3 Types of Business Stories that Appeal to Millennials

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / kanzefar If you’re looking to increase your business sales among Millenials improving your storytelling is a good start. Telling your story effectively imparts a more human side to your business. It’s also memorable and develops an emotional connection between your business and your audience. Most sales gurus will admit it’s the emotional side of the brain that drives purchasing, so storytelling gets your business where you want to be. Effective Types of Storytelling for Gen Y The following types of stories will improve your connection to Gen Y but they should never be used disingenuously. Use what fits your business. Don’t alter your story just to get likes or shares, or customers. Saving the World Compared to their cynical Gen X predecessors, at least 39% of Gen Ys polled believe they will do something in their lifetimes that will contribute to the world becoming a better place. Telling a story of how your business connects others and helps them help the world will appeal to this generation. However, if you’re going to flavor your business story with a saving the world tone, make sure you tell it by how you are helping your customers do it not by your own super powers. Taking a more humble approach will attract this tech-savvy generation. Boldly making heroic claims will turn these uber-eager world changers off. To Thine Own Selfie be True It seems contradictory that at the same time they claim to want to make the world a better place, they are also eagerly capturing nearly every breathe they take in selfies. This generation of do-gooders is different than the Boomers in that they see a very individualistic role of how each will save the world. It’s an I will save instead of a we. This doesn’t mean they don’t want to work in group, quite the contrary but they want their individual contributions recognized and lauded. If you’re looking to appeal to this generation, show them what is in your business, product or service for them. Tell your business story as it involves them and their future success, beauty, or meeting of individual goals. Cast your Gen Y customer as the hero of the story. She’ll take it from there. A Life Fit for Instagram Millennials have a strong notion for how life should be. Studies have shown that even though many of them graduated during a very difficult time economically, and many of them remain living with their parents much longer than previous generations, they’re also more apt to spend money on an experience than things. That’s good news for business like coffee houses and restaurants. Telling your business story as an exciting service or experience will appeal to this group. Lacking in a large income does not discourage them from partaking in the finer aspects of life. They want what they want, which isn’t a starter home or a starter car. Showcase your business as a means to getting the life they want, or as a part of that life, and it will draw this generation in. If you’ve been looking to reach Gen Y, telling your business story through social media and the Internet will get their attention but you need to use a business approach that they’ll find appealing. In some ways these young people have a lot more figured out. They know it’s important to give back, be kind to yourself, and enjoy life’s adventures while you have the time and interest, even if you don’t have the money.   Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and Memberclicks. She’s just a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.

3 Things to Avoid in Your Business’ Twitter Bio

© Hubspot If you have a Twitter account for your business, or are thinking of starting one, you will need to summarize exactly what you do in 140 characters. Think of it as the shortest elevator speech ever. It takes some finesse to find the right words. Here are a couple of accounts you can learn from: Avoid (only) Hashtags It’s tempting to take your businesses keywords and add a hashtag in front of them, mash them together, and call it a Twitter bio. But this does nothing to inspire people to follow you nor does it say anything about your business other than “I am a spambot.” If you feel the need to use an inordinate amount of hashtags do it with some personality like this: Ditch the Unbelievable Claims Social media and marketing businesses sometimes fall into this trap. They desperately want to prove their abilities and in doing so, make outrageous claims. These claims, whether true or not, make people feel like they’re about to be roped into a pyramid scheme if the follow you. This Twitter bio was engaging, until the last sentence. Now I’m not sure if she’s human or just another add-followers-quick scheme. Don’t be Dull A Twitter bio, even one for business, should give people some insight into who you are. Don’t make it all about what you sell. Give someone a reason to do business with you. With the Internet, most people have unlimited choices on products or services. Geography no longer limits our selections. For that reason, your competition has increased exponentially. Differentiating your product or service is becoming more and more difficult. But the difference doesn’t lie in what you sell, the difference is you. Consumers are now choosing to do business with someone they “like.” If you’re marketing is done well people can like you without ever having met you. Here’s an example of a marketing celebrity who began his life as a small business owner of a family liquor store. He produced helpful content and now he’s a nationally-known speaker and author. Notice how he lets his personality shine through. Don’t be bashful. Give them something to identify with. Sharing your personality is essential, not only because it’s a way for people to “like” you, but it also facilitates conversation. If you see something on a profile that you have in common, it’s easy to start up a conversation. The same is true of people who are looking at your business profile. Plus, people have a tendency to shy away from following smaller companies as they’re afraid they’ll immediately get a sales message in their inbox. (Your first communication to a new follower should NEVER be a sales message. That’s like proposing marriage when someone asks for your phone number.) If you use your personality in your business’ Twitter bio, you’ll look more like the real person you are. Take a look at your bio. Does it tell who you are, what you do, and why you’re special? If not, it’s time for a rewrite.   Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and Memberclicks.   She’s just a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.

3 Lessons Learned From a Failed Jump

©Can Stock Photo Inc. / STRANNIK9211 On April 5, 1988, an experienced skydiving videographer was filming an instructor and first-time student as they skydived from approximately 10,000 feet. The videographer had made two successful jumps earlier that day. With technology what it was back then, the recording equipment the videographer used was a heavy VHS deck stored in a backpack that he wore. The camera was unlike the smaller GoPro style cameras used today but was nonetheless mounted to his helmet in order to capture all the action. The videographer was the first to jump from the plane followed by the instructor and student. All seemed to be in order. Shortly after filming the other skydivers for a brief period and hurtling toward the ground at 150 mph, the videographer attempted to deploy his parachute only to discover he wasn’t wearing one. The videographer was a veteran skydiver who had made over 800 jumps in his career. Strapping on a parachute would only seem natural to the casual observer. By those who knew the videographer and those present that day, it is believed his preoccupation with the recording equipment, the weight of the equipment itself, and fatigue caused him to lose focus and fail to properly prepare. The videographer free fell nearly two miles and as a result of his improper preparation, he tragically lost his life. While most leaders and business people don’t find themselves in this kind of life and death scenario, there are some important lessons that can be learned from this story. Repetition Can Create a Lack of Focus When doing the same thing over and over again it’s easy to lose focus on what’s important. A skydiver with 800 jumps could almost fold and pack a parachute blindfolded. Strapping on a parachute before entering the plane is second nature to the veteran skydiver. Yet, from time to time, we learn of these unbelievable stories of someone failing to remember the most basic necessity of skydiving, the parachute. What is the repetitive action in your occupation or business that you run the risk of forgetting to do? Is it failing to simply “ask” for the sale assuming the potential buyer will surrender to you at some point? Is it failing to prepare for the presentation that you’ve done a hundred times before? Preoccupation Can Ruin a Good Occupation The National Science Foundation estimates the average person thinks thousands of thoughts per day. With that much inner traffic, it’s easy to become distracted. Business owners and operators have much to think about and prepare for. With so much on their minds it’s easy to become preoccupied with things that waste valuable time. It’s critical to prioritize tasks to ensure the most important items get done first. To avoid becoming preoccupied with less important and irrelevant tasks, it’s good to develop a daily plan of action. Whether one chooses to use an electronic planner, a written to-do list or a hybrid of both, developing a good system will ensure greater success. Being Prepared is Not Just For Boy Scouts Preparing for the task at hand is one of the most important aspects of successfully completing the task. Abraham Lincoln once said, “If I had 8 hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my ax.” It’s easy to take short cuts when it comes to doing things one has done over and over again. Winging it might work every now and then, but to expect great results, one must prepare for success. What’s the goal of the event? What’s the desired outcome for the meeting? What does a winning sales call entail? Proper vision, planning, and preparation will create higher rates of success.     Mark Turner is President/CEO of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce. After 20 years of sales and marketing, he left the corporate world and served 12 years in the ministry as an Associate Pastor before accepting his current position with the Chamber of Commerce.

3 Common Mistakes to Avoid on LinkedIn

I ran across this great article on how to present yourself on LinkedIn.  It covers some common mistakes that people make on LinkedIn and how not to do those.  I wanted to pass it along since  LinkedIn is a critical social media tool for communicating who you are and your value to prospective employers, clients, partners, etc.  Of note LinkedIn has over 50 million users. If you are not one of the 50 million users of LinkedIn, you should seriously consider it.  If you are one, make sure you read this article about how to effectively communicate your personal brand and attention getting headlines.   Click this URL to read the complete article 3 Common Mistakes to Avoid on LinkedIn and then comment to let us know what you think on the blog.

3 Cheap Marketing Ideas for Businesses on a Budget

Marketing can be one of your largest business expenses, particularly if you’re unknown and just starting off. If your business has a storefront on a well-traveled Main Street, you’re in luck. If not, you have some work to do.New business owners who haven’t tackled their own marketing before will be shocked at the amount of work needed to be successful at digital marketing (the newfangled kind of marketing that helps people get to know, like and trust you through virtual techniques). It doesn’t seem like there are enough hours in the day. However, there is a trade-off. You can accomplish a successful marketing campaign through digital and content marketing that requires very little money. Twenty years ago a new business would’ve had to invest huge amounts of money in an ad campaign and radio spots to drive traffic. Today, you can create a cult following through social media and digital interaction with very little financial investment, outside of time. Here are 3 non-social media ideas to get you started. Content Marketing It’s estimated as many as 70% of customers perform research before making a purchase. This is one of the many reasons content marketing is so effective. Content marketing aims at producing content your audience finds valuable. It can be in the form of a blog, podcast, webinar, e-book, infographic, or a dozen other formats. Providing this valuable content does a number of things such as: Drives traffic to your website Encourages people to share your content Helps your customers with their buying decision Promotes you/your business as a thought leader in the industry you serve Helps people get to know you and like you (two important points when trying to close a sale) Shows Google and other search engines that your business is legitimate and worth ranking highly in organic search That’s a lot of marketing bang for your time to produce content in an area you are already an expert in. The only investment in content marketing is your time to produce the content and the website hosting that gives you somewhere to share it. For even further reach, you can create a larger piece of content that your audience is really interested in and place it behind a “gate” on your website. Visitors can have the free piece if they sign up to be “in the know” and receive periodic helpful information from you. All they need to provide is a name and valid email address. The content is theirs and you have a way to stay in touch. Create a Group Birds of a feather flock together. Depending on the nature of your business, you can work with existing community groups, or create your own, to entice more people to your place of business. For instance, a coffee shop might approach a local writer’s group or book club to start meeting at their location. You can also start your own MeetUp and host it at your business after hours (or stay open later just for your group). Enticing people to walk in the door is the first step to getting people to remember you. The price to do this is minimum (MeetUp groups have a maintenance fee to be on the MeetUp site) and may even yield a source of revenue for you when people come to your business. Drip Campaigns This is particularly effective if you have a long sales cycle or you are a business that wants to build its repeat customer base. Create an email marketing campaign that provides your list (those who have requested to be on your mailing list or have signed up for content.) with helpful information. This could be tips, things to consider, best practices, etc. You can begin an email marketing campaign with an inexpensive service like MailChimp or ConstantContact.  These marketing ideas yield results through consistent practice. They take time but they also build loyal audiences because your customers get to know, like, and trust you. For the greatest success they should be implemented alongside social media marketing. Image via Graphic Stock   Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog. She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.