Hand Written Thank You Notes!

11 08 2015

Remember as a child, sitting at the kitchen table, writing thank you notes following the holidays or your birthday? The adults in your life likely had high standards for these notes. They wanted to see notes that expressed your gratitude and showed just how much you appreciated the gift. Those extra sentences about how you planned to use those gifts were always important as well.

Did you struggle to find the right words for those notes? I did!

When you create content for your marketing efforts, you’re doing the same thing. You want to find language and vocabulary that correctly expresses what your potential customers want to hear. When you learn to speak the language of your customers, you’ll have far greater success in reaching them and convincing them to use your products and services.

When drafting marketing materials, your customers want to know you understand their individual issues. They want to feel confident you understand their problems and have solutions. When you speak in language that doesn’t resonate with these customers, you risk losing the connection with them. They won’t be able to internalize your message as well or relate to your advertising campaigns. Choosing the right vocabulary helps to ensure a positive response and a stronger relationship with prospective customers.

Vocabulary in Digital Advertising

In the digital world, selecting the best words goes even further than your connection. It determines if your content will be seen at all. Search engines work to match queries to content based on keywords. Using the same vocabulary as your customers allows you to promote your content naturally. The closer your content matches your potential customers’ queries, the higher it will rank and the easier it will be to find.

The key to using keywords correctly is to use them naturally and focus on producing high-quality content. When people click on your content, they want to find valuable information that answers their questions and helps them solve their problems. If you only produce low-quality, keyword-stuffed content, people will click off your page as soon as they open it. This will lower your click rate significantly because your page won’t have any engagement.

Instead, focus on writing information people will want to read and will find helpful, while also naturally adding in keywords as they fit. This will help your content get found, while also engaging your audience. As more people are attracted to what you have to say, your content will continue to rise in the search engine results, attracting even more viewers.

When you wrote those countless thank you notes all those years ago, you probably had no idea you were preparing for your future in marketing. This was actually a valuable experience in finding the right vocabulary that resonated with your audience. Check your vocabulary to make sure you’re using words your potential customers are most likely to respond to, and get started improving your marketing strategies today.

Empty your cup . . . and what are you working on big!

7 08 2015

I learned something unique today about leadership; empty your cup . . . and what are you working on big.

Daily in my inbox arrives an email from Leadercast (www.leadercast.com). If you don’t know them or haven’t watched any of their videos, you need to visit the website.

The video I watched today was by Andy Stanley, the founder of North Point Ministries (NPM). Each Sunday, more than 36,000 people attend NPM’s five Atlanta-area churches. Following is a snap shop of Andy’s brilliant talk.

Empty Your Cup . . .  here’s what I mean by that. I don’t have everything that it would take to fill your cup in terms of your leadership ability, what you need to know, your skill set. There’s not enough in me to fill your cup. But my responsibility isn’t to fill anybody’s cup as we say in our organization. We say in our organization that our responsibility is to empty our cup. Our responsibility is to find ways to pour into the people around us what we do know, not because it’s all there is to know, but because it’s all we know. It’s all I know.

So we look for opportunities and we use this terminology all the time, what can I do to fill their cup? I’m not going to tell them everything they need to know, they’re already smarter than me, they read more than me, they’re better educated than me, but I want to make sure while they’re working with me, while we’re working together that at some point I have the opportunity to empty my cup so that when they go on to whatever they do or whatever they continue to do in this organization, they will have the advantage of knowing everything that I know about what I’ve asked them to do. One of the most empowering things that you can do as a Beyond You Leader is to look for opportunities to empty your cup.

Men and women who I think, “Gosh, so glad that they’re in this organization, I want to make sure they know what I know about something,” and I’ll say, “Hey, I just want to spend a few weeks together and go through a book together.” “Hey I want us to meet for breakfast for three or four or five Thursday mornings or every other Thursday morning and I want you guys to come up with three questions and just we’ll meet. There’s no agenda, you set the questions, I’ll answer the questions, I buy breakfast.” In a way, it’s just an opportunity to make sure… I’m not going to fill their cup. It’s not even my responsibility, I’m looking for a way to empty mine.

The guy that did this for me years ago was a guy named Charlie who had an outdoor business. He just saw something in me in my late 20s and said, “Andy, lets have breakfast.” And so that began, and every other Tuesday morning breakfast that went on for years and I’ll tell you what, Charlie would walk in, he’d be in a suit, he’d have cuff links, he was all decked out.

And Charlie would sit down and he’d say, “Andy. What are you working on big? What are you working on big?” And I’m like, “Nothing. Nothing.” And I’m thinking like, “Okay, like big in my world is I took 40 kids to Six Flags and I got them all back home safely. Is that big?” He’s on his way to New York to do battle with the bankers because his company is upside down, and he’s talking about things that I don’t even understand. “What are you working on big, Andy? Come on, what are you working on big?” and I’m like, “Nothing.”

But week, after week, after week, Charlie sits down and asks me that question and it finally dawned on me, Charlie thinks I can work on big stuff. Charlie thinks that my life, is the kind of life that maybe one day I have responsibility for the big stuff. And Charlie is still a dear friend of mine after 25, 26 years. And every once in a while when we’re doing something big, we’re raising a bunch of money, or giving away millions of dollars for stuff or building a new building, I’ll get a text from Charlie. He’ll say, “Now that’s big.”

There’s more to the story . . . visit Leadercast to find out why I find the messages so motivating!

What Mom and Pop Shops Teach Us About Customers and Relationships

4 08 2015

Before the age of major chain stores and internet shopping, most towns and cities across the country were served by small “mom and pop” shops. These stores are nothing like the enormous stores found in many places today. Instead, they tended to have a more specialized purpose. These small businesses served people for generations, and many of them were excellent at building relationships with their customers.

The importance of building relationships with customers remains incredibly important, no matter what your company’s size may be. To help you successfully accomplish this, let’s take a look back at what helped those old mom and pop shops stay in business and thrive.

They put the “service” in customer service.

Successful mom-and-pop shop operators really knew how to serve their customers. They paid attention to the people, asked questions about what they sought, and helped them find what they were looking for.

In modern commerce, this translates to establishing your website and business practices to make things as easy as possible for your customers. People shouldn’t have to struggle to find products or contact information on your website. When they call you, they should be put in touch with someone who can actually help them right away.

They knew their customers.

Shops of old knew those who patronized their establishment. They knew them by name and knew their regular purchases.

While this might not be possible (depending on your company’s size), focus on personalizing the experience whenever possible. Create marketing materials that use the customer’s name and company and segment email lists to reflect customer behavior. People are more likely to pay attention and take advantage of offers when they can see how the offer applies to them.

They understood their customers’ needs.

The business leaders of old understood what customers wanted when they came into their establishment. They lived in the community and knew the people. They understood trends and needs. This allowed them to create a business that met those needs and was an important part of the town.

With the advent of online commerce, the communities served by a business (even a small one) might easily stretch across several states, if not across the country or around the world. Even so, it’s still important to speak with your customers whenever possible, and use data and market research to learn what your customers want. Surveys and conversations with regular customers can offer tremendous insight. Track the spending habits of your customers and see how different customer personas are leveraging your products and services. Market research about your industry can also add much needed information to the equation. Combining these different tactics can create a very good picture of what your customers seek; allowing you and your business to meet those needs and exceed customers’ expectations.

Creating a successful business today means building relationships with customers and meeting their needs. In years past, it was the mom and pop shops who had mastered this skill. To learn how to improve your relationship with your customers, you can look to these examples for a few lessons.

Great things begin with paper . . .

12 05 2015

Stafford Printing recently sent our clients a personalized note card and suggested five messages they could write on the card –

1. Create and write down goals for the balance of 2015. Some live life with little or no purpose. Make the most of your great, God – given potential . . .

2. Send a note to someone you know and let them know how you feel . . . why you appreciate them . . . or just to say thank you.

3. Write someone a gift of words.

4. Tell someone you’re sorry, or ask for forgiveness, or apologize for being stubborn, obstinate, hard-headed . . . it’s ok to apologize!

5. Write a to list for tomorrow. It’s a great habit to get into. If you do, and want to do it again, let me know and we will send your more personalized note cards . . . for free!

As I said at the beginning, great things begin with paper. Wish I could take credit for those words. I first saw them on a small notebook received from Hadera Paper, an Israeli paper company.

Great things begin with paper . . .
and its use can lead to an enriching experience.

“Gotta get my head together, gotta get my head some peace.”

10 04 2015

I’m a big Van Morrison plan but the clutter of life got in the way of purchasing his 2012 CD Van Morrison – Born to Sing: No Plan B. I finally get the CD and start listening, and a line from Goin’ Down to Monte Carlo is ingrained in my brain’s memory track – “Gotta get my head together, gotta get my head some peace.”

How much noise is there in life today? We’ve got electronic devices glued to our eyes every waking moment, except when we’re driving – not! Remember when you saw people reading books in restaurants and airports? Not anymore. They’re scrolling through the Facebook news feed, reading about some poor smuck getting served with divorce papers on line, or learning who has announced for political office.

And the scrolling never stops. Our 24/7 communications is driven by billions of people sharing what’s important and what’s not – but sharing still the same. And so I come today to admit, that after a blog post of two years ago, that we’re back. Shame on me for getting caught up in day to day minutiae and not being disciplined enough to sit down and share some thoughts.But I’m going to start giving myself some peace and not be glued to the 24/7 news, or mostly crap, feed!

As Van the Man says, “Got to get myself together, gotta get my head some peace.”

Time Well Spent

7 03 2013

As I read The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk – and watch postings of his talks on YouTube – I’m going to share some thoughts on how his message is impacting myself and the way we do business at Stafford Printing. The impressions won’t always be directly tied to the book. Sometimes a thought or video will lead me to explore another path.

Vaynerchuk talks about being efficient with time – is he “playing the chessboard properly.” And I recall a Ted Talk video I watched last year by Stefan Sagmeister – http://www.ted.com/speakers/stefan_sagmeister.html – titled The Power of Time Off. Sagmeister is a designer who takes a one-year sabbatical every seven years to “rejuvenate and refresh” his studio’s creative outlook.

And then I come across another Ted Talk by Cesar Kuriyama. The idea of taking time off has led him to think about time in another way – one second a day. Cesar is recording a moment each day, equivalent to six minutes, five seconds a year, because he hates not remembering the past. My impulse was to think the clips would all be happy. They aren’t, because life isn’t. There’s a relative in the hospital, the angst of family in the waiting room, with parties and travel and day to day events mixed in. Cesar said the project has invigorated him to do something with each and every day.

The one second visualization triggers a memory and the time blur we all live with may slightly be eased. Smart phones have a camera or video capability. I’m prone to the still picture – I’m in the printing business – and think about printing a one year capsule. It won’t have mass appeal, but my family, a few friends and co-workers will share laughter reflecting on the year. And that will be time well spent.


Gary V at Dscoop8

4 03 2013

Here’s an 11-minute portion of Gary Vaynerchuk’s keynote address at Dscoop8 in Nashville. If you have an interest in social media, Gary is a must study. He is a great American entrepreneur.