Definitions are always a good place to start. What is awareness?
Awareness- knowledge or perception of a situation or fact (Oxford Dictionary)
People attribute business success to many factors, but I think we might be inclined to think that those with three Cs succeed:
Charisma- They have the “it” or “woo” factor.
Capital- They have the money to make their dreams a reality.
Company- They have the right people around them to promote them.
When businesses fail, we’ve heard that the majority fail in the first five years due to lack of finances. Interestingly, that’s the number two reason, according to Forbes (2017), with the number one reason being that the product or service that the person put on the market did not meet the market’s need. Interesting, huh?
Certainly having charisma, capital, and being in the right company help, but if you have all these advantages yet lack awareness of yourself and your market, you could still end up falling into the large category of businesses that fail because they didn’t meet their market’s needs.
Couldn’t we say that lack of awareness is at the crux of the failure to meet the market’s needs?
Awareness is needed through all seasons of business. Perhaps a person started with lots of awareness of the market and tons of solutions to boot, but times, technology, and needs change. Hence, the way a business runs, the team it acquires, and and the services and products it offers must evolve. Continuous awareness.
The third reason businesses fail is they don’t find the right team (CB Insights, 2019). Awareness of one’s personal strengths and weaknesses, awareness of the skillsets of others, or the awareness to foresee the consequences of keeping the wrong team players onboard all play into why business owners may not have the right team players. Typing that just made me flashback to the first time I had to fire someone. It was horrible. Like I was sick to my stomach. But the thought that made me more sick was what was going to happen in my company if I ignored my own awareness and the lack of awareness this person had about the effects of her actions on the organization.
We see the consequences of the lack of awareness in business on a daily basis: the person who posts WAY too much stuff on their personal or business social pages; the person who you don’t hear from except when they are trying to sell something; the business with zero personality; products that are a dime a dozen and have no stand-out factor in the market yet they are heavily pushed on the market; a company thinking that lowering their prices will move their products, when the real issue is the brand’s messaging hasn’t adequately communicated a value worth the pricetag no matter what it is.
It is certainly easier to look at others’ lack of self-awareness or market awareness, but it is more important to always be examining our own.
What do you plain suck at doing? For me, it’s paper organization. In college, people saw I had systems for everything- studying, test-taking, and putting my research together were areas I shined like a superstar. BUT, for the love of anything you hold dear, I prayed you would not ask me to borrow my awesomely bulleted notes, because the second I tore my notes out of my spiral notebook, they’d be lost forever. You would return them to me, and they would never again make their way back into my notebooks (which is why I kept spirals). I’ve tried every paper system under the sun, and spirals are still what work best for me, because I cannot maintain organization of small items and papers. A harder suck pill to swallow is that I stink at being a boss when the shite hits the fan; however, I excel at being a consultant to organizations (there’s a big difference!).
Over the years as I’ve expanded, rescaled, or morphed my business, I’ve found it so helpful to stay mindful of my awareness. I develop what I can strengthen and don’t beat myself up anymore over what I don’t do well. There are people and technology solutions for those things. The important thing is that we know what we do well. Reading books, taking assessments such as DISC or the Gallup Strengths Finder or the now-popular Enneagram help us take assessment of our strengths, know where we need support, and also recognize how others perceive us.
Be open to feedback. Stubbornness is different from resilience. A resilient business examines itself and its potential market to make ever-shifting decisions to match its offerings with the market’s needs. A stubborn business or business owner does not recognize or ignores the input of others more knowledgeable or errantly wants the market to change their behaviors rather than assume responsibility for the shifts needed to provide to the needs of the market.
It’s a new year, and January is a great time to start writing your business reading lists, find virtual or in-person events, join networking groups and chambers and begin cultivating relationships with people you will actively seek feedback and guidance from. What do you think you can do this year to grow your awareness as a leader and to welcome the feedback of trusted peers and mentors? Where could some simple steps towards increased awareness propel your business. How could these steps shed light on how you need shift your messaging services or product offerings?
It’s a lot to think about, but it’s worth the investment of time to think about.
Dream bigger, and your dreams will be more attainable when your awareness is at its highest!
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!
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.