The Belief Factor – Believe In Your Business or Else

Do you believe in your business? I ask this because I think it is the most important element determining your success. Do you believe in your business? Do you believe it will succeed? That it will supply a needed product or service to the marketplace? Do you believe it will support you financially (even if it won’t at first)? When you believe in your business If you think this is a silly question, that it’s obvious that every business owner must believe in his or her business, then you are lucky! Steer clear of business owners who hold expectations that others owe them. When you believe in your business, you will nurture it and guide it like it’s your child. You will pay attention to its growth and get some help when it isn’t meeting the prescribed milestones. Think about a successful business that you know. Likely the owner is passionate about its success and cares very much that it survives and thrives. This applies to founders of nonprofit organizations too—the business model is beside the point. The owner who believes does not hesitate to invest their time, effort, and money to give buoyancy to their business. These owners take responsibility for their success or failure. They figure out why something isn’t working—where’s the disconnect? The misconception? The opportunity?—then they fix it. They are clear, intentional, and deliberate. Believers ask for help from experts and then they listen and follow the advice with an objective detachment. Successful businesspeople are open for business, literally.   Believe you can and you’re halfway there.     – Theodore Roosevelt   When you don’t believe in your business I’ve encountered and even worked with people who flat out don’t believe in their businesses. I didn’t realize this fact when I agreed to work with or for them, but after 25 years as a consultant I can identify the very clear red flags. Their attitude is “never enough,” and they treat everyone like that. They say things like, “If only you would have/could have [fill in the blank].” They complain about customers, they complain about the vendors, they complain about their foiled efforts. One bad review and they explode with reasons that the criticism is not warranted! It’s self-centered and it comes across as rigid and closed off. It’s not attractive and the customers repel them instead of coming to them. They search for a...
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Creating the Perfect Business Name for Your Market

When speaking casually with business people about creating the perfect business name, more than once I have heard people say,  “Your name should say what you do.” To which I say, “Really? Let me go Comet my bathtub before I Kleenex my nose and Oreo my mouth.” Market the Name The job of marketing is to make your product name a household name. It’s not to take a household word and brand it as a product. When someone says, “No one knows what that product is,” that means it needs more advertising and public relations, it doesn’t mean the product is a failure or that you need to dumb down the name. Before you comment with your favorite generic brand, I acknowledge that those can work too as a gimmick of its own. Wine Warehouse, The Container Store, Goo Gone are all straightforward and to the point, but they do not represent the only successful brands. It’s just not necessary! When I counter with examples like Apple that does not sell any Granny Smiths or Galas, or Target that doesn’t specialize in dartboards, or In-N-Out that doesn’t sell revolving doors, Amazon, GoDaddy, TaylorMade, Mike, Samsung, and so on … the response is usually, “Well they have a huge marketing budget.” That may be true at this point in the game but not always. Like your business, they started with an idea. The idea might have taken shape in a garage like Apple Computers and Amazon, or being sold out of the back of a truck as did Nike. Here’s more on big businesses with meager beginnings. The Perfect Business Name There are many companies who specialize in naming. If you have the budget for that, go for it! It may be worth someone researching and testing names that help you become as profitable as you can. In summary, you can be creative as long as you are consistent (and not offensive) when using your name. Don’t be afraid to use your own name either. Ralph, Carl Jr., and Ashley will all welcome you to the club. Leslie A.M. Smith founded McCormick L.A. in 1994 offering public relations and marketing consulting to nonprofits and businesses of all shapes and sizes. Visit her website today to see how she can help you....
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7 Deadly Sins of Media Relations

Media relations can be so fun and rewarding, and also daunting. To gain successful buzz, you have to avoid the pitfalls–the seven deadly sins of media relations. Have you ever sent out a press release promoting an exciting and important event with high hopes of extensive coverage? Did you imagine a pre-event story, a reporter committing to attend and cover it, broadcast coverage, and a feature on a blog or two? Of course it’s possible to garner all that coverage, but that doesn’t happen all the time. If that did not happen, were you horribly demoralized and ready to quit? Then you probably need to re-evaluate your habits and expectations and make sure the substance of your pitch is as meaty as you think it is. The Good Book lists the seven deadly sins as the unflattering, nasty qualities: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. Rather than a new list, I have taken each sin and shown how it applies to media relations. Pride Maybe your press release had too much bragging. It’s great that you are proud of your organization or company and the upcoming event, but bragging is not a news story, it’s an advertisement. If you are truly and verifiably the first, only, largest, then state that with the facts that support that claim. If you are using descriptive words that are muddy and subjective (cutting edge, breakthrough, crowd-pleaser, favorite), you have some editing to do. Greed Of course you want all the stories and the buzz to be about you at all times—and so does your boss/client! Expecting a disproportionate amount of earned media to be about you and your business is greedy. These are news sources and if you are not announcing something that changes life on this planet, then it is extremely unrealistic to expect that much attention from media you don’t control yourself (your website, social media content). This attitude, which often leads to issuing useless, flat press releases too frequently, is a turn off to reporters and editors. Lust Lust is basically an intense desire for something. In media relations, lust leads you to measuring success by the number of news clippings instead of measuring by the objective of the event. Let me assure you, the coverage of your event is not as important as the outcomes of the event. Don’t worry that you don’t have a media entry...
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6 Weeks To Create Your Nonprofit Marketing Plan

Nonprofit Marketing is Largely Assigned to Novices Unlike for-profit businesses, nonprofit marketing is often an afterthought. Many nonprofit organizations assign marketing and promotion to the person who has one extra hour per week in their schedule. I wish I was kidding. Quite often the promotional duties fall to the fundraising personnel (development department). Their priority is raising money so that’s what the promotion talks about. This is fine for organizations whose mission is to raise money like a foundation, but even then there’s a story to tell. It’s practically epidemic! I have taught a six-week marketing certificate class with The Nonprofit Partnership five times and was amazed to learn that marketing was assigned to various positions in nonprofit organizations that were distantly or not at all related to promotions. From box office managers of performing arts organizations and administrative assistants to volunteers in charge of membership recruitment, and most peculiarly, therapists. Of course there was a healthy presence from executive directors (some founders of their respective organizations) and development directors. Occasionally, there was a marketing director. Your nonprofit organization needs a marketing plan I wish that every nonprofit could assign a decent salary to a marketing director or consultant, I really do. Unfortunately, nonprofits’ budgets typically don’t unfold that way. Program managers and practitioners take priority, as they should, but someone has to tell the story. If your nonprofit organization resembles what I have described above, fear not! The six-week class is back and starts September 6, 2018. I’m excited to teach this class again. We have not offered this class since 2014 and when it started in 2011-2012, one of the most common questions was, “Do we have to be on Facebook?” Things have changed quickly. Please plan to join me once a week for a three-hour session and DO YOUR HOMEWORK! If you are diligent, at the end of the six-weeks you will have a marketing plan for your organization to follow. Sign-up today to create your nonprofit marketing plan in six weeks Click here for more information and to reserve your spot....
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3 Ways Hiring a Facilitator Makes Meetings More Effective

Hiring a facilitator might be one of the best things you can do for your team of executives or volunteers. McCormick L.A. offers facilitation services to help you do something as basic as coordinating a brainstorming session to a project as advanced as creating your strategic plan. Here are three advantages you gain when you hire a facilitator: 1. Facilitation is inclusive When you hire a facilitator you are able to fully participate in the conversation. If you are the chair, the executive director, or the president, AND you plan to run the meeting, then you can’t partake at the same level as everyone else. The facilitator is truly neutral so everyone can share and develop a better product. 2. Facilitation provides a better process Sometimes stakeholders don’t feel equal. Facilitation creates an environment where everyone can share freely and openly. A facilitator values all participants for their contributions as she captures all expressed thoughts and records them for the collective group memory. Sometimes, the facilitator uncovers misunderstandings and is able to acknowledge and manage those issues. 3. Teams reach their goals Hiring a facilitator helps teams of volunteers, executives, planners–any team!–reach their goals. Even if there is conflict to resolve, a facilitator will identify those issues and help the group move forward. Progress is not always a straight line and a skilled facilitator will help build a foundation for future success. Hiring a facilitator starts with a call to McCormick L.A. Whether you need help with conflict resolution or a board training, McCormick L.A. can help.  Call today for a free assessment of your group’s needs. Leslie A.M. Smith has been a facilitator for almost 20 years working with various groups of stakeholders to help them achieve their goals. She is also a public relations and marketing consultant and seasoned workshop presenter. Visit her website today to see how she can help you....
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