to others like themselves for validation that this is a place where they can belong. Your customer isn’t so interested in the five-star rating you may have. They want to know what kind of experience others have had. What are the stories of their experiences with you?

Knowing your customers, deeply and intimately, is one of the most powerful ways to create your brand and tell its story.

2. Know What Business You’re In and Why It Matters

The answer to that question may seem obvious. You sell things. You sell services. You build websites. You run a vegan restaurant. You import green and fair-trade coffee. But I submit to you that this is NOT the business you’re in. You are in the business of creating meaning. Your business is about making a difference, building community and connection for your customers, giving them the feeling they want to have as a result of owning your product, using your service, eating at your restaurant.

When you understand this and get clarity about just what business you are really in, your brand starts to tell that story. For example: Are you a shop on Main Street that imports handmade stone jewelry from a women’s collective in an African village? Then you’re in the business of sustaining local economies, of creating beauty, of kindness and connection. You’re in the business of standing for self-sufficiency, empowerment for women and the value of hand-crafted goods.

When you realize what business you’re really in, then answering the question “Why does it matter?” becomes effortless. What you do matters. When you know it, you can tell your customers about it. They want to help you make meaning.

Then, marketing is no longer about selling. It’s about telling your story – the story of what business you’re in and why it matters.

3. Know Where to Set the Scene

Since we’ve been talking about using the power of story to tell your customers about your brand, build your brand identity and set your brand apart in the marketplace, it seems appropriate to conclude with where to set the scene, so to speak. You have built-in platforms within your business that are ideally suited for growing your relationship with your customers.

The first one is your ‘About’ page on your website. This is often an overlooked resource. But it is one of the most often-visited pages on a site. Your potential customers want to know your story. They want to know why you do what you do, why it matters to you, and what it is that keeps you doing it. Tell them. What has brought you to the place of doing the work you do is entirely unique to you. This is part of your brand story. This is often the place where your relationship with your customers begins.

The second place that can be an easy introduction to growing your brand and setting yourself apart in the marketplace is your blog. Storytelling is a universal art form for informing, sharing, teaching, and more. Your blog is by definition a platform for telling stories. Going back to the example of selling the handcrafted African jewelry, what better way to share a deeper exploration of the origins of the women’s collective? Where better to tell the story of how you came to discover their vision and mission for creating economic independence for themselves and their children? Tell your story visually and with words for even more definition of your brand.

This leads me to the third inherent platform in your business, and that is social media. From an image on Pinterest to a snippet on Twitter to a few comments on Facebook, social media gives you a platform to share your brand story every single day. It gives you a place to be completely original in how you create windows into your business.

Closing Thoughts

And at the end of the day, the ultimate purpose of marketing is to create windows into your business. A good brand story will allow your customers to discover who you are and what business you’re really in. When you achieve that, you’ll never feel the disconnect of old-paradigm marketing again.

So what’s YOUR brand story? What business are you REALLY in? How are you telling that story to your audience? I hope this article has sparked some answers to these questions. Please let me know by leaving your comments below.

Paula Tarrant
8 July 2014

Paula TarrantPAULA TARRANT is a certified spiritual life coach and licensed Profit from Your Passion Coach who specializes in helping women who seek to live and work with more creativity and authenticity. She is known for her signature blend of spiritual, practical and creative principles that provide the framework for moving beyond self-doubt and fear and designing, instead, a life and livelihood that’s built around your natural gifts and passions. She is a graduate of the 7 Graces Foundations of Ethical Marketing course, and is currently on the 7 Graces Applications of Ethical Marketing certification programme.

Paula on Twitter: http://twitter.com/PaulaTarrant
Paula on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/paulatarrant
CLICK HERE to read Paula’s other articles on this site.

Like this blog?

Then please subscribe using the form at the upper right side of this page, so you can receive our articles to your inbox.

KINDLE users 

You can help subsidise ethical marketing training courses for young social entrepreneurs in need. Just subscribe to the blog on Amazon for 99 cents a month (77p UK), and you’ll receive all our articles delivered directly to your Kindle device. All profits go to our 7 Graces Scholarship Fund. You can take a 14-day free trial before you decide. You’ll get a new article 2 or 3 times per week. Check it out at Amazon US or Amazon UK.

Looking for a Tribe? 

Come join our 7 Graces group on Facebook, and join us at our monthly meetings. They’re free to attend and we have them both in person and online, so you can participate from anywhere in the world. This is NOT a “business group” but an active community where people actually know and support each other.

Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:

The 7 Graces of Marketing BOOK COVER The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sellby Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues

 

Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com

The Social Entrepreneur's Guide to Successful BloggingComing later in 2014

The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.


Lynn Serafinn author of The 7 Graces of Marketing LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.

Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

7 Graces Project CIC

Twitter: http://twitter.com/7GracesMarketng

Facebook: http://facebook.com/groups/7GracesGlobalGarden

MeetUp: http://www.meetup.com/7-Graces-Global-Community-London

(not just for Londoners, as we meet also on Skype)

Posted in Blog, Community Blogger, New Paradigm, Paula Tarrant, Relationship with Our Audience, Relationship with Our Business | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Business, Blogging and Our Relationship with Self

Business, Blogging and Our Relationship with Self
Lynn Serafinn explains how our sense of identity influences the way we blog and shows how our relationship with Self manifests in our business operations.

This month, I’ve been hard at work on my upcoming book, The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging. While I wanted to make this book a rigorous and practical hands-on manual, I also wanted to frame it within the context of the 7 Graces paradigm for ethical business and marketing.

I strongly believe blogging is an incredibly powerful and effective form of new-paradigm marketing – when it is done mindfully and strategically. So, to bring that mindfulness into the book, before I dive into the practical ‘how to’ of blogging, I start off by looking at the one of the tools I use in the 7 Graces model – the ‘7 Key Relationships’:

1. Our Relationship with Self

2. Our Relationship with Source

3. Our Relationship with Others

4. Our Relationship with Our Business

5. Our Relationship with Our Audience

6. Our Relationship with Money

7. Our Relationship with Marketing

These relationships impact every aspect of the way we conduct our businesses. As blogging is such a powerful and transparent form of modern communication, our blogging cannot help but become an outward expression of all of these relationships. This is why I felt it so important to start the book with an exploration of these 7 Key Relationships.

While all of these relationships are influential, one in particular is the foundation of every other relationship we will ever experience in life – our relationship with Self. So today, I thought I’d share a few things from the book on that topic.

Personality, Behaviour, Blogging and Self

Everything we do – in business and in life – begins with our relationship with Self. When I say ‘Self’ (with an uppercase ‘S’), I’m referring to something higher, deeper and more permanent than our day-to-day, transient notions of self. If our relationship with Self is based on variable factors, such as our physical appearance, our occupation or our socioeconomic status, it makes us slaves to our environment and vulnerable to the inevitable changes that occur with the passage of time.

Surely, when we operate businesses or express ourselves through blogging or another medium from this kind of relationship with Self, we are going to be guarded, mistrustful and lacking in openness. We could be more concerned with being liked and accepted by others than with our own integrity or goals. We are also less likely to take risks or try new things in our businesses for fear of loss or ‘failure’ (i.e., getting it ‘wrong’ in the eyes of others).

A blogger with this kind of relationship with Self is likely to create content that is distant, derivative and fact driven, with little personality, originality or opinion. Or that blogger might use a lot of flowery words or jokes to give the appearance of being open while in fact hiding behind them. They might also use their brand name as a kind of shield to hide behind, rather than ‘show up’ as an individual. While brand identity is normally a good thing in marketing, it is important to recognise when we might be using it as a way of distancing ourselves from our audiences and avoiding being seen as human beings. And lastly, this kind of blogger is likely to blog solely because ‘it’s something they have to do’ rather than something they enjoy doing.

(Of course, that doesn’t mean that everyone who doesn’t enjoy blogging has a weak sense of Self! Some people simply don’t like it.)

On the other hand, if our relationship with Self does not suffer with the inevitable fluctuations of time and circumstance, we develop a powerful inner sense of security. This security will not only make us more honest, trusting and open, it will also make us more adventurous, innovative and self-expressive. In the longer term, it will also make us more generous, passionate and desirous to contribute and ‘give back’ to the world. In turn, blog content produced by someone with a strong relationship with Self will be more present, personable, ideas driven, original, creative, adventurous, innovative, self-expressive, generous, passionate and – ultimately – helpful to their audience.

What is equally important to understand is that our relationship with Self is also the mirror for all our other relationships. In other words, the more guarded, mistrustful and closed we are in our own communication, the less other people will know us, believe in us or trust us. Conversely, the more honest, trusting and open we are, the more people will know us, believe in us and trust us.

Exploring Our Relationship with Self

What all this adds up to is this: if we hope to become successful bloggers, the very first thing on our ‘to do’ lists must be to examine our relationships with Self. This doesn’t require expensive life-coaching sessions, but it does require a little self-honesty and a bit of structure. To help you with that, I’ve laid out what I’ve discussed so far in two tables showing how our relationship with Self can show up in:

1)      Our personality and behaviour AND

2)      Our blogging

How Our Relationship with Self
Can Show Up in Our PERSONALITY and BEHAVIOUR
WEAK Relationship with Self STRONG Relationship with Self
Our identity can fluctuate when we experience changes in physical appearance, occupation or socioeconomic status We have a strong sense of inner security; at the level of identity, we do not feel threatened by changes to our physical appearance, occupation or socioeconomic status
We feel guarded, mistrustful We are prone to being honest and trusting of others
We find it difficult to be open with others or to express what we think and feel We find it easy to be open and to express our thoughts and feelings
We are afraid to take risks (including financial) or try new things in our businesses We are naturally adventurous and innovative in our businesses
We fear loss, failure or ‘getting it wrong’ We are not reckless, but we are also not afraid to be generous or to invest in new projects
We allow our desire/need to be popular, liked or accepted by others to influence our lives and business directions. We are passionate about what we do and have a strong desire to contribute to society and the planet (not just to make a profit)

 

How Our Relationship with Self
Can Show Up in Our BLOGGING
WEAK Relationship with Self STRONG Relationship with Self
Distant, evasive or formal style communication Present, affable, personal, open style of communication
Fact driven, derivative or lacking originality; doesn’t stand out from the pack Adventurous, innovative and original; our content is imminently valuable, useful and helpful to our audience
Done because it has to be done, rather than from an inner need to communicate with our audience Generous with time, advice, information and attitude
Rarely taking a stance or expressing an opinion Honest, expressive and passionate
Uses flowery words or jokes as an evasive smokescreen Our readers find it easy to know us, believe in us and trust us
Impersonal or speaking in the voice of the company rather than our own While our readers may know our ‘brands’, they also feel they know us as people

 Pinnable graphic:

How Our Relationship with Self Influences Our BloggingView, Like and Repin this Graphic on our ‘Ethical Marketing’ Board on Pinterest.

CHALLENGE for You: Explore Your Relationship with Self

The ideas in this article have been extracted from the opening of my upcoming book The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging.The book really does serve a practical, technical and strategic manual for business owners who want to use blogging to create a strong, sustainable and ethical marketing platform online.

But like any business strategy, unless we take some time to explore and incorporate the essence of the company – OURSELVES – into our plans and visions, we are likely to go off course, become inauthentic or end up feeling that something is seriously ‘out of synch’ with who we truly are. This is why, even though it might be very tempting to dive right into the factual, technical ‘how to’ of blogging immediately, if it’s to become a successful long-term marketing strategy for us, it’s vital we begin the journey by looking at what some would call the ‘soft data’ – such as our relationship with Self.

So, what did you notice as you looked through these lists? Where did you recognise yourself (or… your Self)?

Reflect upon the two tables above and assess your own relationship with Self. How do you think your relationship is impacting the way you run your business? And if you’re already blogging for your business, consider how that relationship is currently showing up in your content. Where is your relationship strongest? Where is it weakest? How do you know? How will you address the areas you feel need improving?

Jot down your reflections, ideas and goals for improvement in a notebook.

And then…

1)      Share your reflections in the comments below. I’m sure many of you will be relieved to find out that other people feel the same way as you do!

2)     Subscribe to this blog for more excerpts and ideas from my upcoming book, The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging.

3)      Sign up to get a reminder when the book comes out, and pick up a FREE 5-page blogging template as a thank-you gift when you do.

See you next time,

Lynn Serafinn
5th July 2014

Like this blog?

Then please subscribe using the form at the upper right side of this page, so you can receive our articles to your inbox.

KINDLE users 

You can help subsidise ethical marketing training courses for young social entrepreneurs in need. Just subscribe to the blog on Amazon for 99 cents a month (77p UK), and you’ll receive all our articles delivered directly to your Kindle device. All profits go to our 7 Graces Scholarship Fund. You can take a 14-day free trial before you decide. You’ll get a new article 2 or 3 times per week. Check it out at Amazon US or Amazon UK.

Looking for a Tribe? 

Come join our 7 Graces group on Facebook, and join us at our monthly meetings. They’re free to attend and we have them both in person and online, so you can participate from anywhere in the world. This is NOT a “business group” but an active community where people actually know and support each other.

Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:

The 7 Graces of Marketing BOOK COVER The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sellby Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues

 

Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com

The Social Entrepreneur's Guide to Successful BloggingComing later in 2014

The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.


Lynn Serafinn author of The 7 Graces of Marketing LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.

Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

7 Graces Project CIC

Twitter: http://twitter.com/7GracesMarketng

Facebook: http://facebook.com/groups/7GracesGlobalGarden

MeetUp: http://www.meetup.com/7-Graces-Global-Community-London

(not just for Londoners, as we meet also on Skype)

 

 

 

Posted in Blog, Blogging, Book, Lynn Serafinn, Marketing Tips, New Paradigm, Relationship with Self | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Intellect. Imagination. Empathy. 3 Keys to Customer Intimacy

Intellect. Imagination. Empathy. 3 Keys to Customer Intimacy
Corporate business consultant Cindy Barnes explores how we can develop true empathy and become better at knowing, feeling and acting upon our customers’ needs.

These days, everyone talks about being customer centric and developing better and deeper customer relationships, yet few become truly outstanding in these areas. Customers know they have problems, but asking them about those problems and designing solutions to fix them is missing the point. During my many years as a business consultant and as a therapist practising transactional analysis, I’ve seen that people often don’t know what their real problems are. They know where the immediate pain is, but this is often just a symptom of the real, much deeper concern. We all want a quick fix, but it takes time, patience and perseverance to uncover the heart of an issue. Until you get to that point, any attempt at offering or designing a solution may just be applying a Band-Aid to a broken bone.

Our company Futurecurve serves a wide range of companies, including corporates. As a trusted consultant, I need to see and understand my customers’ worlds better than they do. This demands intellect, imagination and – most of all – empathy:

  • Intellect: I need to collect and weigh up all the data – hard data and soft data, facts and figures, emotions and behaviours. There’s no shortcut to this, as the big-data-analytics people would sometimes have you believe with their software and apps. Big data is just one of the many necessary inputs. Softer data is essential too.
  • Imagination: I need to take all this data and imagine what it must be like to be my customers’ customer.
  • Empathy: I need to understand their businesses and their customers’ businesses, so I can help my customers see the world through their customer’s eyes.

Really getting under the skin of a customer issue means looking at all the data and experiencing what that problem is like for them – smelling, touching and tasting what their environment is like and how they operate within it. That means immersing yourself in the problem and using empathy to imagine and feel what it must be like.

Understanding and Developing Empathy

Empathy broadly takes three different forms. These are:

  • Cognitive empathy – Where I know what you are thinking
  • Emotional empathy – Where I feel what you are feeling
  • Compassionate empathy – Where I act upon what the other person is thinking and feeling, with their interest at heart, not mine

Empathy is key to customer intimacy, and is an increasingly important arena in business today. But how empathetic are you? The following is a selection of questions from common empathy tests:

  • When you see someone who isn’t as well off as you, do you feel bad and worry for them?
  • Do you get emotional unexpectedly, such as when you hear about a distant tragedy?
  • When someone you know upsets you, do you try to put yourself in their shoes and understand why they behaved that way?
  • Do you enjoy imagining what life would be like as someone else, such as your boss or a friend?

The more strongly you say yes to questions like these, the more empathetic you are. If these traits don’t sound like you, you may need to work on your empathising skills.

Making Empathy Work in Your Organisation

As a skill, empathy cannot work in isolation. For empathy to have meaning and impact, it needs to work in conjunction with intellect and imagination. Leading organisations that want to be truly customer centric and develop greater customer intimacy will actively:

5 Ways to Make Empathy Work in Your OrganisationView and and Re-pin in this Infographic on Pinterest.

  • Cultivate empathy as a skill, helping their people to understand the importance of empathy and how to apply it successfully.
  • Use empathy to imagine what their customers think and feel. This stops the organisation believing that its view of the world is the only one that’s valid. What concerns you as an organisation may be a million miles from the issues your customers are wrestling with.
  • Use empathy to probe and dig to uncover the real issues. Having determined what your customer’s immediate pain is, consider the underlying cause – the broken bone beneath the obvious surface cut.
  • Use empathy to develop insights by seeing what others don’t. This needs to be based on robust customer research, to ensure that your insights are grounded in reality and not just your guesses about what your customers want.
  • Use imagination to develop the best, most insightful solutions. As my friend David England tells me, “I heard a story about Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Before he designed the Clifton Suspension Bridge, he had himself hauled across the Avon Gorge in a barrel. He experienced the gap for himself before considering how it might be bridged. With this experience of the gorge, he was able to conceive the bridge in his imagination. So what is more real, the external form of the bridge or the concept upon which that form relies? Certainly the concept has stood the test of time. Everything begins in the imagination, even the Clifton Suspension Bridge.”

What about YOU?

How do YOU use imagination, insight and empathy to develop closer relationships with your customers?

I’d love to know. Please share your own thoughts, experiences and strategies in the comments below.

Cindy Barnes
1 July 2014

FROM THE EDITOR: From a 7 Graces perspective, empathy is a vital aspect of the Grace of Connection. Read more articles about the Grace of Connection HERE. Read more articles from Cindy Barnes HERE.

————————————————————————

Cindy-Barnes-TwitterCINDY BARNES (MBA) is a business and psychology consultant with a background in engineering, product and service innovation, marketing, business development and leadership. She is qualified as a counsellor in Transactional Analysis and is the co-author of the bestselling book, Creating and Delivering Your Value Proposition. As an engineer, Cindy has created, developed and sold many leading edge products and services. She ran large-scale, unionised automotive component factories for Smiths Industries, and led research and development for Panavision, developing a leading-edge product which is still their most profitable to date. Later, she led marketing and business development for Capgemini and co-created a new business unit that had sales of £83m and a pipeline of £309m in 12 months from a zero start. In 2003 she founded the consultancy ‘Futurecurve’, which helps companies navigate from a product ‘push’ focus to a true, sustainable customer ‘pull’ focus, enabling them to out-perform their peers by delivering genuine value to customers. Customers include global corporations, governmental organisations and not-for-profits. She is passionate about nature and sustainability and supports local environmental groups and social enterprises. She is also a graduate of the 7 Graces Foundations of Ethical Marketing Course and active member of the 7 Graces Community.

Read all posts by Cindy Barnes
Cindy on Twitter: @cindy_barnes
Cindy on the Web: http://www.futurecurve.com

Like this blog?

Then please subscribe using the form at the upper right side of this page, so you can receive our articles to your inbox.

KINDLE users 

You can help subsidise ethical marketing training courses for young social entrepreneurs in need. Just subscribe to the blog on Amazon for 99 cents a month (77p UK), and you’ll receive all our articles delivered directly to your Kindle device. All profits go to our 7 Graces Scholarship Fund. You can take a 14-day free trial before you decide. You’ll get a new article 2 or 3 times per week. Check it out at Amazon US or Amazon UK.

Looking for a Tribe? 

Come join our 7 Graces group on Facebook, and join us at our monthly meetings. They’re free to attend and we have them both in person and online, so you can participate from anywhere in the world. This is NOT a “business group” but an active community where people actually know and support each other.

Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:

The 7 Graces of Marketing BOOK COVER The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sellby Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues

 

Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.

Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com

The Social Entrepreneur's Guide to Successful BloggingComing later in 2014

The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.


Lynn Serafinn author of The 7 Graces of Marketing LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.

Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.

Read all posts by Lynn Serafinn.

7 Graces Project CIC

Twitter: http://twitter.com/7GracesMarketng

Facebook: http://facebook.com/groups/7GracesGlobalGarden

MeetUp: http://www.meetup.com/7-Graces-Global-Community-London

(not just for Londoners, as we meet also on Skype)

Posted in 7 Key Relationships, Blog, Cindy Barnes, Community Blogger, Connection, Corporate, New Paradigm, Relationship with Others, Relationship with Our Audience | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment