Help Yourself First. So You Can Help Others Better.
(Originally published in 6/18/2010 while writing for Xspond.)
Here at Xspond we have spent oodles and oodles of time improving our partners social media, and our partners web sites, and our partners data bases, and our partners… (you get the picture). We love this work so much and we are so focused that we neglected ourselves severely. If our business identity is our child and we are the parents, we are definitely criminals of neglect.
Practice What You Preach
Many of the ideas we push our customers to address in their businesses have gone long un-addressed in our own. This was a huge problem for our prospects. We show them what we are doing for our current clients, but when they look at our business (previously neglected) they have been a little bit skeptical because were weren’t doing as good of a job for ourselves.
Transparency Requires Vigilance
A recent transition sparked us to gain a sense of urgency in addressing this issue of self-neglect. So, we took a large percentage of the last two weeks and devoted it to Us! This process has not been nearly as easy as we had first hoped. While rewriting web content we had to vigilantly and repeatedly stop ourselves from falling into old patterns of telling instead of showing, of talking to instead of talking with, and of being a business first instead of being people first.
Exposing Yourself Takes Real Guts
Now it was time to tackle who we are as a company. Meaning, who we are as people. To do this we agreed that we had to let it all out there. Our customers need to get a feel for our personalities, our office atmosphere, our silliness, how nerdy we can be, our smart aleck humor, and every other angle of life here at Xspond. So we infused our website with conversational copy. Made fun of our Who We Are section with sarcastic humor, which upon first reading we giggled and loved. Then we hesitated. Then we laughed at it again. Then we hesitated. With a final determined and collective effort we let out a deep sigh of discomfort and just did it.
All Guts, Plenty of Glory
These two weeks have been essential to our branding and our growth; not just from a direct business perspective, but from a relationship perspective. This new found transparency and willingness to just be who we are has quickly lead to multiple opportunities to gain exposure, clients, and most importantly long-lasting connections. We’ve gotten interest from several news outlets on projects we are involved with, we’ve gained invaluable acquaintances that can get help from us and help us in return, and we have grown as a team internally – learning to really trust each others ideas and collectively come up with amazing stuff!
We have a better grip of the reigns and are now leading by example. We revamped our website, kicked off a new round of engagement and have even put some pictures of our ugly mugs on the website! How’s that for transparency? What have you done to push your current comfort level?
Printed Media is Still Valuable.
(Originally published in Fall of 2010 while writing for Xspond.)
As a blogging, Facebooking, forum posting, copy writing, Tweeting person I get to see my work published all over the web on a regular basis. This is very fun for me but I have gotten used to the medium I am in. The Internet is so vast it seems like not a lot of people proportionately see what I post, normally. There are those occasional, fun, and shining moments when a post catches some momentum and I get to celebrate and spend a couple of days replying to comments, but they are occasional so far.
The other day when I arrived home from work and retrieved my mail I was delighted to find a local free newspaper had published my article about a client event on the front page, along with the pictures I took. I sprinted up the driveway eager to show my husband that I was indeed published, on paper. Then I was baffled at myself. Why am I so excited? If I had posted this on a Facebook page or blog I would not be screeching for my husband to read it. (It was not my best piece of writing by a long shot.)
So I have been pondering it over the last day or so and have come to accept the fact that no matter how many tools we have at our disposal for sharing information, the printed form still holds a certain value that web media does not have. I am happy to be my own devil’s advocate when I state that certain audiences get zero value from printed media, but I would also argue that most still take printed matter more seriously.
That being said, I don’t imagine this is a fact that will stay true forever. I can already see a shift occurring in my five year old son. He is currently learning to read. Every digital cable menu, every computer game, and every video game menu that he sees on screen he will read perfectly. But when I sit him down with a book, he is bored, struggles to stay focused and absolutely does NOT want to take the time to read it.
So while I continue to get completely giddy over my stuff being printed on paper, I will also continue to remind myself that there is absolutely value in my digital material. I am one of the lucky ones who gets to embrace both print and digital media. I am being careful to balance my marketing efforts across all mediums during this transitional period, what are you doing to feed your customers’ love of printed materials?
Update: Since I wrote this reflection and let it simmer before posting, Xspond has been featured on the front page of the Business section in the Detroit News. The energy around the office yesterday, when the article hit was unreal! Everyone in the office reacted the way I did when my little local article hit. I will keep you posted on what kind of interest our company gains from this fabulous article that was written. I am curious to observe whether this article gets us more relevant traffic than some of the blog articles that have taken off across the blogosphere & twittersphere recently.
Dealership Analytics = Elementary Math Lesson: “Double-check you work.”
(Originally published in July 2010 while writing for Xspond.)
What would Mrs. Miller say if she saw most of us today? Would she be sorely disappointed that we have all abandoned the process? Would she grab us by the ear and walk us to the front of the class making an example out of us?
I don’t know about you, but nightmares of that embarrassment keeps me on the straight and narrow in regards to doing my best and double checking it when I am done. In business the best way to begin checking your work is through Google Analytics and Webmasters Tools.
Just one scenario of analytics saving a website; we redesigned an entire dealership homepage 10 days after we launched it, for a seemingly insignificant design choice. By watching where people clicked we found that from their perspective it was not clear that the Used Car link was indeed a link. By adjusting that feature we were able to get users to the used cars inventory as quickly as possible. Check your work, check it often, and fix it if it isn’t working.
Here’s a small clip [of Mitch] from an Analytics discussion we had at Insights Group the other day.
Do you know how many leads your site generates, do you know how much traffic your site gets and where they are coming from, do you know how many people get to your site and bounce right out, do you know where you rank in a search engine, do you know if your site is optimized for google keyword searches, do you know if people are finding what they came to your website for?
If the answer is no, we recommend you call your web provider and have a discussion about your Google Analytics and Web Masters Tools. You will want to watch your analytics regularly, and look for areas of improvement.