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We write copy.
We DON’T do tech!

Kathleen here.

Regardless of where you turn, one message comes through loud and clear when it comes to online promotion of your business: You must provide valuable content to your readers. As the saying goes, “Content is king” (although, in our world, content is naturally Queen).

If only content were all we had to deal with.

I decided to take advantage of a service called Thumbtack to promote WordQueens’ copywriting business online.  I was cruising along during the registration process when I encountered a phrase that fills me with dread:  “Copy and paste this link to your website.”

I don’t wanna!!

Cindy and I are copywriters; we are so not techies. This was proven to us in the harshest possible terms when we attempted to set up our WordQueens website ourselves. We experienced the full gamut of painful emotions: aggravation, rage, frustration, despair, impatience, rage, doubt, lack of confidence, rage…You get the idea. This doesn’t even begin to address the physical symptoms: the stress headaches, strained eyes, clenched teeth, and various facial tics.

There were only two good things to come out of that horrendous experience. One, we hired Barbara Schendel of WizzyWig Design to save us from ourselves and take over the tech work.  Two, we learned at a gut level just what it costs to insist on doing something yourself, despite the fact that you have essentially no skills in that area.

While Good Thing #1 saved our sanity, it’s Good Thing #2 that made us realize what a service WordQueens can provide for people who are struggling to write their own marketing content.  How cool that we’ve got a chance to be super-heroes to someone else!

Now it’s time for you to toot your horn.  When have you been the answer to a client’s prayers? Tell us your success story!

You’re trying to do it all yourself because you won’t ask for help…Why?

Hi; it’s Kathleen.

I find it curious that it’s so easy to see counterproductive behavior in other people, and such a challenge to see it in myself.

There are so many examples out there:  A friend who insists on doing all the packing and managing of her upcoming move herself; another who scans all collected business cards into her CRM herself, even though she has someone who’s willing to help; yet another who’s painting an entire house by herself, when she knows that all she needs to do to get a ton of help is open a couple bottles of wine and ask for assistance.

What’s with this ridiculous tendency of so many entrepreneurs to act like the Lone Ranger?  Are we afraid we’ll look less strong or competent if we ask for help?  Do we fear losing control or making a bad decision?  Are we subconsciously sabotaging ourselves because we’ve run into an “upper limit problem”?  (If you’re not familiar with the concept of ULPs, I strongly encourage you to read The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks.)

I’m fortunate to have powerful women in my Mastermind group (not to mention a business partner) who are all cheerful – one might even say lovingly gleeful – about busting me on my Lone Ranger behaviors.

Where are you slowing yourself down by doing work that’s really not part of your skill set?  Whether it’s related to bookkeeping, managing social media, re-designing your website, or writing marketing copy (nudge, nudge, nudge…), do yourself and your bottom line a favor: Hand these tasks off to someone who’s expert in them.  The up-front investment will be far less than the cost of lost opportunities and chronic stress.

Are you letting some people’s behavior lead to your occupation change?

Cindy here.  If you’re like I was in my early days in sales, the prospect of using the rest of your days washing floors in a convent starts feeling like a reasonable option when some things just don’t land no matter what you do.  I’ve got a tip for you.

First, a  confession.  I admit, after many years of face-to-face sales, that I have an unfair sales advantage.  As much sales training that is available about sales processes and buying techniques, reading body language, doing homework on your prospect, etc…sometimes that’s not enough.

If you are in the business of “one-call-closing”, it can be irrelevant how “good” you are – some people are simply not wired to buy the first time they are exposed to a new product, idea, service.  You do your best work, pull out all the stops, hold nothing back, you have a fantastic product, even a killer promo!  Yet, you can’t close the deal. What’s with that?!

Well, sometimes, it’s not about you.  “Those” people seem to be everywhere, especially when you are having a rough day having anything close to acceptable results.  Even the most seasoned sales professionals experience this phenomenon, knowing it is to be expected.

‘Tis the season for State Fairs, so let’s consider an example:  Say you are your company’s best promoter, set up in your booth for the duration of the entire fair, doing demo after demo of the chopper, mopper or stoppers your company sells.  Your company considers you “that good” at explaining the solutions of your genius widget.  Anyone with a need even remotely close to what you provide would pull out their Visa.  Except some don’t.  Because they can’t.  IF they are interested, they might even watch repeatedly, or seek your stage out later in the day – and not buy.  You repeat that you only sell your device at the fair and you have a “Fair Special” that expires when the fair ends in 3 days!  Um, too bad.  Your interested prospect lingers – that’s a good sign, possibly a buying signal.  If you really push a sale to these wonderful folks, you need to remember your “3-day right of rescission” stands a darn good chance of being utilized.

These “Ready-Aim-Aim-Aim-Aim-Aim-Fire!” types have all they can do to pull the “I’ll take it!” trigger.  Time and information helps them to lower their buying “risk” as they don’t want to make the “wrong decision” for themselves, based on not enough information.  In contrast, the “Ready-Fire-Aim” buyers that don’t need that much detail before they give you their payment – no,  make that an order of  two (their friend MUST have one as well) – and hurry it up because the corn dog stand awaits!  Geez.

What gives?  Well, let me whisper to you my unfair advantage.  See, I am a hand analyst, too.  Considering people don’t sit on their hands in public, I can tell from their fingers if they are likely to buy today – or not.  A simple clue:  Long, knotty fingers.  People who posses this trait typically need lots of information, what might feel like a lifetime to process all that info, and some form of boundary or deadline (the State Fair ends  in 3 days).   Alternately, those possessing shorter, smoother fingers who love your product, easily want to know, what’s the bottom line – stat! – so they can decide or not and move on.  Don’t confuse the two and let that hot iron cool!

What to do if you are selling to customers you can’t see?  Do the same with your marketing messages.  Speak to both.  I’m grateful to my writing partner, WQ Kath, who very easily creates one-scroll-Blackberry-bullet-point written content for the shorter-fingered info gatherers/buyers.  Some copywriters, like me, suck at that style and some are not really story tellers.  That’s one of the reasons our clients have the advantage of Kath and I writing as a team.  BTW…those bullet-point readers were not likely to get this far in this long post, so you know who YOU are.  Just sayin’.  For those like you, give detail, testimonials, stories, information over time with a deadline for action, if you want your prospect or client to DO something.  You may need to exercise your patience muscles, yet these clients can become your most loyal fans.  So worth it for them and for you!

You know you’ve “made it” when the person who has been oh-so-interested in your genius product at the State Fair sends his sister-in-law with 2 kids in strollers back to search for your booth on the last day of the fair with cash in hand…because you were that good!

The heat is on…

Kathleen here.

As in many parts of the United States, we in Minnesota have been dealing with hot weather – and a lot of it.  Temps of 100 degrees F (38C) seem to suck all the energy out of you, even if you’re just moving in and out of your car on the way to meetings.  Not only is it physically stressful to deal with the changes from hot-and-humid outside to cold-and-dry inside air-conditioned buildings, but let’s face it:  It’s hard to feel and look  professional if you’re sweating like a farm animal.

This challenging weather got me to thinking:  What kind of an environment am I creating for my prospects and clients?  Do I ever come across as the business equivalent of energy-sucking heat and humidity?

Much as it pains me to admit it, I realize I am not the most important thing in my clients’ lives.  I’m actually a supporting actor in their major production, and they definitely have the starring role.  Still, background events and the people around us absolutely impact how we feel and act.  I get to always remember: My job is to make life better for my clients, not create conditions that are stressful for them.

How can we all help our clients stay cool and calm, despite other challenges around them? Often, even little things can have a big impact.

So…What do you do to create a calming, cooling breeze when your clients are on the hot seat?

Mirror, mirror, on the wall…Do you have a clue? Because apparently I don’t.

Kathleen here.

I was widowed at a very young age (36), and I went through counseling to help me deal with the loss.  After I’d worked my way through the most intense of the grief work, my trusty shrink and I began to talk about some family-of-origin issues.

One day during a session, I had this great epiphany:  “I have a stubborn streak!”  This was not stubborn-pigheaded, mind you, but stubborn-determined.  Since I had not, up to that time, viewed myself as being particularly determined or forceful, I was very excited by this “discovery” of a previously unsuspected strength.

Since my family has always been one for celebrating achievements of all sorts, I called my sisters to share the news with them.  “Hey, guess what?  I’ve got a stubborn streak!”

Dead silence.

Followed by raucous laughter.

Once everyone got themselves under control, the comments went something like this:

You’re just realizing that now? Honey, we’ve known that since you were an infant!

My father did not descend to this level.  He just gave me an owlish, disbelieving stare. (Apparently I had rendered him temporarily speechless.)

I often reflect on this little interlude.  On the one hand, I’m glad I learned about my stubbornness-determination for  myself – you’ve gotta love that thrill of discovery!  On the other hand, I realize that, had I been open to getting input from my family earlier, I might have been better able to use this awareness intentionally.  I could have kept a look-out for inappropriate uses of this characteristic, just as I could have reminded myself during challenging times, when I was tempted to throw in the towel, that stubborn-determined people don’t give up so easily.

There’s no way we can always see ourselves clearly.  After all, we’re inside our own skins – it’s impossible to look back at ourselves unless we have a mirror.  That’s why it’s so important to have trusted resources we can rely on to reflect back to us things that we’re doing that may be counterproductive.  It’s also wonderful to have someone whap us upside the head when we’re beating up on ourselves; when we’re focused on all the things we haven’t done, a good mirror will remind us of everything we’ve already accomplished.

What do you think?  Have you had some eye-opening experiences with the mirrors in your life?

I really have no clue who you are. Can you promote me?

Yup…got one of “those” emails in my inbox.

Instead of, “Hey Cindy!” or “Hi Girlfriend!” or even “Dear Subscriber”, the marketing message might just as easily have said, “Hey You!  If you are inhaling and exhaling, I have something for you…and oh, promote it for me to your friends, too!”  Ok, ok…I am being harsh because I’m in a database due to an encounter I had at a meeting.  I think.

What’s that saying?  “If you can’t be a good example, at least be a good warning.”

After raising three people to adulthood and being an outside salesperson for years, there are fewer and fewer things that cross my path that warrant an “Are you kidding me?!” response.  I feel it’s my obligation to use that particular email as a “what not to do” example in order to save those who endeavor to promote their businesses from this kind of blunder.

Here’s the stripped down version of what I opened in my email inbox (not my spam folder):

“Hello.  We had the pleasure of exchanging business cards at a networking event and I am following up to invite you to [attend my seminar] so you can [learn this concept].

Who else do you know who would like to [learn this concept]?  Please help me spread the word and share this email with them.

[Signed],

[Author]”

Seriously?

I kept the writer’s exact wording, making only changes between the “[ ]” to illustrate my point.  The original content doesn’t matter.

Almost immediately, I was taken aback enough by the author’s untimely presumed close.  Only because I decided to write this warning, I further investigated the rest of the page and clicked on the consultant’s website.  In theory, what a simple tactic for conversion! – have the reader scroll down and even click to another site, right?

In all fairness, the email went on to nicely describe the event in the lower part of the note, which I never would have read given the opening attempt at engagement.  Now on a mission, I clicked onto the website link to see the person who was hosting this seminar promotion, seeking a clue to how or where our theoretical connection may have happened.  I was finding myself eager to forgive this upside-down approach if there was some connection.  “Work with me here, people!  Throw me a bone!  I’m working at how I know this seminar provider!”  No recognition of the face on the website, either.  Bummer.

Granted, I am the first to admit I don’t have the steel-trap mind that my writing partner, WQ Kathleen, does for remembering names and faces, yet….really?!  The recipient of a marketing promotion should not have to work this hard!

Summary:  Both the promoter and the prospect lost in this case.  Like many of you who get “pitched” on all kinds of ideas and solutions in a day, I am not the only one that has to work on not having the attention span of a paramecium, when it comes to discerning where to allot my time.  Some rendition of, “Hey!  You with the face!  You’re in my data base.  Read this!” is more likely to have the “delete” key be the next button of choice.

New prospects that don’t already at least know of you do not give a rip to be exposed to your wonderful solutions or ideas, unless they feel valued, significant, heard or even recognized.  Your product or service might be the perfect answer to their prayers or calm for their nightmares, yet your reach will only be as long as your ability to make them feel what they seek to feel:  important.  It’s not about you, it’s about them.  Caring matters.

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