Wednesday, June 28, 2017

All-In Athletes: 5 Pillars for Everyday Success

I was channel surfing last night and landed on ESPN’s 30 for 30 segment about basketball coach John Calipari. While I’m not a Kentucky fan, I do respect coaches who connect with their players and help them realize their potential. Calipari is a master motivator with an incredible command of the game. That was my takeaway. And it got me thinking: Isn’t that the winning combination we all need to succeed?

As a former college athlete, I often draw on lessons learned from athletics to center and motivate myself in business—and I have resource I’d like to share. All-In Athletes is an organization focused on helping high school students become the best they can be through motivational messages from top performers in different fields.

Author Joe Behm is a friend of mine from John Carroll University; he and Andy Smith collaborated on the book: All-In: Playbook to Become A Student-Athlete Role Model. The All-In messages and lessons are organized around “5 Pillars” and a simple approach to living life:

  • Smart. When talent is equal, the competitor that is better prepared mentally has the winning advantage 
  • Strong. Physical and mental strength provides a foundation to develop skills and techniques for maximum results  
  • Respectful. Respect exposes your character by the way you conduct yourself in victory and defeat 
  • Commitment. Best summed up by Pat Riley, “There are only two options regarding Commitment. You’re either IN or you’re OUT. There is no such thing as life in-between.” 
  • Honor. Being true to your personal values and ideals and being a person of integrity who can overcome fear and take action 

All-In Athletes also offers a free daily motivational quote mailed to your inbox. I’ve subscribed—and I’m enjoying them as positive preparation for my workday. To take advantage of these daily motivators, and/or to order the book, click on the link below.

It’s worth checking out. Enjoy!

Tim Connor

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Marketing Success On Pinterest: Lessons from 5 Leading Brands

With more than 150 million active users, Pinterest has become the go-to resource for everything from recipes and makeup tutorials, to furniture refinishing and tattoo designs. Pinterest positions itself as the world’s catalog of ideas—but it’s also a prime channel for brand marketing: In a recent survey, 93% of pinners said they use Pinterest to plan for purchases—and 87% have purchased a product because of a pin.

What does it take to be a standout on Pinterest among the more than 75 billion pins? Following are five lessons from top brands that are killing it on the social media channel, building brand loyalty one pin at a time.

1. Offer variety. Don’t pigeon-hole your brand. With 4.5 million followers, upscale fashion retailer Nordstrom is one of Pinterest’s most recognizable brands. They’ve created a devoted following by casting a wide net—men’s fashion, prom, handbags, denim, baby. With 443,000+ pins on 78 boards, you’re sure to find something that speaks to you at Nordstrom.

2. Find a common thread. Specialty retailer L.L. Bean is a great example of how to make a brand connection by appealing to your audience and their interests. With 5 million followers, they’re doing it right: Boards like Outdoor Fun and Take Me Fishing draw pinners to the brand based on lifestyle, activities, pursuits, etc.

3. Provide value. Give them more, and they’ll keep coming back: Home improvement retailer Lowes goes above and beyond basic product info—they also provide step-by-step tutorials to show pinners how to use those products to complete DIY-projects.

4. Make it user-friendly. How many times have you searched for an item online but then struggled to find a retailer to make the purchase? Global marketplace Etsy simplifies the process, allowing you to search, pin and purchase products directly from your digital device.

5. Keep it subtle. Instead of leading with a product pitch, why not welcome your audience in like a good friend? Lauren Conrad does just that—her Pinterest page feels like that of any user, rather than that of a brand. With 1 million+ followers, she shares inspiration and introduces new ideas and products with fellow pinners without making a hard sell.

Which brands are most prominent on your Pinterest feed? I’d be interested in your feedback.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Now Hear This: 5 Steps to Better Listening

In today’s noisy, busy digital world, the workplace has grown increasingly loud. In response, we’ve desensitized ourselves to everyday distractions by tuning out and zoning in. And in doing so, we’ve changed the way in which we communicate, often losing sight of the value of simply listening.

Listening remains one of the most important elements of business success, particularly in sales. When you really listen, you become fully engaged: Listening allows you to understand your customer’s problems, which better positions you to formulate a solution, and ultimately, provide greater value. That value creates trusted, long-term relationships.

Sound and communication expert and 5-time TED talker, Julian Treasure, captures the lesson succinctly: Conscious listening creates understanding. It follows, then, that better listening fosters the valued business relationships we seek to create.

So, is it possible to train ourselves to be better listeners? In one of his TED talks, Treasure offers five exercises to help improve conscious listening skills:

1. Silence. Take three minutes every day to re-set your ears and recalibrate.
2. Mixer. Notice the sounds around you: Even in a noisy environment, focus on identifying the various sounds and their channels.
3. Savor. Enjoy and appreciate the mundane sounds—rain, the washing machine, birds.
4. Listening positions. Take an active role in listening by moving and adjusting your physical position: Active, passive, reductive, critical.
5. RASA: Receive. Appreciate. Summarize. Ask.
  • Receive the sound: pay attention
  • Appreciate: show that person that you are hearing them—a nod, a smile, an affirmation
  • Summarize: use of the word “so” is important in reinforcing what you’ve heard
  • Ask questions about what you’ve heard

The link below connects to Treasure’s TED talk—five minutes out of your day well spent.

Do you have techniques or tips that you use to improve your listening? If so, I’d like to hear from you.

All the best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Marketing Tips For Non-profits

While most non-profit organizations are strapped with doing a lot more with a lot less, among their greatest challenges is to stand out among other non-profits vying for donors’ attention—and dollars.

In today’s digital age, there are a host of simple and inexpensive ways for a non-profit to stretch their budget, while optimizing marketing efforts to promote their brand, connect with donors, amplify fundraising efforts, and increase donations.  

A recent article from Forbes magazine offers five tips for non-profits to reach donors:

1. Use social media. To reach donors, you need to connect with them where they are—and Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is where they reside. Place ads on these channels and take advantage of analytics to ensure the best ROI.

2. Make your message clear. Transparency is important: Donors want to understand exactly how their money being spent and the impact it will have.

3. Use content. Content marketing is a powerful way to demonstrate to donors what you stand for and to make them passionate about your goals. Use video or link back to a landing page to gain more traction for your message.

4. Take SEO seriously. In order for donors to give money, they have to be able to find you online—so embed social media feeds, ads, blogs and key words to boost SEO.

5. Write a blog. This platform gives you the opportunity to share more about your cause and to tell your brand story.

Also popular among my non-profit clients is the use of custom and turnkey digital apps. These apps can include a host of event or campaign-specific functions such as push notifications, GPS/map features, schedule of events, social media tags, response polling, video links, program updates—the list goes on. As with any brand-promoting effort, the key to non-profit marketing success is to use an integrated strategy that employs multiple channels as part of one seamless campaign.

What is the most memorable non-profit marketing campaign that caught your attention? I’d be interested in hearing from you.

 Brian Phillips