Author Archive


Facebook Newsfeed Changes Make Page Cover Images and Videos More Important

Friday, March 8th, 2013

On March 7, 2013 Facebook announced their upcoming Newsfeed changes. It’s no surprise that images will be featured more prominently across the board.

For Facebook business pages this means the cover image is more important ever. It will be seen more often and its essential that your cover image be optimized for marketing. It needs to not only provide an attractive visual, but to instantly convey your brand and the benefits of your product, services or organization to the viewer.

What does your Business Page Cover image look like? Does it effectively sell your business or organization?

Here are a few examples of Facebook Cover images I have designed:

Facebook Cover Image Designed by Christine Green

 

Facebook Cover Image Designed by Christine Green

 

Facebook Cover Image Designed by Christine Green

 

Facebook Cover Image Designed by Christine Green

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Videos will also be displayed much larger, giving your company or organization an even greater opportunity to utilize Video Marketing. Take a look at our Video Portfolio. We recently added a new project.

Get in touch if you need a new marketing-optimized cover image for your Facebook business page or want to talk with us about adding video to your company’s marketing plan.

LinkedIn Allows Video Embedding in Profiles

Friday, January 25th, 2013

The business professional’s most popular social media venue rolled out a new format at the end of 2012. This may be a game-changer because you can now add video to your LinkedIn Profile.

On January 17, 2013, LinkedIn announced that they are “gradually rolling out the media link feature to those that have the new profile design.” I recently noticed it in my profile but it may not yet be available to everyone.

Here’s what it looks like:

LinkedIn Profile with Video - Christine Green

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is great news for business professionals, business owners and solo entrepreneurs. It’s one more significant leap toward a video-focused Internet. Video marketing is no longer a luxury for large companies, but has become a necessity for small businesses. It can put you ahead of your competition and is the competitive edge for job seekers.

Individual professionals now have the opportunity to create a video resume to feature on a website, on LinkedIn and other online venues. And business owners can add a promotional video about their company to their LinkedIn Profile.

A word of caution – while video can rocket you ahead of other companies or job candidates, a poorly crafted video can do more damage then good. Don’t post a video that falls short, from either a technical or a marketing perspective.

Hire a video marketing consultant to advise you and produce videos that feature you in your best light (literally and figuratively! :-)) and effectively portray the compelling aspects of your company or you as an individual.

Find out how we can help you with your Video Marketing.

See my LinkedIn Profile with the embedded video: http://www.linkedin.com/in/christinegreenmarketing

Are Your Products Too Hard to Find?

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

 
Today I observed a huge missed opportunity by a professional who recently published a book.

An image of the cover of the newly published book with a compelling title appeared in my News Feed because a Facebook friend had commented on it (she was a Facebook “friend” of the author who posted the image).

I clicked on the image and the title grabbed my attention enough that I wanted to find out more about the book. I then clicked on the Facebook link for the person (book author) who had posted it. I landed on their Facebook Personal Profile and looked around. But there was no opportunity for me to subscribe to their public updates, no link to a website for the book or for the person or their work, no link to a Facebook Page, no LinkedIn Profile or Twitter account – NOTHING. Nothing I could connect to in order to stay in touch and updated with this person. No way for me to learn about their new book.

I copied the book title and checked on Amazon – not there. The best I could do was to Google the book title. I found one video of a presentation on the subject. I knew it was the same person because the name matched. The person was a great presenter. Unfortunately, there was no contact information or web link included. There was a title frame in the video that included the company name but no URL. So I had to click replay and pause the video to get the name of the company. I then Googled that.

FINALLY!….I found the person’s site. A decent website but still no mention of the book or “upcoming book.” My frustration was growing.

I was surprise to see that they did have a Twitter account linked from the site. I clicked the link and saw that they had 130 Followers. I decide to follow them even though I saw nothing too interesting as I scrolled through their past Tweets – they were mostly repetitive posts announcing that the latest issue of their email newsletter or blog was available. But there were no interesting titles to inspire me to click their link.

After some more digging, I discovered that this person also had a LinkedIn Profile linked from their site. It was tucked away far down on the footer of the site. I clicked on it. Okay! Now, we’re talking! Big presence on LinkedIn. Over 500 connections, blog link and feed, website link and a recent update. Good job on LinkedIn! Too bad the people who don’t know this business person already, can’t find them or their book.

Take off your social media blinders and spread out your online presence. There are a lot of us out here in cyberspace and we want to know about the great things you are doing!

Don’t make it so hard to find you!
Oh, and you can help make this blog article easier to find by clicking the “Like” button at the top of the page, or using one of the share buttons below. :-)

See How Your Website Looks on an iPad

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

 
Have you wondered what your website looks like when viewed on an iPad? If you don’t have an iPad and haven’t loaded your site onto the iPad of a friend, you might be wondering how it will render on the tablet.

Here’s a short video that shows you how to use an online iPad simulator at ipadpeek.com to find how your site looks on that digital device.

How does your site look?

How to Write a Google Review for the Businesses You Appreciate

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

In this economy and time of stiff competition, it is a much appreciated gift to write reviews for the businesses that provide you with superior products and fantastic service.

Of course you can also write negative reviews for the businesses that have disappointed you. Often a bad experience is a strong motivator to write online feedback, but I encourage you to take a few minutes to help out the small local businesses that have served you well.

I encourage you to do this, not only for the food establishments and retailers, but also your service providers that you may only work with occasionally or on a one-time basis – your accountant, business attorney, insurance agent, graphic designer, realtor, electrician, web developer and marketing consultant…..to name a few.

Here are instructions for writing a Google Places Review as of 2/2/12. It’s not as complicated as it looks and I have provide visuals for your convenience.

How to Write a Google Review on Google Places:

1. Search for the business on Google.com or Google Maps.
2. Once you’ve located the business you’d like to review, click the more info link next to the business name in the left panel. The information window will expand with additional options.
3. Click the Write a Review link located above the address of the business.
4. Be as specific as you can about what you liked about working with the company or individual. The more details you can provide, the more compelling the review. And the more helpful it will be for potential customers.
5. Give your review a title and rating (click on the stars).
6. Click Save.

You need to be signed in to your Google Account to write a review. If you’re not signed in, you’ll be prompted to either sign in or create a Google Account. (see the visual instructions below)

NOTE: Your Google Account nickname will appear next to all of the reviews that you write. To change your nickname, go to your Google account settings and click Edit profile.

If you don’t have a Google Account or are not signed in you will land on this page:

Next you will see this Page:
Enter your info and click “I accept Create my account” at the bottom.

Google Account Signup

You should then be returned automatically to the Google Places Page where you were but if not you can just do a Google search for name of the business and city and state – for example: “Radiant Electric Raymond NH”

Once you are back on the page. Click the “Write a Review” button again.
Be sure to give your Review a TITLE and a RATING (click the stars).
Then click “SAVE.”

Your REVIEW is very valuable to the company for which it was written. It is a great expression of appreciation for a “job well done.”

Your Review helps the business in the following ways:
• getting the business known online
• improving Search Engine Optimization and Google ranking
• publicizing the services and quality customer service the company provides
• displaying feedback from customers which is one of the most effective ways to get new customers

So….“don’t forget your servers”  and help them out by writing a Google Review.  And don’t be shy – write a Yelp review and a review on any other business directory sites you can find.

Marketing and Branding Impact of the New Twitter Format

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

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Has your Twitter page transformed into the new format yet? If not it will very soon (like probably today!)

There are many interesting changes and plenty of places to learn what you need to know, so I won’t go into those details here.

There is, however, a small but not-so-minor change that will be of interest to businesses using Twitter as one of their marketing tools. Twitter’s new format emphasizes the “name” associated with the account rather than the @username, that was previously the highlighted identifier.

The name might be a person’s actual name, but can be whatever the account holder has chosen. In some cases it’s the name of a company or some combination of a name, company, word, etc.

This change has significant implications for branding yourself or your company.

For example, I have two Twitter accounts – one for myself as associated with my company Christine Green Consulting, and one that is associated with my mobile marketing and text messaging service.

My first account has the username of @ChristineGreen_ and the name associated with it is Christine Green. No surprise.

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My second Twitter account has the username of @MobileMrketing but also has the name Christine Green associated with it.

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When I first launched that account the name associated with it was “Bost MobileMrketing.” I choose to do this temporarily for branding while I was building the website.

I was also curious to see how followers would interact with an account that had no web link and no identified person behind it. I did attract followers slowly but surely. I still have a rather small following and am not very active on the account yet, but once the Boston North Mobile Marketing site was launched, I added that link and changed the name to my own.

In the old Twitter format I was being branded primarily as @MobileMrketing because that username was most prominent. It was shown first and was larger and bolder than my name.

In the new format the opposite is true. The person’s name is now first (or at the top), large and bold.

This changes the way you are identified and perhaps even how you are perceived. Have you been branding yourself by your username or as your name? For some of you they are the same, but for many, your @username has become well known and even its own brand.

The example that comes to mind immediately is @Pistachio who is Laura Fitton. She is well know in the Twittersphere and co-author of Twitter for Dummies. To be honest I followed her for almost a year before I knew her name!

But check out how she shows up in the new profile:

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In both of these screenshots you can barely see, much less notice her @Pistachio username.

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So what does this reformatting mean for businesses using Twitter for marketing?

Mostly, you need to be aware of this change. You or your social media marketing consultant or staff can decide if you need to take any action. The good news is that you can change your username or your name. I wouldn’t advise changing your username since it has been your brand to many of your followers. (I am not sure what happens if you change your username but I assume you would keep your followers).

You may however, want to change the name associated with the account. If it’s your own name, I’d recommend keeping it, but if it is a made-up word or combination “name” you will want to assess the impact of it now being front-and-center. Now’s the time to make a change if you believe another name will improve your branding.

A final consideration related to your Twitter identity, is the photo or image that you use with your account. Now, more than ever, the image that represents your account is critical. If you aren’t crazy about it, change it now to assist with your branding.

The new format is an exciting change for this micro-blog. Hopefully it will stay the same long enough to allow businesses to optimize it for marketing…unlike another social media venue, (which will go unnamed) that changes almost daily! #FB Smile

P.S. As you can see, my Twitter accounts aren’t exactly brimming with followers, but you can change that! Let’s connect!

Why Twitter’s Link Shortening Service is a Big Deal

Monday, November 21st, 2011

2011-11-21 17h13_16

Twitter launched its own link shortening service in August of this year. At first only links that were too long to fit into the 140 character space were shortened. But as of October 2011, all links are shortened.

There are many link shortening services, so what’s the big deal?

The big deal is this – the service offers the following:

  • It protects users by checking against a list of potentially dangerous sites that spread malware, engage in phishing attacks, and other harmful activity, and warns them before they continue.
  • The service also measures information like how many times a link has been clicked.
  • A promise by Twitter that the information measured “will eventually become an important quality signal for our resonance algorithm, which determines how relevant and interesting each Tweet is when compared to similar Tweets.”

What you need to know:

  • All links published through Twitter are safe to click, including those in Direct Messages.
  • You can still use other link shortening services, so you don’t have to stop tracking your metrics with another service like bit.ly.
  • The Twitter t.co service only works for links published on Twitter and cannot be used independently for general link shortening.
  • Twitter’s shortened links will now show up separately in your analytics as a referral source.
  • You can not only track the effectiveness of your Twitter activity, but now your individual Tweets!

The tracking feature alone will boost Twitter as an engagement marketing tool for brands. And we will hear a sigh of relief from Tweeters everywhere when they learn about the safe browsing.

Follow Me and send me one of your shortened links! :-)

LinkedIn Company Pages Can Now Publish Updates

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

LinkedIn just announced a new feature for their Company Pages – “Status Updates.” This means you can now publish an update as your company if you have a Company Page on LinkedIn.

Company Pages for LinkedIn

Of course, if you don’t yet have any, you’ll need to attract Followers to your business on LinkedIn, otherwise no one will see your company’s status updates. It does not get published to your personal updates feed.

As a small business it’s a good idea to create a Company Page with at least the basic information and a logo image, but it might not be the best use of your marketing time and energy to focus on your LinkedIn presence.

Company Pages are probably most effective for medium to large companies that have a lot of employees and are known already on LinkedIn and currently have their employees connected to the company page. Another important feature is that, like Facebook Business Pages, Company Pages on LinkedIn can have more than one Administrator who can publish status updates.

With so many online profiles, pages and venues, it’s essential to make an informed decision about where and how you spend your marketing time.

A carefully crafted marketing strategy, based on an in-depth assessment of your company, will help you determine if and how your LinkedIn Company Page fits into your marketing plan and time allotment.

Learn more here about LinkedIn Company Pages

The Risk of Piecemeal Marketing

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

Marketing Puzzle

No matter how limited your budget, a piecemeal marketing approach of jumping onto the latest bandwagon, is usually not wise or cost-effective.

Putting up a Facebook Business Page or adding a QR Code to print collateral will be effective only if your strategic plan calls for those initiatives and they are properly implemented and managed. Don’t get me wrong, both can be extremely effective, but not simply because you use them.

See my post What Businesses Are Doing Wrong with QR Codes.

Neither Facebook or QR Codes are a business promotion quick fix. In fact, they can both be a waste of money if they are not the best use of your marketing dollars.

How do you know which initiatives will best utilize your marketing budget?

Well, you’ll first need to take an in-depth look at what you are doing and why….and more importantly, what you are not doing.

What you need is a Marketing Strategy – one that’s been developed by the appropriate professional. And I’m not talking about your web designer who thinks s/he has marketing expertise because they add social media links and email capture forms to your website. That’s popularity-based piecemeal marketing and will likely give you inconsistent piecemeal results.

You might think you can’t go wrong with social media links, but actually you can. If your prospects and customers go to your Twitter account or your Facebook Business Page and you are not versed in the social media protocol that will give them what they want and keep them engaged, you can lose them with a click of a button. And in most cases you will never see them again.

Don’t fall into the trap of the marketing bandwagon. Business owners, like everyone else, are strongly influenced by trends. Trends are important to pay attention to, but don’t forget to think for yourself rather than following blindly. Get the advice of a marketing expert, not your friends or business associates. Even if a business colleague has gotten great results with specific marketing tactics, those same activities may not translate to success for your business. And even if they do, you might have loose ends about how a particular initiative fits into your overall strategy, how it interfaces with other initiatives and the essential details of its implementation.

And what you may never know is what opportunities you missed, including the additional customers you could have attracted and converted, had you followed a skillfully crafted strategic plan.

Individual initiatives that are not part of a strategic plan are merely marketing “activities” and likely won’t lead to a fully successful campaign that helps you meet your business development goals.

The launch of any initiative requires a comprehensive understanding of today’s digital and social media protocol, as well as considerations of the complexities of context, scope, timing, management, tracking, and analysis.

While your current activities may not necessarily be off the mark, you are likely only accessing the tip of the iceberg in terms of your marketing potential.

I’m not talking about high-budget campaigns that you can’t afford. I’m talking about things you don’t know about, innovative approaches you will never think of, and creative strategies. I’m talking about the smart use of your business development dollars. If you are serious about your business and want to build your customer base and increase your market share, don’t do your own marketing.

Outsource it, just as you do for legal matters, bookkeeping, and taxes. You can be closely involved and there are certainly marketing tasks you can perform, but you’ll have guidance and will feel confident that your activities are on track and making a difference for your business.

Your marketing budget will be best spent on an in-depth assessment and and a marketing plan based on those findings. Hire a marketing consultant with expertise and creative skills, who can design an effective strategy.

I just might know someone. Winking smile

New Facebook Timeline Format Offers Opportunity for Business Marketing and Personal Branding

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

A few days ago Facebook announced the launch of a new page design for personal profiles. This new format features a large banner area at the top of the page. It is similar to the recent trend in web design that displays a large image on the homepage. Facebook calls this banner your “Cover.” You can add any image you want and change it as often as you like.

As a marketer I began to drool the minute I saw this unveiled. Most people will upload an interesting or funny photograph, but it presents a fabulous opportunity for business marketing and personal branding.

I immediately got to work on creating my Cover image. Here’s a screenshot of my new personal profile page:

CG_FB_ProfileTimelineImage

While this is currently published on my Facebook profile, it is only visible to those who have application developer status, so only a few of my Facebook friends can see it at this time. On September 29, 2011, Facebook will begin to shift profiles over to this new format and it will then be visible to everyone.

As you can see I created a custom graphic image that displays my company name and website URLs. The URLs are not live links but I did manage to make the banner interactive with a QR Code that is scannable and takes you to a mobile version of my website. If you are unfamiliar with QR Codes, it is the bar code in the lower left corner of the banner. You need a QR Code app on your smartphone in order to scan it.

Let me take a moment to clarify that the Facebook Terms of Service states that your personal profile has to be a real person and should not be used for financial gain. This is a bit loosely defined and not fully enforced, but I highly recommend that you do your direct business promotions on a Facebook Business Page, rather than your personal profile.

What I am recommending in this article is within the Terms of Service. I do sometimes talk about what I do in my business on my personal profile, but I never directly pitch my services. That would be a quick way to get “unfriended” and is, in my opinion, unprofessional. If you want a presence for your business on Facebook, create a Facebook Page that people “Like” rather than “Friend.”

Now….back to your profile Cover. If you want to get started now and set up your new profile, you can find instructions on Tech Crunch.

As you can see, this is fairly straightforward. As of next Thursday you will have a new “canvas” on your Facebook profile on which you can feature whatever you want. It’s one of the best of the recent changes on Facebook and is ideal for getting the word out about your professional identity.

At Christine Green Consulting, we will certainly now include the optimization of the Facebook profile banner in our client’s strategic marketing plans.

I look forward to seeing the creative ways these banners will be used!

Impossible Feats – Accomplishing What Can’t Be Done

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

What is your relationship to the seemingly impossible? What amazing feat might you accomplish if you were able to hold your intention with unwavering commitment?

The World Trade Center Twin Towers in New York City had an interesting history with two incredible feats of the impossible. One took place at its birth and the other at its death.

Both of these feats were incomprehensible – the first in the positive sense and the second in a tragically negative sense. There was a time when even the feat of building the towers themselves, buildings of that height, was impossible.

The first impossible feat that birthed the WTC was the high-wire act across the two towers by the young Frenchmen, Philippe Petit (see the film Man on Wire if you haven’t yet.)

The second and final impossible feat involving the twin towers was of course, the terrorist attacks where two jet planes flew directly into and brought down the towers on September 11, 2001.

Both of these feats required lengthy and complex planning, with little margin for error. All things had to be impeccably aligned to pull it off. To reflect on the theory of either one of these feats in detail, would surely have any one declaring it impossible.

The interesting aspect is that both involved significant breaches in security. Philippe Petit should have never gotten past security guards to haul all of his equipment and crew to the top of the towers, not to mention rigging and securing the wire between the two towers and then performing his high-wire act for 45 minutes.

Middle-Eastern men with no luggage, using cash to purchase one-way tickets on flights from the east coast, should not have easily gotten past the security check. (please don’t call me racist – I am merely referring to a combination of factors that would likely raise the suspicion of security personnel)

For good, for bad, for entertainment, for evil. For whatever….how were these feats accomplished?

Somehow everything….and I mean everything went right. Everything was perfect. The weather conditions for each feat had to be perfect – and it was. No part of the plan could go wrong – and it didn’t. There were certainly a few minor glitches – but no obstacle big enough to stand in the way.

So how are astounding feats like these accomplished?

Were the stars aligned? Obviously yes…for whatever that’s worth.

Was it brilliant planning and execution? Yes, again…but is there more?

I believe the most important aspect of how these seemingly impossible feats were accomplished was a profound unwavering, intention and desire. An absolute dedication and commitment unlike the kind most of us ever experience.

There was not one micro-ounce of ambivalence; not one moment of doubt; not one nano-second of hesitation. In each of these feats the impossible was made possible by the single-minded intention and full-out commitment of those who carried them out.

Let’s leave the discussion of good and evil intention for another time and place.

The point I am making is that it is the power of intention and an iron-clad commitment that creates amazing results.

You won’t likely be trying to accomplish such extreme feats, but each of our challenges can feel impossible at times. For the start-up business owner, the challenge of building and sustaining a successful business can feel impossible. For the independent consultant, each project can have impossible aspects that we have to overcome. And for those who work for someone else, there are times when your boss expects the impossible. Right?

How high do you set your sights for what you can accomplish? What’s your level of commitment? Do you struggle with ambivalence? Do you second-guess yourself and your direction or decisions?

Think about the expectations you have for yourself. Get honest about your level of commitment. Don’t kid yourself if you feel ambivalent. Understand that accomplishing impossible feats requires precision and attention to detail. But know that perfectionism to the degree of obsession and hesitation will hinder rather than help your success.

Paying attention and regularly evaluating these aspects of your approach can be the most valuable business skill.

Work toward overcoming your personal obstacles and train your mind to support you rather than work against you.

The combination of your belief in your ability to accomplish and your desire to make it happen is the recipe for success.

What impossible feat will you focus on this year?

Make it a positive, life-sustaining goal. Commit. Have fun. Break a few rules…and make it happen.

Reason #1 to Get on Google Plus

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Google Plus icon

This is the first article in a series about why you should create a profile and participate on Google+ (“Google Plus”). This series may consist of one post (that doesn’t make it a series then, does it?) or more, depending on how many reasons I can muster.

Since the social media venue is only about a week old, the community on Google+ is not yet humongous (though today it’s supposed to reach 10 million – Okay that’s pretty darn big, but a far cry from Facebook’s 400 billion!).

As a social media consultant it was important for me to get on G+ as soon as I could and begin assessing it for business use. You may think it’s not possible to have a business presence yet. Google has asked businesses to hold off on creating profiles for their companies, and I recently saw a post stating that they were already cracking down and removing profiles with a business name (unlike Facebook, where thousands, if not millions of businesses get away with violating the Terms of Service by creating a “Profile” that can “friend” others, rather than a business “Page” that is “Liked”)

So,  you may say “Why bother, if my only interest in social media is for boosting my business?” Well, I’ll tell you why you should bother.

Since the pool of participants is still relatively small and the connecting protocol is being made up as we (early adopters) go along, you may have an amazing opportunity as a business professional. At least if you are a marketer or social media specialist. Though I have a feeling what I am experiencing will hold true for other professions if/when they are participating.

As I search for specific people, by typing in the search form or browsing the connections of others, I add them to my circles. I have the choice of adding them to an existing default circle (which are titled “following,” “friends,” “family,” and “acquaintances”) or creating a new custom-named circle. My approach is to add the hot shot well-known marketers and social media gurus to my “following” circle….just as I do on Twitter. It’s likely I will later sift this down into sub-categories but that’s what I am doing for now.

Because this venue is so new and it is almost a combination of Facebook and Twitter, there may be behaviors happening now that will vanish later.

One of those behaviors is that some of these well-known folks have added me (yes me!) to one of their circles. Now that could mean that I’ve been added to a custom circle called “The losers who are following me” or “Think I’ll make her day by adding her to this circle that I will never view,” but I don’t think so. I’m sure I’m not in their “Essential Contacts” circle, but they probably take a gander now and then at the masses who follow them, especially while this is all still new.

I think the social media marketing rock stars are thinking that anyone who is already on G+ is worth adding just because we know enough to jump in as an early adopter. And they want to build their circles and are being generous.

Twitter has the similar quality of giving you the opportunity to connect with highly regarded people in any field. They may not follow you back or respond to the @famousperson messages you Tweet, but you do have the opportunity to “talk to” them publicly that way.

The deal with G+ is that once you add someone to one of your circles you get to see everything they publish – or at least what they publish to the public or to the circle you’re in. AND you get to comment on any of their posts that you see. So guess what? Even though that person may get 87 comments on any one of their public posts, one of them can be yours! And I’d be willing to bet that at least for the next few weeks, that person is going to read most of those comments.

So your name gets in front of them in several ways. First you added them and they get notified that you did. Secondly, if you comment on their posts you potentially get seen by them once again (not to mention being seen by all the others who commented). And if you have something halfway interesting to say, you may even get noticed or responded to in the comment area. And if you turn into a stalking commenter, you’ll at least be a familiar name!

Seriously, though you have the ability to get known. Whether it’s by someone highly regarded in your field or by potential clients or referral sources…..you still get known. And that’s what social media is all about. And that’s what doing business is all about.

G+ is a big conversation. And if you post thoughtful comments of substance and publish your own content of value, you’ll become known for that. But if you become a pest or just toot your own horn, you’ll become known for that. Your choice.

So jump in. Listen for a while to make sure you “get” what’s going on, so you don’t do more damage than good – then start participating.

Find the people you want to get in front of:

  • valuable connections
  • leaders in your industry
  • mentors and colleagues
  • potential clients
  • potential collaborators
  • referral sources
  • interesting people

Add them to one of your circles.

Then Don’t be shy. Contribute to the conversation. But don’t have an agenda or try to force an outcome. Stay connected and stay open.

And most of all – relax and have some fun.
They call it “social” media for a reason!

Come find me on Google+

I promise I’ll put you in the perfect circle! Smile

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Facebook

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Eggs-in-Basket-FB

Many businesses have jumped on the Facebook band wagon. Many are using their Facebook Business Page as their primary “website” and/or for various promotions and opt-ins. This had made me nervous for some time and I would strongly advise against relying too heavily on Facebook.

Right now Facebook seems like an unstoppable empire. But I personally don’t think they will last if they continue in the direction they are heading and maintain the same business attitude. Mark Zuckerberg is young with more than a touch of narcissism and thinks me knows best what FB users need and want. He has a narrow vision which has proven to be clueless time and time again, both for Personal Profiles and Business Pages.

I believe Facebook has too many fatal flaws that they will likely defend to the end. Their policy of making users “opt-out” rather than “opt-in” to annoying and invasive privacy settings is a sore spot for many people.

When they did away with the chronological order of posts on Business Pages they almost destroyed the effectiveness of the Pages for many companies.

Their almost daily changes with little regard for user preference is turning people off and confusing the rest of us.

And now…..finally there is a contender that may knock them off their feet. Something that might not be hard to do, especially when it comes from a well known company like Google.

I don’t even have a Google+ (pronounced “Google Plus”) account yet, but from viewing their intro videos I see that they are addressing the missing and failed elements of Facebook. It appears that they have actually designed the venue to what users want. It might be worth the switch for the “Circles” element alone.

“Circles” are groups based around common interests, values, philosophies or whatever, and provide the opportunity to post exclusively to the members of that group. To me this allows for more freedom of expression than I feel comfortable publishing to my entire “friend” list on FB. The reality is that we all have pods of different types of people and we communicate a little differently within each of those groups.

My prediction is that while it may take a while – perhaps even a year or two….Google+ will likely climb to the top of the heap as the number one social “friending” venue, with Facebook going the way of MySpace.

I have no idea what Google+ does or will feature for a business presence. But Google is a sophisticated business-savvy company and I have confidence that they won’t have any difficulty out-shining Facebook in that arena. Facebook has had no competitors and had no significant consequences to face for its many missteps. But the party’s over and there’s a new kid in town.

So if your business has a Facebook Business Page, ride the FB wave while you can. But do some forward thinking, take a look at Google+ (once you can) and think about where you want to keep your eggs.

How to Get Introductions on LinkedIn

Monday, June 6th, 2011

linkedin

Using LinkedIn to connect with professionals and companies can be a great strategy for certain professions. Requesting introductions to hard-to-reach individuals is one such strategy.

If you have the free version of LinkedIn, you may only request 5 introductions per month. The paid LinkedIn Plans are 15, 25 and 35 introductions per month respectively, as the price increases.

If you’d like to be introduced to a specific person, by a colleague on LinkedIn, follow these instructions:

  • Login to LinkedIn
  • Find the person to whom you want to be introduced – you can do a LinkedIn search or go to the Profile of one of your connections that you know is connected to this person, click on that person’s connections and scroll till you see the person you’re looking for.
  • Click on the person’s Profile
  • In the upper right corner you’ll see a link that says “Get introduced through a connection”
  • Click that link
  • That will take you to a page with a list of all the connections that you share with that person (the people you are both connected to)
  • Click the button next to the person you will ask for the introduction
  • Then click “Continue” at the bottom of the page
  • That will take you to a page called “Request an Introduction”
  • This is the message that will be sent to the person you are requesting the introduction from. There are several things to select and fill in on this page. You can include your email and phone number. You will want to choose from the Categories drop-down menu to indicate why you are seeking this introduction. There is also a text box for a message to the person you are requesting the introduction from and another text box where you can write a message to the person with whom you are seeking the connection.
  • Compose your message carefully. Be succinct. Don’t make the recipient read a long pitch or description. If you take up too much of their time or give them a hard sell they will be less likely to accept a connection to you. Remember – write your intro in a way that describes what they might get out of it. Don’t try to sell them your services! You are merely connecting. This is the beginning of the relationship not the marriage proposal!
  • Write your message. Go do something else for a few minutes or hours. Reread what you wrote and edit accordingly.
  • When you are happy with it – click “Send”
  • Rinse and Repeat (for each person you want to add to your connections)

The LinkedIn paid plans offer additional ways to contact people. The features change on a regular basis so check the LinkedIn site for details and pricing.

What Your Business is Doing Wrong with QR Codes

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

CG.com QR Code

Many businesses have gotten excited about 2D bar codes, especially QR codes. They are popping up everywhere. Unfortunately, many businesses are using QR codes ineffectively. In the rush to jump on the band wagon with this compelling technology, these bar codes are being haphazardly printed in various media without an effective marketing strategy or meaningful context.

Like many similar communication tools that have come before, well intentioned business owners mistakenly think that merely adding the code to their marketing collateral will boost their customer base. They pat themselves on the back for being on the leading edge of this marketing trend but are unaware of how to reap the full benefits of this new tool.

The biggest mistake I have seen so far is using a QR code that leads to a web page that is not a mobile-friendly site. Why is this a problem? You are asking potential customers to scan the code with their smart phone and when they do, it automatically takes them to a page on your website. So you are obviously wanting them to view your web page on their phone. But if they don’t land on a mobile version of your website, it will be difficult for them to view and even more difficult to navigate, find your contact info or make a purchase. You are wasting their time and your leading edge code that results in a frustrating experience will do more harm than good. You’ve wasted your marketing efforts and dollars.

I hope you didn’t pay a marketing professional to set up your failed QR code campaign.

What Are QR Codes?

QR stands for Quick Response. A QR Code is a square black and white (though some are in color) bar code, that when scanned with the proper app on a mobile device, will take you to information or an online destination. This might be contact information, a website, video or a downloadable file.

It’s an ingenious concept, but before you join the ranks and spend marketing dollars to add a QR code to your paper towel holder, you may want to do a bit more research. QR codes may not be the amazing customer magnet that you think they are. And if you don’t use them effectively you’ve wasted perfectly good black ink (not to mention your time and money).

First of all they are not new. They have been used in Japan and South Korea for many years.

Secondly, they are still not accessible to most people, at least not in the United States. They are very effective in Japan because all Japanese cell phones come with a bar code scanner pre-installed. So the average Japanese citizen is familiar with them, has a scanner app on their phone and can easily scan till their heart’s content.

However, in the U.S. it’s a different story. There’s a lot of hype, but not yet much in the way of accessibility or familiarity for the average person. A smart phone is required and the user needs to download a bar code scanner and then learn how to use it. This might be a snap for those under 30, but many in their 40s and 50s are just not there yet.

Here are a few places where you’ll see QR Codes in the U.S.:

  • Magazine ads
  • Websites
  • Business cards
  • Signs
  • Fliers and brochures

And here’s a hoot – they are even on billboards! I’m not sure how your customers can scan the code while driving by, but hey you’ve got your bar code big as life!

Here’s what companies are doing wrong:

  • Placing them without an explanation of what it is or how to use it
  • Not giving the customer a compelling reason to scan it
  • Making them too small and therefore difficult to scan
  • Sending the customer to a destination that may not be what the customer wants
  • Sending the customer to a web page that is not on a mobile website
  • Not having an effective strategy
  • Sending the customer to a destination that doesn’t allow or encourage on-going connection
  • Placing them where one could not scan it easily or safely (like billboards)

What you need to know:

  • There are likely better ways to use QR Codes that you don’t know about
  • If you use a code that leads customers to a website – make sure it’s a mobile website
  • A marketing strategist who specializes in new media technology can help you optimize how you use the codes
  • There are far more effective leading edge uses of your marketing dollars than using QR Codes

QR Codes are fun and unique. So go ahead and use them, but save yourself time, money and frustration by getting advice from a marketing professional. Assess their usefulness for your specific business, make an informed decision and then learn the most effective ways to use them.

And if you don’t use them now, you can always make good use of them in the Afterlife. The very latest trend is to include one on your tombstone! :-)

What’s Great About Facebook

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

Christine Green's Facebook Video Post

I have read some recent blog posts by people who are disillusioned and bored with Facebook. One blogger insisted people are obsessed with Facebook. Yeah, so? People get obsessed with just about anything.

Some bloggers are unfriending a lot of people and others are even deleting their Facebook Profiles.

I am baffled by this. Other than the fact that Mark Zuckerberg is a dictator who thinks he knows what we want and what is best for our businesses, I love Facebook!

In his recent post Unfriending My Facebook Friends, Ari Herzog asks people to consider that they might be following the wrong people if they think Facebook is a waste of time. Ari also states that “Facebook has a tendency to remain static.” I think I understand what he’s trying to say, but Facebook is far from static. It is literally not static as a platform since they keep changing the format and how users can interact. And if one’s Facebook experience is static than that is about the user, not Facebook. I do agree that perhaps some are following the wrong people. If your FB friends bore or annoy you, then you might want to consider unfriending or “hiding” them.

Facebook can be an interesting mirror of our lives. If you are bored with your FB friends, you might want to branch out into new offline circles – get out into the world and meet some new people who interest you. Then if you choose, you can friend those people on FB and you might just find them engaging, inspiring and funnier than you could imagine!

Don’t blame Facebook for what’s lacking in your life. Facebook is nothing more than a venue. It’s essentially a blank slate that allows you to add whatever you want. You are the artist and Facebook is the canvas. What will you paint? Will you follow your heart and your interests? Will you choose from your palette the things that will bring meaningful sharing, connection, valuable information, education, humor, and joy? Or will you paint a picture that is not true to yourself, but is bloated with “stuff” from others that is of no interest to you?

You are at the helm. It’s your ship to sail.

So why might someone “friend” anther person on FB whom they later delete? I imagine there are many possible reasons. Just as offline we ebb and flow in our relationships. Sometimes we disengage with friends – either temporarily or forever. That’s the flow of life.

I have unfriended only one FB Friend in almost 3 years. I hide others for periods of time if their posts are not aligned with the experience I want to have. But those issues are a minor part of my FB experience.

Each user decides the parameters of their own FB policy. It might be thought out in advance, or implemented inconsistently depending on one’s mood or the behavior of others. It doesn’t have to be formal, but it can be helpful to reflect on why you friend people, why you won’t friend someone, and what will make you unfriend someone. Follow your guidelines and reevaluate them from time to time so that they are in line with your current desired experience.

Maybe FB is not for you. Maybe online engagement has no place in the design of your life. That’s fine. Send your energy in directions that fulfill you.

Even though I have a Facebook Business Page, I consider my Personal Profile part of my business presence as well. I don’t directly promote my business on my Personal Profile as it is against the FB terms of service. I certainly don’t keep it a secret that I am a social media marketing consultant and web designer – I talk about my work on my Personal Profile so that people know that about me, but I don’t pitch my services directly.

On a personal level I get great value from Facebook and have had profound experiences because of it.

So, what’s so special about Facebook?

First let me clarify that there is nothing special about “Facebook” itself. It happens to be the venue that most people use (for now) and therefore is my current choice for social networking.

Online social connection is what is special.

Here’s how I use Facebook for social connection:

  • to keep up with the activities of my nieces (the reason I originally got on FB!)
  • to stay in touch with my friends even when I am very busy with my work
  • to feel a thread of connection to the world while working alone all day
  • to express myself with humor
  • to share my perspective on world events and life in general
  • to share my creative work
  • to enjoy, support and promote the creative work of others
  • to use (as one way) to get to know my friends and their families more deeply
  • to connect with people I want to get to know personally and professionally (these are people I’ve met and getting to know them might not otherwise happen or could take years)
  • to reconnect with long lost cousins (and other extended family)
  • to reconnect with friends after many years (which would likely not have happened otherwise)
  • to receive news updates on a variety of topics (from News Pages that I have “Liked”)
  • to stay connected with my local community news and events (from local Pages or posts of local friends)
  • to learn about fascinating things
  • to be alerted and invited to events of interest
  • to have my day brightened by humor exchanges
  • to keep up with political issues
  • to connect friends who share values (they find each other on comment lists and friend each other)
  • to make business connections and facilitate the connection of others
  • to post a video I shot of the celebration of a dying friend, to share with loved ones unable to attend and as an inspiration to those who don’t know her. It doesn’t get any better than that! (see the photo at the top that shows the conversation and connection that happened yesterday)

My last point is reason enough to participate in a social network like Facebook. It is an example of how technology and so-called non-intimate platforms can be used to share a profound experience or event with a community of people, and to give those people the opportunity to respond.

Now, I don’t pretend or want to be best buddies with all my FB connections. And I know they feel the same about me. That’s not what it’s about for me. I have a unique relationship with each of my FB Friends…just like in “real life” offline. For me FB is real life also. It’s just different. To assume it would be the same as my face-to-face time with people would be ridiculous. It enhances and facilitates my in-person social life.

I don’t care if many of my FB friends never call me and only wish me Happy Birthday once a year. I don’t care if they ever post an update or comment on one of mine. I’d love to read posts from the silent ones and find out more about who they are. But I don’t expect anything specific of them (or them of me) because that is the level of connection we have – I may see them around town, or at a party or never at all. I still choose to maintain a connection with them on FB. Of course I have no capacity to be in close touch with 262 people! That’s not the purpose of most of those connections – at least not for me.

The funny thing is that I run into acquaintances who are my FB friends all the time, who tell me how much they enjoy my posts. There are tons of people who read their friend’s posts but never post or comment themselves. I scratch my head on this, but they have their reasons which I fully respect. My sense is that it’s mostly shyness. Or maybe that they are not fully familiar or comfortable yet with the format.

And as you can see from the number I mentioned above, I don’t have a zillion FB Friends. Perhaps too many “Friends” is the issue for those other bloggers? It seems that many of the social media early adopters had an “open-door” policy on their FB Personal Profile and they are now re-thinking and deciding to unfriend the people they don’t know or will try to transfer them over to their Facebook Business Page (where they probably belong).

That’s fair enough and makes perfect sense. And it’s a reminder to those of you who are just starting to use social media:

  • Don’t jump in too quickly
  • Learn about each venue by listening first
  • Create a policy for yourself (and one for your company when using social media for business marketing)
  • Reevaluate and make changes on a regular basis

Social networking is still in its infancy. Navigating and managing new media is a process and has a learning curve both technically and interactively. Each person will find out if it is useful for them and how it is useful. And that will evolve for them and for all of us.

What’s your policy for your Facebook Personal Profile?
Please comment below. I’d appreciate hearing your thoughts and experiences.

And if we haven’t met and you want to connect on Facebook, you can do that here at my Creative Factory. (it’s an out-of-the-ordinary “Business” Page – I think you will like it!) :-)

The Difference Between Facebook Profiles and Facebook Pages

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

CG FB Profile CGCF FB Page

Facebook has a real knack for confusing people. Not just because they make changes every 10 minutes few months, but because their terminology is not clarity-friendly. The terms “Profile” and “Page” sound similar and are terms that most of us have used interchangeably.

So…who the heck can remember the difference between a Profile and a Page? And the alliteration doesn’t help one bit. Isn’t a Page just a page? Do they mean web page? Isn’t that what I am looking at when I am there? And then there is the Home Page on my Personal Profile that is really a News Feed. But do my “Friends” post “News” or do they post a “Status Update?” And what’s the difference? And how is my Home Page different from my Profile Page? Geez, who designed this thing? Twenty year olds?

Yup, you guessed it! A kid and his buddies. A kid who, we all know is now a billionaire. Is that legal? To be a billionaire under the age of 30? :-)

There are a number of things that many Facebook users don’t know, because they have not read the Terms of Service.

The basic idea is that Facebook is now being used by both people and businesses. And there are rules for how each is allowed to participate on this venue. So let’s talk about the nitty gritty of the distinction between Profiles and Pages, so that you don’t get yourself in trouble or booted off the book.

1.  Your Personal “Profile” is for your identity as a person and is where you are “Friended” by other individual humans (I will talk about non-humans later). A Profile that adds people as “Friends” is not for businesses. And it is against the Facebook Terms of Service for businesses to create a friending Profile. And yet I see this all the time. I suspect that it is not intentional to break the FB rules, but these businesses risk being banned from Facebook altogether. It is my policy to not “Friend” a business who has set up a Profile (though I have done it on occasion).

2.  To have a business presence and to promote your product or services on Facebook you must create a “Page.” A Page is were people used to become your “Fans” but now can only become “Likers” by clicking the “Like” button at the top of your Page. You can have as many Likers or fans as you want – zillions if you can get them. But on a Personal Profile the limit is 5,000. That’s another funny rule made up by twenty-somethings. If the Profile is really for social interaction with people you know, who in this world “knows” 5,000 people? How did they come up with that number? Why not 3,000? or 1,000?

Okay business owners – here’s a juicy helpful piece of info – Business Pages are indexed by Google but Profiles are not. This means that what you post on your Business Page can show up in a Google search, but your Profile posts will not (your name will, but not individual status updates).

And another caution – you can’t add your tagline to your Page title.

Then there are what I call, the “fake” Pages with temporary content that gets created when your business is mentioned (yes that content later disappears, leaving the Page blank). They are officially called “Community Pages.” (whatever that means!) People can LIKE these pages also and they get confused and probably irritated when you later ask them to LIKE your real Business Page.

3.  The Facebook Terms of Service states that users are not allowed to post anything to their “Personal Profile” that will make them money. Here’s the direct quote: “You will not use your personal profile for your own commercial gain.” In other words it’s against your agreement with FB to directly promote your business. Now many of us (myself included) do mention our projects and show examples of our work. I do that only occasionally on my Profile and I keep it conversational and not anything close to a sales pitch. I am merely sharing what I do and my experiences. I do post a link to my blog articles either on my Profile or on my Page. I think sharing a blog link is acceptable since it is an article that your friends can choose not to read and as long as you aren’t posting something like: “Read my blog and then hire me to shampoo your dog and your carpet.”

There are obviously some gray areas but I think the spirit of the rule is that you can’t ask people to buy something from you. I have FB Friends who do directly pitch their classes or workshops on their Personal Profile. They probably don’t know that they are breaking the rules. The solution is to create a Business Page. Once you do that you can pitch and toot 24/7 if you want.

4.  It’s against the terms of service to have more than one Profile. I see this fairly often also. If you have two Profiles, go delete one of them right now. In other words you cannot be two people. Profiles represent real people. I believe that animals are not people either (though I know many of you will disagree). Yes my cat is on Facebook, but he has a Page not a Profile (can a cat have a business? Not sure….but he’s a spiritual leader and writer so he’s allowed to have a Page). And yes, he would so appreciate it if you would “Like” his Page: http://www.facebook.com/zenmasterziggy

Oops! I said “Fan” but they no longer exist! All the Fans have been transformed into “Likers” – how ridiculous is that? What the heck is a Liker? I still call them fans, and

5.  A business or organization can only be represented by a “Page” or a “Group.” (You “Join” a Group and when a Group posts something it goes no farther than the Group page….and is, in my book, therefore useless because no one will see it unless they keep visiting the Group page, which no one ever does.)

So the essential thing to remember is that a person can only be themselves and a business is not a person. Are you following me? (no I don’t mean on Twitter – that’s a whole different topic…though now that you mention it, you can follow me at http://twitter.com/ChristineGreen_) :-)

You now know how to avoid the most common mistakes on Facebook. Here are links to what you should read, especially if you have a business on FB:

General Terms of Service: http://www.facebook.com/terms.php

Business Page Terms of Service: http://www.facebook.com/terms.php#!/terms_pages.php

This is very interesting and if you are thinking about any contests or other promotions (even on your Business Page) – read this first! Promotions guidelines: http://www.facebook.com/promotions_guidelines.php

Did I miss anything important?
You tell me.

Please comment and include any other info that will help Facebook users stay within the guidelines.

Facebook Page Changes Outrage Businesses

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

BringBackPageOrder

Recently Facebook changed the way posts show up when published on business pages. They used to be listed chronologically. Makes sense, huh?

A company wanting to alert fans of news-related or time-sensitive topics and offers would post them on the appropriate date. That way fans would not only receive them in their news feed at the right time, but would also be able to view them on the company’s page in the sequence in which they were posted.

Well, somehow the developers at Facebook decided that chronological order was not only not necessary, but not desirable for business pages. They decided for all of us that business page posts should be ordered by relevance – meaning popularity, apparently determined by the number comments.

Tens of thousands of business owners, including me are now screaming wondering “What were they thinking?”

The worst part is that we have no choice. There is no option to set the post order.

It is mind-boggling how this could have seemed like a good idea.

Yesterday there was a panel on Facebook Live introducing the new page updates and answering questions submitted by viewers. The very first question was about why they had discontinued the chronological order. Their answer was lame. They compared it to “Top News” (the personal profile equivalent to non-chronological and so-called “relevance” order – which I hate and always have to click “Most Recent” in order to read my feed where I left off). They claimed that users were not interested in chronological order and that there are other cues that indicate what a user/fan wants to see. The example they gave was if your friend liked the post then it would be of more interest to you. They stated that this new ordering was more engaging for users and therefore preferred.

They seemed to be clueless about what might really benefit a company using a Facebook page. They seem to be wearing “social” blinders and unable to understand the perspective or needs of businesses or organizations.

What struck me most when I tuned into the live chat, was that the company representatives and (at least partial) decision makers of Facebook, looked all of 25 years old. And we all know that Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg is only 26. I am showing my age, but these youngsters could not possibly have the experience or expertise to understand what would be of most value to companies, organizations and individuals who use Facebook pages as part of  their marketing.

Business owners are speaking up through blog posts like this one and FB pages like Bring Back Chronological Posts On Pages – if you are one of the frustrated business page managers who wants to join the ranks pushing for the return of chronological order, please “Like” that page.

We will be heard!
And we will Restore Order! :-)

Social Media Early Adopters Get Big Boost

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Google Social Search

This week Google made some big changes to their Social Search that will pay off big if you have a Google Profile and have been actively building your online presence.

Google Social Search was introduced in 2009, but the new features are the most significant to date.

In a nutshell what happens now is when you are logged in with your Google Profile and you enter search terms, you receive results that include relevant links to blogs, tweets, photos and other content of Google Profile users with whom you are connected. This has been the case for a few years but they are now integrated rather than at the bottom of the page.

Here’s how it works: If you enter “famous cats who use social media marketing in Newburyport to raise money for charities” into Google search and your cousin’s ex-husband’s neighbor’s college roommate is one of your Twitter connections (who has a Google Profile) AND they have published content related to famous Newburyport cats who use social media marketing to help charities – that person’s article, name and picture will show up on the first page of your Google search results!

How great is that?

And…if YOU have a strong online presence and someone digitally connected to you searches for something that you have blogged, posted or tweeted about, guess whose smiling face shows up integrated in their first page Google search results? Yep…You!

So, if you already have a Google Profile, pat yourself on the back and keep cranking out that content!

And if you don’t have a Google Profile…get going and create one. But not before you share this post with your colleagues who also need a Google Profile!

You can do that by using the “Spread the Word” buttons below and then head over to the Google Profiles Page and get yourself digitized!

It’s never too late!

Business Boundaries

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Christine Green on Business Boundaries

One topic that comes up often with my coaching clients, is boundaries. That’s because so much of coaching, whether it be personal or professional, is about relationships. And relationships are managed effectively or ineffectively in direct proportion to the state of our interpersonal boundaries.

So what am I talking about here? What are boundaries?

Boundaries are the invisible screen around us that lets us know where we end and others begin.

Boundaries:

· must be permeable enough to take in and give out necessary information

· must be impermeable enough to offer protection and separation

· are our “perimeter” that determines acceptable closeness

· help us know what are our feelings and what are someone else’s feelings

· help us know what is our responsibility or problem and what is someone else’s

· give us the ability to take in feedback and either accept it, modify it or reject it

· give us the ability to recognize our needs and wants in making decisions

· help us recognize and respect the boundaries of others

· keep us from offending or violating the boundaries of others

· help us take responsibility for our choices and feelings without blaming others

· give us “common sense” in our social judgment- we recognize danger

I originally created the above list to describe boundaries as they relate to personal and intimate relationships. But depending on the person or situation you have in mind, each element can also apply to business relationships.

Types of Boundaries

Physical Boundaries:

This is your personal space; your comfort zone. Each person has their own unique physical boundary – how physically close someone can get while maintaining comfort – yours and theirs. This is culturally defined and defined by childhood experiences. If our physical boundary was violated as a child we are more susceptible to abuse as an adult and more likely to violate the physical boundaries of others as well.

Emotional Boundaries:

This is about how much personal information we share with others and when. It is about how easily we distinguish our feelings from those of others. If our emotional boundary was violated as a child we may have difficulty with intimacy due to a tendency to become over-involved and too closely enmeshed with others. It can also mean that we “absorb” the energy or feelings of others, which can result in mild discomfort to intense overwhelm. We then feel unsafe and have to put up a “wall” to feel protected. With weak emotional boundaries we don’t know how to move easily from intimacy to autonomy. And we therefore often operate in one or the other extreme. All or nothing – completely entangled with someone or walled off and shut down.

Intellectual Boundaries:

This is about how solid we feel in our personal identity and our clarity about what thoughts and beliefs are ours and what are the thoughts and beliefs of others. If our intellectual boundary was violated as a child we may have difficulty knowing our true beliefs or trusting our ability to make decisions. We may be susceptible to mental manipulation of others – also known as “mind games.”

Sexual Boundaries:

This is about the ability to decide with whom we relate sexually, and when. If our sexual boundary was violated as a child we may have difficulty setting limits sexually or may even behave compulsively with sex. And in the extreme we may have the urge to violate others sexually.

Can you see how each of these types of boundaries can impact not only your personal, but also your business life?

In today’s culture our personal and professional lives often overlap. And if you run your own business you know that there is often a blurred boundary between work and home life. Not to say that is a bad thing or even that weak boundaries in any of these areas is always negative. That’s only for you to judge.

The key however, is the issue of choice. Are you making a choice about how close, or how involved you are in a particular moment or with a particular person? When we feel powerless over our boundaries or other people’s boundaries, then we have a problem.

This article is intended to merely introduce this topic. There is much to say about boundaries in the business world. I will delve into examples and the specific negative consequences of weak boundaries in a future post. If this is a significant issue for you, my best suggestion is to consider working with a coach who has experience helping people developing healthier boundaries.

There are many books that offer help with boundaries. Some of the best are books on codependency. Charles Whitfield and Pia Mellody both offer good advice on boundaries. (these are affiliate links)

What are your experiences with professional boundaries? Do you have different boundaries with each colleague? Or do you find yourself in the same patterns with all your business relationships? What about your employees or your superiors?

What would be most helpful for you in regard to creating healthier boundaries? Make some suggestions and I will write a future blog post that addresses that aspect. Thanks!

Website Marketing Overhaul or Makeover?

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Depending on your gender you’ll call it one or the other. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which is which. :-)

Anyway, I just did one or the other to my own website. When you rush to the home page you will see that the visual design is completely different (assuming you’ve been this site before – if not you can find a screenshot of the original design on the Portfolio page).

Okay, so the look has changed a lot, but that’s just what you see at a glance (and the way many people judge a website). But I actually also did an architecture, content and navigation overhaul makeover. I cleaned things up; made the site and my message more focused and succinct; deleted or moved content that made the site too busy; added new content – an FAQ page; and on and on.

I could just call it a redesign but to me that sounds like I just changed the colors, layout and graphics. Plus I’m still not sure if it’s redesign or re-design. I like it better with the hyphen. I think it helps clarify it and is easier to read. I Googled it and it seems to be used both ways.

Anyway, I now have a nice way to feature my portfolio of websites. The irony is that the portfolio gallery shows an image of each site – so you get the superficial visual appeal thing that I am always complaining about. Not that I don’t like it but a website is so much more than a pretty face!

So….you can see the website’s glamour shot, but you can also visit the actual site…thank goodness. And I included a description with each site about its features and challenges. So the ability to visit that actual website enables folks to experience it in all its glory.

I have to say I find it irritating when I view the online portfolio of another web designer and all they show you is a screenshot rather than the live site. So then I have to copy or dig to get the real URL and type it into my browser so I can see what they actually built. I can understand not wanting to include the live link because God knows what some people will do to their sites after we cut them loose. And of course the viewer will assume the web designer is responsible for the added junk or weird font.

Well, I suppose all this rambling is my way of announcing that I have re-designed, overhauled, and downright made-over, my website!

I hope it’s a better experience for my visitors and offers a clearer message about what we do and how we can help small businesses. I have combed through it but if you find any typos, I’d appreciate a shout.

Okay enough about me and my website! But, really…Thanks for checking it out!
(and don’t hesitate to use the “spread the word” buttons below to tweet or post)

Social Media – The Introvert’s Dream Come True

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Social Media is the best thing that ever happened to brilliant introverts. (That would be me :-)) – I can easily get my message out to friends/colleagues/the world….who have not seen me shine very often, or been aware of my knowledge and skills. I don’t step into the spotlight very often in a social setting and when I do I don’t stay there. I hang back. But in a blog platform I can step to the head of the class. As a blog publisher, I have created my own soap box and those who wish to stop by and listen can do so. Interested readers can choose to have my thoughts sent right to their inbox (see box in right sidebar for subscribing to this blog by email)

Can you relate to this? Are you someone who has great ideas and a lot to share with the world, but have not had the opportunity? Do the extroverts around you get most of the attention personally and professionally? Do you know that your ideas would be well received if you only had that chance to share them with those who would appreciate what you have to say?

If so, then blogging and social media participation might be just what you’ve been seeking.

No, your personality won’t change and you won’t likely be the belle of the ball, but if you participate with honesty and share unique and valuable content – you will gather a following. You will create online connections. You will be part of a community of like-minded people. And you will get your moments in the spotlight. But mostly you will gain recognition and respect as you engage in the conversation of social media.

Inbound Marketing (using social media to get found) is not about tooting your own horn. It can be about expressing your ideas and tips but in the spirit of offering value that will position you as the go-to person in your field.

This is why social media is a venue where introverts can excel. We usually aren’t focused on loudly broadcasting about ourselves or using hype or hard-sell approaches. We just want a turn at bat. And tend to like a quiet, focused message that gets to the point.

If you’re an introvert, or even an extrovert trapped in an introvert’s body, blogging and social media platforms will likely be your dream come true!

Now…get yourself out there!

Oh….and if you can muster up the courage – leave me a comment! :-)

Social Media – Secret Weapon for Small Businesses

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

At first it was websites that could level the marketing playing field for small companies. With a relatively small investment and a good marketer, your small or solo business can build a website that offers an in-depth presentation of the features and benefits of your service or product. A website can also provide a platform to show customers how you out-shine the competition and why they should do business with you instead.

Unfortunately, many small businesses still have not effectively taken advantage of a strong marketing-focused web presence.

Today, the marketing new kid on the block is Social Media. Most large corporations know the power and necessity of engaging with prospects and customers using these venues. But alas, once again many small businesses are slow to embrace the power of Inbound Marketing. Many small businesses insist that even FREE Social Media is not in their budget.

While Social Media is free, there is a cost. That cost is mostly time, but initially investing in a skilled consultant is also a good idea in order to assure that you understand the protocol and allot your time resources wisely. There certainly is an art and science to effective Social Media participation.

If you are serious about playing with the big boys and girls, you’ll make it your business to use Social Media as fully as you can. You don’t have the time? Make the time.

At this date you likely can even get ahead of your competition if you jump in now and make a consistent concerted effort. And because Inbound Marketing builds on itself like compounded interest, a year down the road you could be miles ahead of your competition, making it extremely difficult for them to catch up.

You don’t want to be kicking yourself 2 years from now saying “Gee, we should have gotten in then.” It’s never too late, of course….but the truth is that for many small businesses, it’s still early in the game.

Be on the cutting edge and step into Social Media Marketing now.

You won’t see instant results – it takes time to build your online presence. And there are ways to speed up the process if you are truly committed to the campaign.

But one thing is for sure. Two or three years from now you’ll be patting yourself on the back for being so smart.

How to Choose a Thanksgiving Turkey

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

I shot this photo 3 years ago a few days before Thanksgiving and it still cracks me up. I wanted to share it with you all.

Happy Thanksgiving!

How to Choose a Thanksgiving Turkey

Use the buttons below to share with friends and colleagues:

The Business Necessity of Self Care and Nurturance

Friday, November 5th, 2010

foot_massage200w

I scheduled a massage this week, even though I “couldn’t afford it.” The result (even before receiving the massage) was increased energy, lifted spirits, better focus, more efficiency and productivity, and increased confidence about moving forward on a specific business project. I’ll take a moment to mention my amazing massage therapist, Linda Delande from Meridian Body Therapies in Newburyport, Massachusetts. She’s the best!Meridian Body Therapies

So….all those benefits to my business, just from scheduling a massage? Maybe not. There were certainly other factors, but it’s my experience as a solo entrepreneur, that intense self-care is mission critical. I AM the engine behind the business. I AM the heart and soul of it. I AM the “Mama” of the enterprise. And you know what they say – “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”

And if Mama is overly stressed and not getting the sufficient nurturing that she needs to operate at an optimum level, then she must institute whatever wellness components she needs in order to run the business effectively and sustainably.

Each solopreneur has his or her own preferred wellness support. For me it’s a massage or an hour at the beach in the late afternoon. For someone else it might be another type of bodywork, yoga, meditation or taking time for a racquetball game or a long-overdue phone call with a friend.

Two martinis after work might be your idea of nurturance, but I would put that in a whole different category. I invite you to discover and implement the practice you prefer that fully enhances the wellness of your mind and body.

Use the share buttons below to pass this along to anyone you know who might benefit from stepping up their self-care. And please leave a comment to let me know what works for you.

And remember, “Takin Care of Business” means Takin Care of YOU!

How to Get a Great Headshot Photo

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Ziggy Christine Green

Do you know how to smile? :-)

Do you? I thought I did until I started posing for business headshots a few years ago and realized that I didn’t. :-(

What “felt like” an appropriate smile for a business photo turned out to not be much of a smile at all. I was intrigued that from inside of my face it felt like I was giving a big smile but I wasn’t. This was great information to have in order to produce a better photographic image, but it was even more valuable to know that when I thought I was smiling at others, perhaps I wasn’t or at least not giving the expression I had intended.

I have been told numerous times throughout my life that I have a great smile…so I must be pulling it off at least some of the time!

But apparently I wasn’t so good at posing for a business photograph. So I practiced. Yes, I practiced smiling.

I rehearsed in the mirror perfecting the smile that I wanted to have in a photograph. I paid close attention to how it felt on my face. It’s helpful to get the exact smile and look that you want and then close your eyes and tune in to how your face feels. What is your sensation of the position of your cheeks? Is your mouth open or closed? Does it feel unnatural or exaggerated? Are your eyebrows raised a little or relaxed? Is your head tilted? Try to notice every detail so that you can later replicate it when your photographer is in front of you.

Once you get it perfected you can access your “photo face” whenever you get your picture taken. And trust me – later when you are viewing your vacation photos or your friends post those snapshots of you on Facebook, you’ll be glad you took the time to optimize your smile!

It’s my experience that people who hate getting their picture taken don’t like the way they look in photos. And they don’t look their best because they are cringing and putting on a fake smile. So take the time and learn this skill. You won’t regret it.

Go ahead – find a mirror. Say “cheese” and see how it looks. Grab your camera or phone and snap a few shots. Rehearse and repeat. :-D

Chris Brogan on Content

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010


On Monday night I drove into Cambridge with Chris Brogan to the Boston WordPress Meetup. He was the speaker for the event and the topic was WordPress and Content. While he was at the wheel of his beloved Camaro, I shot this video blog on the same topic. He emphasizes the importance of creating content that is memorable and usable, so that your readers keep coming back for more. He explains that you can get content from everything in your life and the secret is to put it together in a refreshing way and distill it down into something of value to others.

Where do you find inspiration for your content?

Trust Your Gut and Always Carry Business Cards

Friday, August 6th, 2010

Christine Green and Chris Brogan

I am a strong believer in following my intuition and the “guidance” that I receive on a daily basis. When I do this, I often experience amazing synchronicities. Tonight was no exception.

I was undecided about how to spend my evening and tried to make last minute plans to see a film at the local art house. In the end I decided to go with my original plan, which was to attend a nearby outdoor Artisan’s Fair. It was a lovely summer evening and several friends were showing their work, so I went to the reception. It was the perfect Friday night event.

I left about 7:45pm, and on my way home I swung by Stop and Shop to pick up a few items that I knew were not available in any other store. I had this on my “To Do” list for almost 2 weeks and for various reasons had not yet completed the task. I could have scolded myself days earlier when I still had not run this errand, but I find that when I appear to be “procrastinating” or not doing what I think I “should” be doing, there is always a good reason and an auspicious outcome as a result of the delay.

That was certainly the case this evening when I ran into Chris Brogan in the produce department. If you are not familiar with Chris, he is one of the world’s most respected bloggers and social media marketing experts. I have followed him closely for the last few years and met him at Boston’s Inbound Marketing Summit last October. He was also gracious enough to welcome me to blogging almost a year ago by sending a tweet to over 95,000 of his followers on the day I launched.

So to say it made my day to see him in the grocery store, is an understatement. But that’s not even the best part. After I asked to take a photo, to which he kindly agreed, we chatted about his mom’s recent birthday and his switch from the WordPress Thesis theme to the Genesis theme. (these are affiliate links)

When he found out that I am a Thesis Web Designer he asked me what types of businesses I serve. I told him small businesses – that I had recently contracted with a solo entrepreneur, a property management company and an employee benefits management firm. Chris told me that his followers have often thought he was a Thesis designer himself because he promoted the WordPress theme. He then offered to send me Thesis site design referrals.

After picking my jaw up off the floor and probably bumbling over my words, I pulled a business card out of my pocket and handed it to him.

I carry my cards on my at all times. I am known for hounding colleagues to always carry business cards with them. I often spout off, “You never know when or where you’ll instantly need a business card…and by not having one you can miss a huge opportunity!”

And here I was in that ultimate moment, that we only hope for. But within a micro-second my business card was in the hand of one of the most influential marketing experts in the world.

Was all of this mere coincidence or dumb luck?

I don’t think so. I have been working very hard recently and have been attracting more and more clients. I am not having to work at it. I am committed and more often than not, in an attitude of “allowing.” I am no longer resisting my own success. Okay – maybe an itty bitty amount sometimes when I get scared…but for the most part I am “letting it in.”

Letting what in?

Letting in the folks that want and need what I have to offer.
Letting in positive energy.
Letting in more self value and my willingness to shine.

It takes practice and most of all it takes courage. Being successful means taking full responsibility. It requires a lot of me.

I’m up for it.

And I’ll give you my business card to prove it!

Will you?

Against Peace

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

locking horns

I have to say I’m baffled by this on-going quest I hear from so many people for world peace. I know their hearts are in the right place. I “get” that they envision a world where we stop brutalizing each other. Sounds like a great idea. But the blissful image of a harmonious world, besides seeming impossible, could be barking up the wrong vision.

What the heck is peace? Lack of conflict? My experience of the lack of conflict is any relationship where someone is not expressing their own needs and has decided (maybe even unconsciously) that they are perfectly happy with going along with the wishes of their partner or others in their group. So they successfully create “peace.” But at what cost? Or might it be “peace” until months, weeks or years later when all their squelched needs and desires erupt in a not so pretty way that has no resemblance to peace. Or the same denied needs and frustrations manifest as physical symptoms or ailments that batter their own body.

Either way, the compliance required to maintain “peace” takes its violent toll. So what the heck am I saying? Fight with people? Continue violence and wars? Batter others verbally, emotionally or physically? Absolutely not! My point here is that conflict, disagreement, grievances, and frustrations, are all natural consequences of strong, assertive individuals. These can no more be avoided than we can avoid breathing.

All of you who strongly desire peace – how’s it working for you on a personal level? Do you have complete harmony in all your relationships? No? How could you? And if you can’t find it in your personal circle of peeps, how the heck do you think the larger arenas can maintain it? Peace is not the answer. Some of this is just semantics, but I get the sense from people who pray for peace, that they really think they “can get there from here.”

Who wants everyone to get along? How could that ever be possible? I know people who believe that conflict is bad and should be avoided. Good luck trying that.

And others who believe that if everyone else would just see things their way (i.e. the right way), all would be well in the world. Sound familiar? Like someone you know? Or God forbid, like you? As a recovering know-it-all, it sure sounds like me!

What we lack is not world peace – but rather, world awareness; world communication skills; world willingness; world objective perspective; world open-mindedness; world conflict resolution competency. Conflict is what makes the world dynamic and real. Conflict is what births innovative problem solving. Conflict is what helps us build empathy and understanding. Conflict is the juicy substance that we muck through equally with our loved ones and our not so loved ones…to reach a new perspective; an increased awareness…of ourselves and of those around us.

That increased awareness then informs our behavior and our decisions. We develop more empathy and acceptance. And what do we do with that? Do we turn into a doormat to facilitate peace? Hopefully not. But rather, we increase our ability to see from another’s perspective, which ALWAYS improves communication, which in turn gives us a greater ability to resolve conflicts.

The more willing and more skilled we become at respectfully asserting our needs and hearing those of others, the more likely we will work things out on a small scale and on a regular basis. The truth is, peacemaking begins at home.

So start at home – the home of where you live, where you work, where you play. Express yourself…express yourself respectfully, but fully. Hash it out, stir things up, have the courage to state your case, and the courage to deeply listen to those who disagree. Let it get heated. Not abusive. Not violent. But strong spirited if need be. Feel the passion of the ideas, opinions, desires, fears of yourself and others. There is not one true reality. You have yours and they have theirs. Don’t be afraid of the differences. And don’t buy into the winner/ loser paradigm.

Praying for Peace is easy. Saying affirmations is easy. Visioning “Peace on Earth” is easy. But consistently practicing non-violent communication skills is difficult and tedious…yet possibly the most fulfilling experience you may ever have.

Are you committed to world peace?  (or at least peace at your office?)

Then commit to learning effective ways to resolve the inevitable conflicts in your life.

You might be surprised with the results.

How Can You Mend a Broken Social Network?

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

facebook

I guess it’s no secret, but I’ve had this romance developing with a real hottie named FB. I’ve grown quite fond of FB, and I’m rather attached. I guess I should have done a background check before I got involved. Maybe I should have played the field. But FB is so attractive and we have so much fun together!

I really feel heard in the relationship. FB sees me and knows who I am. Plus the relationship has helped my business. Not to mention FB’s extended family who has welcomed me so warmly.

Now I find out that FB is not who I thought (hoped) s/he was. I thought I could trust FB, but now I’m not so sure. The relationship is so one-sided – with no consideration of me. Everything is on FB’s terms. And now I find out that s/he’s been talking – telling my secrets all over town!

Am I being played for a fool? At first I looked the other way. I didn’t want to believe what I was hearing. How could those things be true? No, I don’t want to know. Love is blind.

I know I’m in denial and deserve better, but I love FB! And I love FB’s extended family. They are always there for me.

Maybe FB can change. If I love FB enough, I know s/he will change. If I love FB enough s/he will become trustworthy and respectful. I know FB really loves me but just doesn’t know how to show it. Maybe FB had a difficult childhood and doesn’t understand the meaning of healthy boundaries or privacy. Maybe there’s a rehab program for abusive social networks. Yes, that’s it! – a 28 day program. An intervention! Maybe FB’s extended family will participate in an intervention and get FB into treatment.

I don’t want it to end. I hate to admit it, but it’s FB’s extended family that I will miss the most. Will I lose contact with them? Where will we meet? Can we find a new place to hang out? What will the impact be on my business? FB introduced me to so many people – from all over the world.

I need more time. I can’t just leave. I’ve invested too much. I’m not even sure FB will let me leave. I might not even get my stuff back.

How can I bear this loss? Will I find another? Can I ever trust again?

How can you mend a broken social network?….

Seriously – Will Facebook get its act together? Or will we all have to click the big “Unlike” button and go elsewhere?

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Do-it-Yourself Marketing (with help)

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Okay, so you don’t have the money to hire a marketing specialist. What business expenses do you have money for? As a business owner/manager, you have the daily challenge of setting financial priorities.

Your business needs customers in order to survive, and if you don’t find them you won’t last. You don’t  need me to tell you this, but unless you have a free and consistent referral system already in place, you need to do effective marketing. Notice, I didn’t say “you need to do marketing” – I said you need to do effective marketing.

Zillions of dollars are wasted spent each year on marketing initiatives that produce little or no results. There are good and not so good marketing strategies and venues. Making the distinction between the two can be difficult. Which initiative? When? Where? How often? For how long?

If these questions baffle you, what are your options?

Today I offer one solution to this dilemma.

If you are short on cash for marketing or believe you have the ability to “Do-it-Yourself” (DIY), I am not going to try to convince you that a marketing specialist is what you need. But I am going to suggest that you do the next best thing – hire a Marketing Coach.

Yeah, you guessed it. I offer that service. Sure, you can pay me to help you, but no matter how you do it, I want you to funnel your marketing funds into resources that are most likely to have an impact.

Many small business owners do not have a particular rhyme or reason for how they spend their marketing dollars. They hear about something; it sounds like a good idea; it’s not too expensive; they shell out the money. They are not sure if it worked or not. Then another marketing avenue presents itself – again, not too costly and sounds reasonable to them. They shell out more money. After a few years these small investments add up to a good chunk of change and no significant results. Sound familiar?

What if you received expert guidance for these decisions or had a big picture, long-term marketing plan?

Nothing’s a sure thing, but…

  • A well thought-out marketing plan with sequential step-by-step strategies, with both paid and free initiatives can only help your company
  • Feedback and expert suggestions on your web content can only improve your Conversion Rate (number of web visitors who become customers)
  • Guidance for marketing decisions can only educate you
  • Expert advice can only increase your confidence
  • Great marketing ideas that you can implement yourself can pay for the cost of coaching in an instant

Great marketing ideas? Yes. That’s what I get paid for, and coaching is the most cost-effective way for you to tap my brilliant creative mind. No, you won’t likely think of these things yourself. You are not wired or trained to do so. Or if you do, it will be two years from now, and too late for the maximum impact. You can argue with me on this, but I’ve seen your websites – hundreds of them…and if the majority of DIY business owners could think of these ideas, they would have already and would be implementing them on their sites. Some of you are – great work! Most of you aren’t – keep reading. :-)

I see your websites everyday, and my heart aches when I see the missed opportunities of an ineffective site. It stirs my passion to remake your site. I love this stuff – I wish I didn’t have a mortgage to pay and could do your site makeover for free.

The saddest part is that most of you don’t know who you are. You don’t know how much more effective your websites could be. They look fine to you. Just like a lousy horse looks fine to me.

I can’t tell the difference between an everyday well groomed horse and one that can win the Derby. Sure I can probably recognize a sloped sway back (I even had to look that up), out of shape horse, but I have not been trained to assess the quality of a horse for racing or even everyday riding. I haven’t got a clue. And I wouldn’t consider making a horse-buying decision on my own. I might talk to friends or read up on the subject, but to be honest, my time is precious and I don’t have much to spare for “Horses 101.”

I imagine the same is true for you with marketing. Staying abreast of social media trends and protocol alone, is enough to keep you up way past your bedtime. What I am saying is that if I wanted to buy a horse, I would want an ideal horse that would meet my specific needs. I would want the best value in a horse and wouldn’t want to risk getting the wrong one. Therefore, I would hire a horse-buying expert to handle it for me. I would, of course make the final decision. But I would pay the horse specialist to do all the research and auditioning, then brief me on the top candidates and make recommendations. He or she would be paid for their knowledge and experience and I would gallop off into the sunset with the perfect horse for me.

Enough said – you get the analogy. A Marketing Coach is a cost-effective alternative to doing it on your own, hoping you hit the mark.

Ready to saddle up?

Copywriters – Famous and Not

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Peggy_Olson_Wiki

Many small business owners do not have a large marketing budget. But here’s the deal – you need good marketing writing and advice. If you are not a trained copywriter, it will be difficult for you to create an effective message on your website that will bring in customers.

Small business owners often don’t expect much of their websites. They know they need a site in order to look professional. And that’s what they want their site to do – “look professional” or “look attractive” – as though that in itself will benefit their business. It’s a start. But only a start. Your website is not a pretty cyberspace brochure with the purpose of giving your business legitimacy or making you look like more than one person in a home office. It can certainly do those things, but why waste an incredible marketing opportunity? You should expect your site to funnel customers to you. But it won’t without a well-crafted marketing message.

Many small business owners don’t prioritize marketing in their budget. They do nickel and dime marketing efforts that don’t produce results. Then they save their money to create a website. They hire a designer, but no marketer or copywriter. They write the content for their site. They end up with a beautiful site that does not turn prospects into customers.

Why shouldn’t you write the content for your website? It’s your company. Who understands it better than you?

Good business writing is not the same as good marketing copy. You may be an excellent writer and know everything there is to know about your company. You can describe your services well. But that doesn’t mean you can create an effective marketing message. Insiders usually aren’t the best ones to describe their own services or products – they are too close and their writing is often not easily understood by those unfamiliar with their industry.

A professional copywriter (a marketing specialist who writes compelling sales messages and copy for ads, brochures and websites) is trained to decipher and translate your services into easily understood language. The copywriter configures a compelling message that instantly engages your prospects, addressing their needs and offering solutions.

You may think you are doing this…but you probably aren’t. It’s hard stuff. And even seasoned copywriters labor over their work.

The best copywriting often isn’t noticed. That’s the art of it. It draws the customer in, gently and persuasively. The hyped-up “used-car-salesmen” message is always noticed and while those in-your-face tactics might work in some situations, that’s not what a skilled copywriter produces.

There are people who want your service or product and are delighted when they find it – when from the moment they land on your site are efficiently informed and guided. The customer appreciates an effortless process and are happy to participate and buy when you don’t make them work to figure out if your product is what they want. The qualified customer is happy to purchase when you speak their language, and anticipate and address their concerns. That’s what a professional copywriter/content developer will do for you.

There’s a reason Don Draper, from the TV show Mad Men, begged Peggy Olson to go with him when he left Sterling Cooper to start a new firm. She is a great copywriter and an essential member of the creative team (even if she is a fictional character!). She creates concepts and writes the headline and copy for successful ad campaigns. There were no websites in her time, but you can bet if there were, she’d be a top content developer. (maybe even working from home or a coffee shop!)

So, save your money and upgrade your marketing efforts. You can check out how a content makeover can improve your website.

Hire me or hire someone else…just don’t short-change your business by doing it yourself. You wouldn’t pull your own tooth would you? Maybe you would. Ouch!

Websites That Work!

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

Here’s the SlideShare format of the presentation I gave to the Port City Women’s networking gathering in March 2010.

Business Heartbreak

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

Not too long ago I had several business courtships that went sour.

I had four different prospects who were attracted to me, pursued me, “dated” me a few times and then dumped me. One prospect led me on and strung me along for weeks. I thought she was sincere when she contacted me to discuss social media marketing and website optimization. She said she wanted me and asked me to prove myself again and again. I gave more and more, thinking she would stay and meet my needs. But after I gave her so much…she left me.

I felt used. She learned what she needed to learn and moved on. I wanted her to commit…but she didn’t. She was a lone cowgirl who decided to ride the marketing range without me. She said the equivalent of “I’ll call you when I need you,” but you won’t find me waiting by the phone.

I tried to pretend I didn’t care. I knew there were other fish in the sea. I spent a few weeks avoiding networking situations and focused on solitary business building tasks and other clients. I wasn’t sure what was going on. I was in denial about the impact of losing that potential project. I felt vulnerable and distracted and not quite myself. I thought I was fearful about other business aspects…but I finally had an epiphany and realized I was suffering from a business “broken heart.”

Am I just an emotional business woman who can’t stay detached? Someone who needs stronger consulting boundaries? Who gives too much away? And who takes these disappointments way too personally? Maybe…

But never again. No more Ms. Nice Guy! The sales process still bewilders me a bit, particularly in this age of Inbound Marketing where it’s expected that you “give away” advice and products of value as part of your engagement with prospects.

I am being a bit facetious and belaboring this metaphor, but the truth is that I was behaving like a scorned lover who had decided to give up on love and dating. I was hurt and grieving. But more than that I was angry, and didn’t even want to think about a potential client much less to start dating (business networking) again!

After some reflection, I had a profound “aha” moment and had to admit to myself what was going on.

Once I was willing to fess up, I immediately shifted out of my indecisiveness and wheel-spinning distractions, and got back down to business. I instantly knew that I needed to revise my sales process to better protect myself and require more of interested prospects. I was doing all the work in the relationship. I’m a romantic, so I saw what I wanted to see and believed what I wanted to believe. But I’m not so “easy” anymore. I now require my prospects to state their intentions and prove that they are serious (by completing a simple questionnaire before the Free Consultation and another in-depth questionnaire before I give them a quote and a proposal). I thought about having them meet my parents but I decided that would be going overboard. :-)

Seriously though, the questionnaires are not about giving them hoops to jump through while I stand back with my hands on my hips deciding if they are worthy. Quite the opposite. These tools were in the works already, but it took a “business romance gone bad” to give me the kick in the butt I needed to finalize them.

Using the questionnaires helps both me and my potential client. They save time and clarify intentions and goals from the beginning. A win-win relationship!

Needless to say, I’m back out there seeking my Soul-Client…and another and another and another. I’m playing the field of course…or at least until my Sugar Client comes along and keeps me busy and satisfied for a very long time! :-)

Conflict Resolution for Businesses

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Whenever you have more than one human being on the same planet, in the same town or working in the same company there will be conflict. If there isn’t it’s because someone is not expressing their needs. (and yes, that’s true of intimate relationships also…except perhaps in the first few months) :)

There’s nothing wrong with conflict. It’s human nature. And it can even be fun!

Conflict in the workplace can be a productivity buster, so it’s a good idea to have a comprehensive policy and specific procedures in place to help all levels of staff develop communication skills and the ability to resolve disputes.

Here are my thoughts about what to include in your company’s  Conflict Resolution Policy:

Principles:

The company:

• Values human diversity and appreciates the individuality of all its employees and associates.

• Understands that conflict is an inevitable part of human relationships and business life.

• Views any conflict as an opportunity to learn and grow both individually and as a business.

• Commits to assist its employees in resolving conflicts and challenges as promptly, peacefully and clearly as possible.

• Encourages and will provide opportunities for staff to develop good communication skills to deepen and expand communication, empathy and conflict resolution skills for the benefit of themselves and the business.

• Encourages all levels of staff to take personal responsibility for feelings, responses and reactions in any given situation, adopting a “No Blame” approach.

• Encourages all levels of staff to seek resources for developing self awareness

Guidelines to Individuals

• An essential component of conflict resolution is a willingness and ability to identify, name and own the feelings that are aroused internally and to communicate those feelings without suppression, denial, or blame. This process alone involves a commitment to being aware and honest with ourselves, and cultivating a degree of self reflection and self management.

• All levels of staff are encouraged to attend in-house or outside communication skills training days, to assist in the growth and evolution of the company. Participation in these trainings allows for a common language when dealing with conflict.

• The conflict resolution process can occur between two parties or any number of people. This policy document exists to provide a framework for resolution between or among the parties involved.

• Confidentiality is essential for trust and safety. Participants are asked to not repeat anything that is specific and personal, unless they receive permission from the person(s) involved.

• All feelings are acceptable when owned and expressed responsibly. The process of resolving conflict is not always pretty. It can get messy. Trusting the process itself and accepting that it is unpredictable and uncontrollable, allows participants to experience the “magic in the messiness.”

• When feelings of all involved parties are actively listened to, empathized with, and the underlying need that is not being met is identified, then the possibility for resolution appears.

• When there is clear difficulty between two or more staff and one party states “this is not my problem….you are on your own” – that is not acceptable. Each party is encouraged to hold an intention of self-reflection and ownership of personal feelings. Each may ask themselves “what is my part in this?”

Procedure:

• For any conflict, waiting a day or two before scheduling the conflict resolution meeting is suggested, to allow for clarity and reflection on the topic, and time to understand the feelings.

• If a conflict arises between two staff, or a group of employees, the parties are encouraged to initially try to work things out on their own using self-reflection and the communication skills they have learned.

• If the two or more parties are unable to come to a resolution on their own or don’t feel comfortable (or “safe”) meeting one-on-one, they have the option of requesting the participation of other staff or the assistance of a facilitator, agree upon by all participants.

• At times a conflict may not be easily defined. While the issue may feel connected strongly to one person, it may also feel like a “group issue,” in which case the person or persons with the issue have the option of requesting a “Resolution Group.” This group may be comprised of a specific staff group (such as the members of one department or work team), with the understanding that any specific member’s attendance is optional unless they have been identified specifically as someone involved in the conflict.

• The conflict resolution process continues (possibly in a series of sessions) until a resolution is found. If a conflict is irresolvable and negatively impacts the company, other alternatives will be explored, including external facilitation and/or arbitration.

• During participation in a conflict resolution meeting, participants are reminded to keep an open heart and mind, empathy and compassion, and a willingness to forgive and be forgiven. This may sound non-business-like but nothing is further from the truth. Businesses are made up of people and all people feel their best and work their best when they are heard and received with empathy and compassion. An open heart and open mind is the prerequisite stance for deep listening and understanding.

• Willingness to consider changing one’s perspective on the issue is especially helpful. Within the session, each party shall have the opportunity to state their issue or conflict. Each person is given time to speak their truth uninterrupted. Ideally, an in-depth conversation takes place where all aspects are addressed, all feelings and difficulties aired and each participant has the opportunity to respond.

The Simple Format:

• The person who initiated the meeting speaks first without interruption.
• The second person then speaks uninterrupted.
• Both parties have the opportunity to respond to each other.
• This is a self-responsible conversation that works best when it includes patience and respect.
• Progress will likely be stalled if participants are defensive and closed.
• Digging in your heels is not generally conducive to peacemaking.

Things to Remember during a Conflict Resolution Meeting:
• Breathe
• Listen deeply
• Practice empathy
• Open your heart
• Open your mind
• Try to identify your triggers (comments or behaviors of others that “push your buttons” and cause a strong emotion reaction in you)
• Own your feelings without blaming the other person for your reaction (in other words, take responsibility for your triggers)

Conflict Resolution Toolkit:

Members participating in a one-on-one or small group conflict resolution process may want to utilize any or all of the resources listed below:

Trusted Facilitator: A facilitator is sometimes unnecessary but is a valuable resource. For many conflicts, the facilitator can be a trusted colleague who may play the role of witness whose presence creates a safe space for dialogue. At other times an outside professional mediator is necessary to assist the conflicted parties. It is essential that the conflicted parties agree on the facilitator if it is a colleague.

Resolution Group: The Resolution Group approach is based on the belief that personal issues are often a microcosm of company issues and that an issue appearing to be between two people, may indeed impact the whole department or an entire company and involve a wider range of issues. It can be a very powerful experience for a group to work together or witness the resolution of a difficult conflict and the positive results often extend far beyond the resolution of that one issue. A Resolution Group also has the option of using a facilitator, though if the group members have had communication skills training it may be unnecessary. That decision can be left to the person initiating the meeting.

Talking Stick: The “Talking Stick” has been used by native people for centuries and is an effective tool for assisting the communication process. It can be used in a two-party conflict or with a group. Because of the number of people involved in a Resolution Group, the talking stick is a way to assure that each party has the opportunity to speak uninterrupted. This tool is used as follows: the person who initiated the meeting holds the stick or object and speaks first. As long as someone holds the stick they are not interrupted. When that person is finished speaking they place the talking stick in the center of the group. The stick is then picked up by whomever feels moved to speak next. This continues until the meeting feels complete.

Attunement: Taking time before and during the conflict resolution session for quiet reflection to allow for “inner guidance” on the subject. This may also sound too “woo woo” for a business environment, but it is simply taking a few moments to collect ones thoughts. Call it a “reflection moment” if you wish. We have all had those “flashes of insight” of unknown origin that provide an answer or a new perspective.

Appreciation Ceremony: This ceremony may be used to begin a session with a spirit of acceptance and appreciation. The group begins with a time of silence or a guided meditation. One participant is identified as the person being appreciated. It doesn’t matter who goes first but the group can draw straws if necessary. Each participant states something positive about that person – something they appreciate. This is repeated for each participant.

Specific Process Tools:

Reflective Listening/Paraphrasing: Ask the other party to repeat back to you in their own words what you just said. If they are unable to accurately express what you are trying to communicate, you can repeat what you said and then ask them to paraphrase again. This is a great tool for shedding light on miscommunications and having the opportunity to practice deep listening and empathy. This is something a facilitator might suggest during the session, especially if the two parties are at an impasse.

Role Reversal: Switch roles and “play act” as if you were the other person and speak from their perspective. Then they do the same “pretending” to be you with your thoughts and feelings.

Other tools and practices from Nonviolent Communication
Training

When it Works: Group Wisdom and “The Shift”

• The resolution process can sometimes seem “complete” or “good enough,” yet one or more participants may sense that perhaps there is more. More to be aired; more information needed; more paraphrasing and mirroring back for clarity; more time for quiet reflection. It is therefore suggested that wrapping up the session not be rushed, or that scheduling another meeting to work more on the conflict not be decided too quickly.

• Often when it might seem that there is much more to work through, a “shift” is only a few moments away. The “shift” may or may not happen but is an interesting phenomenon. The “shift” is an epiphany experience that happens to one or more participants. It can come at any moment and is an “aha!” moment of clarity that was not present the moment before. This “aha!” of true understanding of what the other person is experiencing or feeling, can shift one’s perspective dramatically.

• A shift in perspective (usually outside of the box of our own beliefs or agenda) can result in a feeling of connection and compassion for the other person, as well as some form of “surrender” from one or more parties. This “surrender” is by no means about giving in or resignation, but about “letting go” of tightly held ideas and defensiveness.

• This new perspective can shift one’s perception of the issue and of the other person. A new perception can instantly “resolve” the issue by dissolving the separateness of individual agendas. This shift is amazing to witness and even more amazing to personally experience. This phenomena may not appear every time, but with openness and willingness, there is fertile ground where “shift happens.”

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There you have it – a basic outline of principles and procedures.

Be a peacemaker in your company and in the world.

You have my permission to use any or all of what I have spelled out here, to amend or develop your company’s conflict resolution procedure. Or send a link to this article to your boss!

I know there are things I left out. Add more to your process and leave me a comment with your ideas. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Also see my Suggested Reading page for more books that might be helpful.

Here’s to messy conflicts, open minds, great communication, and powerful peacemaking!

P.S. I’m available to help your company write its conflict resolution procedure and other policies. Get in touch and we’ll talk.
(with or without a stick!)

Update Your Website Copyright-Now!

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

No tiny detail screams “unprofessional” more than an outdated website copyright. That little line of type at the bottom of your site can translate to “another not-on-the-ball small business owner” to your visitors.

Maybe you think few people notice, but don’t be so sure. I’ve seen so many websites with copyrights two and three years old. There’s nothing with more potential negative impact that is easier to fix.

An outdated copyright raises questions from your visitors like:

  • Are they still in business?
  • Does anyone visit this website?
  • Is this web content still current?

This seemingly small inaccuracy points out your lack of attention to detail and/or ability to meet deadlines. That may not be true of you or your business, but as a web visitor, that’s the red flag in my face.

It’s the equivalent of a typo on a resume. That one simple error raises doubt about your competency and efficiency.

Many of you will have to shell out at least 50 bucks for your web manager to change those two digits. And if you are not a techie, you may not know that the date only has to be changed in one spot behind the scenes, and every page will be updated.

I know you don’t want to spend that money. But do it. And do it no later than the first week in January. And while you’re at it, update anything else that’s stale on your site. Your webmaster will likely charge the same price even with a few additional updates.

Or maybe it’s time for a Web Content Makeover. The new year is a great time to freshen up your site. What is your site lacking that your visitors will find of value?

Your website is the hub of your online presence. You can be crankin out social media posts till the cows come home, but if all that effort sends your contacts to a stale site with nothing compelling them to stay and look around, you’re wasting your time.

Make it your resolution to improve your web content. Better content means more traffic and more customers. How’s that sound for 2010?

Happy New Year and thanks for reading!

1/3/10 Update: I use the WordPress Thesis Theme for this site (and the sites I design) and I just learned how to add the code that will automatically update the copyright for me!

Digital Reunions: Reach Out and Click Someone

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

For those of you who still think that online connections result in avoiding face to face contact with “real” people – you are absolutely wrong – they don’t – in fact 93% of the time, digital connections do the opposite. (I made up the 93%, but that’s my sense of it)

Obviously, if you’re someone who is already disconnected and have difficulty relating to people, perhaps you will stay isolated. But if finding friends and business associates in cyberspace is the best you can do, than good for you!

But for those who want to be more connected, but perhaps are shy and don’t have a dazzling or magnetic personality, the digital world can level the social playing field and help you get more in the game of your social circles. It’s a dream come true for introverts (more about that in a future post). I feel more and more connected all the time. Being self-employed and alone in my office for most of the day, the online communities provide a welcome relief to isolation.

The digital world also provides previously impossible opportunities for lost connections. A few weeks back, an old friend from 30 years ago found me because of my strong online presence. How cool is that? I’m sure you’ve had that same experience if you have your own website or participate in Facebook or other social media venues. And all the more reason to crank up your social media efforts.

Without the Internet and search ability, there are many people I would have never seen or heard from again. We lost touch and had no way of finding each other, short of a pricey private investigator. Today we all have a number of free private investigators at our disposal. Use them – reach out and find those from your past that you want to reconnect with to say hello, to un-burn bridges, make amends, pay back the hundred bucks, offer forgiveness, or whatever. Keep it positive. Don’t look up those who will bring you down or with whom you have a bone to pick. For those folks – send them a prayer or blessing, instead.

The only word of caution about looking for people from your past, is if you are in a committed intimate relationship, it may not be wise to look up old flames unless you absolutely know you are in a clean space with them. Be honest with yourself about your motives. Tell your partner and be fully transparent in your reconnecting. And if you get together in person, invite them to your home to meet your partner. (sorry for the personal life aside, but this is a potential danger zone and deserves the advice of consciousness and caution).

Reconnecting with old friends and colleagues can also help you find a job or offer possibilities for professional collaboration or business deals. Two of my recent reunions hold this promise.

So why not cast your web of connection even farther? Do a little time travel online. Reach out and click someone! You never know what positive outcome might be in store.

Gratitude: Don’t Just Feel It

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

It’s one thing to feel gratitude and it’s quite another to express it…especially when you feel thankful for another person.

It’s that time of year, at least in the United States, when we reflect on the blessings in our lives. A great thing to do.

But let’s talk about all those times when we feel appreciation for something someone has done, or just for who they are in our life…and yet we don’t tell them. We think “Oh, he knows how much I appreciate the work he did on that project. I said so…didn’t I?” or “She knows how much I value her wisdom and leadership” or “My staff knows how proud I was of their presentation.”

The answer to those questions is “Maybe they do.” But the truth is, we can’t hear appreciation often enough. I read a quote recently that said something like “All that anyone really wants is to feel good about themselves” …and it went on to say that we can each contribute to others feeling good by expressing the true appreciation we feel for them.

The other thing that happens is that we express it to others, but not to the person for whom we feel the admiration or gratitude.

Whenever I hear someone say something nice about a person who is not present, I ask if they have expressed their appreciation directly to that person? Often the answer is “no,” along with an explanation about how the other person knows it. And I say “tell them again.”

This is especially important for bosses and supervisors. Tell your employees how much you value them; how much you appreciate their time and commitment. Studies have shown that what employees want most from their employer is not more money, but validation and appreciation. Gee, that’s an easy line item to add to the payroll! And yet sadly, so many supervisors don’t seem to have that currency to give.

But don’t forget – in the workplace, appreciation goes both ways. Bosses need to hear it also. Last year in my corporate job, I received a performance bonus, as did all other employees. I was hoping for more than I received but I realized that it was a “bonus,” not an entitlement. I then sent a “thank you” email to the management team. The Chief Operating Officer told me he appreciated my message. He also mentioned that out of 87 employees, only a handful thanked him for their bonus.

I feel so strongly about this subject because, to be perfectly honest I more often think critical thoughts about others (a long-standing habit stemming from my over-analytical thinking, among other things). I am a recovering criticizer, trying to shift my perspective to people’s positive traits. I want to make improvements in this arena because it’s so important to both my personal life and my business life. I certainly know how deeply touched I feel when someone tells me that they appreciate me.

The message here is simple:

  • None of us feels completely self assured or confident
  • Everyone is deeply touched by a sincere compliment
  • Expressed appreciations make people feel good
  • Why not make someone’s day?
  • Tell them specifically how you think they are awesome

And then make a commitment to look for more positive aspects of all the people in your life – even the ones who sometimes drive you crazy! (you know – the people you will be having dinner with on Thursday) :-)

Go ahead. Express appreciations. And don’t forget that special someone – yourself. Mutter it under your breath or go look in the mirror. But be bold and tell him or her….that s/he rocks!

Boost Your Business with a Daily Belly Laugh

Friday, November 20th, 2009

On a regular basis I now have the wonderful experience of doubling over in hysterics every time I check my home voice mail. Why? Is some prank caller leaving funny messages? Did I subscribe to 1-800-JOKE-OF-THE-DAY? Have I become friends with Paula Poundstone?

No. I simply created a new “recorded name” for my voice mail.

When first setting up their “recorded name” on voice mail at home or at the office, many people feel obligated to not only record their full first and last name, but to do so in a serious monotone…as though they were reporting for duty on a military base.

In my last corporate job, every morning I would hear the recording of my boss sternly announcing his own name, as he checked his voice mail by speaker phone. I used to roll my eyes every time, mostly wishing  he’d turn down the volume.

Being the radical non-conformist that I am, at home and at that job, I recorded only my first name! This was a well kept secret until this moment…but now the cat’s out of the bag. (if this means losing followers on Twitter, than so be it)

A week ago, in a flash of insight, I realized that I had probably listened to myself proclaim “CHRISTINE” at least 2,732 times since I started using voice mail. I decided it was time for a change. So I pulled out the voice mail instruction booklet to figure out how to re-record whatever struck my fancy. No one had to know. I was the only one who would hear it, right? Of course. Wire-tapping in now a thing of the past.

So after hitting speed dial for my access number and pressing #3 “to change my personal options” rather than the usual #1 to “listen to my messages,” the nice little lady inside the phone instructed me how to change my “recorded name.”

Then…after the beep…in my most cheerful Elmer Fudd voice, I created my brand new “recorded name” of “KWISTINE!”

Elmer Fudd says "Kwistine!"I managed to stay composed for another nano-second – just long enough to press the # key to stop recording, and then burst into the best bout of uncontrollable laughter I’ve experienced in a long time! :-)

Now I get to crack myself up every time I check my voice mail! The great thing is that I forget it’s coming, so I have a mini fun-house experience at least once a day. An automated humor break. How great is that? I can access my homemade “laugh-on-demand”…whenever I need it.

What’s this got to do with business relationships? Plenty.

Having a hearty belly laugh once a day has the following business benefits:

  • taking a humor break is good for the mind and the soul – you will feel joy for those few moments no matter what else is stressing you
  • your joy brings joy to those around you and makes everyone more relaxed
  • a belly laugh jolts you out of your current state-of-mind, giving you a fresh perspective (always a good thing)
  • the uplifted energy opens you to any number of positive outcomes including: increased confidence, feeling more accepting of co-workers, your boss or your employees, improved communication, release of negative energy, improved health and vitality, and so much more…all of which attract more business. (it really does)

Re-recording your name on your voice mail is only one way to bring a momentary giggle into your day. Be creative and think of other ways to lighten up and “let in” all the good!

And please use the “Share This” button below to send this article along to a colleague or friend who needs it. You know who I’m talking about!