Reap What You Sow, and So and So …

This is a picture of the side of my house. The most neglected side of our property, for sure. That thing growing maniacally is a tomato plant. One that we did not plant. Upon spotting this unusual growth and learning that we really need to pay more attention to this side of the house, I realized a few other things that can be applied to business and life in general. Intention and Results First, it struck me as funny that my daughter had planted tomatoes from seeds in tiny cups in a window this spring. Once they sprouted and seemed like they could endure the great outdoors, she planted them in our garden on the other side of the house. It wasn’t long—maybe a week—before the birds or other critters had snatched away the sprouts leaving nothing behind. That the intention was to grow tomatoes and there are tomatoes growing on our property is what we wanted. That the tomatoes grew by means wholly unknown to us, is startling. Things like this happen all the time and it’s okay. Life just doesn’t always follow the path we expect or that we are trying to pave for the result. The key is to keep your eye on the result and not worry about who gets the credit or how the route changed. We have tomatoes and that’s what matters, right? Persistence We don’t know how long this rogue tomato plant had been trying to grow over there but it succeeded. The seeds that my daughter planted and nurtured inside for a few weeks were decimated quickly with no sign that anything was ever planted there before. Where did the seeds for this plant come from? Did they blow down the corridor between the house and the block fence? Did some mysterious gardener plant them as a gift? And does it matter? I don’t think it does, but it is mysterious. Conditions That this tomato plant did so well is certainly amazing considering there is no water source over there, the soil is little more than silt, and hardly any sun shines over there until the late afternoon, and then it is blazing. Evidently, the critters have yet to venture over there—at least critters who would be interested in tomato plants. Somehow the ideal conditions naturally converged and tomatoes emerged. Neglect or Freedom? That we had no idea this plant was growing...
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Insights of Your Success – How Do You Measure Up?

How do you know whether your promotional efforts are working? Of course, the answer is that you have to measure your success somehow. You have to ask your customers and potential customers. Most importantly, you have to be proactive and put those measurement techniques in place when you start. I asked my friend and colleague Laura Keene of Keene Insights a few questions to share with you. Laura is a self-proclaimed data geek, and an expert researcher–she’s definitely the right person to answer these questions and help your company or organization investigate your successes, not just in promotion. Just to make it simple to follow along, I’ve labeled my questions McLA and her answers KI, and the answers are in blue. McLA: One objective that almost all of my clients state is “to increase awareness.” I urge them to be more specific and develop an outcome that is easier measured (e.g. increase sales, donations, requests for a consultation). But some insist that this is all they want. How would you suggest a local nonprofit or entrepreneur measure this kind of nebulous objective? KI: Well, first and foremost, I have to say that I agree, it’s a good idea to take it a step further. Once a person knows more about the company or the cause, what do you want them to do with that information? That outcome may be more important and a better measure of success. That said, ‘increased awareness’ can be a first step toward action and may be helpful to measure. Assuming there is a web-based component to the work, some decent proxies (estimates) for awareness that can be easy to collect are: Website traffic (number of visits, time spent on the website, number of pages visited) Social media engagement (number of followers, number of shares, number reached) Blog subscriptions and visits Downloads of materials Mentions of the company/cause across platforms/websites (paper newsletter subscriptions) You can track these using built-in analytic features and see if they are increasing. Just be wary of focusing too much on ‘how do we get people to come to the website/facebook/twitter/other.’ Remember, these are just proxies or estimates for what you’re really looking to change, which is awareness. You may also want to consider asking people whether they’re aware of the company/cause directly. This requires getting access to a decent number of current and potential clients/supporters. You can partner with another organization...
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The Public Eye is Opening Wider

Wear You’ve Been® hangtags more helpful than ever These days we are increasingly working in silos as we rely on technology to make our jobs easier and our world smaller. According to the 2010 Census, the number of people who work from home increased by 35%, or four million people, since 1997. It would seem that as more people work from the privacy of home offices, and work hundreds of miles away from their colleagues that it would matter less and less what we wore “to the office.” For some, that might be true, but when a teleconference can take place on Skype or a Google Hangout with just a few taps on a keyboard, your appearance—at least from the waist up––takes on a new importance. Do you have monthly meetings with a group of colleagues? Online or face-to-face, you might not want to give the impression your wardrobe is a series of uniforms. In addition to being visibly accessible through your computer, it seems that someone is always snapping a photo and posting it somewhere. You might want to keep track and Wear You’ve Been® tags make it really easy. Of course, you might want to create an iconic look for yourself like Steve Jobs, but chances are you want a little more variety than that. I created Wear You’ve Been® hanger tags in 2009 to help women to keep track of their great outfits so they aren’t repeating their fantastic ensembles with the same groups of people. You don’t want to overhear your peers (or critics) say, “She just wore that to Sherri’s daughter’s wedding,” as you are accepting the Woman of the Year award. By keeping track of what you wore, you can actually maximize your wardrobe. You will realize that you haven’t worn something in a really long time, or you’ve worn something too many times to wear again. By keeping notes on how you accessorized an outfit, you’ll realize that you can transform an outfit by adding a statement necklace or a great scarf. I put the tags on sale last year some time and just kept them at that discounted price point. You can buy them in a pretty gift box ready to give in a 50 or 12-count or buy just the cards for a slightly better value. Visit the site here and stock-up!  ...
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New Business Success – Three Tactics for Every New Business

  Have you recently started your own business? Whether you are transitioning from employee to owner or breaking away from a partnership, these three fundamentals of promotion will aid your business development swiftly. 1. Website You cannot be taken seriously these days without a website. Make sure all the tabs work and that the site is accessible on all platforms: desktop computers, tablets, and smart phones. As well, make sure it works with all browsers. No one wants to be told that their chosen browser is insufficient for your website. Being accessible means that you accommodate your clients, not the other way around. 2. Letter Write a letter with your announcement to everyone you know. You can snail mail it or email it. You might have two lists to accommodate anyone who does not check their email very often. Write to your family, your friends, colleagues, past clients if any, potential clients who you know, and potential referral sources. It’s important to explain your area of expertise and how the reader can help you build a successful business. 3. Press Release Distribute a press release to all relevant media for several angles. Send it to sections of newspapers that announce new businesses or career advancements. Don’t forget your alumni magazine! If you are selling a new product, then pitch your story to business sections and trade journals in your field. Even if you are not blessed with a feature story from the initial release, you have established a presence and even an authoritative voice on your subject with reporters. These three tactics are only the beginning and should not be done without first creating a business plan, a marketing plan, and deciding your key branding messages. However, these are easy steps to proclaim yourself open for business–virtually and literally–and establish a support system in the marketplace. Your prospects will have no choice but to respond. If you need help with any of these, please contact me for help. Leslie@McCormickLA.com...
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And Now, A Word From Our Sponsor

I am asked at least once a year whether to allow a sponsor send out their own press release about their involvement with a nonprofit. The answer is YES! And, just to safeguard yourself, include parameters about promotion in the sponsorship agreement. First, the reasons to allow your sponsor to promote their support of your organization are practical. Your sponsors might have considerable media cache that you don’t have. I have worked on projects that would have been quite vanilla if it were not for the sponsorship of notable entities like the L.A. Kings. Not only are Kings players a huge draw for news sources at the event, they have relationships to Fox Sports, as well as other sponsors who are eager to tag along. Through their connections, the story ran to a much broader audience. Keep in mind that the media will not be able to tell the sponsor’s story without telling the nonprofit’s story. The Kings, for instance, had to state who they were helping and why. Once the media has confirmed their interest and attendance, it’s your job to ensure that your logo is front and center for every possible camera angle. Also, make sure that you have a spokesperson or two who are well prepared and available to be interviewed. Which leads us to how you stay in the driver’s seat. Make sure they respect other sponsors. If this isn’t the title sponsor, they don’t get to drop the title sponsor’s name from the title to insinuate they are the title sponsor. You can’t allow a lesser contributor to leverage more value than they paid for through a carefully crafted press release. If you have a title sponsor, then every sponsor needs to use that correct title in their promotional efforts. To protect your sponsors and your organization, require that they submit their press release(s) to you prior to distributing them to the media. You also want to know where they are pitching their side of the story so they don’t scoop you. Perhaps you have a reporter lined up to do a human interest story on someone who benefits from your services, but your sponsor pitches an equally compelling story about their employee who volunteers with your organization and is terminally ill but is determined to be at the event. Both are worthy stories, but the risk is that the story will go on...
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