Tuesday, June 30, 2015

PR Advice 101

I want to talk today, a bit more than usual, about DIY publicity. Contacting the press is tricky. You should follow AP standards but you shouldn’t cookie-cut pitches, advisories, etc. Remember, PR is about relationships- not press releases! This said, I have 3 tips for you when it comes to writing and sending emails to the media.

1. Your focus should be on the subject line. Press members are busy! They are pitched by people they do know and don’t know 100 times a day. Plus, they receive emails from peers, their boss, publicists responding to story requests, friends, family, SPAM… their email boxes are flooded. If the email header reads “press release” or “media advisory”… don’t bother sending it. You need a subject line that will stop traffic.

2. Don’t BS a reporter. They hate hype. They can spot hype a mile away. If you use any type of promotional verbs or nouns, they will not only NOT cover you- many will put you on blast via social media. Reporters like quick facts and credible resources.

3. Attach this. Reporters are not going to open an attachment. Forget it. If they’re interested, they will follow a link. Yes, you need to provide two links in your email. One that goes to the media advisory or press release with more information and one that goes to the online media kit.

Remember, you can mess up on AP style, you can pitch the wrong reporter (who will send it to the right reporter almost always), and you can accidentally toss in a spelling error or two- and still get your story covered. Journalists can forgive bad style if the story is good. But, if you’re not doing the basics right (see above), they will never even open the pitch.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Learning to Lead

I was recently asked how I became the leader of my industry. Well, thank you! I love being thought of as the industry leader. But, there is always more to learn and more work to be done. This is why my advice for anyone wondering how to become a leader within their industry is to meet regularly. Yes, touch base with your team. Delegating is a tool to use, not a form of leadership. Don’t let delegating tasks replace regular meetings.

Eric Holtzclaw of Lean Forward recently said,”regular meetings create structure, cohesion and a sense of community. They force accountability, not only for the individuals being assigned tasks or providing updates, but for the leader as well. Regular cross-department meetings encourage communication and learning about what others are doing. Well-run meetings are where strengths and weaknesses are identified faster and improved upon.”

I couldn’t agree more. Mico-managing is not a bad thing. If an employee doesn’t like to be micro-managed, they usually are hiding something. Either they lack accountability, don’t want to be part of the team and the constant meetings irk them, or a whole host of other issues exists. Either way, you’re the boss and you decide how work goes down, right?!

You can’t run a business without checking in and having meetings. You can do this virtually now which means you can take a half hour phone call to get updates from the golf course. You can still live your life and have your freedom without being hands-off when it comes to your business.

Until Friday,

Twyla N. Garrett

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Exit Strategy

Not having an exit strategy is always a mistake. I think people fail to think about and plan for an exit strategy because they have the mindset that failure isn’t an option. Um, no. Failure is always an option and avoiding it as a thought process may be setting yourself up failure! The good news is people, like myself, can learn from their failures.

Even with the best training and the most experience, you should always plan an exit strategy in business. In fact, you should always plan an exit strategy when entering into any contract or committed situation. Knowing the worst case scenario up front can help you navigate your future endeavors. So, yes- I recommend making an exit strategy for your business. But how?

1. Write your business plan and write your exit strategy back-to-back.

2. Succession Planning vs. Selling to an Outside Party- which one is right for you? Should things go wrong, how will you sell your company? Will you sell your company? What if things go right? Will you sell your company? If so, to who?

3. Don’t assume your family wants to takeover the business in the middle of your crisis. Talk with your family about handling your business should a medical or other life emergency arise. Would they be able to (and would they want to) take over your company?

4. Consult with advisers now about your exit strategy (either selling because it’s failing or selling because it’s succeeding). If you don’t hire the right financial, legal, tax and business advisers to help shepherd any sale or consult on an exit strategy from the get-go, you’re doing yourself a great disservice.

Exit strategies are needed. It’s difficult to address when launching a business, but I promise you its even harder to address when going through a time of great wealth or difficulty.

Until Monday,

Twyla Garrett

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Do You Mean What You Say?

“I may be wrong, but…” has to be the single most phrase that drives me crazy. I never understood why someone, anyone, would use this phrase. Basically, it implies that you know or think you’re right- but you don’t have the guts or leadership skills to back up your own opinions or knowledge.

Think about it… how many times have you said, “I may be wrong, but….” ? Why did you say it? Did you say it because you truly are full of self doubt? Did you say it because you didn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings? Did you say it because you didn’t want to come off as arrogant?

Meaning what you say in business is important. There is no room or time for social flattery or playing nice when it comes to being a leader. You have to say what you mean and mean what you say. If someone is saying something that is wrong or that you know will not work, speak up. You will be respected for your opinion. You can present it in a positive manner, too. This said, if you say it with self doubt, no one will be vested in your opinion because you- yourself- are doubting it.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A 1-Question Interview...

We live and operate in a virtual world. In this world, we usually have to interview employees or contractors through Skype of through over the phone. Well, I have one question that will help you pick the right person to hire for your next ‘new hire’ quest – regardless of the position.

So, what is the question? “How is who you are now consistent or inconsistent with the person you were at 10 years old?” Now, look at how they answer the question more than the answer itself. Here’s why; the journey they are on is important. If someone where to say, “When I was 10 I thought I’d be an attorney but I ended up being a computer programmer”- you can ask what happened, get more insight as to thought process, ability to follow through on goals, ability to be distracted easily, schooling for computer programming, accomplishments, etc.

If you pay attention to the journey, the self-descriptions, and what they feel are ‘life events’ of importance between 10 and now- you will discover a lot about the potential new hire and their ability to mesh well within your company’s culture.

Trust me, this question works. A great way to see how effective it is is to simply use it on someone close to you before you use it in an interview. Ask your kids, parents, friends the same question. You will see how much information you gain and learn about them within the scope of their answer(s).

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Monday, June 8, 2015

Are You Harming Your Business?

There are two schools of thought that have been proving right when it comes to killing business or killing a sale. I wanted to share these tips for you, as a business owner, to help my audience understand what NOT to do when it comes to business. If you follow my advice, you will grow your profit margin. So- without further delay- here are the two things that will kill your business;

1. Thinking the customer is always right.

This will kill your margins. Reducing costs, giving away freebies, comping things.... all of these practices will put you out of business. The customer isn't always right. While you want to try and smooth things over with an annoyed client, you don't want to destroy your business in the duration. Think about how to resolve a problem with value added services, not discounts or freebies.

2. Toxic employees.

This should seem obvious but toxic employees can cost you customers and turn off great employees. Bad HR practices will hurt your company. Even poorly behaved contractors can ruin your company. Avoid this problem all together by looking beyond experience and more at attitude. Remember, external customer service starts with internal customer service.

Don't let these two things ruin your company or potential growth. Know that the customer isn't always right and that your employees' bad behavior will hurt your profit margin.

Until Tuesday,

Twyla N. Garrett

Monday, June 1, 2015

3 Tips for Obtaining More Business Using Apps

I’m always asked about what apps are the best apps for business. And, of course, there are different apps that work for different day-to-day business operations. And, as suspected, not all apps are the same. Some actually hinder your business while others can help you take control of your business.

Since, I’m asked about this topic often- I’ve decided to list the 3 apps that I feel can help you boost your customer base and close business. Now, this list will work for most people, but not all people. Businesses are unique and you should take my suggestions as recommendations only. Consider these apps and then decide if they will work for your particular business or not.

1. Product Upsell. This app allows you to offer relevant add-on products to customers based on cart content, total $ in cart or even a combination!

2. Sale Rack is awesome. It helps you obtain new clients and upsell existing ones. With this app you can effectively batch update prices, either to a percentage or to fixed amounts. You can also schedule updates, and easily revert them automatically on selected dates.

3. MaxTraffic Exit Offers. This allows you to drive up business with pop-up notifications and special offers as someone exits your website!

Still have questions? Want me to speak at your next event?

Let us talk!

Twyla N. Garrett