Archive for the ‘Clarity’ tag
It takes clarity of thought and expression to be a brilliant physicist. No less so to be an effective marketer (and/or business owner).
If Einstein were a marketer, I think he’d advise you to De-Fog Your Business!
I’m all for a well-thought-out go-to-market strategy. But I’ve often advised consultants and other small businesses to leave your directional map at about 80% – and let the market inform you about the remaining 20%.
Why? Because you WILL pivot, to some extent – and your customers will show you where and how.
A recent example from my experience – I’ve been doing Clarity Therapy sessions for a variety of individuals and companies for a couple of years now. Typically, these are one-day intensive sessions, with a few months of minor follow-up.
I did not, however, anticipate performing any kind of ongoing business coaching. I saw Clarity Therapy as an event, not a long-term process. Until clients starting asking for more. A lot more. And a wealth of helpful lessons from past experience began to come to the surface.
Turns out that being an outside voice giving perspective on overall business structure, specific creative offerings, client account management, and staffing (plus identifying resources via networking) is a much bigger need than I realized.
The most interesting revelation of all: how lonely it is to be a small business owner or solo consultant. I mean, I knew that, right? I AM one. But it didn’t really occur to me how important it is for us to have an outlet, a peer, a mentor, a friend – who can come alongside for the long-term and help get a business to a new level. There are short-term and one-shot needs, but clients are saying to also think about the deeper, longer haul. Bonus: that approach actually suits me quite well. I prefer those kind of business relationships.
Truth is, there’s a lot of stuff we just can’t say to customers, employees, colleagues, even family members. It’s frustrating, and the lack of a healthy outlet and fresh perspective clogs our mind and heart.
So, I now find myself offering business coaching for people and businesses seeking to grow and needing outside advice and encouragement. It’s not really a change of direction, just a natural extension that I didn’t anticipate.
How about you? How have your customers caused you to pivot? I’ve seen a number of my social media people evolve over time and it’s pretty fascinating. What’s your story?
If your company name and tagline could mean a whole bunch of different things to a whole bunch of different people, it’s meaningless.
- Global Technical Solutions - Where Technology Drives Customer Value. Meaningless.
- Dwilgoq - It’s on!! Meaningless.
- The Robert Higgins Group - We mean business. Meaningless.
I do realize that it is a challenge in this URL-crowded era to find a unique name. But at least try to have a descriptor – a verbal business card – that tells us what you’re about.
I interacted this week with Marc Pitman. His title: The Fundraising Coach. The summary he gives of himself on Google+: Committed to making it ridiculously easy for people to find fundraising training.
Bingo. I know EXACTLY where to put Marc in the universe of suppliers. But if, instead, his title was: The Business Coach - well, then I’d be unable to place him in memory. If his verbal business card was: I help people find what they need to succeed - despite the cute rhyme, he’d be another MBE (meaningless business entity).
It may help you in business to have your MBA. But if you’re working on your MBE, you’re making life far more difficult than it should be – for your customers, and ultimately, for you. You need to Claim Your Market[place].
If you think you’ve got a case of MBE, let’s talk. Maybe a dose of Clarity Therapy is just what you need to get more meaningful.
Ping me at: steve at stevewoodruff dot com.
Anyone that knows me well knows that I have a passion for writing – in fact, it’s really a passion for all things communication (including speaking, video, social media, etc.). As a blogger, I traffic in a lot of written material. Much of what I see is, quite frankly, pretty amateurish.
Writing clearly and succinctly is crucial to work effectiveness. And it’s a rarely-trained skill. It doesn’t matter what position people occupy in their profession. Everyone from the newly-hired salesperson to the CEO needs to sharpen communication skills, if they want to be viewed as professionals (see this recent post by Dave Kerpen).
If people are spending an average of 28% of their time dealing with e-mail - then just improving that one area of business writing can return a lot of potential productivity gains!
In the past month, I’ve sat down with a couple of great providers who do corporate training on communications/writing skills. I found myself nodding so vigorously during discussions that it’s a wonder I didn’t end up at the chiropractor’s office! As I underscore in my Vendor/Project Success workshops, the basic principles of project and vendor management will be used in all future career areas – just like learning to drive a car, it’s an “evergreen” skill set. Writing and communicating clearly? –even more so.
Clear communications lead to clear actions. Foggy communications lead to misunderstandings, back-and-forth clarifications, and frustration.
Let’s train ourselves and our people how to effectively move thoughts to the keyboard and beyond (and if you need a communications training vendor/provider recommendation, just let me know – steve [at] connectionagent dot com). It can never be wrong to sharpen this skill!
Also, here’s a book recommendation for you. 10 Steps to Successful Business Writing* (by Jack Appleman) is a compact, simple-to-absorb volume that gives practical, step-by-step advice on how to write more clearly.
The opening paragraph in the introduction says it all:
Successful business writing starts with simplicity. The beauty of simplicity is that it can produce results faster.
With chapters like Know Where You’re Taking Your Readers; Be Explicit, Clear, and Concise; Grab Your Readers’ Attention; and Master The Documents You Use Most Often; this book dives immediately into straightforward advice with plenty of practical application.
I’ve spent a good bit of time with Jack lately (we have a common bond in the realms of clarity and training!), and he has shared with me how he can also partner with corporations and provide valuable training for employees. If you’re interested in Jack’s services, let me know and I’ll make the connection.
*Amazon affiliate link
Postscript: Just saw this nice summary about how to write effective e-mails that people won’t ignore, by Bryan Garner via HBR blog.
That’s the theme of my guest post today on Carol Roth‘s blog: There Is No Audience for 50 Shades of Grey Marketing.
The land of grey is where commodities dwell. It’s where businesses walk in circles, broadcasting noise into the void with the hope that a clear echo will return. Healthy business development begins by coming out into the sunshine and leaving all those indefinite shades of grey behind… (read the entire post)
Related – my recent guest post on Marketing Profs Daily Fix blog: How to Fight Fog and Overcome Clarity Deficit Disorder.
Often, our marketing resembles a storefront with a streaky window and a jumbled display. It’s too much effort to try to understand what’s being offered. It’s not your customer’s job to figure you out. It’s YOUR job to cut through all the fog in less than half a minute with vivid, memorable language…(read the entire post)
Is your business hard to spot in the fog? Hire Steve Woodruff for Clarity Therapy!
Recent posts on Connection Agent:
I have long been driven to help people fuel their passion and align with their purpose. This has taken public form in projects like mostpassionate.ca and Attention Surplus, my podcast with Eric Portelance. Now I find my scope widening to include animals.
The leap to working with animals was a sudden and unexpected wrong-way turn up a one-way street. It seemed strange and jarring, even to me, which is saying something as I have been a juggler, animator, programmer, hacker, strategist, photographer and more in my 42 years. But this move seemed different – I found myself second guessing everything and I was afraid to tell people of my new career.
“Clarity doesn’t just come to anyone, it is earned – and we earn it through a vigorous pursuit of something larger than ourselves.”
I had known for quite some time that I didn’t love my day job but the money was good and it seemed unthinkable to throw away 15+ years in digital strategy and advertising. I just needed to find a different agency or home for the work I did, right?
Continue reading the full story on MostPassionate.ca >
Go straight to my Up with Pup site >
I am downplaying ‘futures’ in favor of design thinking these days, but the old-school futurists still have a great deal to offer, like Bob Johansen:
Four Practical Ways for Leaders to Make the Future by Deepa Mehta via Institute For The Future
Bob Johansen recently published the second edition of Leaders Make the Future. In the book, Bob presents an expansive ten-year forecast about the key future forces that will impact our world in the decade ahead, pointing to the shift towards the global well-being economy, the growing impact of digital natives, and the emergence of cloud-served supercomputing. Bob reminds us that we live in an increasingly VUCA world, characterized by Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity, and that the VUCA World presents both danger and opportunity.
Leaders who make the future will make sense of the VUCA world and transform Volatility into Vision, Uncertainty into Understanding, Complexity into Clarity, and Ambiguity into Agility. What skills will allow future leaders to thrive? With four decades of wisdom and knowhow as a ten-year forecaster at the intersection of technology and society, Bob identifies ten new leadership skills for the future. He brings each skill to life with personal stories and examples from around the world. The ten-year forecast and ten skills point to the Why and What of successful leadership in the future.
In all the write-ups about this book — all of them written in a dreary marketing speak — none of them lists the ten skills. I finally captured them from a self test, here:
Exploit your inner drive to build and grow things, as well as connect with others in the making.
Leaders are very clear about what they are making, but very flexible about how it gets made.
See through messes and contradictions to a future that others cannot yet see. Leaders are very clear about what they are making, but very flexible about how it gets made.
Turn dilemmas—which, unlike problems, cannot be solved—into advantages and opportunities.
Immersive Learning Ability
Immerse yourself in unfamiliar environments to learn from them in a first-person way.
See things from nature’s point of view; to understand, respect, and learn from nature’s patterns.
Calm tense situations where differences dominate and communication has broken down—and bring people from divergent cultures toward constructive engagement.
Be open and authentic about what matters to you—without advertising yourself.
Create quick early versions of innovations with the expectation that later success will require early failures.
Smart Mob Organizing
Create, engage with, and nurture purposeful business or social change networks through intelligent use of electronic and other media.
Seed, nurture, and grow shared assets that can benefit other players—and sometimes allow competition at a higher level.
Sounds like being a Taoist sage, actually.
That gives me an idea: I will have to reread the Tao Te Ching from the perspective of an operating manual for the post-normal world.
Given the vast amount of information and noise that occupies the minds of our customers each day, you might be accurate in saying that one of our toughest competitors is Marketplace ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).
You know that constant stream of consciousness that goes on in your mind and how difficult it is to truly arrest your attention, right?
Which means that our message has to be very sharp and highly memorable to cut through the fog.
Unfortunately, not only do customers have ADD, but many businesses have an even worse case of CDD (Clarity Deficit Disorder), which only compounds the problem. You can’t fight fog with fog.
What is CDD? Simply put, it’s the inability to be vividly precise and memorable in 28 seconds or less. (Note: There’s not a single clinical study to back up that number, in case you were wondering. I made it up. But now, you’ll remember it!)
Many small businesses (and consultants) market their services with a list of bullet points. “We do this, and this, and this, and this… We’ll also do that if you ask nicely.” Other folks aspire to join the Jargoneers by using a bunch of meaningless but important-sounding biz speak (“We energize enterprise engagement by elevating endless echolalia”).
Fog. You have an offering, you have a prospective customer, you have an opening, and you deliver… Phileas Fogg.
Pumping more hot air into the process won’t help. What’s needed is less fog and more light.
A clear offering is different from the commodities that surround it. A clear message distills the benefit in a way that can be transmitted via referral. A clear story makes the company memorable and gives emotional texture. A clear analogy bridges any understanding gap and locks the message in for long-term recall.
Often, our marketing resembles a storefront with a streaky window and a jumbled display. It’s too much effort to try to understand what’s being offered.
It’s not your customer’s job to figure you out. It’s YOUR job to cut through all the fog in less than half a minute with vivid, memorable language. If you have to go around the world in 80 days trying to explain who you are and what you do, filling us with fog, then you’ve got full-blown CDD.
The prescription for Clarity Deficit Disorder is to get clear vision regarding your company’s DNA and message. I go nowhere without my prescription eyeglasses because, without them, everything is a blur. Whatever else I may invest in (or not), clear vision is a non-negotiable. And to stand out in a very crowded marketplace, a dose of clarity can make all the difference!
(Photo courtesy of Bigstock: Fog)
Dear Google. Please don’t send out any further link warnings to publishers. Your latest round yesterday, intended to clarify the confusion sparked by ones sent last week, is likely going to make things worse, not better. No more warnings, not until you get some fundamental clarity in place….
Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
Please come on over and join the discussion!