Tag Archives: business communications

Inc. Magazine Tips: How to Write an Employee Moral Proposal

To write an excellent employee moral building program, do specific research

Inc. Magazine outlines simple tips for improving morale of your employees. If you are charged with writing a proposal or morale-boosting program for your team, Inc. provides great basic research and tips on what most employees value. Read the full article in the link at the end of this post.

However, I suggest going further. Consider doing background research on morale-building programs focused on your industry.  You can then include this information in your the executive summary to support the specifics of your proposal.

In general,  most employees need on-the-job recognition, says Inc. They need to know they are valued. Listen to their input, acknowledge anniversaries and birthdays.  And get to know your employees. If you have employees who are upbeat and already have great employee morale, they will spread a good vibe. Spread it around. Put them in projects and situations so their positive attitude becomes contagious. Read the entire article here.

But don’t forget to look further. Dig deeper to find research for morale-building program techniques that work best in your company culture.

http://www.inc.com/guides/2011/01/10-tips-for-boosting-employee-morale.html

Seven Small Business Sales Secrets Revealed: Are You Smarter than a Girl Scout?

Savannah

Who knew I could find small business sales secrets In the bone-chilling weather of an Illinois February, on a suburban street? Joe and Tonia Elkins took turns huddling in the car to warm up. They were escorting eight-year-old daughter Savannah on her Girl Scout cookie sales route. In the twilight, the little girl trekked from house to house never once returning to the vehicle. She was on a mission, as they say, with a clear goal: to sell 250 boxes of girl scout cookies.

“I was surprised at her persistence and drive,” said Mom, Tonia, about the third-grader. “It was so cold. Even on days when she wasn’t feeling well, she insisted on working at the cookie booth, too.  She wouldn’t miss a thing.”

Does figuring out sales techniques give you information overload?

Every day, authors print, tweet, and blog on small business marketing and small business sales topics; it’s tough to keep up.

To get back to the basics, I took a few quick lessons from this mini-marketing powerhouse.

Persistence + Age-Old Strategy = Small Business Sales Success

Savannah obviously possessed the persistence of a sales person. However, she also had learned  sales and marketing strategy to go along with it.

Well, why not? She was an old hand at selling, with several years of experience under her Girl Scout tunic. She had entered school–and Brownies—early and been developing her sales and marketing skills since the ripe old age of four.

In this interview, in her own words, she invites us to learn from her experience.

Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies

Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Savannah’s Seven Secrets of  Superior Small Business Sales: Let’s Talk

Do you like to talk to people about, and to sell the cookies?
(Even though) I’m kind of shy, . . .  I do like it.”
Secret #1–Ask for the sale:
Savannah’s first secret is to overcome fear and shyness and simply ask for the sale. She admits she’s shy—but asks for the sales anyway.  I’ll admit that this can be the hardest part of small business selling for me.  I’ll provide all the information on my service and sometimes I blow it by not asking for the sale.

Did you have a goal, a number of boxes, that you wanted to sell?
“(My goal was) 250 Boxes and I BEAT IT, too! (I did it) and earned the $25 Walmart gift card.” Originally Savannah’s goal was much higher, but Mom encouraged her to set a more realistic sales goal.
Secret #2–Set a clearly defined reasonable sales goal; expected success breeds motivation: Her second strategy was to set a sales goal that could be reached within the allotted time frame. After setting her sights too high, she more reasonably chose to sell 250 boxes so that she would receive a concrete reward for reaching her goal. How about you? Do you set reasonable monthly and quarterly sales goals? What happens when you don’t reach them?  Can you lower your sales goals, reward yourself, and try for slightly higher goal next quarter? Success breeds motivation.

Do you have secrets for selling cookies?
“I’m cute!”
 Secret #3Know your marketing strengths, and use them:  Okay. At age eight, Savannah has obviously received feedback that we may not get.  But, she understands what works for her and then uses it.

Which methods or aspects of your personality work for you in small business sales and marketing? Can you make a list of your last ten sales and under what circumstances they occurred?  How do you best connect with your customers?

“And I know about the cookies since I’ve been doing it for four years.”
Secret #4–Have thorough product knowledge and the ability to convey those benefits to your customers: Savannah knows her product–those cookies.  I personally didn’t know that there are twenty kinds of Girl Scout cookies available. But Savannah’s customers did know it and they tested her knowledge.

“One lady we didn’t know said she liked to hear the girls pitch their own sales. She told me Savannah definitely knew her stuff,” said Mom.

Likewise, you know your business; however, when someone asks you in-depth questions about a product or service you offer, can you clearly explain these details? And in a manner that focuses on the benefits your customers will receive? This moves you toward closing the sale.

“I know good neighborhoods to sell at. Go to the same places every year, they remember you.” 
Secret #5–Understand your target market. Concentrate on repeat business: Savannah realizes where her target markets are geographically. And she knows repeat business is good business.  Customers you have done business with before are good customers the second—or third– time around.

“Choose a neighborhood where a relative lives. A lot of people only buy from you if you live on that street–or know someone who lives there.”
Secret #6–People buy from people they know and like. And through referrals: Savannah also understands that cold calling is tough. She didn’t sell in just any neighborhood–she knew it was better to sell to those folks in her own neighborhood first because they knew her personally. Then she moved on to work referrals. Her referral business came from going to neighborhoods where her relatives lived. “Hi, I am Savannah, your neighbor Brittany’s niece.”  Smart, huh?

How do you work this strategy? Is everyone you know personally aware of your product line or service? Are you expanding your potential customer base by using friends of friends? How so?

Savannah, what is your favorite part of selling cookies?
“Making the customers happy giving them their cookies.”

Secret #7–At the end of the day, it’s keeping your customers happy that counts. Savannah is a natural because she truly enjoys the relationships she builds with her customers when she delivers the cookies. Are your customers happy with your product or services?  Are you sure? Are you asking?  How?

Next time I feel overwhelmed with a barrage of information on sales and marketing, I’ll remember I don’t need to know everything. I’ll just remember Savannah’s tips;
and–this cutie is my great-niece!

Getting back to basics clears my mind and boosts my business.

How about you? Do you have sales secrets from unusual sources to share?

Step Away From the Computer: The Best Kept Secret to Great Content Writing

Lessons I Couldn’t Learn Online

“Give up!” begged my hands. “You have googled,” they moaned. “You have bookmarked,” they barked.  “One of us has tendinitis!”

“Look hands,” I answered.  “I ‘m learning ‘how to write social media,’ so I’m studying posts on ‘how to write social media.’”

But my hands were right. I realized I wasn’t learning much. My posts weren’t bad. But compelling?  Not even close.

Throwing convention to the wind, I unplugged. I ignored the internet. I went out and bought a real notebook– one with paper. I registered for a Social Media Writing class at UC Berkeley Extension that (gasp) met in a classroom.

Why I learned in class

What was I missing online? The following lessons:

1. A compelling blog post is first, a well-written blog post. Craft comes first. Readers know the difference.

2. There is no better place to learn to write well than in a class of writers.  With my work splashed across the screen for weekly discussions, my motivation to edit jumped a notch–or three.

3. A well-thought out writing process is as important for creating social media content as it is for other written work. An instructor well-versed in the form can provide clear guidelines.

4. Feedback and class discussion are far more educational than pages of internet flotsam.

How to Improve Your Content Writing:
Tips courtesy of my real-life classmates:

  • Build a structured framework; add elegant content: Create a clear path through your content with structure: headlines, subheads, and lists.  Add text with flair. Edit concisely.
    Ciana– topic, brand development
  • Produce passionate pieces: Convey enthusiasm—it’s contagious. You will create a voice that persuades your audience. David– topic, internet safety
  • Hone your writing craft:  Want to be taken seriously? Write well. Professionals seek advice from other professionals. Work on mastering the language. Laurel– topic, microbusiness
  • Use a personal point-of-view: Don’t hide who you are. Your unique point-of-view breathes life into your content. People do business with people they like; readers read authors they want to know. Catherine—topic, travel photo app
  • Look close-to-home for topics: Readers relate to concrete examples. Personalize the abstract with close-to-home examples.  For example, are you writing about going “green?” Place the sustainability issue directly in the hands of your readers.  Suggest they hold– and consider– the destination of a Starbucks disposable cup.  Kathrin–topic, sustainability
  • Don’t be an expert: Not a topic expert? No problem. Just let your readers know your stance.If you are undergoing a career change or learning a new skill, write as you learn. Your readers will appreciate a jargon-free take on a well-worn topic. Judy–topic,  real estate
  • Experiment for results: Work smart not hard. Don’t be afraid to try different approaches for FB, Twitter and your blog. Then measure audience feedback. To save time and effort, multipurpose content. A press release can become a blog which can become a great Tweet, and so forth. John–topic, coupon website
  • Make them laugh:  Not everyone can be funny, and not everyone should try. But if you can write humorous content, your readers will remember and return for more.
    Daniel–topic, music

Do you think social media writers should excel at the writer’s craft?

How do you gauge the effectiveness of a social media writer?