Taking it on one spoonful at a time!

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In the words of Ben Franklin

I recently sat through an online tutorial for a work tool that would enable us to host online meetings and webinars.  This is a great idea and we have tossed it around for a while now without committing to a particular product.  We know what we want, and now it is time to find the best product for the agency. We are still very much a live seminar / workshop group for the time being. We’ll get there eventually, and probably sooner rather than later.

I am someone who spends a tremendous amount of time on the internet for my job, so I was tasked with researching the pros and cons of the each of the products on the market to see what will best fit our immediate and future needs.  One way I start this process is to search YouTube for product demonstrations.  That’s the no obligation way to give something a pretty fair once over before narrowing down your choices, so that is what I did.  With one demo in particular, I subjected myself to 6 minutes and 27 seconds of unpreparedness from a presenter who now holds the title of “unprofessional” in my mind.  This person clearly wasn’t ready to record this 16+ minute webinar.  Here are the issues I found with the presentation.

  • Poor Sound.  She was either on her cell phone in her car or had a horrible speaker / wireless mic that she was using.  It was hard to hear, faded in and out, and sounded as though she was speaking through a tin can.  If you are going to record a demo it really should be done in a controlled environment with quality equipment.
  • No Script.  The presenter clearly did not write out her script ahead of time, nor did she rehearse it. A presentation should make the listener believe that you are the expert which means that you should be prepared with exactly what to say in proper, clear grammatical sentences.
  • Disorganized.  This person did not have an organized plan, agenda or flow to her demo.  She was all over the place in terms of the points she was making and the features she wanted to show.  She clearly was presenting from memory, going back and forth between the features she knew and the features she had forgotten to explain to the viewer.

Here’s the bottom line from someone who has been a presenter and communicator for her entire career. If you are going to provide content to the public it should be professional.  If you are going to educate people you need to sound and appear as the expert, not someone who puts things together on the fly.  First impressions can also be last impressions with no opportunity for redemption.  Worse than that, the aftermath of a poor presentation may not be immediately apparent and may come in the form of poor online reviews or even video rants.  Take pride in your work and take the time to put it together in a nice package that potential clients want to revisit time and time again. They will even refer your presentation to others if it is informative and interesting.  Remember the words of Benjamin Franklin when he said “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”


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Attention To Details Right Down To The Pictures

I came across a situation recently that stopped me in my tracks. Not because I did not know that you should not do this but more so because I should share it with you. I take it for granted not to do stuff like this and have never done it, but,it’s worth mentioning nonetheless.

In this grand and sometimes complicated game of social media, it’s pretty much a given that all posts if they are not video, must have a picture included. There are many reasons for this, most of which have to do with wow factor, intrigue and attention grabbing. Since we began using the internet to engage with our clients we have evolved from the basic posts to GIF’s and graphic attachments as a device to make us louder in the deafening and level playing field known as the Internet. Not everyone jumped on board right away so some were late to the game and a little behind the eight ball in learning the do’s and don’ts of social etiquette. It’s pretty much how we as humans learn.

When it comes to utilizing pictures with your posts for your business or even selecting pictures to use on your website you should use pictures that help to clearly convey what it is exactly that you do. We sell auto insurance and when we post about auto insurance we use pictures of cars. When we talk about benefits we use pictures of happy families and if it’s a blog about wedding insurance we use pictures of wedding rings, a bride and groom or something that makes sense. People understand what we do when they come to our website in part because we use the right pictures to help convey the message. Everyone wants to stand out on the Internet over the masses of others doing the exact same thing we are doing. If we don’t should louder than the the rest we won’t be as likely to catch the eye of prospects.

NOT using the right pictures can be a big problem especially in the insurance industry when it comes to taking out a new policy for your business. You want to stand out but you should do so in the right way and for the right thing. If insurance companies need to research you before they insure your company they will go to your website & your social media pages. This will help them decide if you are a risk they can or want to insure. For example, if you build buildings then you shouldn’t have much trouble clearly and accurately conveying what you do. Use pictures of buildings in all stages of the construction process.  IF however your business makes decorative pieces that adorn a building or a marine vessel, such as gold pull handles or maybe even dental molding or you make hub caps for luxury vehicles, the photos you use on your website should clearly show those items and not the product they accessorize. If the insurance company cannot tell what exactly you do or is confused by what you say and depict that you do, you may find yourself in a pickle when trying to get your insurance bound.

If you aren’t sure about how you are portraying yourself, ask someone who isn’t in the business or give your agent or one of our FBinsure Risk Advisors a call for help

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5 Things I love about the new LinkedIn set up

linkedinIf you haven’t seen it yet, LinkedIn has a brand new look! The new layout is closer to what we are accustomed to seeing in our use of sites like Facebook and Twitter. The old layout was what I would consider choppy and a bit distracting.  Ad’s and suggestions consumed a large portion of the pages and quite frankly derailed a users focus to the point of coming up for air an hour later wondering what it is you came for and what you actually accomplished.

The new layout makes visual sense and seemingly has a much better flow.  The annoying ads and suggested contacts are now in one place.  Now I come and actually achieve what I set out to get done.   Five of the the new layout features that I really like include:

  • “Always on top” Navigational menu at the top menu bar.  This menu doesn’t disappear if you cease to hover over it and sub menus don’t just pop up.
  • Improved navigational set up making it easier to see and search your network.
  • Clear count of your connections.  The old layout of the network connections page didn’t list how many connections you had not to mention you had to keep turning the page for the next 10 people.  The new layout is a continuous scrolling list that make it easy to find someone, message them or disconnect from them.
  • The job list for the companies you follow and for the preferences you set up are easy to see, change and save.  Also, the “Post a job” feature is in a place where it finally makes sense.
  • All of the notifications are easy to see, respond to when YOU want to respond to them instead of taking up real estate on the side bar of your profile page.

Long story short is that I approve of the new layout.  I find it easy to navigate around and it is inviting.  It takes your mind off the choppiness of the layout and puts it on finding what you came for.  Bravo LinkedIn.  It’s about time you caught up with the times.

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Are You Missing Out on 82%?

Social Media is an ever evolving tool for business. Keeping up can be challenging but not as challenging as not participating at all. Are you using social media as part of your business plan? If you are then you know how much work it can be. The work it takes to engage your clients socially is absolutely worth it if you do it right and are consistent, responsive and playing in the right arena for your target audience. If you aren’t using social media, why not? If you are looking for a good place to find and engage with prospects, overlooking social sites is a big mistake. Here are some of the top reasons NOT to pass up social media as a business tool and some do’s and don’t s when using it.


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It’s a Give and Get Game!

friends-social-fingersI always teach people that one of the first things they should do when setting up a social media presence that they should like their vendors, partners and corporate clients.  This group is what is known as industry peers and are one of the greatest resources you will have as you bring your message to your target audience.  They will be the group you get the most help from when you are wondering what in creation you will post about today.  This group is like sitting in a room full of people with great ideas who are just shouting them out into the ever growing stream known as your newsfeed.  They are just begging you to share their information, and you should.  Why?  Because it’s just like your parents told you when you were little.  Share and share alike.  If you share then other people are inclined to share with you as well.

Maybe you are now saying to yourself, “self, I don’t care if they share my stuff” so it doesn’t matter anyway.  Uhm..YES you do!  You do because each time someone shares your post or blog or infographic it’s like being on the Jumbotron at The Fleet Center instead of just talking to the people around you in the nosebleed section.  Your message instantly goes out to all of their followers which is how you organically grow your faithful readers provided of course that you are sharing valuable content with them.  It happens one Like at a time. It can also be likened to attending a networking event where the host takes you around the room and systematically introduces you to many of the guests.  These efforts open the door that would have been much harder to open alone.

Now this alone will not rocket you to fame or instant sales success but it isn’t about that.  It’s about developing relationships. It’s about investing the time where time is best used and gains the most ROI.  One hand washes the other in this game of social prowess and you too must do your due diligence in order to keep yourself in good standing with those who are willing to share your message.  This post is a spark of thoughts based on another post I just read that discusses the specific things you can do to maintain these relationships.  Nothing is ever truly free and everything takes work, something this upcoming generation may need more of an understanding about. That fact aside, get to know who your industry peers and resources well.  Make friends with these groups and be a regular contributor to their communications.  This will be an effort that does not go unnoticed and will come back ten fold.

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Please Don’t!

just don'tAs I troll through my daily ritual of reading what the masses have produced in the last 24 hours I am more and more appalled at what I see.  The sheer lack of concern for posting decent material is astounding.  Misspelled words, missing words, the lack of understanding at how to properly use bullets so they are sequential and just the blatant misuse of the English language leaves me scratching my head.  Yes, this is a game and a war to attract followers.  Yes, some people will follow the ones that have the most content versus good content.  Yes, there are some who will just follow anyone.  I for one have never been a follower just to be part of the group.  I will follow you if you have something to offer me.  I will follow you if I can get through your entire post without having to re-read it five times.  If I can’t read it easily then I won’t stay and finish it.  At the point of no return when I click the magic “X” to close your horrendous block of words, I am frustrated beyond words and hope never to come across information you are “sharing” again.  Please don’t share if you don’t care to read your own work before posting.  Even with this short blog I have read it three times and made as many corrections.  It may not win any writing awards but it has all the right words which are spelled properly and aligned for the quick read.  It should be part of your process too.

Life is crazy and time is on the short side but that is no excuse for poor quality.  I would rather you just kept your thoughts to yourself so I am not distracted by your eye-catching title that ends up being a waste of my time and screams I DON”T CARE!

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Tell A Story

story to tellEveryone loves a good story!  Stories have been told for thousands of years dating back to the beginning of time.  We document events which then become stories that are repeated and shared.  As children we asked our caretakers to read us stories from books that were created from some persons experience or imagination.  We love to hear and to tell them and in this day and age of social media we love to share, post and comment on the stories we read.

There is something about telling a story that continues to capture an audience.  Comedians tell stories, motivational speakers tell stories, teachers and leaders tell stories to help their respective audiences understand their message and to elicit the correct response.  Comedians want you to laugh at the punchline of their jokes.  Motivational speakers want you to feel emotion as a call to action. Leaders want their followers to understand the repercussions of inaction in order to sway them to take the appropriate action.

Today it seems that time is in short supply.  Whether we are at home trying to take care of our responsibilities and families or attending to our ever growing plate of responsibilities at work, time is not abundant.  Do more with less is the expectation on all fronts.  So how do we successfully sell ourselves and our brands to customers fighting the same problem?  How do we make the most of the allotted time we have and the few moments that our audiences will grant us? Stories.  Stories make people stop and take a pause.  We click on stories in our news feeds because we want to be in the know.  We stop and read the headlines on the doorstep newspaper because most of us are social creatures with an insatiable need to know.  We just can’t leave a good story alone.

Social media is a way for us to share what we do and sell in a story.  If someone reads that my company sells insurance they may not care because they already have insurance and let’s face it, it it ain’t broke…..  If however that same person reads that my CEO went to the home of one of our insureds on a holiday because their home burned down (true story by the way), they are likely to wonder why their insurance agent didn’t do the same for them or someone they know.  Chances of us getting a new customer after an event like that are much higher because they read a story that impacted them in a much different manner than a black and white newspaper ad.

Sell what you do to people in a format that appeals not to their wallet or even strictly to their needs but to their emotions.  By doing so in a fashion that shows that your character runs deeper than your logo and stronger than the staple on the contract, people will take notice.  People love a good story and by changing the way you present yourself you’ll likely change the outcome of your efforts.