Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Adapting Yourself to your Audience

One day my son wanted to wear something to school that could be considered a costume accessory. As a parent, I was torn between two things. On one hand, I wanted him to feel free to express himself creatively, to be who he is and not apologize for it. On the other hand, I was concerned that other children would tease him and break his heart. Ultimately I chose to express my concern and have him make his own choice. Aware of the possibility of being teased, he made the decision to wear what he wanted to.

The situation got me thinking about my own behavior, and how I may curb my language or change my behavior based on where I am and who I'm with. 

With family, I can express myself freely and be silly, but will eliminate words from my vocabulary in front of my children. With close friends, I can tell private stories, share a laugh, or disclose challenges. With clients and colleagues, I try to maintain my professionalism while still being approachable.

Are you the same way? Do you change your language or edit your behavior based on where you are and who you're with? What about on social media?
Especially when you're on social media for business purposes, think about your audience and what would be appropriate. Similar to my discussion with my son, should you be free to express yourself and say what's on your mind and not worry about the consequences or the reactions from others? Or should you be more conservative and express yourself in a professional manner? Ask yourself these questions and establish parameters for your businesses social media. Make sure your posts support your objectives and are in alignment with your brand.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Life and Business: Both a Future-Focused Journey

When starting out in life, our time is occupied by education, jobs, social plans, having fun and dating. For many, what follows is getting married, starting a family and raising children. Overall we are too busy to think about what we should be doing now that would impact our distant future. And then it happens. You turn 30, 35, 40, 45…and everything changes. Suddenly your health is not what it used to be. Your personal list of doctors has gone from one to six, and you realize it takes a lot more energy, time, effort and investment to maintain your health – not to mention the process of actually getting healthy first. You set aggressive goals and you wonder if you'll be able to reach them. You begin to feel a sense of urgency to take care of yourself in hopes of longevity so you can be present for your children.

A parallel existence occurs professionally. When starting out in business, your focus is on gaining customers or clients, placing orders and making daily decisions. With success, you might find you're looking for a bigger building, adding to staff, or improving processes. Overall you’re too busy to think about what you should be doing now that would impact your company’s distant future.  And then it happens. You’re in business for a year, then five years, then ten…and everything has changed. Your business model is outdated, your customers are getting older, the competitive environment is strong and potential customers are looking for new products and services. You used to make all the decisions, but now you need a half-dozen consultants and you realize it takes a lot more energy, time, effort and investment to maintain your business – not to mention growing it. You set aggressive goals and wonder if you will be able to reach them. You begin to feel a sense of urgency for business survival so your company can be your legacy to pass on to your children.

Lesson: Take the time, make the effort, consult experts, and invest in your (personal and business) health NOW. Make considerations for maintenance, remedies, innovation, growth and building strength for your future.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Perception can be a scary thing.

It’s been several days and every day is exactly the same. After a cold damp night, dawn breaks and it starts over again. The ones in charge begin to prepare. I'm not sure if I can survive another day of waiting. Here they come. They can be so judgmental and criticizing. Yet, you have to admire their determination and decisiveness. They know exactly what they want—they want the best. 

I don't know whether to be relieved that I haven't been chosen, or upset that I may not be good enough to ever be chosen. I have heard some of them talk about what they're going to do with us. It sounds uncomfortable. But they speak of the deeds like they’re going to enjoy it. Are they evil? I freeze as one of them comes closer. It is obvious I'm under serious assessment. They call someone over to compare me to another. This might be it. Yes, this is it. It's my turn to leave. Where will they take me, and what will happen once I get there? Are the rumors true? Oh, the suspense. There goes my ulcer… 

I bet you’ve never thought about the pumpkin patch from the perspective of the pumpkin before.  

Have you thought about your business from the perspective of your customer before? You know you're working hard, and you believe you’re doing a great job. But do your customers? What questions might they want answered, but they're afraid to ask? What perceptions or expectations might they have in the absence of that communication?

Your investment in marketing and advertising will surely lead customers to you. But are you doing everything it takes to keep them coming back? Asking the right questions will help keep your business—and theirs— from rotting on the vine.