My 3 Words: 70 Days Into the New Year

Several years ago I started following Chris Brogan. At the beginning of each new year he encourages his readers/listeners to choose three words to focus on over the course of the next year. For some reason this was the year Chris’ encouragement sunk in and as 2013 ended and the sun rose on January 1, 2014 I contemplated three words I would focus on over the next 365 days. 

The three words I chose were: intentional, bold and generous.

During the first few weeks of the new year I thought about the areas of my life these three words could be applied  - spiritually, emotionally, physically. I thought about how to apply them to my relationship with family, the team I lead at work and my health. I went a little deeper and thought about the “why” behind each of these words and the areas of my life I would apply them too.

So, I had come up with the three words but it wasn’t until after listening to a Chris Locurto podcast that the scales tipped and I put things into motion. On this particular podcast Chris was interviewing Rory Vaden and talked about Rory’s book Take The Stairs. I immediately downloaded the book and consumed it within a few days. This was the fuel I needed to push forward.

My health was first up because it impacts every other area of my life. Because I’m a reader and information addict I started identifying resources and tools that would help me achieve my health goals. I’m also competitive so I joined a couple of challenges to gamify my efforts including a citywide challenge – LoseToWinSTL.

My current Top 5 list of health and fitness blogs and podcasts :

Then I tracked down some tech tools and equipment to help me along the way:

  • FitBit is a bracelet that tracks my daily activity, including sleeping if I want. It syncs with my iPhone and I can also connect with others in the St. Louis area who are using FitBit so it adds a bit of competition to the equation.
  • MyFitnessPal is one of the best apps to track what you are eating along with your exercise (it syncs with FitBit) and your progress.

After 70 days I have lost more than 30 pounds, brought my cholesterol to normal (at least according to traditional medicine) standards and lowered my blood pressure to a normal, healthy state. My energy and mental focus has increased significantly. And although there have been challenges thrown in front of me – sickness, injury, stress – I haven’t let those things keep me back – I’m still climbing the stairs.

The journey continues. 

Easy, Simple and Free Image Resizing Tool

Every now and then you may need to re-size an image. You may need to change the dimensions to fit a specific area of your blog or maybe the file size is too large. Either way, you need to edit an image to fit your needs. Recently I came across Image Optimized which is a free service that gives you the ability to re-size, compress and optimize your image files.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Smart Brands Tell The Best Stories

Seth Godin says, “Great marketers don’t make stuff. They make meaning.”

Image courtesy of http://video-commerce.org

Image courtesy of http://video-commerce.org

It doesn’t matter if we are selling a product or service, promoting a service or brand…if we aren’t telling a meaningful story about who we are and what we do we shouldn’t plan on having a long relationship with our customers or constituents.

There’s a good piece on The Content Strategist that does a great job unpacking this entire idea. Here’s a snip from the article:

You’ve probably heard the big commandment of content marketing: Don’t talk about the brand. If you do, the theory goes, you’ll drive consumers away. After all, they want to read about the things they love, not about you.

But what about the people who are interested in your brand? What about the investors and potential investors? What about the employees and vendors with a stake in your success? Or, for that matter, what about the super-users who just can’t get enough? Shouldn’t you talk about the brand to them?

The answer, undoubtedly, is yes.

Do you think there’s a balance to how much you talk about your brand? Is there a line that you need to be aware of?

Role Models, Mentors & YOU

A long time ago I realized I didn’t have all of the answers. Its not that I didn’t try to have them all or at least give the impression that I had them all.

My Unique Voice

Image courtesy of http://singfreely.com/blog/919979-you-have-a-unique-voice-that-we-all-want-to-hear/

This realization led me to looking to others who knew more than me. I found  role models and mentors through books, in the organizations I was a part of and in my own family.

Early on I wanted to be just like those I looked up too. And I do mean “just like them” – I practiced talking like them, wearing the same clothes, listening to the same music, doing my hair like them, watching the same movies and multiple other things. My aspirations became what I saw them succeed at.

None of this was wrong, by seeing how other people “do it” we learn how to “do it”.

Where I missed out though was in developing my own voice. Because I wanted, so much, to be like those I looked up too I spent a lot of time and energy on imitating and becoming a copy. I should have spent that time and energy on discovering my unique gifts, talents and voice.

If we are to grow and mature we must have role models and mentors. Its essential for us to have those in our life that help us push forward, stretch and go beyond what we thought we could. A good role model and mentor helps you discover your uniqueness and equips you to speak with your voice.

Have you discovered your own unique voice? How did you do it?

 

 

Authentic In Mission Is a Magnet

People are attracted to others who are authentic – who are the real deal. That same attraction also carries over to brands and organizations that are authentic. When an organization is authentic to their mission others will be attracted to it.

Authentic: Mission

Why do you do what you do? Are you trying to be all things to all people or are you focused on delivering a specific product or service and experience to a specific group? There is an energy that is generated, when we stay true to our mission, that attracts others. When people see us and our organization passionately focused on a specific mission they want to be a part of it.

Staying true to mission drives every part of our organization from product development to hiring people to establishing processes. If you have ever been to a Whole Foods Market you know that everything they do and everyone who works there is committed to their mission. The culture of Whole Foods is soaked with their mission.

If an organization isn’t authentic and true to their mission and purpose their employees, customers and supporters will see it. When this happens trust begins to erode and eventually that shows up through lack of sales and financial engagement leading to the mission and purpose not being fulfilled.

What examples of brand and organizational authenticity have you seen?

 

Customer Experience: How Do You See Your Customers?

At a time when almost every product and service has become a commodity what is that ensures your customers will be loyal to you and your business?

  • Is it the quality of your product? Sometimes, but not all the time.
  • Is it your price? Sometimes, but not all the time – think $5.00 cups of coffee.
  • Is it convenience? Sometimes, but not all the time – think Magic Kingdom (unless you live in Orlando).

Customer loyalty is built on customer experience. What kind of experience do we provide when someone walks through our doors? What kind of experience do our customers have when we answer the phone or respond to an email or tweet?

Do the experiences we create fascinate or frustrate? Are we thrilled someone has chosen to connect with our organization or has the person we need to respond to interrupted our day?

One of my all-time favorite examples of a company that takes pleasure in serving their customers is Chick Fil A. It’s their pleasure because it’s their pleasure from the CEO to the part-time high school student on the front line. Each employee at Chick Fil A is trained to view each person who walks through the doors as an individual with a unique story.

What type of experience are you creating? Is it one that will keep your customers coming back again and again? Is it one that will turn your customers into evangelists for your business?

Its Never Not Our Department

 

not my job

Image Credit: http://bottomlineideas.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/make-sure-the-left-hand-knows-what-the-right-hand-is-doing/

  • Our desk may not be located in the lobby but its our job to make sure the first impression is amazing.
  • Our desk may not reside in the finance department but its our job to be good stewards of our organizations resources.
  • Our desk may not sit in the HR department but its our job to build teams through strong relationships.
  • Our desk may not be located in the customer service department but every customer or potential customer is our responsibility.
  • Our desk may not be located in the bathroom or the break room but its our job to pick up the paper towel off of the floor and empty our lunch container, aka science experiment gone bad, out of the refrigerator.

Our department and our responsibility is wherever and whenever we find ourselves.

Email Me Maybe

Today I received my first email from a company that I signed up to receive emails from more than two years ago. What??

Not only was it their first communication to me after two years but they were asking me to help them – really? They asked me to vote for them in a contest that would help them win a grant for their small business. I’m all about helping but I’d at least like to cast my vote and help out someone that I know something about or have kind of relationship with.

If someone gives you their email address they are raising their hand and saying, to some extent, they like you and would like to hear from you. Even though they just met you, they’ve given you something personal – their email address. It’s up to you to take that and begin to cultivate the relationship, engage with them – talk to them.

Reach our to your new subscribers with a simple welcome message campaign immediately after they opt-in. I have found success with welcome campaigns that contain three separate emails that are sent out over a seven week period. Here’s an idea of the some the content I’ve used in each of the emails.

Image courtesy of webseoanalytics.com

First email sent immediately upon opting in: Thank you for signing up and we are glad you have joined, stating our privacy policy to instill trust in our subscribers and then outlining how often to expect emails from us so that they know we won’t take advantage of the email.

Second email: Sharing the story of our organization to connect with people on emotional level and emphasizing the experience they had or will have when they interact with our brand.

Third email: Inviting our subscribers to connect with us through our social media connection points and then providing them with a coupon to shop with us.

Don’t miss the opportunity to make a great first impression with your first email.

What’s your standard practice when someone subscribes to your email list?

 

Is Social Media the Center of Your Online Presence?

The Internet freaked out today as Twitter experienced multiple outages throughout the day. Mashable reported that it was Twitter’s biggest outage in the last 18 months. People were frantic because of the outage. No one knows how many scheduled tweets never made it, how many retweets were missed or the number of customers who didn’t get a reply to their questions tweeted to a company.

Image courtesy of TechCrunch

The lesson to be learned from today’s outage is that no one can afford to put all or even most of their eggs in one basket. If you are totally relying on an embassy (a place you don’t own, but where you have a registered profile) as Michael Hyatt defines it, you put yourself at significant risk.

Having a home base whether its a traditional website or blog is a must have for anyone doing business. This is your home online, its the place you own and control. You don’t rely on a third party, you own your customer information and if a social media network goes down or disappears you aren’t left out in the cold without a connection to your customers.

Did Twitter impact you or your business in a major way today?

This Week on the Rainey Radar

If you aren’t familiar with an agile marketing approach here’s a great place to start. The agile approach was created years ago in relation to software development but the principles have been applied to marketing and should be considered by any marketer looking to see quicker and greater impact of their efforts.

Content marketing is only as good as the copywriter behind the words. Earlier this week I came across a great post that is a great resource for anyone responsible for hiring copywriters.

This actually happened almost two weeks but it should still be on everyone’s radar. It’s the release of Michael Hyatt’s new book Platform. For anyone involved in sales, marketing or leadership of any kind this is a must read. Check out Michael’s podcast where he introduces the book as well.