How to Be or Not Be In a Digital World

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 3.15.06 PMWe’ve watched online presence transform from a hobby or a pastime into a mandatory, crucial, and overwhelmingly powerful tool practiced by everyone familiar with the World Wide Web. What is fast becoming clear is that 10 years from now, online presence will replace resumes and will serve as our business card whether for professional purposes or social and romantic ones. This reality lends urgency to the question of how we, average Joes, promote ourselves on the web? How do we become our own content marketing, SEO, and copywriting team?

Gone are the days of posting whatever feels right at the spur of the moment anywhere and everywhere on the web. The good old days of carefree frolicking on the net have made way to a new and very different kind of web presence. This is the time of the carefully thought out posts, the manicured pictures, and the well-formulated responses. These are the days of the meticulously crafted Likes and Shares and the cautionary tales of intimate affairs gone viral and private pictures haunting teenage girls.

At the Social Fresh Conference a few months ago, three out of five panelists chose to discuss digital presence. In the words of the table’s moderator, “practically every business in the world knows the importance of an online presence. Most people find it off-putting if a business doesn’t have a website to talk about itself.” With recruiters and hiring managers in businesses of all sizes turning to the web to gain insight into potential candidates and one in every five employers using social networks to screen job seekers, it is clear why being MIA online is deemed anachronistic, hidebound and even suspect.

Hard Times for Small Businesses

This is a paradox unique to our time. We live in a profoundly online culture with enormous access to information. However, many small to medium businesses have not quite caught up to this digital explosion and find themselves lagging behind, always one step behind the latest social network taking the world by storm.

In Came the Social Media Assistance Tools

In the world of online, where a need is determined, a product is usually not far behind. In the wake of the ever growing social platforms, online services have sprung up to offer tracking, management, and synchronization support. Software such as Hootsuite, Oktopost, and Sociota provide a one-stop-shops for managing all your media accounts, Lithium offers to nurture all your customer support and care relations for you, and Engagor targets conversations involving your business or brand as they happen in real time across all social media platforms. Such services were constructed with the small business sector in mind. They aim to provide an answer for businesses that don’t yet have those big marketing departments and extravagant social budgets.

Yet services catering to small businesses go far beyond online management and monitoring tools. With the understanding that even brick-and-mortar businesses are in need of serious web visibility came a slew of geo-based software such as Moment.me, which will aggregate all relevant social media posts related to an address you input.

If a Dog is Man’s Friend Then…

I’ve heard it said that social media assistance software is a small business’ best friend. Like a good assistant, it badgers you as little as possible with questions you don’t have clear answers for and before you know, it gets the job done. If tracking your social media traffic is what you’re after, communicating with your customers in real time, or making yourself relevant on as many social media platforms as you possibly can, these tools have your name written all over them.

b&w author pic 1Anat Richter is Content Marketing Director at emaze. When she isn’t tapping away in its Tel Aviv offices, she is documenting life on the web as a user and a guest blogger.

 

How To Succeed At Content Marketing On A Small Budget

Here’s great news for your small business: You can succeed at content marketing without spending a fortune. In fact, you may be able to out-content market much larger competitors with much larger budgets. In this article, we’ll review a simple, focused approach to creating a content marketing campaign that is affordable and effective.

shutterstock_95024107Why You Will Succeed: Quality Trumps Quantity

Large companies sometimes turn content marketing into link building campaigns for SEO — putting the emphasis on the number of links, and hence the number of articles published. But whether for Google or people, high-quality content achieves the best results.

Small-business owners understand their business inside-out and know how to talk to customers and prospects. Thus, they are in a position to write highly authoritative and useful content — content that high-profile, influential websites and blogs in their niche are eager to publish. Such content holds several important benefits for small businesses:

  1. Improving brand image
  2. Establishing credibility
  3. Expanding brand awareness
  4. Generating sales leads and referrals
  5. Creating natural links that greatly improve the firm’s SEO visibility

shutterstock_164492432How to Succeed: A Hands-on Approach

The secret weapon to small-business content marketing is you. You know what to write about. You know how to write about it in ways that influence customer perception and action. You know the top publishing sites and may already have a dialog with some of them. Set realistic goals of publishing two articles per month and proceed as follows:

  • Set aside one to two hours per month to brainstorm topics with your team. Create a simple editorial detailing topics, key points and a target-publishing site for each article.
  • Set aside two to four hours per month to write two articles. Find an editor, either on staff or freelance, to edit as needed. The level of editing you need depends a lot on your writing skills; don’t be deterred if you are not a master writer. For more insight on editing, click here.
  • Set aside one to three hours per month to pitch your articles to publishing sites. You may be able to delegate this assignment to your top marketing person.
  • Task a staffer to monitor published articles. Keep track of the number of comments and social shares each article produces, as well as how many visits to your website were referred from publishing sites. Have this person alert you to any comments that need your response. Spend one hour per month reviewing performance data.
  • Continuously improve your efforts by looking for new publishing sites, and monitoring customer/prospect feedback and questions from whatever sources for new topic ideas.

This content marketing to-do list requires a little over one day a month from the writer (you) — and not much at all in the way of hard costs.

How to Succeed: Stay Focused on Off-site Articles

It’s tempting to expand into other types of content marketing once you’ve gotten your off-site article publishing off the ground. But take care: spreading yourself too thin could lead to mediocre execution on all fronts. Here are reasons not to venture out too quickly in certain content marketing avenues:

  • Social Media. You can labor for years to build a sizeable, engaged and relevant following on your own social media sites. Far easier is to piggyback on the established social media communities of your publishing sites.
  • Company Blog. An on-site blog is certainly a good thing, but doing it properly will consume a lot of internal resources. Effective blogs require the steady production of high-quality content and energetic marketing to develop an audience. Additionally, a blog should have an underlying SEO strategy that adds another layer of complexity and cost.
  • Visual Content. Infographics, video, slide presentations and photography have a huge “cool” factor and attract attention from valuable publishers. Nevertheless, visual content is expensive to produce and hard to do effectively, even with a substantial budget.

If you see your initial content strategy gain traction, based on lead generation, social shares, anecdotal evidence and other relevant factors, you can always expand. It’s a great problem to have — much better than trying to do too much and getting nowhere.

sn-brad-shorr-2Brad Shorr is the B2B Marketing Director of Straight North, an Internet marketing firm serving business of all sizes with their content marketing needs. You can read Brad’s work on Moz, Smashing Magazine, and About.com.

How to Build a Blog with 100,000+ Monthly Page Views

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing, and today’s guest post is from Vinay Patankar – Enjoy!

how to build a blog

You’ve probably heard that blogging is a great way to generate leads and sales for your business. John has talked about blogging many times on this very blog. And the truth is, it does work, many companies have seen stellar results from creating compelling blogs and building large audiences around them.

But why is it so hard?

While this may be true, building a successful blog is much harder than it sounds. I’ve been blogging for a long time. I ran a personal blog and a number of different niche blogs during my time as an Affiliate Marketer. I wrote hundreds of posts and did various “link building” tactics to try and rank my blogs to get traffic. This did produce some results, I got a bit of traffic and a few sales, but it never turned into the lead-generating-cash-machine I dreamt about every night before bed.

It was only when I started blogging for my startup Process Street did I start to see some real numbers and results from my efforts. We are still in early days (the blog is about 6 months old) but we recently hit the 1,000 subscriber mark and are now receiving over 100,000 page views every month!

traffic stats

What changed?

So what did I do different this time than all the other times I blogged?

The answer is content promotion. In my early days of blogging, I would spend 90% of my time writing content, once it was done I’d share it on my social media properties then move on to the next post. I now spend just 30% of my time on creating content and 70% promoting it.

content creation vs content promotion

This does not mean I write lower quality content by any means, in fact, my content is much higher quality now, I just write fewer posts. Like much fewer. I was writing up to 10 articles a day across my various blogs, now I am lucky if I manage to get 1 per week out. But when I write, I write longer, more detailed, more personal, more actionable and more impactful posts than I ever did before. This is not by chance, this is part of the carefully curated content strategy that I came up with from watching some of the greatest SaaS content marketers in the world like Buffer and Moz.

Creating high quality content is absolutely necessary to build a blog that people read, share and link to, but creating high quality content is only half the battle (or 30%!). High quality content is not useful if nobody sees it. Today, I have a team of 3 Virtual Assistants that focus on promoting my content, and not just content on my blog, I have them promote guest posts I write on other peoples blogs (like this one) plus any post that links to one of my products or posts.

So what is content promotion and how do I do it?

Well I’m glad you asked. It just so happens that I created a very detailed and in-depth checklist that you can follow to promote your content. This checklist is responsible for driving at least 1,000 visitors to every post I have written, it in itself is a huge piece of content that took me 3 days to create! Now it’s all yours. Use it yourself or hand it off to a VA and watch the visitors roll in.

Grab my content promotion checklist below and supercharge your blog today.

vinay headshot process street 100x100Vinay Patankar is an ex digital nomad and startup growth specialist. He is the CEO of Process Street, a platform that manages recurring processes for teams and turns businesses into automated, self growing machines. Find him on Twitter, Google+ or his Blog. Sign up for a free trial of Process Street here: http://process.st

5 Ways to Get The Most Out of Your Social Media Marketing This Year

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing, and today’s guest post is from our newest team member – Alex Boyer– Enjoy!

photo credit: shutterstock

You have always been told your business needs a presence on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, but you have yet to see tangible results. Don’t give up! Here are five simple steps to kick-start your social media this year.

Set a Goal

You should set a basic goal for your social media activities for the year. This can be something simple like “increase participation in specials or sales,” “interact with existing customers and strengthen brand loyalty,” or something more complex like “Create a personality for your brand.” Every social media post for the year should in some way help you achieve that goal.

For example, take two popular restaurants in the Kansas City area: Grunauer (@grunauerKC) and Blanc Burgers and Bottles (@BlancBurgers). Blanc uses social media to remind their customers of daily and nightly specials, and release photos of new burger creations. Gurnauer forgoes the daily specials and instead uses their Twitter account to create personality for the restaurant, cheering for local sports teams and commenting on news stories. Both restaurants have significant social media following and every post from both fulfill their respective goals.

Draft a plan

Now that you have a goal to achieve, it is time to draft a plan for your social media year. You should start by creating an editorial calendar. Use your calendar to list your yearly sales events, local events (such as high-profile concerts or local festivals) and holidays. Keep an eye out for obscure holidays like “Talk like a pirate day” or “National Cheeseburger day,” as these are very popular on social media. You can even pre-draft social media posts for each of these events for use later.  If you ever reach a point in the year where you don’t know what to post, use this calendar for ideas.

You can even use the editorial calendar to plan “messages of the week,” content themes that you can use for a week or month at a time. For example, you can have your blog posts for a month focus on sales strategy. That way, you have a uniform starting point for each of your posts.

Social Specials

Give your customers a reason to interact with your social media by giving them “Social Specials”. These can include giveaways or discounts in store. Ask your fans to “Like this post for 10% off this week” or “Retweet for a chance to win.” In the case of discounts, you can even ask customers who come into your storefront if they have social media, and then tell them they can get a discount if they like your page. This will not only expand your social media following, but also engage users that are already customers. Plus, posting promotions on social media is cheaper than printing coupons in the newspaper.

Create a Dialogue

Social media platforms shouldn’t be used simply to distribute your messages, they should be a 2-way street between you and your customers. Use Twitter, Facebook, and your blog as a customer service tool as well. Allow your customers to come to you with their complaints, and address them promptly. Also, thank supporters for their kind words and share their positive reviews.  This gives your customers reason to interact with your social media pages, and creates a sense of community around your company.

Never Stop Creating Content

Finally, the most important step to getting the most out of your social media is to create content. You need to continue to create engaging, exciting content to draw new fans and keep your current fans’ attention.  You cannot forget about social media and must post regularly. The steps above should help you keep a steady flow of content for your supporters, but it is ultimately up to you and your team to keep executing. Your social media following cannot grow without content.

Social media marketing should be an important part of your marketing plan. Follow these five simple steps, and your social media presence is sure to grow over the next year.


Alex-Boyer-Photo-150x150-e1420769709443Alex Boyer is Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. It is his job to create and scour the internet for the best content for small businesses. In addition, he will continue to grow the Duct Tape Marketing community through interaction with clients and consultants in the Duct Tape Consultant Network on our website and through Social Media. Alex has a background in political marketing, where in-depth opposition and messaging research is critical to a successful campaign. He is focused on taking those tactics and using them to help your small business grow and reach more potential customers.

The Secret to Working Less Without Making Less

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing, and today’s guest post is from Jenna Dalton– Enjoy!

Work Less

photo credit: kroszk@

You want a life. You want a successful business. But is it possible to have both?

Yes it is. You just need to know the secret to working less without making less. The key is to be constantly asking this one critical question…

“Am I being productive, or am I just keeping busy?”

The truth is, there are very few things that you need to do to grow your business. But a lot of us fall into the trap of thinking that we’re making smart moves when we’re actually just doing busy work.

Spending 3 hours changing our Facebook page cover photo is not a good use of our time.

Spending 3 hours crafting a great guest blog post that’ll drive more traffic to our website is a good use of our time.

The secret is to know what you should focus your attention on, and what you should either hire someone else to do, or just forget about.

If you want to work less without making less you need to learn how to properly prioritize. And it all comes back to your goals.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that your goals probably look something like this… Get more clients or customers. Make more money. Right?

And you’re going to be able to do that by focusing on three key things:

  1. Doing lots of smart networking
  2. Generating more referrals
  3. Getting more email subscribers

This means that – when you’re trying to decide what you should work on each day – if it doesn’t fit any of those categories, you should question whether it’s worth your time.

I’m not saying it will never be worth your time to do something outside those categories. But, if you want to not work so much and still grow your business, these three things should be a priority for you. These 3 things are what will help you grow your business as quickly and easily as possible.

Networking

Maintaining relationships you already have, and actively pursuing relationships you want to have is smart marketing.

Try reaching out to at least 1 person per day. Send them a relevant, useful article. Mail them a birthday card. Or let them know that you enjoyed their latest blog post.

It doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s simply about keeping in touch and being generous on a regular basis.

Referrals

According to research by Nielsen, 92% of people say they trust word-of-mouth marketing and recommendations by friends and family more than any other form of marketing.

That means that the best source of new business is to make your current clients happy, and then ask them to send other people your way.

So make sure you have a strong referral system in place.

Subscribers

The only reason someone would become a client or buy something you’ve created is because they know, like and trust you.

And one of the best ways to get people to know, like and trust you is through your email list.

Spending time attracting more subscribers, and then giving your subscribers a good reason to stay on your email list – by sharing helpful tips, tools and resources – should definitely be a priority.

Where are your priorities?

If you want to grow your business without working yourself to the bone, it’s time to start paying attention to how you’re actually spending your time.

Prioritize. Delegate. Focus.

Recognize that there are some things that are necessary to grow your business, and other things you can let go (or hire someone else to do).

Focus on what will help you grow your business – networking, referrals, and subscribers – instead of just doing work, for work’s sake.

Having a balanced life – where work isn’t trickling into social time, and social time isn’t trickling into work time – can be tough.

But you can make it easier for yourself by noticing whether you’re productive, or just doing something for the sake of doing it.

So, where are your priorities? How can you shift them so you can work less and still grow your business?

DTMHeadshotJenna Dalton is an Elite Level Book Yourself Solid® Certified Coach. She helps coaches use smart blogging strategies to get more clients. Grab her free toolkit How to Write The Perfect Blog Post. And make sure to come say hi to her on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Stop Undervaluing Yourself and Get Paid What You’re Worth

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Stephanie O’Brien – Enjoy! 

As your skills as a marketer or businessperson grow, one of the best ways to increase your revenue is to raise your rates.

Because you’re getting better at what you do, you can give more value for the same amount of time and effort, and your pay should rise accordingly.

But sometimes, that’s easier said than done. Not because your clients won’t pay what you’re worth, but because YOU won’t ask for it.

You’re used to valuing yourself at a certain level, and when you think about asking for more, uncertainty floods in. “What if they say no? What if I can’t give them enough value to be worth that? What if they’re disappointed, or they take their business elsewhere?”

All too often, people will allow those fears to make them underquote, so even though they’re attracting clients, they’re still losing a lot of potential revenue because they’re being underpaid.

In this blog post, I’ll help you to make a shift that will allow you to not only make the income you deserve, but also to serve your clients more effectively, so they WILL be happy to pay you what you’re worth.

It’s all about the questions you ask.

Right now, you’re probably asking yourself two questions when you set your prices. They are,

“What are my clients willing to pay?” and “What is my competition charging?”

While it’s true that these questions may come into play when your client is considering your offer, you can’t rely on them when you’re setting your rates. If you do, they will limit your income, and keep you from seeing and showing your own true value.

It also places imaginary limitations on your clients’ buying power, when in reality those limitations might well exist only in your mind.

What can you ask instead, that will give you more income and your clients better service?

The next time you’re about to set a rate, start by asking yourself, “How much money would make this job worth my time?”

This can be uncomfortable, especially if you feel it would be unfair to your clients, or are afraid of scaring them off. But it has to be done – in fact, I’d like you to do it right now, before you continue reading.

Once you’ve done that exercise, if you feel like this figure is too high, DON’T lower it.

Instead, ask yourself: “How much value am I giving?”

How much time will you save your clients? How much money will you MAKE for them?

How much will their health, mindset, lifestyle or relationships improve?

How much happier will they be after they work with you?

Remember, it isn’t just about the effort you put into the job. It’s about the benefit that your work gives to your clients.

What if the value you’re offering seems like less than the price you want to charge?

Once again, do NOT drop your rates. Instead, raise your value.

For example, I was recently hired to help one of my clients rewrite her ‘about’ page. I wanted the page to reflect her real story and the source of her passion, instead of reading like an encyclopedia.

To do this, we needed to have a conversation via Skype, and I wanted to be paid $75 for the time we were going to spend on that. But simply getting her to tell her story didn’t feel like it was enough; I wanted to give her real value for the money I was charging.

So I made her an offer: while I was getting the story for her page, I would also teach her how to tell her story in a way that drew her clients in, so she’d be able to use that skill any time she needed to.

She agreed, and was happy to pay me $75 for the call.

Are you charging as much as you want to be?

If not, when are you going to raise your prices?

If you don’t feel like your services warrant a price increase, how will you raise their value so they WILL be worth it?

I look forward to reading your opinions, insights and commitments in the comments.

Pic of me for DuctTapeStephanie O’Brien is a copywriter, marketing coach, entrepreneur, novelist, and self-growth addict. She uses her twelve years of fiction-writing experience to make her copywriting fun and inspirational as well as effective, and her lifelong exploration of the human mind helps her to get inside her clients’ heads, pick out the words they’re trying to find, and put them onto paper.

To learn more about Stephanie, and to get more tips to help you connect with your readers in a unique and authentic way, visit her website at www.captivatingcopywriter.com.

 

From Zero to Thousands: 5 Steps to Get Your Social Media Up and Running

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Rachel Wisuri – Enjoy!

Social Media

photo credit:pixabay

Maybe you’re a new business, or maybe you’re an older business who recently decided to get active on social media. Regardless, you face the same problem: how do you build a successful presence on social media when no one on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram knows who you are?

Below, I’ve outlined 5 steps to get your social media channels up and running.

1. Choose the channels that work best for YOU

Not every social media channel will works for your business. As the Community Manager for a test-prep company, I’ve experienced that firsthand. Pinterest for test prep? Not the most efficient use of my time. (Have you ever heard your friends say, “Oh I saw the most amazing pin about math formulas today”? No? Didn’t think so.) So first, choose the channels that are right for your company.

How? Figure out where your customers already hang out. Set up a Mention or a Google Alert for your company’s name, and find out where conversations about you are already happening. (Or, simply ask your customers what their favorite platforms are!) You can also consider the demographic information for each channel and try to match that up with the demographics of your customer base.

2. Define your goals

As marketers, we know it’s much better to be able to track and define your success with hard numbers. Once you’ve chosen some channels, it’s time to set up your metrics for success. That will help you see if your hard work is paying off and help you decide if you should continue to invest in a channel that is not working as well as you’d like.

Some things to consider when setting up your metrics goals (a.k.a. how will you define success?):

  • Is getting a lot of followers your main goal?
  • Do you want to increase mentions of your brand online?
  • How important are likes, re-tweets, comments, and engagement to you?
  • What is your goal for response time to customers’ questions and comments?
  • Are you trying to increase clicks and drive traffic to your website?

3. Tell everyone you know.

Great, now you’re set up on the best channels for you and have started making your profiles look awesome. But you still have the same problem: no one is following you. :(

How to fix it: start an online conversation with your current customers to get the ball rolling. Move your existing customer base to your social media channels. Email them, put your account names on your business cards, and scream it from the rooftops. By driving their focus to your social media accounts, you’ll start to build a quality follower base that already likes you and what you have to say.

4. Think like a human being, not a social media robot.

Don’t just promote and talk about yourself. Don’t allow your conversations and posts to be one sided. When you act like a human being via social media and use it to interact with other human beings, you’ll be able to reach new potential customers and people who are genuinely interested in what you’re selling.

Engage in conversations like you would with your own friends — “like” relevant comments and statuses, and start conversations with interesting people and companies.

5. Provide useful information to your community.

Now, I’m not saying you should never talk about yourself, but do so in a way that will benefit your community. What are their main concerns? What do they need help with? This comes back to knowing your customers.

Now that you have these 5 steps under your belt, it’s up to you to upkeep your brand new follower relationships and make them last far into the future!

Bonus Tip: people love contests and free stuff, and your followers are no exception. Engage your new social media community by promoting fun competitions. Got some company pens or t-shirts to give away? Create a contest for your followers and promise the winners swag! They might even brag about it to their friends, which just equals more and more mentions for you!

Good luck and happy Tweeting!

My author photoRachel Wisuri is the Community Manager at Magoosh, an online test-prep company in the Bay Area. There, she spends her time making sure the Magoosh community is happy, healthy, and growing. In her free time she can be found eating peanut butter, listening to the Beatles, and lounging in the park.

 

9 Ways to Connect With Your Community

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Roger Connors and Tom Smith – Enjoy!

biz-community

photo credit: 123rf

Feeling out of touch with your business community? No connection, wrangling tough relationships, regularly brokering messy disagreements? Just how does a business owner or manager get back in touch and move the needle on even the most stubborn issues?

With consistent, well-practiced feedback.

Feedback is a principle that, if practiced, is the key to overcoming blind spots and achieving improved results in all aspects of your life—both personal and professional. Individually, with teams, and even entire communities and organizations.

The key: You just have to ask for it.

 

But before you gather your team or blindly ask what others think of you (highly risky without a bit of practice, by the way), consider these 9 proven tips that will help you get your head right—so you can solicit, respond to, and use feedback to succeed in business.

  1. Go after it. Feedback doesn’t just magically happen with the wave of a wand. You have to be proactive and make it happen. Stay connected with customers or prospects by seeking feedback even when you believe things are going great—sometimes what you think isn’t what is actually happening.
  2. Have courage. Seeking constructive feedback can be scary. Remember, whoever you’re asking feedback from is already thinking about your performance; you’re just hearing what they already believe.
  3. Welcome awkwardness. Remember that almost everyone fears offering feedback about as much as they fear asking for it. People worry it will backfire, and they value their job or relationship over saying anything—which is why momentum stalls in the first place. Revel in the discomfort and seek feedback anyway.
  4. Be convincing. Assure your audience, customers, even your employees that you really do want to know what they think. They need to know there won’t be any blowback from you if they honestly tell you how they see it.
  5. Get positive. Though it might be hard to believe, it’s easier for people to offer positive rather than negative feedback. You have to ask for constructive feedback. Try “What can we do better?” instead of “What are we doing wrong?”
  6. Listen. After asking for feedback, you need to do the hard part—listen. Listening can be difficult, but it is one of the most meaningful steps of exchanging feedback, and it is important that you listen to everything. Then act on what you hear that makes sense.
  7. Be grateful. Don’t let constructive feedback, no matter how unpleasant, skew your view of the person who’s giving valuable input as to how you can improve your processes. Remember: their insight could help improve performance or efficiency. Express sincere gratitude for their willingness to share in the first place (see tip #2, courage).
  8. Make it a habit. Make getting feedback a habit, not a one-time thing. Ask if it’s okay to follow up, even suggesting you meet again for a reality check just to keep yourself in line.
  9. Be nice. Finally, be nice to yourself and others. You can’t make any important changes overnight.

Right out of the gate you might want to select someone you’re comfortable with, then get started by simply asking, “What feedback do you have for me?” You might need to tag it with some context; like “How do you think we could have improved this product?” or “What improvements would you like to see in your campaign?” Once you’ve listened, don’t impulsively respond with a long defensive response. Graciously and professionally say, “Thanks for the feedback. We really appreciate it, and want to do anything we can to make your experience with our company better.” Your gratitude will signal you aren’t defensive (even if you really are) and that you are happy they took the time to share their opinion.

RogerTom_150x150Roger Connors and Tom Smith are co-authors of a new book, The Wisdom of Oz: Using Personal Accountability to Succeed in Everything You Do (September 2014, www.thewisdomofozbook.com). They are multiple New York Times Bestselling authors and innovators of the most extensive body of knowledge on workplace accountability ever written. Their firm, Partners In Leadership (www.partnersinleadership.com), helps management teams facilitate large-scale cultural transition through proven methodologies, and has helped clients produce billions of dollars in improved profitability and shareholder value.