Deb Scott on Her New Book, ‘Social Media for the Rest of Us’

Deb Scott on Her New Book, Social Media for the Rest of Us
Lynn Serafinn interviews author and popular Internet radio host Deb Scott, who shares her insights on how to market yourself ethically using social media .

Today I have the great pleasure of interviewing author, coach and radio host Deb Scott. Deb and I met five years ago (when I was still fleshing out the ideas for The 7 Graces of Marketing )while we both participated in the ‘Next Top Spiritual Author’ contest. Although technically Deb and I were ‘competing’ against one another in the contest, a remarkable thing happened. We – along with many others in the contest – actually started creating a collaborative network. We invented ways – such as podcasts, webinars and social media campaigns – to help support each other’s work.

To this day, many of us are still great friends, and we continue to collaborate as network partners on many marketing campaigns. Amongst those lovely people, Deb stands out as someone I can always call upon (and, I hope, vice versa). She’s been a partner on many of my clients’ book launches. I had the great pleasure of interviewing Deb on my (now defunct) radio show and for online telesummits. Deb has also interviewed me many times on her top-ranking BlogTalkRadio show The Best People We Know.

Now, Deb has written a new Kindle e-book called Social Media for the Rest of Us, which came out earlier this month. I was away on holiday during her launch, but I’ve been told it’s doing exceptionally well, reaching #1 of all books in the category ‘Social Media for Business’ and #2 in ‘Social Media 2.0’ and ‘Social Media How To’.

To help spread the word about Deb’s book, I’ve asked her to do a little virtual interview with me today on specific topics around the ethics and practice of online marketing that I believe would be of interest to our 7 Graces audience. I hope you’ll enjoy Deb’s insights.

LYNN: Deb, our 7 Graces audience are all socially minded business owners who are devoted to ethical practice. What are some of the ethical issues you’ve noticed with how some less-scrupulous marketers use social media?

DEB: Real success in using social media for business is all down to partnering with the right people. But in finding partners, one of the greatest challenges is dealing with people who say one thing and do another. There are many not-so-ethical people out there who claim to be genuinely supportive but in fact are simply opportunist and have no interest in using social media to help others or connect with them. They are only interested in the ‘All-About-ME’ show, rather than the ‘All-About-WE’ show.

In my eyes, those who achieve real, long-term success in social media are those who are not only ethical but also generous. They are the people who give without expecting anything in return. The wise soul on social media is able to distinguish the givers from the takers – the real-deal people from the empty opportunists. They can find and connect with people like you and the 7 Graces community you have built – people who seek the higher good of a win-win relationship for client and provider.

But just because ethical marketers don’t expect anything in return doesn’t mean they don’t get anything from their efforts. I know from experience that when you take the time to do your homework and partner with the right people, you will easily reap the benefits of social-media marketing.

LYNN: Why do you think social media is important for the business owner today? What advantages come to those who spend the time to master it for their businesses?

DEB: The primary advantage is that you are able to connect with like-minded people from all around the world. That opens up a whole new world of partners and potential clients/customers. This is what I love most about it. I believe that we are whom we associate with, and if we associate with genuinely enthusiastic people of honest intent, it will always breed success.

People’s wants and needs, desires and hopes, struggles and successes are all the same under the skin suit. There are about 7 billion people on the planet today and, regardless of what continents they happen to live on, many of them are seeking the solution you have to their problems – both personal and professional. Being available on social media enables us to help more people solve those problems and make their lives and/or businesses better.

It’s important to remember that when you take the time to build real ‘social media relationships’, you are actually building real relationships with real people. And real people create real results.

LYNN: In your experience, what are the practical and/or emotional obstacles most business owners face when they first try to use social media? What advice do you have to help them leap over those hurdles?

DEB: My first piece of advice would be to remember:

‘Small hinges open big doors!’

It is so important to redefine social-media success and not buy the lie that more is always better. Is success defined merely by how many Twitter followers or Facebook fans someone has? It shouldn’t be; you don’t know how many of those fans and followers have been purchased for the sake of appearance. People who ‘buy’ fans may have followers, but they don’t have people. They may have numbers, but not clients. They may even make a quick sale here and there, but they do not have a thriving business of loyal customers.

I know it’s difficult not to get wrapped up in the emotional element of the social-media rat race, but when you compare, you despair. You are in competition with no one except yourself. Making progress is itself perfection. I always advise people to create a profile on each of the ‘big four’ social networks: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. I believe true success begins as soon as you create an account. It means you have begun. Simply being present with integrity and the intention to offer real value is the foundation for true success.

And this is another point I feel compelled to share: please do not be shaken, surprised or discouraged when you get the inevitable negative post, Tweet or bad review. There will always be people who are jealous, hateful and mean for no reason. If you put yourself out there in the world, you must expect the bad with the good. The key is to learn from these experiences.

Remain humble, and keep moving forward. Be pushed by your passion, not pulled by your problems.

LYNN: You and I met several years ago when we were participating in the ‘Next Top Spiritual Author’ contest. I find it really interesting that both you and I now work with business owners on their marketing. Do you think there’s a connection between a spiritual mindset and marketing? And if so, how is it different from other approaches to marketing?

DEB: Yes, I absolutely think there’s a connection, Lynn!

I have discovered a new generation and global movement. A new hybrid niche of business and spirituality/self-help has been born.

Business owners and marketers are finally waking up to the fact people want to be treated like people and not sales statistics. Modern consumers are asking more questions around ethics and values. They want to know things like: ‘What do you offer that is unique? What is different about you? Do you just want to make a quick sale, or are you interested in learning about what I do, too? Do you want to compete or collaborate? Are you honest in what you are marketing to me? Can I trust you?’

To succeed in business today, we must put people first and product second. If you have a great product, it will eventually catch on. Keep high standards with each person you have the privilege to meet; do the right thing in the right way, and the results will be a natural consequence of your hard work.

LYNN: You’ve called your e-book Social Media for the Rest of Us. That makes me want to ask: Who are ‘the rest of us’? Whom specifically is this book for? Why did you feel this particular audience needed a special guide to social media?

DEB: The ‘rest of us’ are people who want to learn practical tips to using the big four social media platforms but are driven to do it ethically and with passion, persistence and a long-term vision of success. This can include anyone from the beginner to the seasoned professional.

The ‘rest of us’ are people who actually care about people! We care about getting positive results, but we are not willing to compromise our moral compasses to get there.

The ‘rest of us’ have a conscience.

LYNN: I know your e-book launched earlier this month. Can you give people a brief overview of what they’ll learn from it when they buy it?

In the book, I share tips I have taken years to grasp through both the school of hard knocks and hours of detailed research. I wanted to appeal to the person who likes easy-to-understand, transparent explanations and learns better with visual graphics.

In the book, I talk about the differences and advantages of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. I show people how to create compelling and searchable profiles and how to find their niche audiences. I talk about how to spot the frauds and how to measure your success using Klout and Kred.

I also tell where readers can to go for more information on each platform with experts they can really trust to tell them the truth – such as you, Lynn.

It was also important for me to create something affordable – under two dollars – for people on a budget. That way, I’m hoping anyone, beginner or veteran, can find something of real value to implement immediately.

One of my customers left a review on Amazon that said, I am recommending to all my friends!’ To me, this sums up the key point of our discussion today. Success in ethical marketing can be measured in how your customers answer one straight-forward, common-sense question:

Would you recommend this person, product or service to a friend?

If they say yes, you’ve done your job as a marketer.

In parting, I’d like to leave your readers with one last word of encouragement:

Keep going and don’t quit.

Remember: it takes time to become an overnight success.

Social Media for the Rest of Us by Deb ScottYou can find Deb’s book, Social Media for the Rest of Us, on Amazon Kindle at http://amzn.to/1AQo61z.

Lynn Serafinn
29 August 2014

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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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When Do Your Online Communications Become Defamatory?

defamatory
7 Graces Community Member and lawyer Lubna Gem Arielle talks about the effect of our words and explains how some online comments can be considered defamatory.

Our super-connected digital world has enabled us all to share our voices and opinions in public. Many of us have a social media presence doing just this, whether we are blogging, tweeting or joining in conversations on other platforms. The fast pace of these media can make it tempting to ‘shoot from the hip’ and say things without thinking. Later, we may suffer from the unintended consequences of our own words – especially when social media can make even a casual comment spread like wildfire.

Earlier this year, there were reports of an avoidable mess triggered by the release of a new vacuum cleaner. The British manufacturer Dyson claimed Samsung (of Korea) was infringing its patents, issued a claim and made public statements that Samsung was ripping off its design. Samsung responded with a defamation action in the Korean courts claiming compensation for $9.4 million on the basis that Dyson had sullied its reputation.

The Dyson/Samsung spat is between well-known household names with a huge sum at stake and the Korean court will need to unravel the facts to decide which laws apply under the complex rules of private international law. But in spite of these complexities, the general themes around defamation apply to ALL of us. Whatever the size or shape of our businesses, it pays to give some consideration to our comments and to understand when they amount to defamation.

And ethically, we may also wish to step back and look at the bigger picture, so we become more careful before we find ourselves sliding into the grubbier realms of gossip.

What Is Defamation?

Defamation is the law’s take on words that wound. The purpose of laws around defamation is to prevent attacks on someone’s reputation. There are two main types of defamation:

  • Slander refers to transient forms of defamation; these are generally words that are spoken, such as in conversations or meetings etc.
  • Libel refers to more permanent forms of defamation such as those which are written or broadcast, e.g. printed, audio recordings, film, etc.

Laws vary across the world as to whether or not a statement is considered defamatory. So if you find yourself in an actual quandary, you will need to obtain legal advice in the jurisdiction in which you are based.

As a UK lawyer, I can really only speak about the position in the United Kingdom (more specifically, in England and Wales), where the law recently changed with the introduction of the Defamation Act of 2013 (‘the Act’), which came into force on the 1st of January, 2014. I’ll be exploring the subject from that perspective.

Does a Statement Cause ‘Serious Harm’?

The new Act included a change so that it is no longer enough for someone to complain that a defamatory statement has been made about him or her, but s/he must now show that the statement causes ‘serious harm’ to his or her reputation. This change was heralded allowing greater freedom by putting an end to ‘trivial’ claims.

Meanwhile, those of us looking at the gloomier side muttered at the lack of clarity: what precisely do they mean by ‘serious harm’?

The concept in itself wasn’t altogether strange, because prior to the Act, case law had been heading towards defining the threshold of seriousness when considering damage to someone’s reputation.

Nonetheless, the words ‘serious harm’ in the new statute left many lawyers a little empty and resulted in a flurry of excitement as the first court judgment on the issue was handed down on August 13th of this year. The case concerned an action brought by Midland Heart housing association and its chief executive, Ruth Cooke, in relation to an article in the Sunday Mirror about the renting out of poorly maintained properties to benefits claimants on a street which had been immortalised in the Channel 4 series Benefits Street.

The article included a paragraph:

Three more homes in the road where residents claim they have been portrayed as scroungers and lowlife [sic] by Channel 4 are owned by the Midland Heart housing association. Its chief, Ruth Cooke, 45, earns £179,000 a year and lives in a large house in Stroud, Glos.

The Sunday Mirror removed the paragraph from the online publication and issued an apology in the newspaper the following week. The court held that the company’s reputation had not been damaged and was influenced by the effectiveness of the apology, which had been more prominent than the initial paragraph.

In assessing what might have been considered serious harm, the judge indicated some height to the threshold, but it is still far from set. The forward movement is that ‘serious’ is more than ‘substantial’ on the basis that in finalising the legislation, the wording ‘serious harm’ was chosen over ‘substantial harm’.

Although the case does not give the clarity hoped for, it does offer us some useful practical guidance: if someone alleges that you have made a defamatory statement and you don’t have a defence, you might be able to assuage potential harm by swiftly:

  • Issuing an apology and
  • Removing any questionable statements from your website, social media, etc.

Truth, Honest Opinion and Publication in the Public Interest

The law of defamation has always allowed some balance and leeway in expressing oneself to balance with the rights of free speech. This is reflected in the new Act in a series of defences. For example:

  • The word ‘truth’ replaces what was previously referred to in a defence as ‘justification’. Essentially, where what is conveyed is substantially true, a statement will not be defamatory.
  • The words ‘honest opinion’ replace what was known as ‘honest comment’, allowing for an opinion based on facts.
  • The term ‘publication in the public interest’ widens a fairly detailed concept of ‘privilege’. Essentially, it allows the publication of a statement which, even though it is not categorically true or a genuinely held opinion, is on a matter of public interest and the publisher reasonably believes that publishing it is in the public interest.

Rumours on Twitter

Twitter kudos seem to hinge on having one’s witticisms retweeted ad nauseam. But this can be a double-edged sword, as illustrated in the case of McAlpine v Bercow (2013), wherein the court considered the meaning of a Tweet and whether or not it was defamatory.

The Tweet in question, posted by Sally Bercow, said:

‘Why is Lord McAlpine trending? *Innocent face*’

This Tweet – which was posted shortly after a Newsnight story referring to ‘an unnamed senior Conservative politician accused of child abuse’ – was analysed in depth by the court. Eventually, the judge concluded that the Tweet meant:

‘The Claimant was a paedophile who was guilty of sexually abusing boys living in care.’

The judge also held that this statement was defamatory. This case was a landmark in confirming that a statement made on social media is legally subject to as much scrutiny as any other.

Legal Consequences Are Only Part of the Effect of Our Words

Speaking without thinking is a slip-up almost all of us make at one time or another, especially when acting in haste or under pressure. There may be no malevolence. Sometimes, our egos can get in the way, and saying something funny or clever can seem more important than being kind. Other times, saying something untoward may be entirely intentional – a quick fix for the affronted.

Whatever the backdrop, we all know that words cannot be unsaid. This is illustrated beautifully in the traditional story ‘A Pillow Full of Feathers’, wherein a rabbi shows a gossipmonger how spreading rumours is like casting feathers into the wind: once they are dispersed, you cannot simply gather them all up again. A throwaway remark can be repeated and become, ultimately, indelible.

As graceful business owners, we can choose to take responsibility for the outcomes of our communications. We can be mindful of the power of our words and of whether or not they are likely to cause damage to another’s business or reputation.

As in any decision between right and wrong, the legal component is just a morsel in a cornucopia that contains everything we hold as truly important – our personal ethics, our business ethics, our brand values, our personal qualities, our wisdom and our reputations.

The Grace of Connection

In her book The 7 Graces of Marketing, 7 Graces Founder Lynn Serafinn talks about the three kinds of music as defined by the ancient Greeks: musica instrumentalis, musica mundana and musica humana. These, she says, forge ‘three pathways of connection’. Of these three, musica humana – or ‘the music of the heart’ – is the ultimate connection that allows us to express who we really are and to connect deeply with others. Obviously, using words to undermine a competitor or to look good at someone else’s expense can never bring us to a more connected state of being.

Of course, it is a personal choice. If you decide that the ultimate aim of your missives is to connect with customers and others rather than to create an image or to sell your wares, then you are choosing the Grace of Connection.

I believe that using the Grace of Connection as a starting point – along with guidelines from the law – can enable us to navigate the potential tripwires in social media and other communications without too much anguish or conflict.

As the poet Hafiz says,

What is the key
To untie the knot of the mind’s suffering?

 Benevolent thought, sound
And movement.

Until next time,

Lubna Gem Arielle
22 August 2014

Lubna Gem ArielleLUBNA GEM ARIELLE is lawyer who went back to art school and has a portfolio career. As a legal educator, she lectures on MA programmes at Sotheby’s Institute of Art and Birkbeck, makes law accessible for creatives as a professional speaker and is a writer/presenter for Legal Network Television. She is a legal adviser to Artquest, providing advice to visual artists. In her creative practice, Lubna works with ways of sharing information, stories and knowledge and the interplay across real and virtual media. Her current project is 6 Minute Bites, and has included ‘teaching in Tweets’, live events, and using improvisation exercises and role play to disseminate legal know-how to creatives. She is also a legal experiential practitioner with the Personal Communications Academy.

Lubna is a graduate of the 7 Graces Foundations of Ethical Marketing Course and member of the 7 Graces community and the Professional Speaking Association.

CLICK HERE to read other articles by Lubna on this website.

Lubna on Twitter @info_bites

Lubna’s Website: http://www.6minutebites.com

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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)

 

Posted in 7 Graces, Blog, Community Blogger, Connection, Law and Legal Tips, Lubna Gem Arielle, Relationship with Others | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Defining the Four Cornerstones of Ethical Marketing

Defining the Four Cornerstones of Ethical Marketing7 Graces Founder Lynn Serafinn strips marketing back to basics and explores how to ‘be’ an ethical marketer before attempting to ‘do’ ethical marketing.

Hi everyone. I haven’t been blogging much in August, as I was travelling and taking some much-needed time off. But I’ve started to make the transition back down to the so-called real world now and will be getting back to writing (although, just so you know, we won’t be back on a regular schedule with this blog until September).

Since I’ve come back from holiday, my colleague Nancy Goodyear and I have been working on the revamping of our 7 Graces course Foundations of Ethical Marketing. We piloted that course last year with a group of 12 people; subsequently, we ran a pilot of its follow-on course Applications of Ethical Marketing with a smaller group, who recently completed the course. We’re now preparing the Foundations course for release to the general public, with the aim of taking enrolments for it in September and starting the course in early October (click her to register for a free information call about it).

Doing these two pilots one after the other was extremely informative, especially when returning to look at the Foundations course. When we first created the pilot for that course, it was (in my opinion) a bit all over the place. We wanted to say everything, teach everything, share everything. As a result, there was a lot of content in the original course that really didn’t belong there. It was all good material, but it interfered with the cohesion of the course. During this review process, both Nancy and I came to realise that this was due to our not being crystal clear about the primary objective of the course. I mean, if you call a course ‘FOUNDATIONS’ of ethical marketing, it’s not about practice so much as awareness. If you create to-do lists of so-called ethical practices without a truly deep – and truly conscious – understanding of the rich dynamics of both ethics and marketing, you will simply be going through the motions, without any real passion and purpose behind them.

So, if we want to teach a course called Foundations of Ethical Marketing, we have to go back to square one and ask ourselves the most rudimentary question:

What ARE the foundations of ethical marketing?

Implicit within that question, of course, are two even more fundamental considerations:

What is ethical?

What is marketing?

Getting Back to Basics about Marketing

In the book The 7 Graces of Marketing, I define marketing as:

‘…the act of communicating that we have something of value to share.’

I wrote this in an attempt to strip away all the social and semantic connotations around marketing in today’s world, so that we can arrive at a new working definition that doesn’t come loaded with all the emotional baggage people seem to carry around the term. But it also redefines marketing: marketing is an activity. It’s not about selling, but communicating, informing and educating. All communication is dialogue; in this case, that dialogue is between a company and their customers.

And then we have the words ‘of value’, which open up yet another can of worms. What do we mean when we say something is ‘of value’? How do we measure it?

This is where the topic of ethics starts to enter the picture. Things are not ‘of value’ simply because businesses tell us they are or put a price tag on them. Things can only be of value if they ultimately enhance, improve or uplift our lives in some way – whether physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, economically or spiritually. By ‘ultimately’, I mean that things are not of value if they seem to improve our lives in the short term but fail us in the long term. For example, cigarettes will give smokers a buzz in the short term, but are addictive and lead to cancer in the long term. Eating from fast-food hamburger chains might save us time and fill our bellies in the short term, but in the long term it compromises our health, and there is much evidence that fast-food chains have contributed to a great deal of environmental imbalance as well. Thus, there is little sense in saying that you are marketing such products ethically, because the product itself is not of any true value. You can put as many health warnings as you want on a pack of cigarettes, but it will never amount to ‘the act of communicating that you have something of value to share’.

The bottom line is this: if we want to learn how to be ethical marketers, we must first look deeply at ourselves, our motivations and our businesses. There is no other way. Without that solid foundation, our businesses and marketing strategies will run around like headless chickens, without direction, vision or focus.

And that is where the whole topic of ‘foundations of ethical marketing’ comes in.

Building a Solid Foundation for Ethical Marketing to Flourish

Nancy and I believe that we’ve come up with a good framework to express what ethical marketing is all about. Like any well-designed architectural structure, it has four cornerstones at its base:

4 Foundations of Ethical MarketingA deep, intimate understanding of these four cornerstones and how they work together is essential to our success as social changemakers. Once we develop this understanding – not merely with the brain, but at a visceral and even primordial level – we become the visionaries, the leaders, and the captains of the ships we are sailing within the world of business. ONLY then can we make to-do lists and create business plans and marketing strategies. Only then can we feel in control of our companies and know for sure that we are making a difference within the world.

Here’s a brief overview of why I believe this to be so.

Foundation 1: The Dharma of Business

The first of the four foundations we teach on the course is the Dharma of Business. This might sound like a ‘woo woo’ word, but the Sanskrit word dharma is actually very rich, and very appropriate within this context. It comes from the Sanskrit verb root dhri-, which means ‘to draw together’ or ‘that which holds something together’. When you talk about dharma, you are talking about the essential purpose of something – its raison d’être.

When applying the word dharma to business, we are talking about its purpose on three levels:

  • Its micro dharma
  • Its macro dharma
  • Its meta dharma

These are my terms, obviously, so let me explain briefly what I mean by them. The ‘micro dharma’ of your business is what most people think of when they talk about the purpose of their businesses. It is the service or value you provide to your individual customers. The ‘macro dharma’ is a little broader in vision and refers to the bigger impact of your business as it achieves its micro dharma. For example:

  • If you are a nutritionist specialising in metabolic issues, your micro dharma might be to help restore health and wellbeing to those who suffer from low energy, weight issues, hormone issues, etc.
  • At a higher level of awareness, your macro dharma might be to help increase overall awareness about nutrition and natural health in the world. Thus, getting in touch with your macro dharma forges a link between what you do and what society actually needs. It’s not just about you and your customers, but about the world around you.
  • At still a higher level of awareness is your ‘meta dharma’. This is where you see not only how your business serves society now but how it creates (and will create) an impact within the bigger picture of history. For example, if you are that same nutritionist and you tap into your meta dharma, your deeper motivation will be the vision of a future world where natural health is a way of life, and how that world will have changed dramatically as a result of what you do now. You will also see beyond the impact you have on people and begin to see your impact (past, present and future) upon things like the economy and the natural environment. With this level of consciousness, every decision you make in your business will be fuelled with a completely different motivation from those businesses that are not driven by meta dharma. Those without meta dharma will continue to exploit and to make decisions solely upon practical analysis. Those who can tap into their meta dharma will make confident, reflective decisions and take socially responsible actions in every aspect of their businesses.

Foundation 2: The 7 Key Relationships

The next foundation is what I call the 7 Key Relationships:

  1. Your Relationship with Self
  2. Your Relationship with Source
  3. Your Relationship with others
  4. Your Relationship with your business
  5. Your Relationship with your audience
  6. Your Relationship with money
  7. Your Relationship with marketing

I talk about these relationships in The 7 Graces of Marketing, and I’ve written about them frequently on this website, but in the revamped Foundations course they become the thread that weaves everything else together.

Relationships underpin everything we do. The very act of breathing is an expression of the relationship we have with the natural world (which comes under the category of ‘Source’ in this paradigm). Yet most of us walk around every day without giving much thought to how all these relationships are defining, directing and moving us through life, often at an unconscious level. For example, if your relationship with Self is wounded, or your relationship with money is strained, it will have a profound (and negative) impact upon your business and marketing. If there is a strong feeling of disconnection in your relationships with others or with Source, you will see them as separate from yourself, which can sometimes lead to exploitation, evasiveness or defensiveness.

Until we become deeply aware of where we stand within these 7 Key Relationships, we will struggle to bring truly conscious decision-making into our business practices. We will act on autopilot rather than steering for ourselves. There can be no question of building an ethical marketing platform without building these Key Relationships into the foundation of our businesses and getting very clear about where we truly stand within them.

Foundation 3: The 7 Deadly Sins of Marketing

The third cornerstone is the 7 Deadly Sins of Marketing:

  1. Disconnection
  2. Persuasion
  3. Invasion
  4. Distraction
  5. Deception
  6. Scarcity
  7. Competition

Sometimes people criticise me for spending time talking about the 7 Deadly Sins of Marketing. They feel that we should stop focusing on the old and negative, and simply look at the new and positive (i.e., the 7 Graces). But I believe it is just as important to understand the 7 Deadly Sins of Marketing as it is to understand the 7 Graces. To attempt to create an ethical marketing platform without this understanding would be like trying to paint a picture without the use of light AND shade: without the shadow, everything is flat; there is no depth.

By understanding the 7 Deadly Sins, we learn how to do two very important things. First, we become better able to evaluate our own marketing, because we develop an awareness of our impact. Second, and equally important, we become better able to evaluate the marketing to which we are exposed every single day, so we can become more responsible consumers. Being unconscious of the 7 Deadly Sins makes us vulnerable to exploitive marketing strategies, and we might find ourselves spending more money than we can afford, and on things we didn’t really need or which were of no genuine value.

So learning about the 7 Deadly Sins is not simply an exercise in negativity. It’s the crucial ‘shadow’ in the model that can actually help us gain a heightened sense of purpose and awareness. They should not be looked upon as enemies but as great teachers for how we will intentionally bring light into our businesses and marketing plans.

Foundation 4: The 7 Graces of Marketing

And finally, of course, we come to the fourth foundation, the 7 Graces of Marketing:

  1. Connection
  2. Inspiration
  3. Invitation
  4. Directness
  5. Transparency
  6. Abundance
  7. Collaboration

These 7 Graces provide us with a starting point for creating the actual platform of our marketing. They become the goal posts, the beacons of light to which we aspire. They become a checklist of things we can both be and do in our marketing.

In the Foundations of Ethical Marketing course, we focus on the being side of ethical marketing.

Later, in the Applications of Ethical Marketing course (where students create comprehensive business and marketing plans using the 7 Graces model), we finally focus on the doing. As I said, if you jump to the doing before you have the being sorted out, you’ll just end up with a lot of incoherent faff that amounts to nothing terribly significant.

Closing Thoughts

These four foundations cannot work in isolation. The 7 Graces cannot work without awareness of the other three cornerstones. They dance together and impact each other in a multitude of ways. I could spend all day just talking about the Grace of Connection and any one of the 7 Key Relationships. Equally, I could spend days talking about how dharma can transform our Key Relationships. Consider how it can shape and define our Relationships with Self, Source, our businesses, etc.

And this is why they have become THE four elements we call the Foundations of Ethical Marketing on our 7 Graces course. By focusing the course on these specific elements, it is our aim to help business owners dive deeply into the ‘who’ and ‘why’ of their businesses: who they are, who their customers are, why they do what they do, why the world needs what they have to offer, why they so passionately want to do things a different way and so many other aspects.

From that place, getting down to the practical stuff – the what, when and how – becomes easy. And that’s when REAL social change begins.

We’ll be hosting a free one-hour info call about the 7 Graces Foundations of Ethical Marketing course on September 24th. On that call, we’ll be talking about these foundations, as well as telling you more about the course itself. If you’d like to attend, just fill in the form on this page: http://the7gracesofmarketing.com/attend-our-free-7-graces-info-call/

And of course, if you subscribe to this blog and/or join our 7 Graces Facebook group, so you’ll be amongst the very first to know everything about it.

Lynn Serafinn
14 August 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)

 

 

 

Posted in 7 Deadly Sins, 7 Graces, 7 Graces Project, 7 Key Relationships, Business Tips, Ethical Marketing Courses, Foundations of Ethical Marketing, Lynn Serafinn, Marketing Tips, New Paradigm, News, Social Enterprise | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 Ways to Check If You Need a New Value Proposition

10 Ways to Check If You Need a New Value PropositionGuest blogger Cindy Barnes explains what your value proposition is. She explains why it is so important and asks 10 questions to test the strength of yours.

These days, companies often talk about putting the customer into the heart of their business mix. To that end, they will typically do ‘customer listening’, use Voice of the Customer programmes or collate data via different measurement tools. While all of these practices are valid, they have a fundamental flaw: they only treat the customer as an asset to the company, rather than a collaborative partner.

In my work as a corporate advisor, I help companies make the shift from seeing their customers as assets to seeing them as partners by working with them to create a value proposition.

What Is a Value Proposition?

Many companies have a mistaken notion that a value proposition describes something you do to your customers. For example, they might believe a value proposition is:

  • a new name for a marketing story or statement
  • a unique selling point
  • another word for ‘product’, ‘service’ or ‘offering’
  • a corporate positioning statement
  • an elevator pitch
  • a set of communication messages
  • a list of benefits
  • some sort of magic sales ‘silver bullet’

But the truth is, while some of these things surely can come from your value proposition, a true value proposition is none of these things in isolation. A value proposition isn’t a written document, a statement or a set of policies. It’s not even your message or mission statement. Rather, your value proposition is a framework. It’s the entire structure within which your customers experience and interact with your company. As I define it:

“A value proposition is the sum of the offerings and experiences delivered to your customers during all their interactions with your organisation.”

By ‘offerings’, I mean anything you sell and deliver to your customer, whether services, products or solutions.

By ‘experiences’, I mean how you sell and deliver to customers and how they feel about the experience they’ve received from interacting with your organisation.

In other words, the offerings are WHAT you sell and deliver, and the experience is HOW you do it. Your value proposition is the mechanism for capturing and harnessing your ‘customer truth’. It is not a business strategy you invent internally, but something you create with your customers’ assistance.

Why Your Company Needs a Strong Value Proposition

Whether you run a large company or an independent one-person operation, there are many symptoms that indicate your company may have a weak value proposition. You might not have enough sales leads, or the leads you have might be poor in quality. You might have weak conversion rates, or find that you are always having to discount your products or services. You might find it difficult to stand out in the market, or your marketing might seem to have no impact on sales. Lastly, you might have poor customer retention and loyalty, because your customers simply do not really connect to your brand.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s time to take a new look at your value proposition. Doing so can bring directness, clarity and simplicity into what you do, how you think about your company and how you portray this to customers, through both your offerings and your communications.

CHECKLIST: How Strong Is Your Value Proposition?

Below is a checklist of questions to help you discover whether your total value proposition is in good shape or needs some attention. If you can’t answer these questions in detail, it probably means your value proposition needs updating.

Q1) Are your sales faltering? If so, do you KNOW why?

Because sales is where the rubber hits the road in most organisations, sales performance is one of the leading indicators of whether there is a problem with the total value proposition.

There could be many reasons for poor sales. It could be due to lack of skills in your sales team, poor sales leadership, inadequate products and services, weak marketing or limited exposure. Put any of these reasons (and many others) against the backdrop of a weak economy, and your sales will falter. However, I have seen businesses buck the economic trend and turn themselves completely around in recessionary times simply by focussing on creating and building new total value propositions.

Q2) Are you always chasing new business?

If you’re always chasing new business and find it difficult to extract more repeat business from existing customers, then you need to find out why your customers are not totally happy. It could be that the solutions you offer are badly constructed. Or it could be that your company offers greater financial rewards to salespeople who land new customers (rather than making sales to returning customers).

For most businesses, it’s too costly to continually chase new business. Revamping your value proposition can help you examine the customer experience and build greater retention and repeat business.

Q3) Do you know what your customers value/do not value about working with you?

Again, looking at customer retention, it’s vitally important to know what makes customers come back to you repeatedly. Usually, what makes a customer come back (or not) can be boiled down to three or four simple things. These things might be aspects of your products or services, but they are also likely to be emotional things such as trust, reliability or valuable insights.

Customers have an implicit hierarchy of why they do business with any company. Finding out what that hierarchy is and making it explicit is at the heart of developing your total value proposition.

Q4) Are you crystal clear about your target market?

A good value proposition means you are absolutely clear and detailed about your target markets and the target buyers and influencers within each company, plus how your solutions will fit each. For example, larger B2B companies need to be very precise about things like:

  • Which countries they are selling in or want to enter
  • Which market sectors and subsectors they’re going to focus on in each
    country
  • The different types of buyers and influencers they’re going to target in each sector
  • The job titles of the various buyers and influencers
  • What the stakeholder map looks like
  • Who holds that power at each stage of the map

Smaller, independent companies who typically deal directly with end customers need to be clear about similar things, but on a much more personal level, and with more focus on the consumer rather than the stakeholder.

Q5) Do you know how customers view your company in terms of risks?

Before a customer decides to work with a company, they always weigh up the risks against the benefits. For example, if you run a smaller company, your customers might perceive you as not having enough financial or human resources to deliver what they need. If you’re a larger company, your customers might feel your focus is too broad and that you lack evidence of proven ability within a particular sector.

How well do you know how customers perceive your company? What kinds of things would make them NOT choose to work with you? Understanding your customers’ list of perceived risks means you can attempt to mitigate those risks before they become issues. Of course, building this into your value proposition requires honesty, insight and research.

Q6) Can you define the pain are you relieving for your customers?

Being able to explain what pain your solutions will take away from customers is your most fundamental selling point. No matter what size your company is, if you can’t answer this question with ease, then you need to do more customer research.

Q7) Can you define your offerings and how they relieve this pain AND add measurable value?

Can you describe your offerings in detail? Can you define clearly how all your offerings fit together to create a complete solution for your customers?

If you can’t, then you need to spend more time with your customers understanding how your offerings make a difference to their lives. You need to be able to specify in detail what each offering does, e.g., how it saves time, reduces costs, increases revenue, increases productivity, makes their lives better, etc.

Q8) Do you know how are you different from your competition?

Do you know who your competition is and also what substitutes and alternatives there are for your offerings? Where do your offerings have parity, and where and how do they differ? How do those differences translate into benefits and real value for customers?

If you don’t know these things, you need more research; you must be able to demonstrate and differentiate your value against your competitors’ or alternatives’.

Q9) Are you able to provide evidence to support your claims of value?

Are you providing enough proof to your prospects and customers? A lack of evidence could result in prolonging your sales cycle as customers look for reassurance. Providing evidence acts as a de-risking of the purchase and will often help to speed up the sales cycle. Such evidence could include:

  • case studies (ideally with customers named, but generic if not)
  • customer testimonials (ideally with customers named, but generic if not)
  • total cost of ownership (TCO) or return on investment (ROI) tools and models
  • articles or papers written together with customers
  • independent or proprietary research that can be made public that supports your claims about your results

10) Have you clearly constructed your marketing communication messages?

Communicating your message to your audience (or external messaging) is about layering; using a mix of marketing messages to build confidence in your potential customers that you can deliver their expectations of value. You and your staff need to understand how your behaviour impacts the customers’ experience – the way you act or speak with customers either supports or taints customer value.

These days, most buyers will do a lot of research before they approach you or your company or start to talk sales with you. They’ve drawn their conclusions that working with you is going to be positive. This means that customers now expect to have a positive experience every single time they contact you.

Closing Thoughts

These ten questions need to be addressed equally, because they are all interconnected. If your answers to these questions indicate a one-dimensional value proposition, it is time to reassess your core value and how you’re delivering it to your customers.

I’d love to hear from you about your experiences. Have you designed your value proposition? What do your customers value about working with you? What do you value about working with your favourite suppliers? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

Cindy Barnes
1st August 2014

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 PropositionAs 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 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, Cindy Barnes, Community Blogger, Corporate, Relationship with Our Audience | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Identify and BE the Perfect Client – 7 Key Traits

How to Identify and BE the Perfect Client - 7 Key Traits
7 Graces co-director Nancy Goodyear explores the qualities of an ideal client and shows how they can help us provide AND receive the best level of service.

As solo entrepreneurs, we frequently work directly with our clients or customers. Over time, you have no doubt found some clients to be a joy to work with and others to be just plain hard work. And while you might believe you treat all these customers equally and that they all get the best possible service from you, the reality is often different. The truth is we are all human, and someone who makes our job hard and dissatisfying is inevitably going to make us feel ‘turned off’. And when we are turned off, we are not at our best. We’re not going to go the extra mile for that person. We’re going to want to get the interaction over with as quickly as possible.

On the other side, the people you enjoy working with often get the best of you. It’s not that these ‘perfect clients’ are those who make your life easiest, nor that they are the most competent or require the least from you. In fact, sometimes the best client in the world is the one who needs moreof your attention than the others. But you find that you willingly work harder and longer for them because you like them. It makes you feel good to serve them.

As our businesses grow (or in order for it to grow), we are likely to contract other people for their services to support us. When that happens, the tables are turned. Then, WE become customers/clients of someone else. But what kind of customers are we? Will we get the best from our service providers because we are joys to work with? Or will we turn them off because we are simply a lot of hard work for them?

In this article, I will briefly examine the key characteristics I think make the ‘perfect client’. Understanding this can not only help us clarify who our ideal clients are (and thus be more discriminating about whom we work with), but it can also teach us how to be ideal clients for others.

KEY TRAIT 1: The Perfect Client Is APPRECIATIVE

We all like to be appreciated for our efforts, regardless of whether or not we’re being paid for them. So, first and foremost, a perfect client is one who tells us they appreciate us and what we do.

It’s also worth saying that, if they appreciate us, they will be more likely to enjoy working with us as well, so everyone wins and has an enjoyable and satisfying time.

KEY TRAIT 2: The Perfect Client Is Clear about What They WANT

When someone signs up to work with you, it is because they want or need the service you are offering – or at least they think they do. But the truth is they may only have a vague idea of what it is they can expect from you.

You need to be sure when your clients hire you that you explain to them very clearly what outcomes they can (and can’t) expect as a result of working with you. If they want those outcomes, that’s wonderful. It means they have the makings of a good client. If you can’t agree with them about the outcomes, you should consider letting them go, because their expectations will not be realistic and you will not be able to satisfy them.

KEY TRAIT 3: The Perfect Client Is Clear about What They Do and Do Not KNOW

When we learn a new skill, we go through a number of stages of awareness of our knowledge or lack thereof. Consider learning to drive. At your first driving lesson, you were unconsciously incompetent – you knew nothing about driving, and you didn’t even know what was involved in driving. After the first couple of lessons, you may have had a crisis of confidence. You might have thought, ‘There’s so much to learn. I’m never going to be able to drive!’ You were aware of what you didn’t know, of what you still had to learn – you became consciously incompetent.

Then, probably for some time after you passed your test, you knew everything you needed to know to drive a car safely. You were competent, but you still had to think about what you were doing. Maybe you couldn’t talk while you were driving, or listen to music, because you were so busy thinking about what you had to do – is it ‘mirror, signal, manoeuvre’ or is it ‘signal, manoeuvre, mirror’? You were consciously competent.

Then, at some point, perhaps after several years of driving, you realise that when you get in the driver’s seat, your body just takes over and you drive, without thinking about it. This is the final stage of learning – unconscious competence.

When a new client hires you, they will probably have to go through these stages. Even if they know all about your subject area, they don’t know how you work, how you will apply your knowledge and experience to them, their life or their business. The perfect client acknowledges that they don’t know everything and that they have something to learn from you. They may be unconsciously incompetent and not know what they need to learn, but they acknowledge that and are willing to correct it – which brings us to the next key trait…

KEY TRAIT 4: The Perfect Client Is Keen to LEARN

If a client isn’t keen to learn, they’ll drag you down. They’ll often feel confused and disempowered. They will make themselves dependent on you and expect you to do it all for them. Eventually, you both may come to resent each other.

But the perfect client is eager to learn from you. If you’re a coach, they want to explore themselves; they want to change things and are willing to do the work. They come to sessions prepared, having done their coaching homework and reflected on the last session. They know what they want to get from the session, and at the same time, they listen to you and are willing to let you guide them through the process.

If you’re a chiropractor, a good client takes your advice, does the exercises you recommend, wears flat supportive shoes, starts carrying their backpack properly rather than slung over one shoulder. They don’t just show up to appointments expecting you to fix them without doing anything for themselves in between.

KEY TRAIT 5: The Perfect Client Is COMMITTED

The perfect client is committed to the work you are doing with/for them. They accept that they may not get results overnight. They accept it may take time and effort to achieve whatever it is they’ve hired to you deliver, and they are willing to put in that time and effort (or wait patiently while you do).

KEY TRAIT 6: The Perfect Client Is ENTHUSIASTIC

I’ve alluded to this already, but it bears being said again. The perfect client is enthusiastic about the work they are doing with you. They want to learn and are willing to put in their share of the work because they are genuinely excited about seeing the results you will produce together. This enthusiasm is infectious and gives energy to the relationship between you.

KEY TRAIT 7: The Perfect Client Is CONNECTED and ENGAGED

Finally, a good client is connected and engaged in the work you are doing with/for them. They chat to you. They ask questions. They are available when you need to speak to them or run something by them. They work on the project themselves rather than delegating it to someone else. If they do need to delegate some of the activities to someone else on their team, they are still actively involved in the process. Because of this, you are able to build a rapport with them. You can laugh and joke with them and get the work done while enjoying each other’s company.

Final Thoughts

In writing this, I’ve realised that all of these seven key traits of the perfect client are interwoven. They are enthusiastic about what you are working towards because they know it meets their needs. They are aware they have things to learn from you and are enthusiastic about learning them. Their enthusiasm makes them committed to the process and naturally appreciative of what you are doing for them.

And, in turn, their enthusiasm will inspire you to do a good job for them. It will foster a strong connection between you and enable you to work in a healthy collaboration together – as equals.

As a business owner who provides services to people, you will inevitably have clients you love working with and clients you don’t. As you give thought to what makes a good client, for you, it will allow you to start identifying who fits your criteria for a good, enjoyable client before you agree to work with them.

And then, when you take on the role of client with your own service providers, this awareness can help you receive the best level of service possible, allowing your business to flourish and your life to be that much easier.

This is my take on what makes a good client. Now, I’d love to hear what you would add to the list. What makes a good (or bad) client for you? What makes YOU a good (or bad) client for others? Please do share your thoughts or questions in the comments box below.

Nancy Goodyear
25 July 2014

P.S. If you believe you could be the ‘perfect client’ to work with Nancy and Lynn at the 7 Graces Project, have a look at our ‘Work With Us’ page, and drop us a line via the Contact Form on this site. .

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

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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, Relationship with Others, Relationship with Our Business | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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)

 

 

 

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