Anyone who knows me well, knows I’m an over-the-top John Mayer fan, so he gets a blog title in honor of one of his great songs.
I have seen him three times in concert. He inspired the name of my cat, Olivia (check out his song “Something Like Olivia”). Seeing him sing and strum his guitar motivated me to buy my own electric guitar. It’s a thing of beauty from a small guitar company in Miami. It’s made of wood and is the most gorgeous teal. Back to Mayer, I own a couple concert T-shirts, and I’m quite convinced if I could find John Mayer underwear and pajamas, I’d add them to my collection. If you ever need to send me a gift, now you know.
This is a way different love affair than the one I had with Jordan Knight of New Kids on the Block, although I was crushing really hard a few years ago when I saw them in concert for the second time. I’ll tell you why I choose John all day over Jordan.
Words. Lyrics. Poetry. And oh, how that guitar sings those words.
So now I have to share something with you I’m a little embarrassed of. Normally, by brain is brimming with ideas for content. I am a writer after all, so I generally have 25 ideas that didn’t make it to paper for the one that did.
Last week. Fumes. Nada. Can I tell you how frustrating that was for me? I posted 3 days instead of my usual 4-5. I had gotten behind the couple weeks before on writing jobs and got out of my normal weekly planning routine. Sure I could have posted something, but no idea was hopping, so three posts it was.
I know you feel my pain, because some of you have told me how you are trying to post to your social every day (like “they” say we should do), or show up twice a day, but you’re struggling to find ideas, so you post something funny or share an idea your friend posted on her business page.
You made it a point to show up to the content party, but did your content enter dressed to the hilt?
Like your content would make other’s people’s content hang onto their men just a little tighter, as you enter the room.
You don’t write because you want to say something. you write because you have something to say.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Hold your cosmo and lean in. Listen to Mr. Mayer and Mr. Fitzgerald. Say what you NEED to say. Write when you have something to say. The point is not to just show up the party. You have to deliver at the content party. Consistency with content that takes their breath away is key. If you skip a couple days until you find inspiration, your true following will not vanish. Believe me.
If you can only come up with filler and fluff, like a little black dress, it’s standby party wear. It’ll do, but it won’t get you seen like the royal blue off the shoulder number. In fact, it could just get you overlooked. If you’re going to go to the content party, and you are going to put in the effort to show up, you may as well get some attention for your efforts.
Grab your mimosa and let me give you three ways to give your content ideas a nice spark.
Remember that some of the best content comes from stories. A story doesn’t have to be loooong or have to do with your childhood. You are creating story every, single, day. Look at the last 100 photos in your phone’s gallery. Find 5 of them you can tie to your business happenings, values, mission, or vision.
Grab a book but not just any book. I’m giving away a big secret here. Go to Target. Enter the calendar, planner, and journals aisle. Buy a journal that has daily prompts. There you will find 365 days of engagement content questions you can tweak for your audiences. My favorite one right now is A 5 Year Question A Day Memory Journal. I also love quotes for inspiration, and people love to like and share a good quote. Quotes are usually the framework of my weekly content, whether they are my own or something amazing that speaks to me to share. Another great book for content inspiration is Beautifully Said- Quotes by Remarkable Women and Girls Designed to Make You Think.
Use the heck out of Pinterest. I look up terms related to my business such as “writing tips for businesses” or “small business strategy” to find inspiration. You could query the same terms in Google, but with Pinterest you will get the added bonus of visual inspiration too. Think about your field and look up tips or questions people have related to your industry.
Ok, I know I said three, but you are going to get a bonus. Write down the top 10 questions your clients ask you, and each of those are super to show up to your content party, because they are exactly what your clients have invited!
Let’s cut to the chase. If you want a long and healthy relationship with your business, you’ll have to establish boundaries around it.
Think of your business as a person. Do you want it calling you and texting you at 10pm? Do you want it to coerce you into work you’re not excited about? Would you want it to feel like it monopolizes all your time? I’m sure you’re saying, “Of course not,” but the truth is that without clear boundaries around how you conduct business and allocate your time resources to your business, you run the high probability of becoming resentful of your business. If you’ve ever been in a relationship with a friend or partner in which you feel resentment, it’s really not fun. It makes you less than the best version of yourself, and that is no way to have long-lasting relationship with your business.
The good news is that it doesn’t matter if you’ve been in business 5 days or 5 years, you can begin to groom habits that help you stay in harmony with the dream you have for your business. Here are 3 areas to examine and develop plans for to help you maintain balance through boundaries:
Task Boundaries- Make a list of all the day to day tasks you need to manage like social media, returning emails, writing reports, packaging items…ALL the stuff. Set designated times of the day to tackle each in order to prevent flitting from task to task and checking in on social accounts are emails which will wrangle you in for more than work (Raise your hand if you’ve ever gone down the rabbit hole of social media? We’ve all done it and regretted how much time got sucked into nothing productive). Stick to your deal with yourself of when you will do these tasks.
Customer and Client Boundaries- Before we talk about what boundaries to set up here, let’s talk about why we struggle with customer boundaries. One word. Fear. Scarcity mindset feeds the fear that if we are not all things to all people when they “need” us, they will land with our competition. However you respond to people will set the tone for what people expect of you. If you do not want to be answering emails at 8pm on a Monday, when you’d rather watch The Bachelor, then determine you won’t. Set an autoreply email for after the end of your business day, if you’d like, or be really good at disciplining yourself to respond to after-hours emails as one of your first tasks the next business day. When I first started in business, I struggled with client boundaries for a few years. I was over-delivering thinking I was giving exceptional customer service. I was providing great service, but it was through unsustainable behaviors at the cost of fights with my husband and lack of “me” time. I came to realize I could still provide outstanding care to my clients but had to prioritize my priorities first, otherwise, I was training my clients to act like young children who were constantly in need of me. I’m a stickler now for boundaries around texts and emails to my clients. A little secret… I often draft back text or email responses on Sunday mornings, but I don’t hit send until 8am Monday morning. Why? While I worked the weekend for a couple hours perhaps to alleviate my Monday morning time, I do not want my customers perceiving I work weekends. Texts and emails received after 6pm relative to work go on the next day’s task list. Lean in and listen closely friend. You have to know something. You’re amazing at what you do, and you are a wonderful person to do business with. That is your sell. Your people will not leave you if you are responsive when you tell them you will be. They do not do business with you, because you reply to all their FB comments immediately. They do business with you, because you are reliable and they have the confidence you will follow through on communication according to when you say you will. Build your business on the value of you and your integrity.
Personal Time- I should have listed this one first in order. When you go to schedule your week (I do mine on Sundays), you must put your needs on the calendar first, and then the other time is work time. I have a need for 30 minutes in the morning to drink my coffee and eat my breakfast. I might write or watch the news or read during this time, too. It’s non-negotiable. I know when my day does not start this way, I will struggle the whole day feeling aligned. Whatever is important for your personal inner balance, schedule first. A workout. A half hour lunch. A dinner date with a friend. Time to curl your hair or put on makeup and your best face forward. It may sound silly, but a swipe of mascara, a pop of lip color, an outfit I like, and good hair make me feel put together which boosts my confidence that no matter who I run into during the day or what Zoom meeting I end up on, I represent myself for my business in the best way. I put on perfume, even when I have a day of video calls. Why? It simply makes me feel good. Set yourself as a priority, and whatever you do, do not compromise your boundaries during YOU time for one more email or one more phone call. They can wait, but your mental health is always immediate.
If you want to shine and truly see your dreams reveal themselves, getting harmony and balance with your work and within yourself is one of the keys that opens the doors to fruitfulness and success.
This is as important a business strategy as any others I teach. It’s foundational and life-changing. I’m here to support your boundary plan and cheer you on, sister!
Children love to listen to a story. Adults get hooked on Netflix shows for the storylines or devour books with good plots, relatable heroes, and villains who represent common evils.
Think of the best Superbowl ads. Whether they are funny or moving, they tell mini-stories, and you’ll wade through a football game even if it’s not your cup of tea to see the ads.
So why do we love a good story (Better question…Why should we use stories to connect to our audiences?)? I’ll give you three reasons that’ll hopefully tip you towards incorporating story in your sales strategy.
First, from a neurological standpoint, stories ignite visual centers of the brain that bring words to life. Think about a time you read an amazingly authored book. As you read, weren’t you able to vividly imagine the story as if there was a movie reel in our mind? In fact, not wanting to turn the stimulating mental movie off, might be what kept you sitting on your couch or at the beach reading cover to cover. Stories stimulate the senses, and the more senses involved with exploring information, the more likely we are to retain and act upon information.
Second, when people engage stories through your business content (lives, stories, posts, videos, blogs-stories can be told through many mediums), they don’t feel you’re fishing for a sale. They feel your business cares to bring relatable content to the relationship with them. This friendly and non-pushy feel pushes your know, like, and trust factor higher.
Last, a good story makes you human. Being human in today’s content cluttered world will help you stand out from all the other “noise” calling people to buy, click, download, sign up. A story will make your ideal client stop scrolling and still their minds long enough to take in the high quality content you’re delivering. They will feel served not sold or told.
You might be saying, “Yes, Geneva! I want to build more storytelling into my content, but I don’t know what to talk about.”
Let me give you 7 ideas that any business can use to develop this powerful type of content. I want you to be able to take the content in this blog, MOVE, and see how your audience responds. I promise you’ll be amazed at how people will latch on.
Tell the story of how you came into your passion/niche. What prompted you to start your business journey?
Tell about how you uncovered one of your brand’s core values. Why are you committed to accuracy, the creative process, your customer service? What happened to you that made this value so important for your work?
Let your customer be the hero. After all, we have no businesses if not for our customers. Tell a story of a customer/client and how you worked together towards a solution. Look at your testimonials and recall the stories behind them.
Tell about why you’ve connected your business to a certain organization or cause. Talk about what/how you were moved towards this cause.
Talk about your “behind the scenes.” You’ll allow them to know the care and time you put into each piece of your work. Tell about how you came up with a design, system, office decor.
Talk about a conversation you had with someone this week that really impressed upon you.
Describe a personal obstacle you had recently. Depending on the situation, use humor or deep emotion to tell your audience how you overcame and ask for them engagement.
These are just a few ideas. Stories can be long form content or very short. Use lots of “I” and “you,” so your listener. Remember, stories have a beginning, middle, and end. They bring your customer through a thought process that makes them reflect and connect. Your call to action and messaging does not have to directly link to your product or service. It may, but the beauty of storytelling is that you become memorable. The more memorable you are, the more business will come to you!
I hope you’ll give it a shot! Don’t say I didn’t tell you so, when you get tons of comments and dialogue back!
Goals! You either just jumped for joy or groaned at the thought.
When I talk with or coach people trying to grow their businesses and we get to the topic of goals, I ask them to get specific on what they are wanting to achieve. While some people can easily synthesize goals (usually they have been in a line of work in their past where they developed this skill like healthcare or corporate business), most people know they struggle with boiling down what they wish to achieve in written goals or they are confused about what makes for a good written goal. Here are some commonly stated business hopes.
“I want to make _________ in a year.”
“I want to expand my offerings.”
“I want more engagement on my social media.”
There is nothing wrong with these statements, except they are not goals. They are aspirations, and aspirations are great! Everyone should have them. The problem with these statements is that they have no feet attached to them to make them move or to make them measurable.
Cue Auld Lang Syne. Think of the New Year’s “goals” we exclaimed and clinked to on the eve of 2020. The ones you wrote out a plan for and have revisited, you probably are well on your way to achieving. The gym goals, all the books you were going to devour, learning something new… Did they vanish as soon as your New Year’s hangover was relieved (Won-ton soup by the way is a great cure!)? So, how can we make an aspiration into a goal you ask? Here’s the goal recipe.
1 part more specific behaviors; 1 part a time component; 3 parts words to define the manner to achieve by way of objectives (define at least 3 objectives to make the goal easier to bite off in small steps)
Let’s take the social media goal as an example and give it some love, so it becomes achievable.
Goal: Over the next 6 months, I want to increase my social media followers on FB to ________ organic followers who represent my ICA (Ideal Client Avatar).
Objectives: 1. I will post 5 times a week. 2. I will develop content buckets based on reviewing my engagement analytics to see what most interests my ideal clients. 3. I will create 10 branded templates using Canva to facilitate consistency and ease of posting. 4. I will increase my lives to 2-3x a month. 5. I will present 4 in-person or online workshops and script asking people to connect to my page.
Now, the goal has feet and can take off running! If you wrote this goal, you could revisit it over the period of the 6 months weekly to check your progress. You could even break this goal down into week by week tasks to make it happen using paper and pencil or an app like Trello. What’s a goal of yours that could use a little sprucing? How could you equip it to move?
If you are a business owner, you sell something- product or service. At the end of the day, if you make sales, you have business. No sales=no business.
Businesses all over our country, both small and large, are facing tough times. People are carefully spending feeling unsure of their own personal finances. If you own a business, you may feel unsure of how to sensitively sell in these times.
Here are some tips to help you communicate during the time of COVID-19.
1. Revist your ideal customer’s pain points. They might be the same as before this virus, or perhaps they need to be tweaked. I don’t need certain items for the same reasons as I did before- work clothes, jewelry, makeup for instance for the purpose of looking professional in the workplace, but sellers of these items might be able to sell me on using this time to clean and refresh my wardrobe, send gifts for important occasions partner with them on some kind of charitable giving through my purchase, or an occasional purchase as “self-care” stress relief shopping.
2. Focus on soft sell strategies. Find ways right now to educate on your product’s features, tell about your history with your company, and build value through mini-workshops or live events. People don’t want to be sold to right now. They don’t want to be sold to ever, but especially right now. The sell is easy when the potential client decides to choose you- there is a feeling of, “I chose to buy that. This use of my money is good for me,” versus, “I felt guilty to not buy from my friend or local small business,” or “She pushed so hard I bought a little something to make her stop messaging me.” Let people choose you, because what you give is so much more than what they feel they feel they will give.
3. Resist the urge to jump on every new social media page popping up to support local businesses to showcase your brand. Fight to stop splattering your links across every outlet that will permit it. Quite often, when we do this, we’re forgetting WHO we are really for. Who do you champion? Who are you the hero or heroine for with your skills and products? Community pages are great to showcase businesses in our local communities, but focusing a lot of effort on these pages where everyone is trying to also show their brands is not likely energy well spent in terms of ROI. When this crisis passes, these pages will likely see stalled traffic. Ask yourself if the traffic on the page you feel you should post on are your people. If you can’t yell and fistpump a “hell yeah!” then stop and go find where your people are. Work on building your social media page, your website, or your email templates. Spend some time on items 1 and 2 above and then outline a purposeful plan to move strategically through the next few months.