The Doctor is IN!

I believe in the Gallup Poll's StrengthsFinder 2.0

I have to admit that when I needed to take the Gallup Poll’s StrengthsFinder 2.0 skills assessment prior to teaching a resume class for people who had been unemployed for months, I was skeptical, even cynical, about the results. I had completed many assessments in my career (even though I had the same MyersBriggs profile as the CEO of 3M in 1989, I didn’t get hired there). What would one more assessment do for me?

Well, I was wrong. I took StrengthsFinder online; the code is in the back of the book, which I ordered from Amazon for about $13. I received a detailed explanation of my five top strengths that felt like the writer had known me all my  life. I had always thought my insatiable desire to learn was kind of “nerdy”; after reading the analysis of “Learner,”  I discovered ways to highlight that strength in my resume/marketing materials.

What was most interesting, though, was to compare the results of my students who had the same strengths as I did. Their detailed analysis of, say, the strength of Responsibility was totally different than mine. StrengthsFinder is clearly a sophisticated tool that captures and highlights individual differences.

The best part was to work one-on-one with my students rebuilding their resumes after receiving their assessments. One woman had been apologetic about her work history, speaking negatively about its apparent incoherence. We wrote out her five strengths on the top of her draft and quickly identified how her three separate career moves demonstrated increasing responsibility and growth within her five strengths. Her shoulders relaxed and she started to smile more in class.

The theory behind StrengthsFinder 2.0 is that most training focuses on improving our weaknesses. That’s all well and good, but this assessment suggests that we also identify our strengths, demonstrate them to our potential employers/clients, and focus on building our careers on our strengths. That makes a lot of sense to me.

Two weeks off and back at it

Did you know I’m writing a book on Marketing Bingo? Did you realize that my 25 blogs on Marketing Bingo were the prewriting for that book? I wrote 5 blogs a week for 5 weeks on marketing tips that I have learned, for a total of 25 chapters that I now have in draft form. What a treat! Here’s what I learned:

  • A blog is great for thinking about your audience. I’ve always written in journals, but that is so much more private than a blog. The blog may be less public than the book itself, but at least I’m thinking about you, my audience.
  • Having a deadline, even self-imposed, is marvelous. There were many nights when I sat, exhausted in front of the laptop but compelled to post to the blog (and after I read some of those entries, I realize that evenings are not my best writing opportunities!) Never mind: I have a draft, I have a draft, I have a draft of my book!
  • Your comments were so helpful (and I wouldn’t have had those comments in my journal, would I?) Thanks for staying with me.

The blogging experiment was so successful that I will continue, five blogs a week, to write the introduction and conclusion to the book. Stay with me. I’ll be in print by May! Thanks for reading, and for being there.

Guest blog: Why use an online marketing tool?

LisaMarie Dias writes this guest blog (and it’s her birthday tomorrow!) :

I don’t wear much make-up, but I do use under-eye concealer almost every day. If you use this, you know how hard it is to find a shade and texture that matches your skin. Finding one that I liked was a challenge, so I was thrilled when the woman behind the make-up counter found one for me that seemed perfect.

I brought it home only to realize that the sleek metal tube was nearly impossible to open, especially with my slightly moisturized fingers. Even after I scrubbed clean both my hands and tube, I still had great difficulty. Days later, still struggling with the tube, I realized that if I twisted it, even slightly, while attempting to open it, large quantities of the product would gush out of the cap. Although the color matched and the tube design was attractive, I’d never buy this product again.

As I thought about it more, I realized that this experience has many parallels with my work creating online marketing materials for small businesses. As great as your product or service might be, if the end user cannot open your message, opens it but can’t read it, or if it creates a mess (think viruses – even the threat of one) they will NOT come back for more.

With this in mind, I have created a list of suggestions for making sure that your message is heard:

  • Do not use a regular email service, like Outlook or AOL to create and/or send your mailings. There are limits to the number of recipients you can send to at any one time without being tagged as SPAM. Even if you send them in batches, there is a chance that your address will be tagged and blocked. Regular email is designed for single-column, letter-format correspondence, not longer, more informative and multi-columned documents.
  • Instead, use an online marketing tool to deliver your message. Services like Constant Contact and others provide tools to create documents that are clear, clean, and easy to read across multiple platforms. They allow you to divide your text into columns and to add photos and images to make your message both more readable and more enjoyable. These services work to ensure that your message is not considered SPAM. While no one service can promise that every message will be accepted (there are personal, private, and corporate filters that can still be a barrier), these services increase your chances of getting through.

Online marketing tools do cost money, but consider your return on investment. Look at your sales generated by your online marketing; if you’re creating good online marketing, sales should be increasing.

Remember the old-fashioned way of mailing marketing materials? Online services are far more cost-effective than regular mailing campaigns.
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LisaMarie Dias helps individuals and small businesses create customized online E-Newsletters, E-zines, Product Announcements and more, using Constant Contact and other online delivery services. If you are looking for an easy and affordable way to get your message online and into your client’s inbox or want to start an e-newsletter but just don’t know where to begin, LisaMarie Dias Designs can help!

Visit www.LisaMarieDiasDesigns.com to learn more about her services and to find links to Constant Contact where you can sign up for a FREE 60 day trial! Call 973.275.9497 or email LMD@LisaMarieDiasDesigns.com to set up a complimentary 15 minute phone consultation to see how she can help you get your message from your hands to your client’s inbox!

Sign up on her website for LisaMarie’s monthly newsletter filled with tips and suggestions on how to design and create your own custom e-newsletter for your business, your child’s sports teams or volunteer efforts!

Marketing Bingo: Trade shows

You will have to help develop this post, as I’ve not had much success with exhibiting at trade shows up to now. But then, again, I’m not sure I did the right things in the past.

Here’s what I would do if I had the chance to exhibit today:

  1. I’d have made sure that I was in the right show. I’d research where my competitors were exhibiting, and I’d visit the show the year before I exhibited to make sure it was right for me.
  2. I would publicize to my existing customers and clients that I was exhibiting and ask them to drop by.
  3. I’d have collateral made (banners, signs) that could be used over again at other shows.
  4. I’d have an interactive PowerPoint show on my laptop to highlight the benefits of buying my services; this would help draw people to the booth.
  5. I’d wear comfortable shoes.
  6. I’d have giveaways that weren’t candy or junk food.
  7. I’d block off a day after the show to contact every single person who left a card or stopped to talk to me.

And let’s suppose I still never exhibited at this show where all my competitors were? I’d go to the show to do my stealth research. I’d get the card of every exhibitor who might be a client or customer and contact them after the show. I’d milk the show for all I could.

Trade shows could be fabulous for you. What do you think?

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Find 60 great how-to guides on Mashable. Even “How to meditate” (might be useful right now)!

I'm not doing enough to pamper my clients

First, I got a gentle reminder by e-mail that my appointment was on Monday. When I walked in, I was greeted cheerily by the staff. I headed right for the sparkling bowl of fresh fruit and made myself a cup of gourmet tea, the kind I don’t buy because it’s so expensive.

Then, I toured the facility before I was shown into the room where I sat down for my actual appointment.  I was able to hang my purse on the nice chrome hook on the wall that had a sign inviting me to do so.

And then the dentist arrived to poke and prod my teeth…the news wasn’t good, but I was still basking in the glow of a few minor luxuries.

I learned a lot that day, and not just about my teeth! It’s so relatively easy to offer kindness, good service, and a few minor luxuries to our clients. I’ve been to many dentists over six decades, but I never felt so good during and after a visit as I did last Monday.

I wonder what I  could do to duplicate this addicting service for my clients? Perhaps I should review my worksheets from Attracting Perfect Customers, a book that argues that we need to figure out what makes our perfect customers perfect, institutionalize our service to them, and then go find a bunch more perfect customers.

I always joke that most people dread coming to writing classes about the same way they dread going to the dentist. I try to completely surprise them when they walk through the classroom door, and now I’m going to try even harder to pamper them when I can!

When paper is better than pixels

I mailed my paper newsletter on Monday to about 250 clients. As a result, I received a request from a former client to give a presentation at the Denver Chamber of Commerce, and another booking request for a half day training at Denver Water.

I believe that the paper version of my newsletter brings in more business than the electronic version, which I send to a different audience. I think this might be because people may feel overwhelmed with the electronic wash of information; I know I do. Paper, individually addressed envelopes, and postage seems to bring more responses than the e-mailed version.

I wish it weren’t so, as I hate the labor-intensive process and the environmental unfriendliness of the paper version. BUT I’ll take the business!

What has been your marketing experience?

"Books have letters": The audience is always right

The other day, my grandson (age 3 1/2) was making a book. He colored the first page and then said, “Grandma, we need some letters on this page. Books have letters!”

I stifled the urge to correct him (“No, honey, books have words.”) To him, letters are important as that’s what he’s learning right now. Soon, he’ll get the concept that letters make words, but for now: HE’S ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. Books have letters.

And thus I relearn another valuable lesson: The audience is always right.

The benefits of aging

“Your eyes have actually improved since your last visit,” said my eye doctor yesterday. I immediately hoped that this improvement in my lifelong near-sightedness and astigmatism was the result of all the kale I’ve been eating recently. “Nope,” she said. “It happens as you age.” (She’s impossibly young, of course, obviously younger than my youngest child).

Never mind. I’m thrilled with the improvement, one tangible benefit of getting older. I just realized another benefit, too: I’m old enough to have lived through all the recessions that are being cited nowaday (the 70s, 80s, 90s, early 2000s). I didn’t starve; I didn’t become homeless. The fact that I’ve survived those difficult times and thrived in the meantime gives me much hope in face of the daily grind of bad news.

Just the other day a client contacted me to say he’d been laid off that morning, the Monday after Thanksgiving. For the rest of the day after receiving his e-mail, I was fearful: The recession now had a new new face on it. Then I remembered that I, too, had been laid off on the Monday after Thanksgiving in 1990, and as a result, I launched my business.

“Lurched” is probably more like it for the last 18 years. In spite of all my mistakes, I’ve learned a few things that will aid my survival in these times: Trim the budget; market like crazy; accept every contract and rejoice in the work; live in gratitude; help others. I did these five things yesterday and slept deeply. I feel much better today. I’ll make it through this, and I’m grateful for my age and experience.

What do you do to overcome the financial fear when it paralyzes you?