Tag Archives: fears

Social Media Becomes a Local Resource

By Gail Z. Martin

Google AdWords offers specialized services to target customers within a 20-mile radius from your business. AdWords permits you to add or exclude areas, and can integrate your targeted AdWords campaign with text messaging.

Facebook can serve as a showcase for your community activity. When you host an event that benefits a local charity or sponsor a local sporting team, promote before, during and after the event with updates, photos, Web video and testimonials. Encourage attendees to become part of an ongoing conversation. Many companies successfully use their Facebook page as an instantly updateable second Web site to let their community know what’s going on and to share information and updates.

Twitter has been used by local charities to mobilize volunteers for projects or to alert donors to immediate needs. Animal rescue groups and humane societies have used Twitter to match shelter animals with new homes. Schools have demonstrated Twitter’s ability to alert parents to unplanned closings or to request badly needed supplies or last-minute parent volunteers. Businesses tweet about their upcoming live entertainment, dinner specials, or daily discounts.

Twitter can also help you promote upcoming local events, share photos and video via links, and give your online press releases a broader readership as you tweet news and provide links to coverage you’ve received in local online publications. Your blog can also be an effective part of your online marketing program by sharing the story behind your achievements or by providing deeper insight into what’s happening with your business, which deals and events are coming up, or the news of your industry as it impacts local customers.

Foursquare is an intensely local social media application that makes going about your business or going out for the evening a shared experience treasure hunt. Foursquare users use the site and text messaging to share their current location as they patronize businesses, retailers, entertainment venues. They can become the “mayor” of frequently-visited sites, and can gather their friends to join them on a spur-of-the-moment basis. Foursquare rewards users who are out and about in their local area—and the local companies they frequent benefit as well.

Groupon subscribers can sign up to get special online deals from local businesses. Subscribers indicate their local area and their willingness to receive emails and social media alerts to short-lived discounts from local merchants. Companies sign up to provide limited-time special deals that are only available via Groupon. In some cases, deals are only available if a specified number of people show up to claim it. Groupon makes bargain hunting fun and social while retaining an intensely local flair.

LivingSocial is another site that offers a daily deal from local businesses with up to 90% off the regular price. Once a subscriber buys the daily deal, he/she has the opportunity to forward the deal to friends, and if one of those friends also buys, the original customer gets the deal item for free. It’s a fun way to publicize specials while encouraging customers to tell their friends about your company.

Yelp, Local.com and Citysearch are other sites that capitalize on the concept of “local.”  Not only can they help others to find your company more easily (both online and in person), many of these new locally-oriented sites also encourage customers to rate their recent experience.  Don’t let that scare you off.  If you provide good service and a good product, you have reason to expect most of your ratings to be positive.  Those that aren’t positive provide valuable feedback for you to make improvements, and a highly visible arena in which to demonstrate your great customer service to woo back a less-than-thrilled former customer.

Your neighbors, customers and prospects are online, and they respond to businesses that reach them where they spend their time. Customers also like getting relevant messages and discounts when they’re on the move. Create your own highly local online PR and marketing strategy and reap the benefits!

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Filed under Business Planning, Gail Z. Martin, Strategy

Welcome to the Presidential Suite

By Gail Z. Martin

“Welcome! Right this way.  I’ve got the Presidential Suite waiting for you.”  With those words, the smiling restroom attendant ushered me into a bathroom stall that had plenty of space for me and my luggage.  She walked ahead of me, wiping off any surface I might touch, so that the facilities seemed clean and fresh.  When I emerged, she was waiting to hand me a paper towel.  On the counter was an array of mints, mouthwash and hygiene items, just in case I needed something.  She made sure I got the royal treatment, along with a smile and a cheery word to speed me on my way.

Was this a pricy hotel?  No.  This was the ladies’ restroom in Terminal A of the Charlotte-Douglas Airport.

What’s the lesson?  Here’s someone with a job that many people would not regard as being high status.  But she found a way to really embrace the job and share her personality.  (One attendant in another terminal bursts into Broadway show tunes.  Bathrooms have really good acoustics.)  She gives weary travelers a pleasant experience that transforms something routine into a nice surprise.  She found a way to bring dignity to a job some people might disdain.

It’s one more example of how attitude is everything.  Elinor Roosevelt was right: No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

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Filed under Gail Z. Martin, Gratitude-Giving

The No Excuses Vacation

By Gail Z. Martin

Every year, when warm weather rolls around, you’ll hear them. They’re the ones bragging about how long it’s been since they went on a vacation, as if being a workaholic is a badge of honor.  If you’re terribly unlucky, you’ll be in a room with two or more of these folks, and they’ll start to compete for the dubious honor of who doesn’t have a life.

To that, I say…”Piffle.”

Non-stop work is a recipe for burnout, inefficiency, sluggish thinking, and illness.  Often, it results from a fear that if you can leave the office for a week or more, you become indispensable, and it’s often coupled with an inability to delegate.  More often than not, in my experience, workaholics and non-vacationers are using their overwhelm to keep from thinking about another, deeper problem—a family issue, financial disarray, or relationship problems.

What if you’re short on cash and you’re a one-person shop?  You still owe it to yourself to plan some downtime into your year.  A vacation needs to be a mental and physical rest, but nothing says it has to be long or pricey.

Designate a specific weekend as a no-work zone.  If you’re a gadget junkie, unplug yourself, leave your electronics on the kitchen counter, and spend a day out and about.  Do something you enjoy.  Maybe that’s a walk in the woods, a long drive with the radio blaring, a quiet afternoon spent in a comfortable chair at a coffeehouse with a good book.  Wander through a museum, get some fresh air at a nearby state or national park, or go sit on a dock and watch boats go by.

The point is, disengage from your normal routine, your usual worries, and your day-to-day mental rut.  Don’t stress out about trying not to think about work.  When you find that you’re thinking about work, observe what is happening, and let it go, as if your thoughts are clouds moving past ib the sky.

Whenever I do this, I find that by the end of my no-work zone, my mind is suddenly full of creative solutions to all the things I worried about beforehand.  I’m able to go back to the office with exciting ideas, and I’m mentally and physically refreshed.

Why not try a no-excuses vacation for yourself this season and see what a change of pace can do for you?

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Filed under Balance, Gail Z. Martin

Think, Act and Grow Rich

By Gail Z. Martin

I love Napoleon Hill’s book, Think and Grow Rich.  If you’ve missed this classic, grab a copy from the library.  Hill interviewed the capitalist kings (the great Robber Barons of the early 1900s) to discover the secret behind their enormous success.  What he discovered were common actions, habits, traits and perspectives which, Hill believed, could enable anyone to change his/her fortune if adopted.

While the book is a classic, I think Hill left something important out of the title.  It’s not just enough to think.  To make things happen, you’ve got to act.

When I speak to audiences about social media and business marketing, I’m thrilled when people buy my books and sign up for coaching.  Yet all too often, when I check back with the same people six months or a year later, I find they have yet to act on what they’ve learned.  Predictably, no change has occurred.

Strategic, deliberate action based on a clear idea of what you want to accomplish lies at the heart of every personal and professional success.  Thinking about it isn’t enough—you must DO something to make change happen.

All action begins with a thought, and when the thought sets an intention, change is set in motion.  When you set an intention, you move beyond wishing and wanting and make a clarative statement to the universe about what you will into existence.  This is powerful stuff.  Many mythologies tell us that the universe itself began with a word spoken with intent.  Intention, combined with thought and action, yields amazing results.

Begin by stating your intention.  Be clear, and declare what you want.  For example, don’t just say, “I want to be rich.”  Craft an intention that charts your course, something like, “I intent to reach the million-dollar mark for my company by (date).”

Take the next step by defining your goals.  Prioritize what you want, and be specific.  Next, determine what the critical path of actions must be to achieve your goals.  There is usually a sequence of key events that have to happen in a certain order to make an outcome happen.  Map it out—step one, step two, and so on.

Then, set a timeline.  Something almost magical happens when a desired outcome acquires a due date.  Now, it is an appointment to be kept, a deadline to be met, and not just a squishy wish.

Figure out your Plan B.  While things don’t always go smoothly, chance favors the prepared.  If something interrupts your critical path or delays your timeline, what are your alternatives?

When you think through your goals and act with intent, you become unstoppable. What intention will you set today?

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Spring Happened—Did You Notice?

By Gail Z. Martin

We’ve had an indecisive spring this year: hot one day, cold the next.  But finally, the leaves are out, the grass is green, and the flowers are blooming.  We humans might be confused about how to dress for the weather, but Mother Earth, as usual, turns out in style.

I am always grateful for spring; not just because it is the end to winter, but because it reminds me that life is full of new beginnings.  The dry leaves, dead grass and wilted flowers from last autumn and summer have miraculously become new again.

That’s important, because we all need renewal.  There are plenty of places in my life still filled with dry leaves, dead grass and wilted flowers from seasons long past, and where I haven’t welcomed the new beginning of spring.  I’m working on it, but every time I think I’ve gotten all the mental crabgrass, I turn around and there’s another patch, waiting to be weeded.

What does spring look like in your life?  Maybe it’s a new start for your business, a new exciting project, or a new relationship.  Maybe it’s recommitting to an exercise program, a goal, or a dream.  Maybe it’s the courage to burst forth in blossom after a long winter.

If you’ve still got winter in your soul, perhaps a dose of spring is just what you need.  Begin with gratitude, frame an intention of what you would like to see happen, and turn your intention into action.  Small steps in the right direction are perfectly acceptable.

Embrace spring, and see what a difference it makes!

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Filed under Business Planning, Gail Z. Martin

the Zen of Facebook

By Gail Z. Martin

Does Facebook stress you or help you relax?

Facebook favors selective attention.  I enjoy looking at (and forwarding) blissful pictures, motivational quotes, and funny sayings.  While I often read without commenting, I also enjoy being able to take a short break and get caught up with what friends and acquaintances are doing.

I have a strict “no haters” rule on my page.  I consider my profile page to be part of my public persona as an author and a business person, so I will accept friend requests from anybody who asks (so long as they post in English).  But…posting something hateful will get a person de-friended and their posts removed.  I don’t need to look at that kind of stuff, and I certainly don’t need to be party to sharing it.

Likewise, I stay out of contentious debates.  I have plenty of opinions on topics, but the world really doesn’t care what I think (and if you do, you can read my books).  Too many comments devolve into useless quibbles.  Don’t harsh my mellow!  If it’s an occasional debate I’ll overlook it, but if someone frequently posts contentious items, it’s a guaranteed way to get de-friended, or at least, hidden.

When I participate on Facebook, I try to share information that will educate, empower or inspire, and occasionally, make you laugh.  That’s my tiny contribution in a world that needs a whole lot more knowledge, empowerment, inspiration and laughter.  I am grateful for the amazing ability to use technology that enables me to touch a global audience, and I have set my intentions to

I limit my time on Facebook to first thing in the morning (to post those success thoughts), and occasionally during the day when I need a 5 minute mental vacation.  If you know you can’t go out to Facebook for just 5 minutes, then wait until evening.  If you have difficulty staying focused on business at the beginning of the workday, make a to-do list with one or two action items related to business, go out on Facebook and do them, and then log off.  And if it’s too distracting to get email updates when people post on your page, disable the emails so you have to go out and look.

Facebook can be a good business tool and a fun part of your social life, but it shouldn’t add to your stress.  Try these ideas to help you get into Facebook’s more relaxing qualities, and have fun!

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Filed under Gail Z. Martin, Social Media

Savvy, Successful or Scared of Social Media?

By Gail Z. Martin

Where are you on the social media scale?  Savvy?  Successful?  Or scared?

If you put yourself in the third category, you’re in good company.  So many of the business owners and solo professionals I meet confide that they are afraid of social media.  That fear is holding them back from using a valuable tool that could help them grow their business.  And here’s the good news:  you don’t have to be afraid.

Fear #1: Social Media is Unfamiliar. One way to look at social media that takes some of the fear away is to think of it as a tool like your telephone, mailbox or email.  None of those are very scary, right?  They’re all tools we use to connect with other people, and to have other people connect with us.  Used improperly, we get telemarketer phone calls, junk mail and spam.  But used correctly, we hear from friends, family and clients, receive valuable materials, and reach people around the world.

Social media is one more way to make that connection, to deliver or receive valuable information, and to reach people around the block and around the world.

Fear #2: Social Media Will Take Up All My Time.  Not if you plan your work and work your plan.  Think of it this way: if you walk into a store to browse, you could wander around for an hour.  But if you go in knowing exactly what you want to buy, you can be in and out in 15 minutes.  It’s the same with social media.  Before you log on, have one or two strategic actions you want to accomplish, go do them, and log off.  If there are things that catch your eye that aren’t business-related, save them for your lunch hour or evening.

 

Fear #3: I Might Meet Weird Strangers on Social Media.  Well, you might meet weird strangers at the supermarket, too.  However, on social media, you can choose whose invitations to accept, and if someone you’ve followed or friended turns out not be someone you want to associate with, you can easily unfriend them.  Imagine social media as a huge conference.  You go to meet new people, but if you meet someone you don’t like, you can throw out their business card.  Social media is a big, global conference where you can meet amazing new people, and if you don’t like someone, you don’t have to remain in contact with them.

Fear #4: I Don’t Know What to Say on Social Media.  Social media is a fantastic way to encourage, educate, motivate, inspire, inform and support other people.  If you focus on sharing helpful information, suggesting resources, sharing inspiring or motivating quotes/photos, and throwing in the occasional link to an interesting article, or funny G-rated video or book title, you’ve gone a long way toward offering useful, helpful, and connection-building content.

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Filed under Gail Z. Martin, Social Media

Facing your Facebook Fears – Fear of Facebook: Three Steps to Fear-Free Social Media

By Gail Z. Martin

I’ll never forget the time a lady came up to me at a luncheon and said, “I’ve gotten on Facebook for business and someone I don’t know wants to be my friend.  What do I do?”

She was truly terrified of talking to “strangers” on social media, and yet, isn’t meeting new people at the very heart of business success?

I asked the woman, “If someone came up to you at this luncheon and smiled and introduced herself, would you dive under the table?”  “Of course not,” she replied.  “Well, Facebook is like a big networking luncheon that never stops,” I told her.  And when she thought about it that way, she was suddenly able to make sense of it and it wasn’t nearly so scary.

As I travel and speak to groups, I’m saddened and amazed at how many people are hanging back from utilizing social media because of fear.  So here are three steps you can use to get past your Fear of Facebook and start using social media fear-free.

1.  If you don’t put personal information on Facebook, no one can get it.  This one’s pretty simple.  If you don’t want to take a chance that the world might see certain photos or certain comments, don’t post them.  Period.  If it’s not there, it can’t be copied, forwarded or accidentally leaked.

2.  Give yourself credit.  “Don’t talk to strangers” is good advice for children, but in reality, if you’re in business you have to talk to people you don’t know.  If you opened a store, you wouldn’t stay in business long if the only people you allowed to enter were friends and family. It’s the same on social media.  Use common sense.  Don’t talk about upcoming vacations or times when your house will be empty (talk about your trips when you return, unless someone will be at home while you’re gone).  Never give out your password or account numbers, even if someone seems official.  Keep conversations “business casual” and you’ll be fine.

3.  Make sure you have up-to-date security software on your computer like Norton Anti-Virus or a similar program, and never click on links that look suspicious.  For example, if you’re leery of clicking on a Facebook link in your email, open Facebook in your browser and click through from there.  Don’t open attachments unless you’re sure you know the sender and you know what’s in the attachment. (Good anti-virus software will help with dangerous emails as well.)

Take simple precautious and use the same common sense that you employ going about your business in the real world, and you’ll find that Facebook and other social media sites can enrich your business and personal life.

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Filed under Gail Z. Martin, Social Media