Tag Archives: Content marketing

Confident speakers win more business – wake up your ‘wow’

Are you apprehensive about public speaking? If so, this guest post by Cath Vincent, an amazing and inspiring motivational speaker and executive coach, is a must-read.

Jerry Seinfeld once joked that at a funeral most people would rather be “the one in the coffin” than “the one giving the eulogy”. It seems that public speaking is the number one phobia – but if you’re in business it could be costing you dearly.

It’s been said that there are two types of presentation: the one we gave and the one we wish we’d given. Or put another way, every person has two personas – the one who speaks confidently to a standing ovation, and the one who secretly doubts our own credibility as a presenter and wonders whether anyone is really listening.

Now be honest for a moment, when you stand to speak, which voice comes out?

The bad news is that if you are not supremely confident every time you speak, you’re probably not winning all the business you deserve. The good news is that it is simple to make massive improvements and there are lots of good reasons to do so. Here are just three…

3 business reasons to be a better speaker

  1. Because it’s considered natural to be nervous, most people never take the simple steps needed to fulfill their potential when speaking. If you invest just a little effort in this essential business skill, you will stand head and shoulders above your competition.
  2. When you find speaking in public effortless, there are heaps of FREE marketing opportunities such as network meetings where you can make your mark and become known as an authority in your field
  3. People listen to confident speakers. There is no better or more cost-effective way for your business to get noticed.

5 easy tips to being a more confident speaker

  1. If you slave over your preparation and getting the words just right – don’t! Think of it more as a conversation you might have with a friend than a formal life-or-death situation. In fact, verbal communication accounts for only 7% of the impact you can make. Allow yourself the freedom to ‘talk around’ your subject knowing that the impact of the actual words is very small. That way your personality will shine through too.
  2. If you do worry about forgetting your words, your message may be too complicated to remember. Boil your message down to just 3 key points. The audience can’t process and remember more than that anyway.
  3. People often tell me “I’m OK when I get onto the middle part” – you have to be compelling from the moment you start speaking. Whilst the body of your presentation can be free-flowing, you should learn your introduction and ending so you feel unwaveringly confident in delivering those two pieces. More time spent on these will pay dividends.
  4. Don’t be afraid of silence. Allowing a pause shows confidence and gives the audience time to process what you’re saying. You can afford to speak a lot more s-l-o-w-l-y than you think!
  5. Your job is to make it fun. Humour goes a long way in capturing audience attention. Clients often tell me “I can’t make legislation / technical specifications / annual accounts/ health and safety information fun”. You have to get excited about presenting your material. Energy is infectious. The audience will feel what you feel. If you’re uncomfortable, bored or uninspired, that’s how they feel too. If you’re excited, they’re excited!

A final word to encompass these tips: Don’t Learn It, Love It!

What do you think of Cath’s tips? 

Have you found that you perform much better in speaking/presenting situations when you have a positive mindset? 

For those of you in Auckland Cath, along with motivational speaker John Shackleton, is running a 1-day workshop to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking on Monday 5 September.

18 ways for lawyers, accountants and other professionals to credentialise themselves

Why do professionals need to credentialise themselves?

Clients have a choice – they get to decide who they engage on particular projects, matters, cases or deals and who they spend their money with. According to research conducted by BTI Consulting in 2009 into the top ways clients select lawyers, personal recommendations are key followed by online searches (I assume this would be similar for selecting other professional advisers).

I don’t believe the two are mutually exclusive but think it likely that, if someone recommends a professional to a prospective client, the prospective client is then likely to do a web search on that person prior to contacting him/her (although there will undoubtedly be lots of instances of people finding professional advisers online).

If a professional has sought to credentialise himself/herself then evidence of this will appear online – both on the person’s website, via their social media profiles, blog or third party sites (such as journals/newspapers/conference organisers). This all helps prospective clients to choose to do business with someone – it makes them feel good about their decision.

How can advisers credentialise themselves?

  1. Produce case studies outlining the client’s problem, what you did, and the results you achieved
  2. Obtain client testimonials talking about the benefits you delivered
  3. Speak at, and attend, relevant conferences/seminars and follow up!
  4. Run seminars at a client’s premises
  5. Run webinars and record them for attendees and those who couldn’t make it to view later
  6. Sell in article ideas to relevant publications
  7. Get to know relevant journalists and position yourself as a commentator
  8. Set up a blog and post regularly – if you hate writing consider a video or audio blog
  9. Produce guides, tips, or how-to’s and share these with your target audience(s)
  10. Host roundtables on topical issues
  11. Bring together clients with mutual interests and facilitate discussion
  12. Produce thought-leadership pieces
  13. Produce video-alerts or news-alerts on topical issues and the key things your clients need to consider
  14. Author an eBook or other book
  15. Initiate and comment on discussions on social media networks and on blogs
  16. Re-tweet or share good articles/blogs written by others that will be of interest to your target audience
  17. Ask and answer questions on social media networks
  18. Seek to demonstrate your expertise and capabilities through your bio – both hard copy and online

While this seems like a long list of ‘things to do’, we recommend selecting one or two subjects or topics and leveraging your interest and knowledge to credentialise yourself using the various channels (e.g. conferences, seminars, blogs etc). This will help you to build profile in a specific market or grow your standing as someone with particular expertise.

What other ways do you think professionals can/should evidence their abilities? 

What is the best time of day to post content or questions on LinkedIn?

I’ve seen lots of information about the fact that most people access LinkedIn during working hours, while the majority access Facebook during the evenings and weekends. However, I wanted to test this.

About six weeks ago I posted an offer of a ‘free guide to getting the right client feedback in your firm’ on three LinkedIn groups. Over 200 people have requested a copy to-date so I’ve had a look at when their requests came in to see what (if any) patterns emerge.

The vast majority of people (72%) asked for a copy of our guide before 2pm weekdays, and 58% before midday (in their local timezone).

Most people responded on either a Monday or a Thursday (20.7% and 23.2% respectively), followed by a Wednesday (17.2%), a Friday (15.3%) and a Tuesday (12.3%).

While I did receive requests at the weekends: 6.4% on Saturday and 4.9% on Sunday, these were overwhelmingly from those who are self-employed. While it’s rough logic, this seems to suggest that self-employed people use the weekends to catch up on what’s been happening in the groups they belong to.

What does this mean? 

Not a lot in itself. But it does start to give a feel for when the best times to post content are. If you want to increase your chances of your content being found, and people engaging with you, I recommend posting content on a Monday or Thursday before 8.30am. Unless of course, you are targeting self-employed people when you may want to wait until Friday night/Saturday morning to post.

If you’re targeting those in the same timezone then it’s easy. But if you want to engage with those in other countries you will need to think about when they will be online (for example, if you’re in New Zealand and want to engage with those in the USA there is little point posting content or questions on a Monday as they will not have begun their week). Luckily you can use tools, such as Hootsuite, to pre-schedule your posts.

The other thing to remember is that the majority of LinkedIn users don’t access their accounts every day. Questions you ask, comments you post and content you share will only be found by a large number of people if others respond. If a discussion stays towards the top of a group for an extended period of time, more people will join in. There is no silver bullet but you can listen to your target audience and engage with them on topics that matter to them.

What times of the day/week have you found work best to post content? Does this differ geographically? 

What other tips would you give to professionals to maximise their chances of engaging with their target audience(s)? 

5 pillars of LinkedIn success

Have you ever noticed that there are some people who just seem to use LinkedIn really well? They’re the people you follow even though you’ve never met them, whose content you open because you know they provide good quality information, and who you suspect are getting good returns on their investment/engagement.

But, what is it that makes them so successful?

A number of these people were kind enough to agree to be case studies for some seminars I ran on social media for professional services firms. I noticed they, and others who I follow, are doing some similar things:

  1. They have a clear plan – they know who their target audience is, what their goals are, and how they will measure the return on their investment/engagement. They are putting their plan into practice every day.
  2. Their profiles are complete and compelling.
  3. They regularly share good content, that’s of interest to their target audience. This includes both content they’ve generated as well as information others have produced. They usually have a blog as the repository for their content.
  4. They regularly contribute to relevant group discussions and give away tips and good ideas for free. They ask questions and really engage with others. They make their target audience think. Often they ask questions designed to generate inbound leads in the areas in which they want those leads – thus pre-qualifying prospects.
  5. They seek to move the relationships beyond LinkedIn – for example, by following up a discussion via LinkedIn email, sending something related to the topic you’ve been discussing, or setting up a time to talk. Their approach is intelligent and polite.

If you want to leverage LinkedIn successfully, I strongly believe that following these five pillars will take you a long way. And if you want to learn from some masters in the professional services space, I recommend you follow (or at least take a look at):

Adam Gordon

Robert Algeri

Kate Billing

Promod Sharma

Cordell Parvin

Nancy Myrland

What are the other secrets of successful LinkedIn users in the professional services space? 

Who else would you recommend following in this area? 

Share

You’ve been recommended to a prospective client along with others: how can you tip the level playing field in your favour?

Imagine that you’ve been recommended by a client or contact to another prospective client. He/she has also been given the names of two of your competitors. You’ve all received glowing recommendations. It’s a level playing field – so how can you tip it in your favour?

It’s highly likely that, prior to meeting you, the prospective client will conduct a web search so the question you need to ask is: what will he/she find under your name?

Try it yourself and see. While your website profile is likely to be up there, your social media profiles are too – and they may even appear before your website profile. That’s because search engines, like google, rank social media pages highly. It’s therefore vital that your LinkedIn profile (and Twitter and Facebook if you use them for business purposes) is compelling and complete (see our earlier blog post for tips on how to develop a compelling LinkedIn profile).

You want the prospective client to get a sense of:

  • who you help
  • how you help them
  • some of the results you’ve achieved, and
  • who you are as a person

on both your website and social media platforms. If you want to persuade them that you are the right person for the job then you also need to seek to demonstrate your expertise before you’ve even met them.

How can you do that?

By regularly sharing useful and timely content that’s relevant to your target audience(s) and that demonstrates your understanding of your subject area(s) etc.

In order to really tip the level playing field in your favour we recommend you use a variety of online and traditional channels to share the content – both that you have generated and that others have produced – including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, seminars, Podcasts, video, newsalerts, articles etc and that you have an online repository for the  information you share online. While this may be your website, if you find that your website doesn’t easily allow content to be uploaded, or doesn’t enable it to be linked to your bio/profile, you may want to look for alternatives such as a blog.

By ensuring your LinkedIn (and other profiles) are compelling, by regularly sharing relevant, useful and timely content, and ensuring this is easily accessible, you will be able to tip the level playing field in your favour.

If it does come down to an interview then it will be yours to lose. And that’s a much stronger position to be in than the alternative.

So, what will your target audience find if they search your name? Have you won work as a result of a content marketing strategy?

Share

Why great content alone is NOT king

There have been some great blogs lately about the importance of creating and sharing good content. Late last year Great Jakes even predicted that 2011 will be the year that content marketing becomes king. And I think they’re right – particularly their prediction that websites will become publishing platforms.

However, I believe compelling content alone is NOT king.  Here’s why:

If you want to position yourself as a thought leader and to generate work as a result of sharing your compelling content, then two other components are vital:

  1. Timing
  2. Distribution

Ideally you want to be the person who brings an issue to your target audience’s attention, or who provides them with great, thought-provoking information about a topical (or upcoming) subject.

However,  I regularly interview clients of professional services firms who say:

“I received X’s newsletter/alert on the new [employment law changes]. It was really interesting but we had already engaged someone to help us with that. Had X called us to give us a heads up before the changes occured, and then followed up with some brief information about the changes and what they might mean for us when the [new legislation] came out, they would have got our work.”

I’d say a lot of professional services firms miss out on work because the content they share, while valuable, is often poorly timed or sent out via only one channel when a multitude of channels would be better. If you’ve done the work, make sure you share it with those who will benefit from it.

My recommendations?

  • Make sure you are the one to bring an important subject/trend/development to your clients’ attention and then keep them informed as and when necessary.
  • Use a variety of channels to share your content with your target audience and to engage with them – both offline and online (face to face is always the best form of contact with key clients and targets followed by phone, and then email and online).
  • Leverage issues – pick an issue and make sure you’re all over it, or know enough to ignite discussion, inform clients or ask pertinent questions.
  • Ensure your online content is readily accessible on your website or blog and that you notify your clients of updates.
  • Direct people to your online content using social media, email etc. but think about when the best time to do this might be. If you are posting on Facebook then most people tend to be online during the evenings and weekends. If you’re using LinkedIn then during working hours is the best time to post.

When you’re thinking about what content you’re going to share, also think about when and how you’re going to share it – it might make all the difference between winning work and missing out.

What do you think?

Share