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Posts tagged ‘sales’

Eat What You Kill

I’ve been working for others about as long as I have been self-employed, and I’ve learned only one thing throughout all this time: value = delivery. I began the bulk of my professional career as a grant writer, and as a grant writer you are charged with paying for yourself, plus. Usually you are required to bring in three times your salary to justify your job. Seeing as how I was never a highly-Screen-Shot-2012-06-13-at-10.40.13-AM1paid grant writer, but I did win many 6-7 figure awards, this wasn’t difficult to accomplish. My jobs have always been secure…

Now that I am a freelancer, however, I’ve noticed that my personal expectations of what I deliver to clients changed a bit. I expected pay for work–competitive pay–pay commensurate with my skills and experience. What’s wrong with that? Work is a deliverable, right? You need writing services: a blog, a book, web copy, a press release, business proposal, a grant, flier, etc. I should get paid for the work I do based on my experience, talent and quality and the value of what I deliver. Right? Not so fast.

“Eat what you kill.” I have been in the land of commissioned sales, of percentages on projects with little cash laid up front but with lots to gain on the back end, based on the overall success of my deliverables. Some people cower at the thought while others thrive with the sense of empowerment to create their own revenue. I am the latter. I like knowing that the cash in my hand is a direct result of the work I have done. In other words, “eat what you kill.” If I bring money in the door, I get more money. In this strategy, my value is directly correlated with the money I generate.

As a writer, that may sound like a strange principal, and arguably it’s not the right strategy for everyone. It’s not the right strategy for every project, either, or for every client. But, over the past few weeks, it has become increasingly clear that this is exactly how I work best. Pay me most not just when I produce, but when what I produce turns a profit or is deemed measurably valuable to you in some meaningful way.

I’ve watched so many employees walk into businesses with a sense of entitlement that made my eyes water from the stench. They had no sense of hustle, no desire to bring efficiencies or ingenuity to the game, and felt no responsibility to add to the immediate bottom line of their workplace. Yet, they felt completely entitled to continue receiving a salary for breathing, whining and taking up space.

I’m not saying that all staff or contract positions need to conform to this philosophy, but I am saying that if you want to be deemed truly valuable, take on an “eat what you kill” mentality. Take risks that force you to deliver in big ways for you to see real pay-offs. Justify your salary by developing systems that save your company money, eliminate waste and redundancies, produce innovative products and services, commit to constantly increasing your performance and the quality of your work, or better yet bring hard cash through the door in the form of contracts, or developing a new customer base. Eat what you kill.

Thought of the day: eReaders Nook and Kindle–Dark or Light?

There are so many reviews and specs on all of these eReaders. Some even throw in the iPad as a competitor, which I find ridiculous. In short, the Nook Color and Kindle Fire settle around $200 – $260 whereas the iPad begins at $500. The price point alone knocks the iPad out of the running, plus, hands down, the iPad is far more feature-rich. It’s supposed to be. It’s an iPad.

Back to the discussion at hand–Nook and Kindle are offering very similar features. With the new Kindle Fire, it’s possible that Nook Color just got passed by, but not necessarily if you already are a B&N follower. Also, rumor has it that the next generation of Nook Color is soon to be revealed, so this game is not over.

So, you’re wondering which to purchase–exactly what I’m thinking. I’ve read dozens of reviews and played with all of the gadgets in person. Flatly, for me, it boils down to dark or light. Seriously, if you want a device that will allow you to read in the light, then you’re looking for a backlit display, featured on Nook Color and Kindle Fire. The Kindle Fire is less expensive and very feature-rich. While Nook has a few different options that may sway some consumers, I’d go with the Kindle Fire. However, it would still be beneficial to compare the specs to make certain you have the best fit for you.

On the other hand, if you want a device to read in bright light, then you want one of the black and white eReaders with the ink displays. Again, both Kindle and Nook have a few choices. I’m a touch person–not a fan of buttons, and I like the idea of not needing to log into a wifi connection to download media, so these would be contributing factors in my book. And, of course, cost. It looks like kindle wins for me here, too. Yet again, Nook offers some other features that may sway consumers in another direction, so please compare the specs for yourself.

What do I want? What I want doesn’t exist… yet. I want a Kindle Fire or a Nook Color that will allow me to toggle between the backlit color screens to an ink screen. Please let me know when you release this, and my decision will be easy. Meanwhile, I’m still torn. Not so much between manufacturers–I just don’t know if it’s light or dark that I crave more.

Here’s a great spec comparison between Kindle Fire, Nook Color and the iPad from PC.com: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2393737,00.asp#fbid=y3CaNMoZWsM

Daphne’s List of 7: The Art of the Press Release

Here is a list of 7 tips to get the most out of press releases:

  1. Why: Determine why you are distributing a press release. What are you  hoping to achieve? Are you a public company alerting your investors and potential investors about activities that will raise the value of your company? Are you reminding your community that your company provides critical products and/or services that will address their problems and meet their needs? Are you rallying support for an issue or cause, solicit community awareness, support and/or involvement? Are you trying to get the public to come to an event–something that will make them happy or give them pleasure/enjoyment? Are you alerting the community of a problem–do you have a legal obligation to report or address a crisis, or do you need to address this problem to help you get ahead of a crisis management situation? Know WHY, then make certain the why is obvious in the press release.
  2. Content: Include facts (who, what, when, where, why + who cares?), and be sure to tell a story. Draw your reader into the experience, and engage them. Give them what they want. Make certain it serves THEIR needs more than yours and your company’s. Remember that news is usually something that someone else doesn’t want you to know. All else is advertising. There’s nothing wrong with advertising, at all, but know it when you’re selling it. If it’s actually news, it’s more likely to be carried to wider readerships. Add links and hyperlinks so that recipients can fact check easily and have easy access to details if they need more content.
  3. Trends: Look for opportunities to address trending topics already getting media coverage. If you can ties your press release into a hot topic of interest, that tie-in can serve as a follow-up article or special interest piece that will probably trigger buzz or keep a buzz going more than a lone wolf story would. Know what’s trending and/or how to spin your story to address trending topics.
  4. Style: There are different styles that speak best to different types of press releases. Formulas for public companies alerting investors and potential investors are available on the web. As for publicity, writing in AP inverse pyramid style. Create a brief article, which will save print media from needing to do much editing if they are short-staffed and short on content. This will increase your chances of getting your press release published. At all times, proofread, edit, pay attention to legal parameters such as never making a claim about a product or services, etc. It’s an excellent idea to have more than one set of eyeballs on the copy prior to distributing. Editing often makes stronger copy. Keep your release to one page. Brevity is blessed.
  5. Timing: Timing is critical. Immediacy is most often the best practice for press releases. This means, it’s a good idea to keep CEO quotes at the ready for press releases. As soon as you see a relevant topic is about to trend or a relevant story is about to break, gather the CEO quote, then respond while the topic is hot. Streamline your review process so that everyone responds with urgency. A late submission narrows your chances of coverage. If you are a public company, a late submission greatly diminishes the effectiveness in influencing investors and potential investors.
  6. Distribution: Best to have a subscription to a distribution service or go through a pro that has access to a distribution service. This is the only way to go for a public company. For publicity purposes, it’s best to have personal relationships with key media personnel (e.g. columnist, journalists, editors, producers, etc.) to help ensure your press release gets noticed. If you don’t have these relationships built yet, remember that flattery will get you everywhere. Know what articles or news pieces these journalists have covered recently. Compliment them, specifically citing why their piece was compelling to you, and then pitch the story you have that might be of interest to them. It can be a slow process. Good relationships usually take time to build, and they are based wholly on trust and accountability, being mutually beneficial.
  7. Follow-up: Pick up a phone. After you have submitted (outside of a distribution service), pick up a telephone and call your news sources. Do not assume that they received, read or understood your release. Call them, and let them know you sent it. Have a 2-3 minutes synopsis ready to pitch, and request that they cover it. Try to get a commitment. There are some mild soft-sales skills that would be helpful here. If they flatly are not interested, ask if they are working on any similar stories where your company could serve as a source or if they might be interested at another time. Also ask if they know other news pros that might be interested in the story. Try to get a commitment first. If that doesn’t work out, try to get a lead. No matter what, make sure to work on building and maintaining that relationship. Be willing to provide leads to the media pro even if the lead may not benefit your company right then. Personally link them to that lead. The media pro will remember the favor and your generosity. Most likely, the favor will be returned.

The Digital Divide: Not everyone who matters is plugged in & many messages are best relayed eyeball-to-eyeball

Sometimes low-tech is the best way to get a message out

I respect the digital divide.

Not everyone has or wants to access the web for content, networking, research, etc. And honestly, that’s okay.

Some of these unplugged people are part of your most critical audience–they may be powerful community leaders, grassroots activists and wildly popular small business owners. While I’ll admit that getting plugged-in would only expand their reach and influence, they are very effective where they are and how they operate. You must be committed to meeting them where they are to make sure you are as inclusive in your communications strategies as possible. Be certain to provide no-tech recourses and communication tools, and not just as an after-thought. Make it meaningful and tied directly to your no-tech audience.

Additionally, some content isn’t best suited for the web. Some presentations and communications strategies are best suited to kinesthetic, tactile, manipulative, in-person, eyeball-to-eyeball hands-on connections. Get creative, and make these options available. Remember that people are physical not electronic entities. They sometimes like to hold things and have person-to-person conversations and connections.

Best practices: know & meet the needs of all your public where they are. Remember that a person-to-person conversation, sharing a laugh, or catching someone’s eye as they tell a story is critical in communications.

Never substitute technology for in-person. Technology is an enhancement not a replacement.

Revolutionize tourism and advertising.

I’ve read many, many blogs, websites, brochures, fliers, posters, ads… you name it. Let’s get real. People might like to be pampered and entertained, witness exotic customs or seek adventure and excitement. All of this is true.

Tourist introduced to culture

I have a better question for people in the tourism industry–all you copywriters, marketers and ad guys out there whose job it is to lure the almighty American dollar into the hands of tourist destination A or B…

Question: What do people really need?

Answer: They need to feel connected.

 This will require nano-target marketing, keeping costs ridiculously low while redefining “vacation” by amping up the local experience. This means having an intimate understanding of the “vacation” destination, its locals, history and opportunities for tourists to fully engage in what it means to be local. This means including opportunities for short-term, hour-long community volunteerism; opportunities for walking tours with locals at parks or beaches; allowing access to open classes on subjects such as sculpture, kayaking, local history or meditation; participation in community festivals; and providing affordable, safe, comfortable accommodations in historic or culturally significant locations.

Give people an opportunity to “Be a local” and be a part of a community when they travel–to reconnect with themselves and connect to the community they’re visiting.

Marketers and copywriters, sell THAT. I dare you.

Daphne’s List of 7 (Part 2): Values-Centered Branding

 Daphne’s List of Seven–VALUES-CENTERED BRANDING STRATEGY For Visionary professionals 

DEFINITION: Values-Centered Branding is when your brand directly and clearly reflects the values of your public. Your brand goes beyond marketing products & services–you are marketing the values of your customers–your public–by amping up the image of these values and reflecting them back to your public. Your brand is about representing and mirroring values that your public holds dear.

 

E.G. Nike doesn’t market shoesThe company markets values. Oh, and by the way, you can buy a really expensive pair of athletic shoes that show the world that you are all about those same values: “Just do it,” “Pledge your heart to the game,” all about endurance, character, commitment, perseverance, etc. McDonald’s doesn’t market hamburgers. Coca-Cola doesn’t market soda. The list goes on… These companies market experiences, emotions and VALUES.

(hint: they should be the same)

2. Who is your public–your customers/clients? What do they value? If you’re not sure, ask them. I promise, they will tell you.

3. Values match: Do your values match theirs? If not, work on this so that they do match.

(hint: sometimes a very progressive visionary company is in a position to attempt to amplify the existing values of its public, usually by increasing the visioning capacity of its public. Imagine a more compassionate, resourceful, sustainable and collaborative culture. Imagine homes, food and clothing for all. Imagine art and creativity is as valued in education as math and reading. Imagine teachers are paid their worth.)

4. Create the image: Imagine the future is already here–what does this picture look like? If the values your business represents become a large part of the culture, what will change? Define the image of that change.

(hint: This is not your logo. This is an image that can speak louder than words–can be a video, a photograph or something more creative. It is at least visual or at most multi-sensory)

5. Tie this into your communications strategies: key messages, elevator speeches, ad campaigns, media relations, blog and Twitter posts, etc.

6. Get feedback/research: Ask your public if they feel your brand is representing the targeted values well? Ask if these values are representative of the public’s values?

(hint: your overall business operations and practices must also mirror the values you promote. Your communications strategy must be woven into your business culture. In other words, you can’t claim to be a champion for valuing diverse voices and devalue the voices of some staff members. hypocrisy will be revealed sooner or later.)

7. Communicate: Respond to the individuals who took their time to give you feedback. Thank them for participating in surveys or answering questionnaires, etc. Most importantly, let them know you’re listening by taking action based on their responses. Be authentic, responsive, transparent and accountable. Think of creative ways to make sure this happens.

Want to know more? How can I help you? Please contact me daphnestreet@daphnestreet.com Web: www.daphnestreet.com

YOUR Brand = Identity

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