September 1st: BlogTipping

Blogtipping_1_1 And so another calendar page gets turned, and we begin with BlogTipping Day:

BlogTip #1:Insights
Author: Allison Davis, CEO of Davis & Company

  • Easy-to-read, well-designed, always-informative (remembering the rule of three)
  • The blog (a conversational tool) is a high priority, appearing at the top of the company web site.
  • Use of bullets and lists make longer posts easy to read.

Tip: Though it may be late in the game, Categories could act as a Table of Contents. Granted, most of the posts align with the tagline of employee engagement, but it could help navigating some of the golden posts of yesterday.

BlogTip #2: Got Boondoggle?
Author: Mike Wroblewski

  • Important subject matter (Lean Manufacturing). In Iowa, some say we have a dying manufacturing industry. I disagree. Mike’s site is one I can point to often as an informational resource – and a blogging resource
  • Various sizes in post length. Just like a conversation offline. Sometimes we simply want to make a point. Sometimes we want to tell a story. Mike does both well.
  • Generous linkage to other blogs

Tip: Again, Categories. Though this is tougher with Blogger as a platform. Here’s a link I’ve found helpful when working with Blogger and Categories.

BlogTip #3: Entrepreneurial Wordsmith
Author: Donyell Nelson

  • I love this design. Not just because it’s easy and readable – but it’s published with Blogger. High-Five to your team.
  • Generous knowledge-sharing. Thanks for the tips and how-to articles
  • Well-integrated blog within the company web site.

Tip: Thought I’m tempted to say…Categories…I think that goes without saying by now. So let me suggest linking to other blogs often. This will introduce more people to your great work.

Why do we go BlogTipping?

  1. As part of the audience, you share feedback with the author.
  2. As the author, you find out what your audience likes/would like.
  3. As fellow blogtippers, we can be introduced to different blogs.
  4. By looking at other blogs and blogtippings, we can learn from each other.
  5. It’s a great way to introduce your audience to other blogs.
  6. It’s a great way to introduce your site to other bloggers.

And thanks to those who BlogTipped me today (Thank You!):

- Liz at Successful Blog, suggests I have too much going on, it’s hard to keep focus. Point taken and I agree. Once again, an angel told me.
- Tom at BusinessBlogHive, suggests I share some of the stories of successes and failures. Good idea, though I’m cautious for a few reasons (especially regarding the failures – and there have been quite a few). Worth looking into – we can all learn from these, right?

Previous BlogTippings:
- August 1st: BlogTipping
- July 1st: BlogTipping
- June 1st: BlogTipping
- May 1st: BlogTipping

Fears of Blogging: What do I Write?

Fears_1_1 We can hum along to Battles Hymn of the Blogger all we want, it doesn’t answer the question, does it?

Not everyone is a business writer, that’s why we hire copywriters. But we don’t hire copywriters to script our conversations with customers, do we?

Remember in school…some of us wouldn’t want to raise our hands to ask a question because we thought it was a dumb question? Then, another kid would be brave enough to ask the question. Phew!

Take the questions or situations you see your customers talking about regularly. Generalize it to speak to your whole audience – there’s your post. Use hypothesis, analogies, metaphors….stories.

In fact, what you’re reading now is an example of this very thing. I had three different people ask me about this yesterday. I picture their faces while writing this post. I’m talking with them via my blog.

Within 15 minutes and 150 words, I’ve got a post for my blog. What are your customers talking with you about?

Related Prescriptions Elsewhere:
- Overcoming the Fear of Corporate Blogging by Mark White
- 5 Tips to Overcome Your Fear of Blogging by Debbie Weil

Other Fears Found Here:
- Fears of Blogging: Time
- Fears of Blogging: Control
- Fears of Blogging: Work
- Fears of Blogging: Prose

Say Hello to my Little Friend

Them: “But I don’t have time to read blogs or fool around with this aggregator stuff.”
Me: "Say hello to my little friend"

Them: "I’m too busy with market research to read feeds."
Me: :::Shaking my head::: "Say hello to my little friend."

Them: "I’m busy finding a new job,
Me: "Say hello…"

If you’re reading this, chances are fantastic that you’ve subscribed to the content feed. But this post isn’t about me. And it’s not about you. It’s about them.

A few folks I know  refuse to share this "new" tool they’ve found with others. They don’t think it’s their responsibility. They don’t want to lose their competitive advantage. Say what? And if the authors of what you’re reading felt the same way – what exactly would you be reading? Hmm?

I believe it is our responsibility to find ways to teach, motivate – even evangelize the use of feeds in publishing, research and all facets of business and education.

How do you introduce RSS and Content Feeds with others?

Is Small Business Ready for a BIZolution?

I talk with many small business owners, associations and Chamber of Commerce folks -especially in rural areas – that are tried, tired and testy about developing a web presence.

Bizolutiontm "Too costly."

"My sister’s nephew’s cousin built our site a few years ago – we don’t use it anyway."

"Our customers aren’t on the web."

"I’m buried too deep in Google, besides, the market is already saturated."

Okay, I hear ya. Enough talk, though. You want a Small Business Revolution? We’re about to ignite one.

In September, we’ll be rolling out Bizolution, a web/blog development service that will allow the 30% of small businesses without a web presence to have one that’s Findable, Affordable and Trustable.

Hey, Blog Coach: What’s a Trackback?

"What’s a Trackback?"

This is a question often asked. I’ll explain the techno-stuff towards the end, but let’s get to real question: When Should I Use a Trackback?

A trackback is a way to elaborate or expand upon a blog post from someone else’s blog. A perfect example of a trackback can be found on my previous post here: Synchronize Your Communications.

Alan Hoffler of MillsWyck Communications offered a trackback to the post, pointing back to his own article, How Accessible Are You? Here’s why this is a great example:

  • Rather than just repeating what I said, Alan goes into depth about expectations in communication – elaborating on what I wrote
  • Both posts are introduced to our respective audiences, and each audience benefits
  • Each has it’s own message, though they are connected because of the subject matter

When is a trackback not such a good idea? When you’re simply repeating what the original author said in their post – it’s probably not wise to trackback. I call this a "loopback" since all you’re doing is sending the original audience back to where they started – with little, if any, new thought.

Of course, some blogs allow only trackbacks, but no comments. Same principle applies. If you’re adding to the idea, trackback. If not, just a simple link out from your blog will do nicely:-)

Now, to the techno-stuff (I’ll cut to the quick).

A trackback (definition) is essentially a "ping" that gets delivered to the original article. When a trackback is used, most blogware is set-up to communicate this "ping" and note it just above the comments – if the author accepts trackbacks.

Here’s how to send a trackback in TypePad. Blogger has a similar feature called Backlinks. If you’re looking for the trackback in WordPress blogs, you’ll most likely find it on the individual article page (click the headline).

In June, I wrote that Long Comments Should be Posts. I’ll stand by that thought, and suggest that it’s in those cases – and Alan’s example above – that a trackback makes sense.

Note: I did NOT use the trackback feature from this post back to Alan’s post. First, it goes off on a different subject. Second, it would end up being a loop.

Synchronize Your Communications

Stopwatch_1  To many of us are out of sync in our business communications. Email, voice mail, snail mail, face-to-face, phone calls, memos, post-its, articles, news clippings….and the matter of expectation

When I suggest to business people they should subscribe to feeds and :::gasp::: launch a business blog, their eyes roll to the back of their head. "I’ve already got so much to do."

What isn’t realized is how Search Once and Subscribe will synchronize their communications, not add to the pile. Or how blogging will communicate to a large(r) audience – and change the expectations.

Blogging has actually cut my email down – and I believe added value to my customers. Now instead of answering the same question multiple times, often clients will do a search on the blog first. Saves both of us time.

I also send posts as an answer to emails. Sometimes mine, sometimes from other blogs.

Change the Expectations. Synchronize Your Communications.

As I write this, Seth Godin posts: What’s Expected. Nice timing. Almost synchronous.

- Get Started Reading Feeds
- Business Blog Toolbox: Listening
- Juggling the Clock
- A Single Feed Creates a Lifetime of Loyalty
- Can You Explain How a Microwave Works?

Flickr photo by chinagrrrl

Help Wanted: Calendar

I’ve realized this week how much I relied upon Planzo as a calendar. Not so much to keep myself organized – there are many tools for that – but to allow for lean communication.

Whenever someone wanted to set-up a meeting, they simply looked at my calendar, picked an available time, shot me a voice or email and reserved a spot.

Apparently, Planzo went down sometime early in the week, wouldn’t even allow updates. The email load became heavy:

Them – Let’s meet soon. When are you available?
Me – Sure, I have Tuesday or Thursday before 11 am or Friday between 1-3 open. Panera U or at your office?
Them – How about Wednesday morning at Caribou?
Me – (Where’s my Planzo?) Unavailable Wednesday. Let’s shoot for next week….

And it continued…until…

Yesterday, with some help from my tech guru at Kyle’s Cove, I put Google Calendar to work. It’s available by using the Calendar button at the top.

Now, if you want a meeting or phone conference – check my availability and pick a spot – leave me a message. We’ll all save time.

Can You Do WuFoo?

Dr. Tammy Lenski at Mediator Tech introduces us to WuFoo, an easy way to put a form on your site (copy & paste stuff).  (Liz mentioned it earlier, but I forgot all about it).

Let’s test it out, hmm? As you may have noticed, I’m still building the blogroll page. If I’ve missed you – let me know:

How to Focus Like a Laser Beam

Step 1: Read Lisa Haneberg’s book, Focus Like a Laser Beam: 10 Ways to Do What Matters Most

Tn_focus_1 I’ll admit, there are some books I reread simply because I didn’t get them the first time around. With "Focus…", I reread it because I wanted to internalize the great tips.

In the intro, Keith Ferrazzi ponders, "How does an organization become beloved by customers, stockholders and employees at the same time?" With surgical precision, Lisa Haneberg provides the answer(s).

The book is peppered with Key Points in blockquote style, real world examples, worksheets and each chapter begins with a summary. This is an easy read, but also an important one.

If you’re in project management or in charge of making your manufacturing line work lean, Focus Like a Laser Beam is a must for your library.

Buy It, Borrow It or Bunt It?  Buy It - in fact, buy two and give one to a colleague.

A Breakdown of Enthusiasm

Zig Ziglar breaks down the word enthusiasm in this manner:

The first part of the word comes from the Greek en thos which translates to "In God." The second part is an acronym I.A.S.M or I Am Sold Myself.

In God, I Am Sold Myself. Enthusiasm.

Enthusiasm is contagious. It does take giving up control – which takes a lot of courage for a business.  You’ve really got to give up some control otherwise the virus doesn’t spread. 

Diego Rodriguez shares a video from the AlwaysOn Stanford Summit: What is the Secret Behind Creating Contagious Behavior. This panel has great insights and experience in identifying and unleashing contagious behavior.

Identify your customer enthusiasts. Give ‘em some gas. Let ‘em spread.