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6 Easy Tips to Overcome Communication Failures

We all think we can communicate. After all, we are all good listeners. We are all very good at sharing information and conveying messages. Right?  Wrong! Most people are not good communicators. As we move through the corporate world, we are sensitized to “time is money”, “get to the point” and “what’s your ask?”  Our leaders, mentors and peers share these messages with us constantly through words or body language.  Add to that, we all have our own agendas.  We do.  You can deny it, but if you do, you are only fooling yourself. So, we add all of this together and we are hard-pressed for time and we want to achieve our objectives and meet our Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).  Now, think about your customers.  Think about your prospects.  How are you communicating with them?  There is a good chance that there are some communication failures happening.  Here are 6 easy tips to overcome communication failures:

5 tips to over communications failure, heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com, taylormade solutions (Canada)

Image courtesy of graystoneadvisors.com

1.  Know your Audience

This is by far the oldest piece of advice going when it comes to communications. Despite this, I am often surprised by how many people and as a result organizations, just don’t know their audience. They use communication media that they feel most comfortable with and communicate when they want to communicate. They often have more than one audience, but choose to communicate in exactly the same manner for each.

Key Take-away:  What is (are) the personas of your audience(s)?  Are they in their 20s, 30s or 60s?  All of the above?  How do they consume content?  How often do they want to hear from you and consume content?  Do they prefer mainstream media, social media or public forums?  Does it depend on the situation?  If you can’t answer these questions with validated data, you have some homework to do.  If you don’t have the resources in-house, hire a consultant to find the answers for you.

2.  Slow Down

Yes, this is hard for most of us. Everything is a rush. After all, time is money right? It is..but and there is a big BUT..if you fail to communicate with your customers or prospects, the costs will be much higher. Customer retention becomes an issue. Reputation management becomes an issue. Stakeholders, including boards of directors get riled up as profits dip and stock prices follow. Slow down and pay attention to what is happening in your environment. When you do this, you hear, see and learn a lot. People notice that you are present. They appreciate this. Showing up only when you want something also gets noticed.

Key Take-away:  Be present. Don’t just show up when you want something or when there is a problem to fix. Your customers or prospects will soon associate you with only being there when YOU want something or when something has gone horribly wrong. Customers and prospects are people. People need and want relationships. They need to have confidence in you. They need to trust you and trust that your organization will do the right thing.

3. Follow-up and Follow-through

Similar to knowing your audience, this is one of the oldest and best pieces of advice when it comes to communication.  As mentioned in Good Customer Service:  What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You, be sure to follow-up on your customers or prospects.  This builds real trust and confidence.  And always under promise and over deliver. This can be hard to do at times, but consistent application will pay off in spades.

Key Take-away:  If you aren’t sure of your answer, then say so.  If you can’t deliver the product at a specific time, be up front.  The sooner the better.  And, when you do execute on “whatever” it is, circle back to ensure that your customer or prospect got what he or she needed. Yes, it can be time consuming, but it will be worth it.

4.  Put Your Best Foot Forward

Just like meeting your significant other’s parents for the first time, you want to put your best foot forward.  For a brand, this might be about the person they send to a meeting or the one that acts as their spokesperson.  Regardless of which scenario it is, you want to ensure that your point person has the facts, can present the corporate brand meeting or exceeding the brand standards and that that person or persons have the ability to make decisions and answer questions – any questions.

Key Take-away:  Putting your best foot forward, or your best people forward does not necessarily mean the most senior and certainly not the most junior. Each situation requires consideration and judgement. You need to consider your audience and the situation.  Who will provide win/win results?  Who will irritate or provoke?

5.  Be Timely

This one is quite important.  For any communication, it needs to be timely.  Your communications’ professionals need to always be thinking about timing. Depending what the communication is, too early and you sell the farm.  Too late, or too little you will lose creditability and trust.

Key Take-away:  Communications should never be an after-thought or relegated to lower importance.  Communications is a strategic component of everything you do.

6.  There is No Such Thing as Over Communicating

Once a upon a time someone actually said this to me – that we were over communicating. Think about that for a moment. Think about how people process information. Think about how people receive information. Think about how many times a message MUST be shared before it is actually absorbed. This is all proven documentable information.  If you apply fact and research, you cannot possibly over communicate. It is that simple.

Key Take-away:  Just because you know the answer or a few of your stakeholders know the answer, doesn’t mean your audience does.  People absorb information differently. Therefore you must apply proven communication techniques using various media and multiple messages to reach your audience.

Like this post?  Follow me on Twitter:  @MacLeanHeather

 

3 Tips Smart Content Marketers Can Learn From Downton Abbey

If you haven’t heard of Downton Abbey by now I am not sure what you have been doing.  I dare say that each of us who work in content marketing would love to have the audience that Downton has achieved.  In fact, according to Entertainment Weekly the Season 4 premiere on PBS was up 22 percent over premier of Season 3.  So, what is it that makes this show so riveting?  And, are there lessons to be learned?  There are definite lessons that content marketers can learn from the success of Downton.  Here are 3:

Image courtesy of www.26.org.uk

Image courtesy of www.26.org.uk

 

 1.  Be a Good Storyteller

This is probably the most consistent message you will hear about content marketing.  Some marketers are better at it than others. I continue to work at this.  Sometimes I hit the mark.  Sometimes I do not.

We can all take some tips from Julian Fellowes.  Just watching the show has given me ideas.  It is enough of a break from the same-old-same-old that my mind can think about new and fresh ideas.

2.  Don’t Blend In

In a sea of so-called reality TV of Housewives, singing contests and storage/pawn-a-thons, Downton Abbey is clearly different.  The characters are actors being actors and not people pretending that they aren’t following some contrived storyline.  The characters have depth versus one-dimensional and predictable personalities.

When creating content we all follow the prescribed approach don’t we?  Create a list – just like I have done here.  Ensure that it relates to something timely and topical – just like I have done here.  However, we to stop there.  We don’t  think differently.  Fellowes really demonstrates that being completely different from the norm or the expected, resonates with the audience.

3.  Create Suspense

This might be the biggest challenge for content marketers.  We tend to write independent stand-alone pieces.  We only have your attention for a short time after all.  However, if done well, this might be a great opportunity.  This could be the best way to shake up your audience and you certainly won’t blend in with the rest.  This will be an area that I explore.  How can I create suspense?  And, will I be successful?

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 2.55.53 PM

These are just three areas that content marketers can look to Downton Abbey for inspiration and learnings.  What would you add to the mix?

It’s Dec 26th – 20 Updates to Make to Your Profiles

Not everyone is recovering from Christmas Day or enjoying Boxing Day, so this is a great time to look at your social media profiles.  It is an even better time to update your profiles so that they are top-notch for 2014.  Here are 20 updates that you can do this week:

Forgo pet pics for your avatar - image Courtesy of soundcloud.com

Forgo pet pics for your avatar – image Courtesy of soundcloud.com

 Twitter

  1. Update your Avatar – This is your Twitter profile.  Why not use a good photo of you?  Be recognizable.
  2. Add your location – I love knowing where people are that I am connecting with.  I am not alone in this.
  3. Complete your Bio – I tend not to follow people who share nothing.  This is social media after all and it is about building relationships.  If you can’t share anything about who you are…you seem unfriendly.
  4. Make Use of the Header – This is a great way to show more about who you are.  Use it.  Don’t leave it blank.  That is just boring.
  5. Add a URL– Add your blog or website URL.  Again it is about sharing more about who you are.

Facebook

  1. Understand Different Features – For example, if you use Facebook for both personal and professional purposes, you may wish to make use of different lists for your friends, colleagues and business associates.
  2. Complete your “About”section – Fill this section out with as much information that you feel comfortable sharing.  Remember that you can set your security settings to share with friends only.Screen Shot 2013-12-24 at 10.56.55 AM
  3. Set your custom URL – Go to http://www.facebook.com/username/ and get your custom URL for your personal page and/or any pages that you administer.
  4. Update your Avatar –  When is the last time you updated your Avatar?  And…forget the cat pics.
  5. Have a unique cover photo – Standing out in a sea of social profiles is something that people usually want to do.  Having a custom cover photo shows personality.  Have fun, but remember that it is public and anyone can see it.  Don’t be Stupid – Social Media Can Get You Fired.

LinkedIn

  1. Photo – This is definitely the place that you want a professional photo.  This is your living resume and brand.  This is your time to shine.  Sharing a photo with another person is just weird and confusing.
  2. Be sure to get your custom URL – Like your photo this is important.  This helps in searches.
  3. Complete your summary – This is probably one of the biggest misses for people using LinkedIn.  This can be your elevator pitch.  Keep it short, accurate and punchy.  Whatever you do, don’t write about yourself in the first person.  That too is just weird!
  4. Get Recommendations – This is a great opportunity to showcase your skills and accomplishments.  The fact that others take the time to write you a recommendation speaks volumes.  When people prepare recommendations for others, it says just as much about that person as it does you.  People do not enter into recommendations lightly.
  5. Highlight & Describe your Experience – Another faux pas that people make repeatedly is only listing their jobs, and not outlining their experience.  Even if you are not looking for a job, this is your time to showcase your experience.  People use this information when recruiting for Boards of Directors, mentors and more.

Google+

  1. Think about SEO – Don’t over do it on keywords.  That won’t really get you a higher SEO rating. The unique algorithm used by Google will likely look at your variations on the same keywords as spam.
  2. Use a Good Avatar – This is a consistent message of this blog.  We all like to see who we are connecting with.  Some might think it fickle, but it is reality.  Go with it.
  3. Select a Solid Cover Image – Like in Facebook and Twitter, choose a good quality image.  Grainy images that are distracting is not the image you want for your brand – be it personal or business.
  4. Get your custom URL – This is still “relatively” new.  If you are able to get your custom URL, do it.
  5. Complete your About section – This should be a no brainer after reading the tips above.  It also applies to Google+.

These are just some tips for improving your profiles.  They don’t take long, so why not use this “quieter” time of year to update your profile.  You will have a head start on the New Year!

3 Critical Communication Tips Utilities Need During Storms

Blizzards, hurricanes, tornados, flooding — you name it and these weather events can wreak complete havoc on our electrical grid, leaving thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of customers without power.

Image courtesy of the weathernetwork.com

Image courtesy of the weathernetwork.com

Most utilities, but not all, do a great job of getting the preparedness message out to customers in advance of the storm, and really strategic utilities have made the move to using social media to not only communicate information, but also to listen and engage with customers during and after the storm.  There are some great learnings from these utilities that we can all apply to our social media and customer service strategies.

From personal experience I can attest to the fact that leading up to a storm, good communications and PR practitioners go into a full-scale information-sharing mode participating in hundreds of media interviews while also sharing information via social media.

The real challenge and opportunity however, arises when the storm is nearing an end or actually finished and thousands of customers remain in the dark for hours, days and maybe longer.  So what do strategic and prepared utilities do?  They do these three things:

1.  BE PREPARED

Strategic utilities have fantastic plans in place for their customer interaction centres to take inbound calls, but they don’t stop there! They also staff for listening, engaging and responding through social media channels, while still engaging with the media and doing interviews.

The conversations that can most impact your brand will occur in these channels. Frustrated customers will share their stories and photos with people who they can commiserate with. Not being present will further frustrate your customers.

From My Archives - Previous Life at a Utility

From My Archives – Previous Life at a Utility

Take full advantage of visuals. Post your photos and videos – both your own and those submitted by customers – that show the damage to poles, lines, service loops and more. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and how true that is.  In the utility world we know that most damage takes place in hard-to-reach and isolated areas. Why not show what you are facing behind the scenes, the special equipment needed to reach transmission towers or broken poles?

2.  BE AVAILABLE

Have multiple resources trained and ready to use social media tools.  Most importantly, engage with your customers outside your normal working hours. Being available will go a long way to ensuring your customers that you are there for them.  Utilities need to be proactive and communicate according to best practices for each social channel that their customers are using.  Utilities that fail, don’t engage with the customers in the customers’ preferred channels.

From personal experience, reaching out to the customer immediately has lead to private conversations that then resulted in the customer publicly praising the utility for its attention and prompt response.

3.  LISTEN

Be sure to be listening in the space where your customers communicate. Conversations occur in multiple channels and missing a key conversation can do significant damage to your reputation and your relationship with your customers. Utilizing a monitoring platform not only ensures that you hear these conversations, but saves you valuable time that can be directed to engaging with your customers.

Now that we are in full storm season, what are your tips for utilities?  What would you like them to do? 

3 Tips to Fix Your #Failed Mobile Marketing

According to a 2013 Pew Internet study, 56% of Americans own a smart phone and 35% own a tablet.  Research from Canalys earlier this year predicted that tablet sales would increase by 59% this year.  In fact in Q3 of 2013, over a quarter of a billion units shipped worldwide.  So getting your mobile strategy right has never been more important for sales.  The C-suite no longer accepts applying outdated tactics that net poor results. (Please Click to Tweet So, here are 3 easy tips to fix your mobile marketing and sales now:

Image courtesy of businesstocommunity.com

Image courtesy of businesstocommunity.com

 1.  Understand that Most Mobile Device Use is Not Really Mobile

That’s right, the biggest mistake that marketers are making is NOT understanding how people are using their devices.  A joint study released by AOL and BBDO revealed that 68% consumer mobile phone use occurred at home.  Yes, they are using their devices at home!

Marketers need to have a two-pronged approach to reach the ‘at home market’ and the ‘on-the-go market.’  They have different needs.   There is an added level of complexity when understanding the use of tablets versus smart phones.  Marketers who succeed in mobile will be those who establish different strategies and tactics for each.

2.  Mobile Phone Use Does Not Equal Tablet Use

According to Pew, the demographics for those using tablets most include:

  • Those living in households earning at least $75,000 per year (56%), compared with lower income brackets
  • Adults ages 35-44 (49%), compared with younger and older adults
  • College graduates (49%), compared with adults with lower levels of education

In order to effectively reach tablet and smart phone users requires different approaches, particularly when it comes to advertising.  It is not a one size fits all approach.

3.  Advertising on Mobile?  Know Thy Device!

If you are still using the old “push” model of broadcasting messages in your  advertising, you are likely failing.

Marketers need to focus on micro-targeted “pull” campaigns that effectively result in the customer accepting messages. In addition to pull, Marketers need to forget banner ads.  While somewhat annoying to computer users, they are even less welcome on mobile.  They just aren’t scalable to mobile and therefore completely ineffective.

Finally it is important to know that those succeeding in the mobile market and netting sales have built relationships with customers.  Through these relationships, they have learned customer  preferences, including real-time location information.  They offer deals that result in real sales.  Starbucks for example leveraged mobile by offering a $5 credit to those who joined My Starbucks Rewards program.  This resulted in more than 500,000 downloads of the mobile app in its two-week trial period.

Take-Away Lessons:  

  1. Don’t push information.  Pull Information through offering something up to your customer or prospect.  What are the chances that someone who redeemed that $5 spent more than the credit allotted to him or her?  Probably pretty good.
  2. Understand how customers are using different devices and use appropriate tactics.
  3. Don’t annoy prospects and customers with annoying banner ads on mobile.  Be creative and delight your customers with real offerings to PULL them into your store or location.

If people thought that social media changed everything, mobile is like living inside a snow globe that someone continually shakes.  What changes are you making to your mobile strategy to accommodate for this different world?

7 Considerations To Choose the Right Corporate Spokesperson

The choice of corporate spokesperson should never be taken lightly.  Never.  Having the wrong person representing you can damage your brand in the best case scenario.  In the worse-case scenario, it could destroy your brand.

Courtesy of evercleanservices.com

Courtesy of evercleanservices.com

The person or persons chosen need to be creditable, knowledgeable, well-spoken, but above all empathetic and likeable. There have been a few tragic situations over the last few years when brands seem to have forgotten this fundamental rule.

Over the course of many years in Public Relations and Crisis Communications I have been both a corporate spokesperson and coached others.  It is not an easy task. When dealing with death, there are just no words that can make anyone feel better. That is why it is so critical that you have someone who can give information and facts and most importantly have real and genuine empathy. You can’t fake empathy. You can’t fake the terrible feeling that you have knowing that a human-being has died. At this point the spokesperson must do his or her best to share information that will help make some sense of the tragedy without inflaming victims and loves-ones who are experiencing complete and utter loss, disbelief and anger.

A few months ago I listened as one corporate spokesperson spoke on a very, very tragic situation here in Canada. I did not envy him or anyone who had attempted to coach him. This level of tragedy was unknown in our country and facing those left behind was not going to be easy. Suffice it to say, the conversation did not go well. The words chosen and even the tone used, were wrong. I listened in disbelief. Only days later I listened to a follow-up interview. My only words to describe what I heard was:  why isn’t someone saving him from himself? Again the words chosen would only inflame the victims’ families.  

Brands can mitigate this by having the right person in place.  I offer the following advice to brands to avoid having the wrong spokesperson:

1.  Know the abilities of your employees, including your executives.  Choose a spokesperson based on knowledge and the ability to be empathetic and likeable, not based on position.  While it is true that PR people will “typically” recommend that the most senior person speak out to “take responsibility” in very serious circumstances, avoid this if your most senior person does not come across as caring, patient, and likeable.  

2.  Have a regular cadence of training for your spokespersons.  Don’t wait for a tragedy.  Have mock interviews with cameras, people playing probing and tough reporters. Be sure to watch and critique the interviews with the spokespersons.  

3.  Get 3rd party impressions of the spokespersons.  Play on-camera interviews with the audio turned off.  Ask what people felt about the spokesperson.  Did they feel that he or she was telling the truth or hiding something?  Did the person look angry, sincere, or arrogant?  You need to know this before an issue emerges.  

4.  If necessary, retrain after the the feedback.  If there is no improvement, replace the spokesperson.

5.  If the unthinkable happens and the spokesperson is called into duty, respond quickly.  The longer you wait, the more inflamed people will be.   Review and assess the person’s experience.  Be honest and really critique the situation.  This is the time that you need everyone doing the right thing for the victims and their families.  

6.  Change spokespersons if necessary. Do it and do it swiftly.  

7.  This one is most important:  Be human.  You are dealing with a tragedy.  Remember that.  You are not the victim. 


Tragedies are never easy.  The role of the spokesperson is do the best job to provide the facts and not inflame people.   

(Note:  a version of this same blog appeared previously in my old blog.)

 

 

You Are Rude, Don’t Blame Your Job

In this always-on fast-paced world we are all super connected to our technology.  We want to be on top of the latest email, tweet or Facbook post.  We want to appear cool and suave by responding quickly with some witty retort.  We want to feel important. But have you ever wondered how you really appear to others?  Have you ever thought that you might come off as selfish and self-important?  You should!  Are you innately rude?  You just might be.

Before going any further I have a confession to make: I “was” one of those people who had her phone physically connected to her body.  I even slept with the darn thing.  Every buzz or vibration was checked quicker than a cowboy could pull his six-shooter from his holster.  I prided myself in how quickly I got back to people regardless of the day of the week or the time of day.  When meeting with people I sometimes was only half there.  I was focused on that darn phone. I didn’t stop “being on” even when dinning with family or being invited to dinner parties.  Christmas get togethers also didn’t get my full attention.  I was “always” on.

Image

Image compliments of www.zazzle.com

Then one day it struck me that I was being really rude.  I mean really rude.  I wasn’t raised that way and I like to think that normally my manners are pretty good.  It is actually important to me.  So, how do I justify this behaviour?  Well, I take full responsibility and admit to liking the feeling of “feeling important.”  Really though, I wasn’t important.  Instead, I taught people that it was o.k. to infringe on my personal time and that I was at their beck and call 24/7.  I taught people that it was acceptable to take advantage of me.  This wasn’t fair to my family, my friends or even to me.

I wish my epiphany had resulted in my own self-awareness, but I can’t claim that.  Two things happened in one day that hit me like a hammer.  Two separate meetings taught me important lessons.

The first meeting was with a Vice-President that I reported to at the time.  When meeting with him you couldn’t help but feel like the center of attention.  After all, he stopped what he was doing.  He physically got up from his desk and sat at the meeting table with you in his office.  I am sure that he did this intentionally.  First and foremost he was moving away from any distractions on his desk.  Secondly he was moving away from the telephone on his desk.  His attention was 100% focused on you, the person he was meeting with, not anything else.  Even when his mobile rang, he ignored it.  The first time it happened I said it was ok for him to answer.  His response:  “No, it is not.  I am meeting with you.  You scheduled this time to meet with me and I agreed.  This is your time.  If there is a crisis or an emergency, someone will come to get me.”  I always left his meetings feeling respected and full of purpose.  Sure, we didn’t always agree on everything, but nonetheless I felt respected.

The second meeting was with another member of the executive team.  In this case we were meeting about an important strategic issue that needed a timely solution.  During the meeting the executive member answered no less than four calls, made three unrelated calls, accepted non emergency interruptions from colleagues and checked Facebook – which he said he “had to do.” Rather than feel respected I was frustrated when I left the meeting.  We had accomplished nothing.  He asked me to come back a couple of hours later.  I had to reschedule my afternoon to accommodate.  When I returned the next time, it was pretty much the same scenario.  Another hour passed and we accomplished nothing again.  I was asked to return later yet again.  It was the same thing.  In the end it took six hours of meetings to accomplish what could have been accomplished in 45 minutes.  It was not only a colossal waste of time, but it was indicative of how that individual thought of people.  It became very clear, very quickly that this was his M.O.  He did this to everyone.  

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 3.20.56 PM

Image compliments of business-technology.co.uk

So this was my epiphany.  I experienced what it is like to be treated respectfully.  I experienced what is like to be treated without respect.  One person valued both me and my time.  One person did not.

The real question however is whether or not you are respecting your colleagues, family and friends?  What about yourself?

5 Brilliant Tips from Content Marketing Experts

Content marketing continues to be one of the most effective ways to market a product, service or brand.  When done well, the results can be astonishing.  While Marketing Practitioners around the globe have embraced content marketing, there are still many who fear it.  To help build your case, here are 5 brilliant tips from Content Marketing Experts.

Image courtesy of www.actsofsilence.com

Image courtesy of www.actsofsilence.com

1.  “…the most critical part of a successful content marketing program is building your audience….Without the audience, we cannot drive revenue of any kind.” @JoePulizzi

2.  “By distributing your content by platform, chances are you’re overlooking opportunities that can significantly enhance the breath and quality of your potential audience. Instead, focus on getting your message to the influencers and people who can amplify your message by sharing it with their networks.”  @HeidiCohen

Remember to help you build your audience, your information should not be overly promotional.  Your are building a relationship.  “Use the 80/20 rule. Share 8 pieces of content for every 2 promo-type pieces.” (Click to Tweet!  Thanks!)

3.  “The role of the marketing department is evolving. To deliver tangible value to your organization the marketing department needs to shift from being creators of marketing campaigns to creators of stories. But, the best story telling usually comes from employees and customers.” @BernieBorges

4.  “PR is about reaching your audience. There are many more ways to do that than just via the media: Great website content, YouTube videos, blog posts, ebooks, charts, graphs, photos, a Twitter feed, a presence in Foursquare, Instagram, and so much more.” David Meerman Scott (@dmscott)

5.  “Professional services firms often worry that providing content will enable customers to DIY and prevent them from hiring the company. I have been a consultant for most of the past 25 years, and I can tell you first-hand that if a prospective customer is genuinely weighing the option of doing it themselves or hiring you, that is NOT a customer you want.” @jaybaer

These are just five great quotes and sources.  What would you add to this list?

6 Communications Lessons from the Big Bang Theory

More and more I enjoy the Big Bang Theory, and no it is not because the theme song is done by a Canadian band – although that is not a bad thing either, but I digress.

Image courtesy of Big Bang Theory

Image courtesy of Big Bang Theory

The appeal for me really, is that through comedy, there are lessons that we can all take-away and use in real life.  Here’s a quick look at the lovable and absolutely amusing characters of the show:

1.  Dr. Raj Koothrappali

This sweet shy boy/man could be a blog posting all on its own.  Come to think of it, each character could have a separate posting; however, I will keep it to one for now.

With his extreme shyness,  his “selective mutism” condition, and his desire to become a part of American culture, Raj sometimes misses the nuances of situations.  Combine this with his naivety and he sometimes speaks when he shouldn’t.

Lesson Learned:  Of course this provides all sorts of comic relief, but the real lesson learned is really:  do your homework and know what the issues are both on the surface and, more importantly, below the surface.  By doing this, you can better prepare all your stakeholders and communicate in a more meaningful manner.

2.  Howard Wolowitz – Wow, there are really so many things to say.  Where would one start?

Well, despite his over active need for “love” and his incredible collection of terrible pick-up lines prior to getting married of course, there is a very kind and dependable side to Howard.  I think of the show when Penny wanted to give Leonard a surprise birthday party because he had never had one.  It was amazing just how far Howard would go to help Penny make this happen for Leonard.  Despite being deathly allergic to peanuts, he ate them in order to keep Leonard at the hospital long enough to get the party together.

The lesson we can learn from Howard:  be sure that the people that you choose to be on your team are as dedicated (minus taking a such a risk with one’s life) to the cause and doing things right, as you are.  Your team and your communications are only as good as your weakest link.  Being in it only for yourself doesn’t cut it.

3.  Penny – Over and above being the eye candy for the male viewers, Penny has a completely different set of smarts than “the boys”.  Bringing a softer side of things and a completely different outlook and set of experiences, Penny has actually helped them evolve.

The lesson learned from Penny’s character and interaction is:  when forming your team it is absolutely critical to ensure that you have someone who thinks differently than the rest.  This person will not only challenge you to see things differently, but help your messages be clearer and more on target, thus you will increase your probability of successfully communicating.

4.  Dr. Leonard Hofstadter – Good ole Leonard.  Growing up the child of a world famous child psychiatrist and neuroscientist who severely lacked the ability to express any love at all, Leonard is probably the closest to not being a geek of all “the boys”.

The lesson that we learn from Leonard is pretty straight forward: be consistent, be steady and never give up.  An important lesson in communicating, Leonard demonstrated this with his consistent pursuit of Penny.

5.  Dr.  Sheldon Cooper – Perhaps one of the most kookiest characters on TV right now, Sheldon is hilarious.  How the writers came up with the idea of someone like Sheldon is fun in itself.  Part child, part man, part human being who is borderline insane, Sheldon demonstrates one of the most important things that we can learn from The Big Bang Theory.

Lesson learned from Sheldon:  with continuous support from your team, individuals can learn from others in order to become better at a task, to become a better co-worker, and finally to become a better person.  For Sheldon to improve and evolve however, he has to be receptive.  Like communications should be, it is a two-way street.  People have to be receptive to messages, trust and be willing to accept change.

Finally, the overall lesson that we can take away from the characters on The Big Bang Theory:  be true, be loyal, be honest, and always share.  These are simple tenants to good communications.

Do you follow these tenants?  Do you share or do you shut people out?

A version of this post was previously posted on my old blog New World Marketing & Communications

5 Tips for Small Business Owners To Pick a Content Marketing Expert

Content marketing continues to grow and for good reason. It enables businesses to leverage their expertise in a real and demonstrable manner, at a relatively low cost. So, why aren’t more small businesses taking advantage and implementing content marketing? The answer is simple.  They just don’t have the expertise or the time.  The good news is that there is help.  There are many excellent marketing practitioners who live and breathe content marketing.  At the same time, there are many people who profess to understand content marketing and do not.  Here are 5 tips for getting started when seeking your content marketer:

Content is King

Image courtesy of doublelinx.com

1.  Think Strategically

One of the first things that a content marketer should ask about is your strategy.  Good content marketing consultants will interview you about this and ask thought-provoking questions.

2.  Develop Personas

In order to curate content, it is essential that your content marketing professional be able to develop personas, should you not already have them.

 3. Act with Integration in Mind

Content should not be created only with social in mind.  An integrated approach must be taken.  Be sure that your marketing consultant has the expertise to leverage and implement an integrated marketing approach tied to your strategy.  Don’t be dazzled by someone who knows how to set up a Facebook Page or Group.

 4.  Execute Based on Best Practices

Be sure to ask questions to determine if your consultant knows how to make use of the right channels at the right time.  For example, recommending to post updates to Facebook at the wrong times with the wrong content will result in poor results.  This also applies to quality over quantity.   Always look for consultants that focus on quality first.

 5.  Focus On Long-term Results

As tempted as we are to want things to happen immediately, marketing is something that takes time.  Your consultant should be prepared to guide you through the process and make adjustments as needed.  Remember we are dealing with consumer behaviour and influencing behaviour takes time.

These are just 5 starting points to get you thinking.

Looking for more tips for small business?  Check out:  25 Cool Online Resources to Grow Your Business.