What Do You Do With That? in Friday Flutterings

Hush - Woman with finger to lipsIf you’re creating, keep creating. Get comfortable with the crap you create – not for use, but to improve your creation. Perfect makes Practice.

… There will come a time – and maybe already should be here – that every retail sales associate will carry a handheld device or tablet as part of the display merchandising and a way to assist in “showrooming” in a profitable manner.

… Do you do this? When I get up in the middle of the night for a drink of water or something else, I try to guess at the time. I’m often within 15 minutes of my guess. Like, almost always. What do you do with that?

… In doing some research for a client on making podcasts, I found a few music forums discussing “number of takes” and two things stand out: 1) Doing 10 takes to get a song right is not unusual and 2) to minimize takes, record in tracks. Small steps, hmm?

… Sites and apps like Whisper and Secret are launching and growing at high-speeds. People send in and read anonymous “secret” thoughts. Is the popularity because the secrets resonate or create desire? Both? And if these thoughts are so “secret” – does that mean so many are really “masking” that much among friends and family? Great study for story possibilities.

… When I was a kid, I thought it was a criminal act to call the President of the United States names in public. I still think it’s wrong. Maybe some folks should open a Whisper account.

… Okay, bottom of the bag of chips or crackers (we eat healthy ones) and only crumbs left. What do you do with that? We sometimes turn them into finer crumbs to put in meatloaf or a rice dish. We are not alone.

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photo credit: Daniela Vladimirova via photopin cc

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Social Media for Small Business: Driving Lessons

Empty Driver SeatSmall business owners who are just beginning to use social media, often want to know everything about how the whole thing works.

I wish it were more like how Seth Godin might describe explaining how a microwave works:

People don’t want to know the science of the microwave, but simply that they can put the bag of popcorn in for two minutes, be careful when you take it out because the bag is hot, and enjoy the movie.

With social media, many small business owners want to know everything about how it works right down to the code and syntax.

Hey… is this a response just delay getting started? Right? Getting your ducks in a row type-of-thing? Or perhaps this is an old-dog/new-tricks situation.

Listen, remember when you were first learning how to drive? You probably had very mechanical movements, right? You had to think about each move before you made it. Soon, though, you were driving with one hand on the wheel and a soda pop in your hand.

Social media is a bit like that. Once you find out your “What Kind and Why”, you can start building muscles using those tools. It might be a bit mechanical at first, but once you get a rhythm, it’ll be like turning on cruise control.

Leave the under-the-hood stuff for later – or even to the people you use to outsource that kind of thing.

 

3 Coaching Sessions in One Track

Social Media for Small Business: What Kind and Why?

Busy Traffic at Intersection“Just what is social media?” is a question on the minds of many small business owners. The question sometimes has a follow-up (though sometimes not said aloud), “…and why should I care?”

Social media has become such a wide variety of tools, practices, and theories – the first question is much shorter than the answer. The second question gets closer to a one sentence answer, yet still, “…it depends.

Let’s look at business-based social media like vehicles on a freeway (feel free to stay in the slow lane on this one). We don’t ask, “Just what is a vehicle?” because there are all types of different kinds and ways to use them:

  • Delivery Trucks
  • Service Vehicles (Hey, Culligan Man!)
  • Taxicabs
  • Company Vehicles with Magnetic Signs or Advert Paint Jobs
  • Tow Trucks
  • Buses and Passenger Vans
  • Food Delivery cars
  • Emergency Vehicles
  • OTR Trucks
  • Newspaper carriers
  • Civil Service and Repair Vehicles

And that’s just the business-related vehicles. Different shapes, sizes … and speeds. In addition, you have all the passenger cars and commuters – and all their different reasons to get where they are going.

Knowing that there are so many reasons and ways and usage types for both vehicles and social media, let’s ask, “What Kind and Why?”

Part of the answer is going to come from what kind of social media are your customers or prospects using and how are they using it? Another part of the answer might be what value will your use of social media bring to their lives – how will you use social media? Remember: Always with Your Customers and Prospects in Mind.

If you don’t know the answers about your customer, maybe casting the role of your ideal customer is a good exercise as a starting point.

Once you have an idea of the “What Kind and Why” your customers and prospects are using social media, we can find out what tools and techniques you might be able to employ. And then … you can learn how to drive.

Don’t worry about checking under the hood just yet.

3 Coaching Sessions in One Track

photo credit: daystar297 via photopin cc

Clap for the Click, Reward the Review

fingers using laptop keyboardWe live in an age of the Quick Attention Span and Instant Gratification.

When it comes to the digital landscape of social media and mobile usage, are we cutting efforts short by asking for the quick-action connect?

Maybe we get too excited about scoring social media with how many “Likes” or “ReTweets” or “Follows” or “Check-Ins” or “+1s” we receive.

While some of these actions are a small part of overall social proof, the quick-actions of a click doesn’t always translate into a new customer or transaction.

A suggestion for small business owners: Clap for the Click; Reward the Review.

Instead of asking for a “Like”, “RePin” or a “Follow” – I believe we should encourage reviews and comments. Reviews add depth and dimension to the findability and credibility of your business, especially for people who are not yet your customers.

  • Someone searching on their mobile sees the glowing review and decides to come to your place.
  • A friend of one of your customers reads their review of your service and decides to make the switch.
  • While reading comments, someone recognizes the name or face of a reviewer – and makes a decision in your favor

Getting the quick-action likes and follows are worthy of our applause, for sure. Yet, are we rewarding those who invest their time in a review?

The quick-action is similar to a high-five, but a review or comment is almost like a hug. The relationship goes deeper (you and that customer) and broader (that customer and their network)

Clap for the Click; Reward the Review.

Image courtesy of HubSpot

Location Based Services Ad for SmallBizTracks

Segmenting Your Daily Routine

Segments of a Daily RoutineThere are days where your daily routine gets a bit out of sorts. Too much of one thing, an emergency of some sort, or a cancellation or two can do that.

At SmallBizTracks, we believe in using segmenting large projects into smaller bits for a multitude of reasons. By employing segmenting to our “daily routine”, unexpected interruptions don’t become unnerving.

There are things at the top of my own daily routine, and to-do-lists within each of those items. There are days where I just need to decide that the bottom portion of the routine won’t see my attention.

If I miss the bottom portion two consecutive days, either I need to create smaller segments, spend less time on a segment or two, or temporarily rearrange the order.

Some small business owners find it hard to implement or continue with social media or creating and curating content. A few things you might consider as alterations to your routine, so as to fit these in:

  • Place these tasks in a higher priority on your list
  • Trim the time on some of your segments
  • Do them at a time when some other items can’t be done (early morning?)
  • Make an item a weekly item rather than a daily item
  • Cut out one item entirely from your routine
  • Delegate

You know the staples of your day. Segment your daily routine into bits of time that are manageable. In the end, these are all building blocks of your business presence.

The image on this post was created using the Clear App (there is a similar app for Android)

Always with Your Customers and Prospects in Mind

Retail Space AvailableAt your store or office location, you probably don’t set up shop to impress the Chamber, your Merchant’s Association, BNI members, or even the local business journal. It’s for your customers and prospects.

If your window display is setup to receive accolades rather than sales, though there may be overlap, you’ll eventually lose sales. And eventually, your window display becomes brown butcher paper with a sign saying, “Retail Space Available.”

In a similar way, if you’re setting up your web presence to impress Google, you may be missing the mark. If you’re tweeting and pinning to get more re-tweets or re-pins, you might be getting more followers – but are they your intended audience? If you’re getting frustrated that your status updates are not getting enough “likes” on Facebook … you get the idea.

Google wants your business to succeed, and they teach small business owners how to become more findable. They want your customers and prospects to find what they are looking for – and hopefully, that’s your business.

When you write, or tweet, or pin, or setup your front window – do so with your customers and prospects in mind.

Measure Your Incoming Traffic

Capture by Release (Thoughtography)

Two pieces of thought are stuck in my cranium:

To all of those that say “you’re doing it wrong,” I offer you this one piece of advice: you’re doing it wrong. – Peter G. McDermott (read the whole post)

and

What you think they think isn’t the reality. - Leah Cox (read the whole post)

On those occasions where these words and voices come from within, there is good news. Steven Pressfield shares good news on such a resistance.

Try new things. Apply what you learn. Discover without limits. Capture by Release.

Bicycle Rider Selfie

Stay contagious and courageous.

Photo on Flickr by ListenMissy

Celebrating Success and Victory of All Sizes

Victory comes in different sizes. They all matter. And they add up.

Here’s skier Kaylin Richardson talking about the spirit of the Olympic Games and celebrating self-sacrifice and hard work:

In baseball, even a simple thing like moving a runner along to the next base because, even if you recorded an out, you helped the team by moving the runner closer to home.

Coach Rich Allen talks about celebrating even the smallest of wins along the way in your business:

What are you doing to celebrate the small victories in and around your business?

You can even celebrate customer wins. Chevy does:

As a youth, Saturdays were filled with visual candy of cartoons in the morning and movie matinees in the afternoon. In 2014, we’ll be sharing Saturday videos from TED, subscriptions from YouTube, and other videos shared via feeds.

Snarky Voices in Friday Flutterings

Snarky Gargoyle with Tongue OutIf you can’t say something nice…

… Facebook has become the Vent Channel of the Internet. If folks aren’t complaining about it, they are complaining on it. I’ve seen this happen before, back in two-thousand-AOL and People Connection.

… I’ve been reading a bit about human nature having a “negative bias”, where as given a negative and positive side-by-side, the natural instinct its to pay attention to the negative. Whether to avoid it, gauge it, or by fascination of “ick”, our tendency is to lend our attention to that end of the spectrum.

… Pharrel’s 24 Hours of Happy is a fascinating project. It’s fun to watch people simply go with their gut and move however and be whoever they are (as if no one is watching).

… Our house has been eating healthier since we began component cooking – preparing ingredients ahead of time and then making things to taste. Always having pre-prepared fresh (or frozen) ingredients make things quick: the cooking; the cleanup; the shopping. Lovin’ it.

… While many small business owners are still wondering if they should blog or what a blog actually is – there are two circles of conversation taking place within its own circles. Guest Blogging is Dead and Content Marketing Overload. Most small business owners haven’t heard of either and therefore neither are quite true (except within the circles). Negative Bias?

… If I ever open a restaurant, I’ll call it the “I Dunno” cafe. When people don’t know what to make or eat, they can come to our place. Two choices. Tonight’s Special or Peanut Butter & Jelly. We’ll guarantee you like the special or your money back. Of course, all the ingredients will be prepped in advance.

… New Ebook comes out this week for Whistle Stops Weekly readers. And as you probably know by now, we switched our RSS feed to FeedBlitz.

… Here’s hoping 314 million residents of the USA get home safely. If so, we won’t actually hear about it. “No news is good news”? Or does no news mean we should create an infographic about how News is Dead?

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Photo from Wikimedia

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Making the Switch to FeedBlitz

FeedBlitz LogoAfter seven years of fantastic service by FeedBurner, the RSS feed of ConverStations is now being served by FeedBlitz. The switch was pretty easy, too.

Last year, many publishers and bloggers were making the switch. I was in Colorado with most of my time focused on the rescue mission work my wife and I were doing. So, a wait-and-see approach is the lens I looked through during that time.

Upon our return, a first-quarter of 2014 goal was to move this site’s RSS to a FeedBlitz feed – and we began doing that earlier this week. I split the task into to smaller parts:

  1. Activate the RSS feed with FeedBlitz
  2. Stop serving the RSS feed on FeedBurner

For the time being, FeedBurner RSS-onnly subscribers will see this message in their aggregator (Email subscribers were seemlessly switched already):

ConverStations RSS Feed has Moved

The main reason for the switch is to take advantage of some of the publishing opportunities FeedBlitz offers, as well as their service and insights as mobile and glass developments grow.

One of the goals here is to offer email subscribers all of our Ebooks. Subscribers of Whistle Stops Weekly already get these when they come out each month. We’ll catch up the RSS subscribers in the near future (Our 3rd Ebook gets sent this weekend)

Is FeedBurner toast? I’m open to the possibility FeedBurner may someday step aside. If so, Google will probably give ample opportunity for publishers to move their feeds.

If you choose to take on the FeedBlitz move yourself, it doesn’t take that long and it’s not tech-heavy at all – especially with the free downloads FeedBlitz offers: FeedBurner Migration and Making the Most of Feedblitz.

At one point, there were 6,000+ subscribers to this site. Then it dropped to about 3,500 after Google Reader went away. I don’t know what’s accurate anymore, but I’m sure FeedBlitz will be able to tell me soon. Taking a year away may have diminished the numbers a bit – but I’m sure you can see we’re at full steam and staying on track … one track at a time.

It’d be grand if you stay on track with us.

Moving or Launching Your RSS Feed

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