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Archive of ‘Communication’ category

5 Tips from a Presentation Rock Star

I consider myself an outgoing introvert. I don’t like to go to social events, I don’t like to boast about my work and I don’t like to speak in public. So far, my work has spoken for itself allowing me to quietly build a reputation as a knowledgeable digital marketer. But every now and then if we don’t push ourselves, or in my case get shoved, out of our comfort zones we’ll hit a wall and progression will cease.

I was recently given a “stretch” assignment in the form of a 2-hour speaking engagement for upwards of 75 people. The topic was social media marketing, which is a topic I know well and am passionate about. So I knew I could put together two hours’ worth of strong content. But even with great content how do you keep that large of a group entertained and engaged for two hours? I was terrified. But with a lot of research, preparation and some great advice I came out on the other end proud and ready to do it again.

Throughout it all I learned some great lessons. Here are 5 tips that will ensure your next presentation is a success:

1. Doomsday Prep

So this headline might be a little exaggerated, but the number one thing you must do in order to have a successful presentation is prepare for the worst. So many things can go wrong that could potentially throw you off or ruin your presentation altogether. Here is a must-do list to prevent presentation doomsday:

  1. Using video or sound files in your presentation? Take your own speakers. Don’t assume that they’ll be set up for audio.
  2. Upload a copy of your presentation files to Google Drive. It never fails that your computer crashes at the worst possible time. Or maybe you need to hook your computer to a projector and need a copy of your slides close by for reference. As long as you have a copy on Google Drive, you can view them on any computer.
  3. Bring your own VGA cable. They may have a projector for you, but they don’t know what setup you’ll have. So they expect you to bring your own connections.


2. Videos are Your Friend

No matter how entertaining you are, two hours is a long time for a large group to listen to you speak without getting bored or distracted. Videos can be a fantastic way to break up your presentation and keep your group entertained. It’s also a great way to illustrate real-world examples of how other people and organizations have successfully implemented (or poorly implemented) the strategies, methods and skills you’re presenting on.

There are several ways to include video in your presentation. It is possible to embed a YouTube video in your PowerPoint slide deck, but it isn’t my first suggestion. First of all, it’s difficult to do. You have to use the developer controls within PowerPoint and you have to have several plugins downloaded. If you’re successful in getting the video embedded, there’s still no guarantee that the place you’re presenting at will have the bandwidth to play the video glitch free.

Your best option is to download the video directly from YouTube (or wherever you’re getting it from) as an MP4. With a quick Google search, you can find simple, two-click instructions for downloading and saving a copy of a YouTube video as an MP4 file. Then, when it comes time in your presentation to play your video, you can flip over to your computer’s media player and play the file directly from your hard drive, or wherever you have it saved.


3. Don’t Rehearse

When you rehearse your presentation, you sound rehearsed when you deliver your presentation. The best presentations don’t feel like presentations at all. They feel like a conversation. You still need to know your content. Like really know your content. Spend your rehearsal time getting familiar with the order of your slides, the content in your slides, and any additional information necessary or relevant to the content you’re presenting. If you really know your material, it won’t sound like your reading from a script and you’ll be able to making that personal connection with your audience so that they feel like they’re part of a two-way conversation even if they’re in a room with 100 other people.

4. Give them Distractions

Give your audience something to do with their hands during your presentation. Candy or small trinkets (stress balls, mini play dough, etc.) on the tables to play with will actually aid concentration and memory instead of distract. They’ll be more likely to mess with those than they’re phones and devices.


5. Keep It Real

Think of your audience as B.S. detectors. Don’t try to make up an answer to a question you don’t know the answer to. If you start to tap dance, they will call you out. Maybe not immediately, but you can guarantee it will show up in your evaluation or on social media. The best thing to do is keep it real. Be honest with them. Tell them that you aren’t sure about their question, but offer a solution. Give them your card or get theirs and tell them that you’d be more than happy to look into it for them and get them a good answer or connect them with someone who can. But make sure to follow through with your promise.

Now you’re ready. Take a deep breath, be yourself and you’re going to be a rock star. Good luck and be sure to tell us how it goes! Do you have a special presentation tip or trick you’d like to share? Leave it in the comments, because secrets are no fun.

Web Seminar Recap: Why Your Marketing Department Needs a Great Writer

Content marketing is more than picking keywords and dispersing them throughout a blog post. Now more than ever SEO is based on relevant content. Even better, the success of emails, landing pages, PPC campaigns and website traffic depends on good writing. What can you do right now that can help?

In this one-hour long web seminar presented by  Katie Cothran on ”Why Your Marketing Department Needs a Great Writer”, participants discussed:

  • The relevance of content marketing in SEO
  • Why good writing matters
  • Making sure your next marketing team member can write
  • Steps to improve current content marketing skills with writing

Agile Marketing can help you both replace Big Bang campaigns and enhance them by using smaller “experiments” to make them more effective.

Tune in to improve your content marketing skills with writing by downloading the recording and slides from this web seminar!

Customer Loyalty: Determining Flight Risk

After two years of class in B-school, one thing you learn is how much Academia likes to use 2×2 models (or similar models). Most of the time, these models are more of a way to give a simple representation to help with retention of a complicated or abstract concept, but sometimes they are actually helpful.

One I was recently shown looks at the idea of Customer Loyalty. While customer loyalty is one of the most studied and discussed topics, in day-to-day business we often neglect it. Most agree that customer retention is critical to business survival (and prosperity), but then we turn around and spend more time and investment in generating new leads and potential customers. To a fault, we tend to lump the world into past customers and people have not purchased. We take our past customers for granted and expect their business to just continue. Look at the cable industry for one. Anyone who has ever had cable will tell you that the industry rewards new customers and does whatever they can to hold their current customers hostage. But yet, while we scream and yell about this tactic, we too neglect our current customers in favor of winning new business. We devote entire departments and budgets to new businesses, but do we do the same for our current customers?

With that said, my challenge to you (the reader) is to take another look at your current customers? Who are the truly loyal? Who are you holding hostage? Who is about to escape?

Flight Risk of Your Customers

This post is not intended to make you better at customer retention. The goal here is to get you to reevaluate how you look at your customers to determine who is really loyal and what relationship you need to cultivate.

Below is a two-by-two model that I think presents an interestingly simple way to look at why and how some customers are loyal. It uses Customer Behavior and Attitude to get a deeper understanding of their Loyalty.


Loyals (blue): These are the simplest to understand. These people are your evangelists. They are extremely loyal in both their behavior and their attitude. They act as referrers and offer testimonials. You goal is to push more and more people into this box, but the question to ask yourself is, ‘How many of your customers really fall into this box?

Non-Loyals (yellow): These people are not disloyal. All people are loyal. They just aren’t loyal to you, hence the name non-loyal. They do not buy from you, so their loyalty behavior is low. They do not speak highly of you or refer others because their loyalties lie in other places. Your goal here should be to understand why these people don’t choose you? ‘Do your products not align with their needs? Does your core competency not align with what they want? Or are you neglecting a part of the market?’

Spurious Loyals (green): These are your highest flight risk. They are loyal in their behavior (repeatedly buy), but their attitude towards you is  low. An extreme example of this is your cable provider. You renew your contract, but if there was a better option you could easily be lured away. Another example of this might be a fast food restaurant close to your office or home. ‘Do you go there as often as you do because you are loyal? Or do you go because of proximity/convenience?‘ The question to ask yourself is, ‘Is your customer doing business with you because they want to, or are they doing it begrudgingly?‘ The goal here is to understand why their attitude towards you is low because if a competitor identifies that first, you will quickly lose these customers that you probably currently count on. My guess is, you probably have a much larger percentage of your portfolio in this box then you think.

Latent Loyals (pink): These people have a very positive attitude towards you, but their behavior does not match. A prime example of this would be your luxury goods. There are people in this world who are extremely loyal to Porsche though they have never owned one. People believe in your product, but do they buy it? Price is not the only factor here though. They might believe your product is high-quality and great for others, but have a misalignment with their own particular needs. Understanding why these people have a positive attitude can help you better understand some of your issues with your other loyalty boxes, but the question you must ask yourself is, ‘Why are these people not buying? Do I really understand their needs?

So where do your customers lie?

What percentage of your past customers make up these different boxes?

What are you doing to understand their behavior?

What are you doing to understand their attitude?

Managing Social Media Remotely

This past summer I spent 12 weeks in Boston. I won’t go into the specific circumstances of why I was there, but I can tell you it was wonderful. Running by the Charles River, living in Back Bay, enjoying the city’s rich history, beer selections and glorious food. I’m still in my 20s, and I fit in perfectly with the college-town demographic.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to get a job such as waiting tables, bartending or otherwise. To fund my travels, I instead tried my hand at working remotely. I won’t write a love letter to the Internet, but I do appreciate that I live in a time when it’s entirely possible to work from home, or in my case, work from vacation.

I bring this all up, not to start a “my summer was better than yours” competition, but to highlight how I managed social media for Raleigh-based companies 12 hours away. Hopefully, I can provide tips to those of you who manage accounts with target audiences in another geographic location entirely. Or, if you do a lot of consulting work, perhaps this will help you feel more confident when pitching to a client across the country.

What was it like? (more…)

Social Media in the Government

To learn more about this topic, join us for the free web seminar October 21st, Social Media in the Government.

Recently, I attended an event in which various presenters spoke about different ways social media has changed parts of life. There were the obligatory things, such as “marketing” and “networking” and the less expected things, such as “parenting.” What really threw me for a loop was “government.”

Government? According to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 83 percent of people disapprove of Congress. President Obama’s approval is now lower than it has been in the past two years. In fact, according to a Reuters poll, the only thing less popular than our federal government seems to be invading Syria. Social media may be changing the government, but is it for the worse?

At least, that was my initial reaction. Then Raleigh City Councilman Bonner Gaylord stood up and gave an excellent speech about innovation and government’s attempt to engage citizens through social networks.

“Social media is changing the way we interact with our government,” Gaylord said. “It’s changing from a top-down hierarchy to a bottom-up citizen-led democracy.” (more…)

5 Steps for a Basic Facebook Advertising Strategy

Learn to maximize your business and sales potential with Facebook advertising and more in our social media training course.

It’s fast becoming a reality: In order to do well on Facebook, you’re going to have to spend money. Now that there are so many advertisers on the social network (more than 1 million), it’s nearly impossible for a page to get noticed organically. There’s too much competition.

It’s unfortunate, but I can’t really blame the social network — it’s got stockholders now, and stockholders tend to avoid displaying loyalty when you’re not producing revenue. Like it or not, in order to increase your exposure, you’ll need to fork over some cash.

Perhaps you’ve known this and you’ve been putting it off. It looks confusing, you say. CPC or CPM? Targeting? And what in the world does “bidding” mean? Better just to avoid the whole thing.

Sorry, but keeping your head in the sand is a terrible approach, and you’re not doing your business any favors.  Hopefully these five steps can get you started through the process.

Step 1:  Design your ad (more…)

How to Improve Your Business with LinkedIn

A Summary from the New ASPE-ROI White Paper

LinkedIn has become one of the most powerful tools in the marketing, sales and business worlds. The power of connecting with thousands of people by the click of a button has immense potential, yet some people just don’t know where to start, or worse, they’re doing it wrong and turning potential customers into jaded audience members.

The new ASPE-ROI white paper by Christina Motley, Improving Your Business with LinkedIn:  Mastering the Art of Networking to Increase Leads and Engage with Customers, not only explains the history of LinkedIn, it advises on conventional practices within LinkedIn and gives you detailed steps that will help you connect with more people, engage current customers, and be in the forefront of potential customers mind’s when they need your service or product. Here are a few key items covered in this white paper about LinkedIn: (more…)

Think You Can’t Measure the Value of Social Media? Think Again.

About a month ago, I had an identity crisis. I am an account manager at a firm that does social media marketing for small businesses, and I had all but tweeted myself into burnout.

I swear, I would think, drowning amidst Google Alerts and the ever-updating Hootsuite feeds, if I have to cleverly craft one more status update … It’s a wonder one of our clients didn’t end up “getting’ slizzard” with the Red Cross. Even for people that love social media, the feeling of being trapped in a bottomless pit can get overwhelming.

In the end, a break wasn’t even what I needed — I just needed to know there was a point to the hours and hours of work. While I had noticed great uptakes in engagement with our accounts, I had no way of knowing whether the comments and follower counts were actually doing anything. Was there a social side to social media?

I asked one of our clients, a wedding venue, if I could write a case study on our work. “Did we increase sales?” I asked with the aggressive urgency of an investigative reporter. “If not sales, then business leads? How has business changed since you started working with us?” (more…)

How Social Media Can Replace Your PR Team

Quick quiz: Butter is to bread as social media is to … any guesses?

Yes, PR. Good job for reading the title. Public relations, or the more euphemistic business communication, and social media are a match made on eHarmony. PRoper communication is a business PRerogative, and social media is PRimed for exPRession.

But wordplay aside, is it possible to replace all your PR tools (meaning pitch letters, media lists, press conferences, etc.) with Twitter and company? If you’re a small business, I argue that yes, you can. You’ll still have to hammer out the occasional press release, and your media lists will become blogger lists, but social media harnesses the power to do everything else. And because of its low—read free—price, it’s very economical as well. (more…)

Using Social Media as Your Marketing Department

Boil away all the extraneous (but still very important) steps to launching a business, and you’re left with a two-step process. After the legal rights have been established, the employee handbook written, the contracts signed, the balance sheet created, you’ve got a business model that applies to every organization in the world:

1. Create a product or service.

2. Market it.

I firmly believe you can accomplish step two entirely through the use of social media. This is the one type of marketing in which the opportunity cost is not financial but temporal. However, given that you won’t be spending time designing fliers or setting up ridiculous banner ads, even that will be minimal. (more…)