The free marketing you’re missing on Google My Business
Every business that wants to be found online should have an active Google My Business page. Whether you have a brick & mortar location that customers visit or visit customers to provide B2B services, a Google My Business page is a free marketing opportunity with a nice payoff. But claiming your page isn’t enough. You must engage.
Hello, new customers! SEO vs. GMB
There are multiple ways to show up in search results when potential customers look for you. Search engine optimization and Google My Business are two.
Simply having a website isn’t a guarantee you’ll be found online. Everyone has a website. You. Your direct competitors. Your indirect competitors.
Getting your website to rank for words other than your brand name takes an established presence, earned over time with content strategy. One piece of a content strategy could include adding fresh and useful thought leadership blog posts on a regular basis to your site. When people spend time reading your website content, it helps Google, Bing and other search bots know that the content is important to your audience. If that happens consistently, search engines will trust your website and show your pages as a search result more often.
This practice is an important part of search engine optimization or SEO. And it’s a marathon. It takes time to build authority and rank higher in search results. It’s worth doing so that your business ranks ahead of competitors. But it’s not instant.
Google My Business
On the other hand, Google My Business is an instant efficient search tool for getting found online.
If your Google My Business page is a match for a search, Google is more likely to return a result for your business. The Google search engine return page could even include a snippet – you know, that special box with call-out information for a business. Snippets often include photos from your Google My Business page, an easy-to-click phone number and reviews. Here’s an example of a search results page with a business’ Google My Business Page snippet on the right:
Why is this important? The higher you rank on a page and the more attention-getting your snippet is, the higher chance you will be seen. That’s a higher chance to rank ahead of your competition. Which gives your page a higher chance to be clicked on. Most importantly, a higher ranking means a higher chance to earn a new customer.
Engage for better results
But like SEO, Google My Business pages work better for your business when you engage. This is no set it and forget it. You have to log in. Post links and deals. Respond to reviews. Engage. (There’s that word again.)
You help your Google My Business page be more effective by posting things here, similar to a social media account. Photos of your product, your space or people benefitting from your business, for example. The brand images you already use can be repurposed here. Like social media channels, you can post your thoughts on a current event or links to a blog post on your website or even a third-party website.
Your customers can also engage with your page through reviews. You can’t control them. They can be 1-star or 5-star. This is where you get to shine if you provide an amazing product or service. And where you can learn how to do it better. The important thing is to be responsive here. To show that you will make things right with customers if they post a negative review. And to thank your customers for taking the time to share their comments – good or bad.
I can personally attest to the power of Google My Business and SEO. Click here take a look at my ClearWing Google My Business page and to see how simple it is to build one. Or, call ClearWing if you need help creating a content strategy and ongoing content to boost your search engine optimization efforts.
And remember, while Google My Business is a wonderful, free tool, it will only go so far without checkins from you. Ask customers for reviews. Sign in, post and respond to customers regularly. Update your hours and holidays. Post links to useful content. There’s no reason to miss out on this effective and free marketing tool!
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It was late December of 2017 and Christmas tree pine needles littered the floor. We were all tripping over new toys and the post-Christmas turkey was finally gone. My husband handed me a bright yellow book he had just finished reading: The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon. Hm. The floors wouldn’t clean themselves. But a voice said to let go of the vacuum.
I opened the cover and soon met George, a businessman experiencing a breakdown of sorts, and Joy, a bus driver full of smiles and wisdom. I had no idea what an impact Joy was about to make on George and me.
At the time, I was punching a clock daily in a communications department for the largest health system in Georgia. I enjoyed the work itself and the people I came into contact with, but I often felt like a small cog in a giant corporate machine. I certainly did not feel like I made a difference. And I had accepted that in exchange for a steady paycheck, the feeling of a secure job and a pension.
The Energy Bus
Before I tell you more about my journey into business, I’ll say The Energy Bus is a speedy and entertaining read about taking responsibility for your own future. It is actionable wisdom set to a story, which speaks to my own personal feelings about the power of storytelling (and how we should all be doing that in our businesses). It’s about developing a vision with purpose. Surrounding yourself with people who believe in your vision. Inviting them to ride your bus. And fueling your vision and yourself with positivity.
I wouldn’t have picked the book out for myself. But it was exactly what I needed to read. I’m thankful I was exposed and reminded of some really wonderful and foundational concepts that carried me through the first year of my new business.
George – the main character of the book – revamps his life, his marriage, his career and his team – all of which had gone very wrong. And he does it with the help of The Energy Bus. In addition to fixing situations gone awry, the book is also good for someone about to launch something new…because you’re going to need a lot of positive energy.
“You have no idea of the challenges I am facing right now. I’m hitting a lot of roadblocks,” George complains early in the story.
That’s when Joy – the bus driver about whom George is quite skeptical – introduces him to the importance of positive energy. It is the fuel that keeps his, mine and your vision moving forward. Without it, we’re eventually stranded on the side of the road.
“And we’re not talking about the fake kind of chest-thumping
rah, rah positive energy that simply masks our negativity and annoys
people…We’re talking about real positive energy that help you overcome
obstacles and challenges to create success. We’re talking about trust, faith,
enthusiasm, purpose, joy and happiness.”
A bus full of cheerleaders
Not even a month later, I began seeking a new job. But nothing felt right. I wanted to make a difference – not punch a clock. My husband told me for the umpteenth time that I should start my own business. I put on my ear muffs and kept looking for the right job.
I made a lot of phone calls searching for ideas and
opportunities. And then someone else encouraged me to start my own business.
And then someone else.
I finally started listening.
The conversation sounded different when I called people
after that. I’d say, “I’m thinking of starting my own business. Can I have some
That’s when I realized I had a bus full of cheerleaders. They believed I could really help people. Which helped me believe it. And do it.
In The Energy Bus, there’s a whole section on how to lead people and how to get people to follow your vision. There are steps you take to ask people to get on your bus. While I didn’t have a team to lead at that time, I realized that I had a lot of cheerleaders on my bus. I had an incredible gift of positive energy all around me.
I took that fuel and I hit the gas like I was 16 driving a sporty
red VW to Ft. Myers Beach. (Memories…)
Seriously, the early days of building my PR business are a blur seen from a vehicle going way over the speed limit. I had little sleep and stared into the bright blue glow of a laptop into the wee hours of the night. I made countless phone calls and had too many face-to-face meetings to count. But those people on my bus cheering me on helped fuel those late nights…and fuel my business with referrals – THANK YOU!).
Here’s an off-the-cuff video I recently made to say thanks to all those cheerleaders who have been on the bus with me. I didn’t list anyone by name (other than the family) – there are just too many.
Leave energy vampires
in the dust
Just because I had a busload (fleet?) of support, that didn’t mean it was always sunny and 70 on the highway. On one occasion, I took time out of my crazed schedule to catch up with an old acquaintance. Who nearly sucked the life out of me and my dream.
I couldn’t believe how fast the air whizzed out of my tires when I spent time with an “energy vampire,” as the book calls it. I came home KNOWING I would fail. I sneered at myself for trying to start my own business. What was I thinking? What was I doing?
Luckily, I snapped out of it.
A quick consult with Joy, the bus driver, says there is no room for energy vampires on the bus. That’s a priceless lesson. Once I made a decision to move forward with my business, I hadn’t doubted myself until an energy vampire did it for me. And I almost let that run me off the road to my dream. It was a hard lesson but an important one. It was time to post a sign that said, “No energy vampires allowed on my bus.”
The first road trip
About 2 months after I read The Energy Bus, I launched ClearWing Communications.
It’s been a year of learning how to lift people up in the pursuit of their goals. Luckily, I am surrounded by a lot of incredibly smart people who share their own experiences and help me grow. And…I read great books.
Thanks to many incredible cheerleaders on my bus, ClearWing has helped 30 clients in pursuit of a goal. Some were big goals, like communications around a new business launch. Others were smaller pieces of a larger plan, like writing taglines, a speech or a thought leadership article. It’s priceless to get to work with many of these clients continuously, leading their strategic communications, marketing plans and execution every month.
I’ve had the opportunity to serve incredible clients who are changing the world in a variety of ways. I get to be their cheerleader. I bring a lot of positive energy to each team I’m part of or that I lead. And, as the book recommends, I strive to bring more value and joy to the work my clients and I do together every day.
And all of my cheerleaders? Sometimes they surprise me. My daughter’s third-grade teacher patted my arm one day at a school event. She said, “Penelope is so proud of her mom. She loves telling us that you’re a writer and you help people.” Knowing my daughter was proud. Also priceless.
Enjoy the ride
The bonus step at the end of the book is to have fun and enjoy the ride, which I am most certainly doing every day.
Final thoughts: you should know that I only touched on a few points from the book here. The Energy Bus covers “10 steps for fueling your life, work and team with positive energy.” You’re missing a lot if you only read this blog post.
My husband, who recommended the book to me, keeps a shelfful of copies at his office to hand to employees, vendors and colleagues who he thinks will benefit from its quick-to-digest lessons.
If you or someone in your life could use a little gas for current endeavors, get your ticket for the ride of your life before you roll on to the next thing. Here’s a link to The Energy Bus on Amazon.
And if you need support on your journey or just want to chat about the book, contact Christy at ClearWing. I’m over here, enjoying the ride, and so happy to cheer you on.
For an occasional email from ClearWing with business, marketing and communications tips and tricks, fill out the quick and easy form below.
Here, we’ll talk about developing key messaging and voice to shape up your brand identity.
Shape your brand’s key messaging and repeat it
Your key messaging should incorporate the “why” and the “who” we discussed in our previous brand identity blog. Then you’ll repeat it in every communication. Your website, your social media channels, printed collateral, ads, speeches, videos and more.
Companies with strong brand identities like Coca-Cola repeat their messaging over and over and over. And over and over and over. And over. Even when it gets old. That’s why you recognize slogans like “Taste the feeling.”
Why is repetition important?
In today’s digital landscape, media is more diverse than ever. People can get their information across different service providers and devices. That means audiences are more fragmented than ever. Even when a company repeats a message day in and day out, an individual customer only hears it sporadically so it must be repeated relentlessly.
People are also exposed to more messages than ever before. According to Yankelovich, a market research firm, people living in cities were exposed to an average of 5,000 ads a day in 2007. More than a decade later, experts say it could be as high as 10,000. It’s no wonder many messages don’t stick. In a world where thousands of messages compete for attention on a daily basis, repetition is critical.
Once a company develops its key messaging, it will inform all future communications such as elevator pitches, speeches, ads and more.
Your word choices and brand voice should reflect your organization’s personality
But don’t stop yet. Take it a step further and make intentional choices about your brand voice. Your brand has a unique personality and your brand voice should reflect it. Specific word across your marketing collateral will help people understand how your brand relates to them better.
To start humanizing your brand, come up with a list of adjectives that represent your organization’s personality. You might describe it with words like tough, friendly, witty or funny. And for every personality trait, there’s a voice to match. Words can be gruff, humorous, peppy or clever.
Brand personality helped SPANX stand out
A great example of a Georgia-based company that created a unique brand voice is SPANX. Atlantan Sara Blakely, a.k.a. the “pantyhose mogul,” invented her body-shaping product to look svelte in white jeans (it works, ya’ll).
Though the billionaire has made a killing, she shared in a 2018 interview with Georgia Trend magazine that her brand never takes itself too seriously. That’s a direct reflection of its founder who isn’t afraid to say she was the company’s original “butt model.” The name in itself – SPANX – was risky, but funny, and its first slogan was, “Don’t worry, we’ve got your butt covered.” Product names have included “Her Thighness” and “Undi-tectable.” Her brand voice made it acceptable, even cool, for younger women to use shapewear. The first SPANX served a need no one else was serving and her approachable humor helped the company stand out.
Brand personalities, especially for small businesses, are often a reflection of their founders. Think about your own personality. How would you describe you? It’s not a good idea to force a voice that’s far from natural. If your company voice is really humorous but you’re quiet and straightforward in person, it won’t feel authentic.
Exercise your brand identity
There’s a good chance you’ve gone through a similar process to create your brand logo and look with color, font and design choices. Combine that with brand messaging and voice and you’ll have everything you need to create a brand identity guideline document. Moving forward, you’ll want to share your guidelines with any marketing and communications professionals you work with, people on your team involved with marketing and companies you partner with to keep everything consistent.
For example, a sponsorship may include remarks, a company description in the program and a logo for a shirt or presentation. A quick consult with your brand identity document can guide your speaking points, program write-up and ensure the partner organization keeps the integrity of your logo intact.
For help creating a brand identity that really reflects your company, let’s talk.
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Boost your business when you focus on brand identity
We’re going to play a brand identity game and I’m not even going to tell you the rules. You’ll be fine. I say “Dress for Less.” Now you say, “_______.” Here are a few more. The Happiest Place on Earth. Taste the Feeling. Where Shopping is a Pleasure. Eat More Chicken. And my favorite, Do the Kind Thing.
Just in case you need a memory boost….that’s Ross, Disney, Coca-Cola, Publix, Chik-fil-A and KIND. But you probably already knew that.
These powerhouses have strong brand identities. That’s not a result of being a powerhouse. It’s the other way around. When a company creates a strong brand identity and does a phenomenal job of delivering on its brand promise, people connect with it and even trust it.
It’s clear that Ross, Chick-fil-A and Coke invest a lot of THOUGHT, TIME and MONEY into their branding. And COMMITMENT. While the first three are obvious, you might scratch your head at that word “commitment.” It means that after putting careful thought into creating the brand identity, these companies didn’t tuck the document away and move on. They committed to it for years and even decades. They repeated and continue to repeat the message and use their iconic logos and symbols (like cows for Chik-fil-A) over and over and over.
Branding is important for businesses of all sizes
Because these mammoth corporations spend more money than we can imagine on their marketing, does that mean we let them have all the branding fun? Most certainly not. Branding isn’t just important for billion dollar companies.
Branding is a critical step in paving the path to your company’s success. The investment you put into it will affect your ride. So unless you’re Jeep, you probably want to accelerate down a paved road rather than struggle up a rocky mountain incline.
A strong brand identity helps define you so clearly that your dream customers find you. When you’re working with your ideal customers, you’re happier. You provide even more excellent service or the new products that they love. They talk. That attracts more ideal customers. And your business grows.
Is it hard to find the time to do this? Yes! You want to focus on your product or your service. Who has time for a brand identity?
Is it worth it? Yup. Adding something else to your to-do list might feel like a step backward when you’re gearing up for a launch or even just managing the day today.
If you’re ready to level up your brand identity for better connections and growth, read on.
Start with your why
In a nutshell, a brand identity is your brand promise to your customer. It’s your why. It’s what gives you a traction to connect with your customers in a meaningful way.
Some businesses launch because their owners are good at what they do. They are tired of working for someone else. And they work to make sure they’re paying the bills. Those are all real-world reasons to run a business. But they’re not good enough to be a company’s why. They’re selfish. (Ouch.)
The real reason a company exists is to serve a purpose. To serve someone, somewhere. The financial payoff is what allows the company to keep on trucking. And when profits are high, they’re a reward for doing a good job. But money shouldn’t be the primary reason a company exists (unless it’s a bank.)
In other cases, a company is started with a deeper purpose. But then the day-to-day gets in the way and brand identity gets set aside.
No matter where you are, it’s never too late to rethink or rev up your brand identity. And then to maintain it. The more attention you give it, the better the results.
When you take the time to get granular with your why, it will serve to guide many of the business decisions you make in the future. In a nutshell, your why needs to define:
What you do
How you’re different
Why customers choose you
More than ever, millennials and the generations that follow are looking for connection. They’re looking for authenticity. They want to support brands with purpose. As an example, think about KIND Snacks. KIND promotes a message of kindness to our bodies as well as other humans in the world. Check out the KIND site – you can actually nominate someone for doing something #kindaawesome and hit them with a KIND card and a KIND bar.
Who do you serve?
Just as important as our why is our who. It’s imperative to drill down to who exactly we want to serve. A clearly defined customer makes it easier to deliver your message to the right people.
If you keep your brand as generic as possible so you can serve everybody, no one really has any way to connect with you.
But if you define your dream customer and deliver on your brand promise, you will stand out from a crowd to the people who really matter to you.
One way to develop a clear idea about who you serve is to create an avatar. That’s just another name for your audience or target market. An avatar typically includes a stock photo to represent your customer and a name to humanize him or her. It’s a lot more friendly than referring to your audience as a “target.” And before you get too concerned, yes, you can have more than one avatar. Many businesses reach more than one group and help alleviate more than one pain point.
When you’re creating your avatar, get specific. Male or female? Is she 25 or 35? Is she married? Does she have kids? Did she go to college? Does she drink Starbucks or Red Bull? Is she in a BMW or a Jeep? Would she prefer to get a manicure or go hiking next Saturday? Is she motivated by being a super mom, a super businesswoman or staying in great shape?
When your company has a clear sense of who your customer is, to know what they live for and what they care about, you’ll show them that you “get” them. Connect with who you want to serve and your ideal customer will seek you out. And as you deliver on your brand promise, you will grow.
If you’re ready to take your business to the next level with a strong brand identity, I’m thrilled for you! If you’re looking for support, tell me all about your why and your who so ClearWing can help your brand fly.
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Read our follow up brand identity post with tips on developing key messaging and brand voice. If you’re interested in receiving ClearWing’s future tips on brand storytelling and how to let your brand fly, sign up for the occasional e-blast here:
How to go from BAD to BADASS for remarkable growth
Are you about to launch a new business? Or maybe you’re in an opposite place: you feel stuck in your career, humming along without purpose. Either way, you may want to consider exchanging some bad ideas for badass beliefs. A little attitude adjustment transformed my life and I know it can do the same for you.
About six months ago, I went from one extreme (stuck) to the other (launch). I was working a job I liked. Comfortable, but not quite content. Then I launched my new business.
As someone who wants to gain the trust of future clients, the last thing I want to do is wear my flaws on my sleeve. As a PR person, I’m tempted to show you Curated Christy. All the right angles. All the right messages. But I’m about to go off script.
I hope by sharing some of my screwy ideas, anyone who’s stuck in a rut or about to launch a new business will be inspired and renewed. Here goes nothing.
Bad idea: You DIY a little too much.
I’ll admit it. I’m a do-it-yourselfer. When I was cold after moving to Georgia (I know, I know…but I moved here from southwest Florida), I learned to knit. I laid sod when I was pregnant. I grouted 800 square feet of flooring. For some crazy reason, I tried making my own shampoo (that was a bomb).
When I launched my business earlier this year, I was my own attorney and CPA. I repurposed an old LLC and EIN with a new DBA. And, my husband is about to launch a business, which we planned to roll up under the same LLC.
Badass idea: Consult with experts.
After a few red flags, I hired a corporate lawyer who helped me understand why setting up the business that way was a bad idea. He then helped me navigate out of the murky waters. He also gave me some advice on another issue (trademarking) that I was able to cross off my long to-do list.
With expert help outside of my own expertise, I cleared my uncertain path and put my mind at ease. I had more time and energy to focus on my clients in areas where I’m strong and can make a difference.
Bottom line: don’t try to fill every position in your business, especially when it’s outside your industry. Ask for help where you’re weak to allow you to be a badass _____________(fill-in-the-blank with your specialty).
Bad Idea: You’re “too busy” to spend time with people.
Okay, this is one of the more embarrassing things on the list. I used to consider myself a people person but in recent years, I’ve been shrinking away from human interaction. When I (finally) read the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey last year, I learned an ugly truth about myself. The amount of work I could crank out was where I found my value as a person. Colleagues invited me to lunches. Organizations invited me to events. And I skipped everything unless I was absolutely forced to attend. I had some tension with some colleagues because they wanted to socialize with me and I wanted to focus on my work. My brain said the problem was them.
The book made it clear that I put accomplishments before people. While work is good, and too much chit-chat in the office can distract, I had to find balance. And I did for a while.
But old habits die hard. I returned to my old ways when I launched ClearWing Communications. People would say “we should grab lunch!” and I’d scream inside. Out loud, I’d say something asinine like, “Sounds great! Let’s touch base in a few months when things settle down a bit.”
Meanwhile, I was missing out on opportunities and friendship.
Badass idea: Reconnect with who you know and meet new people.
Thank goodness so many good people already had this human stuff figured out, shared their secrets and loved me despite my flaws. I had a successful launch because of people who were willing to spend time sharing a coffee.
Looking back at my numbers, my prospects to help people grow their businesses grew as I met more people for coffee. More importantly, my quality of life improved because I learned to enjoy the moment and relish time spent learning about someone else.
The takeaway here is “reach out and touch someone.” Shake their hand or even hug (this is the south). Say “yes” to meeting people face-to-face.
Bad Idea: You think maybe you should give up caffeine.
Don’t ever quit the caffeine. Because, you just read through point #2, right?
Badass Idea: Drink caffeine.
Seriously, if coffee’s not your jam, meet people for coffee anyway. I’m not a coffee person myself but magic happens in coffee shops. Learn something new about someone new over a smoothie or a blueberry muffin.
Bad Idea: You think networking events are for getting business.
Do you enjoy hearing blind pitches from salespeople? Me neither.
But when I started networking, there was this pressure to walk into a room, identify someone and sell my services to them. Essentially, I wanted to propose marriage in a speed-dating session.
Frankly, a lot of other people see networking events the same way, which is another reason so many of us dread going to networking events. I’ve been approached by so many people and I’m just not in the market for their services.
Badass Idea: Connect, relate and help others at networking events.
Real networking is about getting to know people and helping them. We all have room to grow. Share your challenges and ask whomever you’re talking with about what they’re facing. Chances are, you might know someone to connect them with and they might have some good advice for you too. Overcoming obstacles together is the basis for a lasting relationship that could bless you and your network for years to come.
I guess you probably realize that to get to know people like this, you have to show up more than once. I’ve heard the frustration of many others with a new business. They attend one event and think it’s a waste of time. But when all of us attend weekly or monthly, we recognize people, help them, form relationships and actually enjoy it.
Bad Idea: You feel like you need to be everything to everyone.
Fifteen years of marketing seems like a good amount of experience. But I still didn’t feel like I was enough. I felt like my new business needed to be a full-service agency. By myself. I felt inadequate. I had a desire. No, that word is not strong enough. I had a sickness that kept me up at night learning every possible thing I thought I needed to know that moment to sell myself.
Badass Idea: Have confidence in what you know.
I woke up and realized clients wanted to work with me because I’m really good at what I know.
This isn’t to say learning new things is bad. But embrace who you already are and what you already know. Let that lead. Learn as you go and as it makes sense rather than pressuring yourself to be everything to everyone.
The truth is, the more specific your niche, the more attractive you are to your ideal client.
Bad Idea: You think you know enough.
Here’s another really embarrassing one. I got too comfortable in my career. I allowed myself to believe that when I wasn’t at work, I should clock out on my personal growth. Work/life balance is so important! But that doesn’t mean I should stop learning.
Badass Idea: Be a sponge.
I was a member of Public Relations Society of America for a number of years, but it was only when I launched my communications firm that I really appreciated the incredible benefits provided to me. Now I’m a sopping wet sponge. I soak in information and best practices from PRSA’s magazine, message boards, panels, seminars and webinars. It adds interest to my life and makes me better at what I do for my clients.
Never stop learning. It makes life more exciting and fulfilling. And, it helps you serve your audience better.
Revive yourself with better ideas
As my ideas went from bad to badass, my new business grew. In my third month, the things I measure to know I’m on track came close to where I wanted to be by month 12. More importantly, I liked myself and my life inside and outside of work more. Pardon the poetics, but the sun is rising on a whole new horizon.
Whether you’re looking to add new energy to your career or you’re about to launch a new business, I hope I inspired you to ditch some bad ideas that are holding you back. Instead, take time for people, learn new things and have faith that you’re enough. When you open yourself to the new, you may just find yourself heading down an unexpected, beautiful path.
Please share any “bad ideas” you’ve transformed over the years for smarter and happier business. I love to learn from others.
ClearWing plug: If you’re launching something new and need communications, marketing or content support, let’s meet for coffee! While I don’t design, develop sites, coach small businesses or offer legal advice, I have an amazing network. (See #4.) So tell me what you’re up to and I’ll see who I know that might be of service to you as you launch. Call 470-240-1861 or email me.
Technology will change your business: Are you prepared?
Has your life been disrupted or improved by technology? What about your business? Probably yes and yes. And you can expect more change in the near future. As the rate of innovation picks up its pace, so does change across many industries. Are you ready to lead effective change management in your organization? Read on for a look at how technology is creeping into every aspect of our lives and for tips on how to be change-adept for the future.
You’re probably using AI, even if you don’t know it
How has tech disrupted your life? Or made it better? This may surprise you, but according to a March 2018 Gallup poll, 85 percent of Americans already use at least one of six products with artificial intelligence (AI).
The hottest tech buzzword now: Internet of Things (IoT)
I personally use AI and another emerging tech known as the Internet of Things (IoT) every day. IoT connects devices (other than computers, tablets and smartphones) to the internet. Cars or kitchen appliances for example. For a fuller explanation, click here to visit Business Insider.
Auto command center
Are you a Wazer? I use AI & IOT in my car with Waze to drive smart. The smartphone app offers real-time help of road warriors driving in the same geography as me. If you don’t already use it, try it! It’s amazing.
Do you use a headset yet? My Bluetooth headset allows me to talk hands-free in the car for a safer driving experience. With the new Georgia driving laws, any Georgian could get into hot water for holding their phone up to their ear, scrolling through contacts and touching the dial button.
So, I’m combining the use of my headset with AI in the car with use of Google Assistant and commands like, “Ok Google, call Eduin Rosell.”
AI while I “cook”
Alexa, a personal assistant in my bedroom and kitchen provided by Amazon, helps me to play music, check the weather, build shopping lists and embarrassingly, boil an egg since I can never remember exactly how to do it.
I’ve lost count of how many times in a day I start a sentence with, “Alexa,” or “Ok Google.” And how many times I mix up their names. It would be nice to have a boss bot to command all the other bots so I can keep them straight. I’m sure it’s in the works…
AI on the job
While most of the examples I gave above are personal, I use AI in my job too. When I launched my business, I needed a better editor than the one we all use in Word. That’s where Grammarly comes in. Not only can it edit at a higher level, it can do it in different types of English. So when I’m writing a thought leadership piece to publish in Europe, I turn on the “British English” language preference. These tools don’t catch a lot of the nuances of our language, but they do help avoid dumb grammar or structural mistakes. I highly recommend it, no matter what type of business you’re in.
When I first launched my PR business, I was asked if I “do tech.” I wasn’t sure how to respond. I made a crazy assumption that I wasn’t already, well, “doing tech.”
But once I thought about it, my work in the past few years has included PR strategy about electronic medical records, robotic surgery and a digital driving test for stroke patients.
That’s just the start. Right now I’m working on communications spanning industries about their new tech applications like:
Advertising software that automates media buying and selling
Blockchain, bots and augmented reality for travel business management
An app that helps hospitalists make tough decisions fast about complex drug delivery
An interactive digital classroom for music pedagogy students
How do we stay relevant?
If talk about AI infiltrating your business world makes you squirm, you’re not alone. While many of us say we’re open to change, the majority of us are not early adopters. As our world is increasingly connected, changes won’t slow. Tech is making its way into every realm of our lives, including the office.
So how do we stay relevant? We keep learning. We stay open to change. We try new things. Even if it takes nine tries to call my husband with Ok Google the first time. It’s a learning process to adopt new technology, but it gets easier with repetition. I can hear my old piano teacher now…”Practice, practice, practice…”
How leaders can lead effective change management
Time after time has shown that change management efforts fall flat too often. But they don’t have to. As technology makes its way into your industry, leaders need to embrace and encourage change for personal and organizational success. Your approach will help your company succeed in the tech-saturated future.
LEARN: The first step to becoming change-adept is as simple as reading the news and trade publications. Subscribe to digital publications like AtlantaInno (or any of its sister sites across the country) to see the cutting-edge ideas incubating in your own backyard. And if there’s something you don’t understand, seek to understand.
IMAGINE:Harvard Business Review suggests imagining the future and creating a culture of calculated risk-taking. Look for things that could be improved around you and make connections with the emerging technology you hear about. Look at what others are doing to solve problems. How could what another industry is doing with AI be applied to fix your business challenges? Invite your team to do the same. Instead of asking “why?” when an employee offers a solution, ask “why not?”
TEST: Before going full throttle, create a safe pilot environment. Keep old systems in place while testing new systems. Test with a small group rather than enterprise-wide. This will help decide if it’s worth moving forward and if so, work out some of the kinks in advance.
COMMUNICATE: When your company adopts a new technology, you must launch effective change management communications at the beginning and continue throughout the process. Your communications team or consultants can help you develop and implement change management communications that lead to success, such as:
Share the “why” so employees are less likely to fight the change.
Put together a cross-functional team to help the organization adopt. Include leaders, front-line users, techies, influencers, people who have access to other people and skeptics. (By getting people who tend to fight change involved, they will be more likely to help change the minds of other naysayers.)
Give people a platform to ask questions and express concerns. Ask for input and respond quickly throughout the process.
Publish success stories to create momentum for new tech adoption.
Change can’t happen without everyone’s support. When you turn off the old systems and turn on the new because change adoption was a success, be sure to thank everyone in your organization.
We live in a world of innovation. It’s already changed your organization and it’s only a matter of time until it changes again. You can choose to create positive change with an attitude of learning, imagination, experimentation and communication.
How has technology already affected your business? Comment below with your story and tips for successful change management when adopting new tech.
No doubt, you’ll get a rush from everything that comes with launching your business! There are so many things to do and think about other than the tasks of your trade. One of those tasks is to figure out how to name a business.
When I completed the month-long naming process for my freelance marketing business, I felt relieved and ecstatic to move forward. But I also felt like a Nova with an empty gas tank.
For about a month, I would wake up in the middle of the night shouting names. I kept a notepad and pen next to the bed for those 3 a.m.-ers. And I lost focus on conversations with everyone around me. Something mid-story might spark an idea and I’d run off to write it down. I share this so you don’t feel alone if you’re experiencing those highs and major lows.
Researching how to name a business and going through the process is a lot of work. And very personal. What one person praises, another will tear down. But if you follow the steps below, they might help your naming process fly and add a little pep back to your step.
Lean on your village. You’re about to begin a difficult process. There will be ups. Many moments where light bulbs appear above your head. And downs when you realize that great idea you had is already taken or when you think you just can’t be creative anymore. It’s good to have trusted advisers and good friends who will lift you up when things get heavy.
Write it down. Get your hands inky and jot ideas on a notepad. There’s something about the old-fashioned way of writing that jogs a brain. A laptop works too. Or hey, maybe even a napkin.
Include everything. The ideas might just start flowing at first. Stream-of-consciousness is good, so write down the crazy words even if they seem like a stretch.
Start with what you know. You might start with things related to your business. What do you do? Why? What benefit does your audience get from you?
Expand your list. Visit a thesaurus and find more words for the words that you’ve already written down. Scribble the ones you like on your notepad.
Play with words. One tool I like is the idiom dictionary.Plug in words you like to see if they’re in any phrases in an idiom dictionary. Rhyming words are good too. Cross-reference rhyming words with the idioms dictionary. Then substitute your word of choice. Here’s a fun and slightly inappropriate example… Let’s say I’m selling pies. The thesaurus suggests the synonym tart. One word that rhymes with tart is heart. I use the idiom dictionary to come up with expressions, say, “Home is where the heart is.” Then substitute the word you really want to use. Now it reads: “Home is where the tart is.” Now that’s a fun ad headline!
Look everywhere for inspiration. Your hobbies, favorite books, poems, movies, music. What was the street of your favorite author? The name of your favorite hiking trail? Numbers with meaning. I got my idea for a name from a garden creature called a clearwing hummingbird moth. I adopted the name and made it work for what I do. ClearWing tells a story in itself – clear & concise messaging that gives your brand a lift.
Create a name list. Now look at your word lists and start playing. What words do you like? Can you combine them? Can you create new words by combining parts? By the end of the process, I examined around 700 words or name ideas on my list.
Check availability. Once you create a name list, you’ll want to check availability. Look to see if there are already businesses with those names. Get ready – this is the worst part of the process. So many creative names are claimed. If a business in a similar industry to yours has the name you like, keep brainstorming.
Check to see if your idea is trademarked on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website. If not, it’s still not an all-clear. Lots of businesses are active online without trademarking.
Check to see if the URL is available.
Google the name to see what comes up.
Look for the name in LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
If someone parked a URL you’re interested in, but no one trademarked or uses the business name, you can still consider the name. You’ll just have to get creative with the URL if you can’t buy it. You might consider adding “WeAre…” to the front of the name or a verb like “Creates” to the back that describes what you do.
Step away. At this point in the process, you may feel stressed and less creative. Go for a run, take your kids to a movie or do whatever it is you love to do. Maybe that involves wine. You’ll be surprised how more ideas come your way when you’re trying NOT to think about it.
Audio test. Once you’ve come up with an exhaustive list of names that are legally available, you’ll need to narrow it down. Before you start reaching out to people for opinions, do an audio test of your favorites. Listen to yourself saying it aloud. You’ll rule some out just because they’re awkward to say. It’s helpful to record yourself and listen to the playback. I used a voice recorder app on my phone. I “introduced myself” at a networking event and “recorded” a message on my phone. I was able to hear how my business sounded on a recording, which was quite different than how it sounded to myself in the moment I said it. I was able to rule some out this way too.
Survey people. I kept track of the men and women because I wanted a name that would appeal to both groups. I tested people from different age groups in my industry, but also people in businesses that could be potential clients. Keep your audience in mind when you survey. You can use SurveyMonkey for a more formal survey process. I did the survey more informally by email, text and Facebook. I asked people to vote for as many as they liked.
Tell somebody on the phone. When I narrowed the name down to the top votes, I mentioned it to a few people on the phone. I ruled out one of my favorite names because several people asked me to repeat it. Then they would ask me what it meant. Once they understood, they had a positive reaction to it. But the initial “come again?” reaction was a clear sign that the name would be a hassle when networking.
Let go. You might need some time to think over your finalists, so if you can, give yourself time to just chew on it.
Trust yourself. At some point, you might get opinion overload. During the voting process, opinions helped show which names sparked positive associations. But when you’re down to the final selection, very smart and successful business people may differ with each other on what makes the best name. So, if you invented the name, it’s available, you like it, and it got a lot of votes on your list, you have to trust yourself at some point and choose a name. You will never make everyone happy.
Commit. For businesses that have a good amount of lead time before the launch, you’ll have time to create, think, survey and repeat if needed. But time is a luxury that many people don’t have. So go with your instincts and pick the name that you feel you can own with pride. And buy your URL as fast as possible.
Thank your village. Luckily, I had guidance from a number of wonderful people throughout this process. And, my family who had to listen to my bright ideas and grumblings. My four-year-old son even got in on the action. He recommended I name the business “Cheese Boop.” It was a joke that went on for days and helped lighten the tension. One of my most emotionally supportive villagers was Chantelle Catania. She knows how to name a business. She renamed and re-branded her graphic design firm, Annatto after doing the same thing for many clients. My final name choice was far from her pick, but she pushed me to go with my gut and cheered me when I made a decision. She said if I owned it loud and proud, it would be a success.
So, thank you to everyone who helped me figure out how to name a business. You were patient through a grueling process. And, invaluable sounding boards. Together, we narrowed down a lot of good choices.
This process is not for the faint of heart! If you find yourself in the midst of a rebrand or a new business launch and would like professional help (as in the brainstorming/marketing kind), fill out this form to email me or call 404-409-7759.