Keep the Cookie Cutters in the Kitchen

Blog-image_cookie-cutter_2015-07-27Unless I happen to be standing courtside at an NBA game, I’m pretty easy to spot in a crowd. I’m 6’6”, which is great when I’m playing basketball, but it can be a real problem when doing everyday things like shopping for clothes. If I’m fortunate enough to even find clothes in my size, I have to try every single item on, even though the labels all indicate the same size. You’ve likely experienced this frustration too: picking out two shirts or dresses that are the same size, but are made by different companies, and finding that one fits while the other does not. (Don’t even get me started on airplane seats.) One size truly does not fit all, at least that’s too often my experience.

The same holds true for your company’s social media program. Just because something worked for a competitor, or even for you at your last company, does not mean it’s appropriate for your current organization. Even in a crowded tech market sector like cyber security or storage, your company is different, and your social media efforts should reflect the uniqueness of the expertise and solutions you offer to your customers.

I’ve been around long enough to remember when platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter launched, and saw even the largest enterprises with very savvy marketing and PR professionals struggle to figure out how to leverage them to interact with customers. The promise of a new effective marketing tool was there, but there was no instruction manual. A common refrain was “our competitors are doing social, so we need to do social,” and companies would just start posting stuff without any formal strategy.

With apologies to Bob Dylan, the times they are… well…. not a-changin’.

Don’t get me wrong, you should absolutely feel compelled to launch and maintain an ongoing social media program. Our research has found social media and search engine optimization (SEO) dominate inbound marketing lead sources, each producing 14 percent of all marketing leads. That places them far ahead of other activities such as exhibiting at trade shows (8 percent) and traditional advertising (6 percent). Additionally, social media has a 100 percent higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing.

Too often organizations take a particular campaign that worked for one business, copy it and then try to make it fit theirs. I frequently hear someone say, “When I was at [insert company name here] we did a [insert activity] campaign and it worked really well. I think it will work again. We should do it here.” Often the activity has to do with an event or stunt, and simply will not work under the current circumstances.

In order to have an effective social media program, a measured, thoughtful approach needs to be taken. Researching your target audiences, so you develop an understanding of how they like to be communicated with by their current and potential vendors, and through which specific platforms, is the critical first-step.

In addition, B2B social media programs and campaigns often fail because the company tries to mirror something clever that worked for a B2C company.  Don’t fall into that trap. Consumers’ interests and buying habits can change quickly, and consumer tech product lifecycles are much shorter than those for business or enterprise technologies. A B2B social program should focus less on raising visibility and more on building relationships. It is less emotional, more rational.

I’ve seen countless organizations put efforts into Facebook contests simply because Facebook has the largest stable of users. A better approach for many B2B organizations is to spend time building relationships in forums or other online communities, such as Spiceworks or LinkedIn. The number of likes a Facebook page has is not as important as a strong relationship fostered on thoughtful dialogue in an ongoing discussion thread in a relevant LinkedIn group. Yes, visibility and reach is important. However, building transparent and strong relationships is more critical to helping expand brand visibility.

Realize too that a social media program must evolve as your audiences expectations, habits and wants change, or new industry trends appear that may force them to consider new solutions to new problems. As a result, it is just as important to make sure you have an ability to regularly measure the effectiveness of your efforts to ensure the long-term effectiveness of your unique paid, earned and owned social programs. If you are not meeting key performance indicators along the way, you should modify the program immediately.

The topics of researching and understanding your target audiences, setting realistic program goals and expectations (for you and your executive leadership team), and measurement are all important and all merit their own blog posts. So that’s exactly what I will do in upcoming posts.

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How to Become an Inbound Marketing Content Creation Machine!

Blog-image-HBO-2015-07-09Even if you’re not an HBO subscriber, you’re likely familiar with the network’s smash hit “Game of Thrones.” The latest season ended a couple weeks ago, and HBO is basking in the glow of nationwide media coverage and thousands of fans promoting the show across their social media networks. But if HBO does not hook viewers with new shows, many will just move to other channels that offer the content they want to consume and share. Your prospective and current customers can be just as fickle when it comes to the inbound marketing content you develop in the on-going effort to hook them and turn them into brand advocates. As long as they find the content fresh and compelling, they’ll keep coming back. But if it grows stale or doesn’t answer their questions, you’ll quickly lose them. So how can you become that great content creation machine? The first step, without exception, is to develop a plan of action, even if at first that is simply laying out a series of processes you and your team can follow.

If you don’t have a strategy in place, you’re in the majority. While working to earn HubSpot’s Inbound Certification through its excellent HubSpot Academy program, I came across a couple statistics that surprised me: only 44 percent of B2B marketers and 39 percent of B2C marketers have a documented content strategy. That means a concerted, well-planned effort will likely give you a leg up on your competitors.

I suspect a majority of marketing professionals – maybe even 100 percent – realize how important content creation is. The stumbling blocks appear when trying to figure out what topics to address and what tactics to use: blog posts, e-newsletters, social media engagement, infographics, videos, etc. Creating and implementing a strategy can help eliminate those brainstorm sessions that result in more blank stares and clean whiteboards than ideas and directions.

There are four building blocks on an on-going content creation strategy: plan, create, distribute, and analyze. I’ll cover the first two here, and my colleague Emily Butler will discuss how to effectively leverage the content you create and measure the results in her next post.

First, whom are you trying to reach? You likely have multiple target audiences, including companies in different industries, and executives across various business units within one company. Knowing your personas are and what wants or needs they hope you can help them address are critical to your success.

That leads to the next exercise: determine the topic, or topics, you want to address. The HubSpot Academy Inbound Marketing Certification lessons frequently use a term – “buyer’s journey” – that sounds like something only appropriate for B2C marketers, but I think it applies equally well to B2B.

In order to provide a solution, you have to understand the problem. The buyer’s journey will help you do this. The buyer’s journey is the active research process that people go through leading up to making a purchase. Picture the marketing textbook’s marketing funnel, but from the buyer’s perspective.

So now you’ve identified your target personas and the issues they’re facing, and used that information to determine the topic for your content. The next step is to set goals: how you will use the content you create to help reach those goals. For example, do you want people to visit specific pages on your web site, visit your trade show booth, request a sales demo, share something across their social networks – or even all of the above?

Then think about the format of that piece of content, realizing you have a number of great options: eBooks, customer case studies, videos, podcasts, webinars, white papers, and infographics, just to name a handful.

No matter what formats you leverage, remember that your customers and potential customers don’t care about the issues you’re facing, and won’t want to read a promotional piece about a product. They’re coming to you to learn how to solve their problems, so any presentation of your products or services must be part of a higher-level education effort. Become their trusted advisor, not just a company trying to sell them something.

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Measuring the Value of PR Requires Looking at Outcome, Not Output

Blog-image-measuring PR-2015-07-08When my husband and I recently bought a new car, we began our search not by wandering from dealership to dealership, but by conducting several hours of research at home. We read dozens of reviews and recommendations, paying particular attention to those that examined the features and safety ratings important to us. We were just as interested in reading case studies about why buyers selected their cars as much as were in the experts’ reviews. We searched industry publications like Consumer Reports and Car and Driver, consumer and car enthusiasts’ blogs, and social media platforms like Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube. By the time we walked into the dealership, we had basically already made up our minds. The salesperson merely helped to validate our choice.

How does this relate to PR?  I thought about how the auto manufacturers’ PR teams might try to measure their efforts to influence our decision. They could all point to press releases that linked to photos and information on their web sites, and proudly hold up articles in the national automotive and business press. But those alone would not reflect all the other influencers who had a hand in helping us choose our new car.

We did not break any new ground with our research. Consumers and business decision-makers are now in control of the sales process. Like my husband and I walking into the dealership, by the time potential customers actually engage with your sales team, they have made up their minds.

So how can you evaluate how effective you are being at getting in front of your target audiences during the critical due diligence process? I recommend incorporating the Barcelona Principles, a set of guidelines established at a conference put on by the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) in 2010.  They present the three necessary components for measuring any campaign:

  1. Output: Collect and present coverage by media, bloggers, analysts and other influencers, but don’t stop at simply tallying the total number of articles. Examine tone, share of voice compared to your competitors, whether your key messaging is included and accurate, if your spokesperson is quoted and whether articles feature graphics, photos and links to specific resources on your website. Create a scoring system based on these factors.
  1. Outcomes: More difficult to measure, but also likely to be more important to your executive leadership team. Did your activities compel your target customers to make a purchase? If not, did they take other actions that may shorten the sales cycle, such as requesting more information or a demo.
  1. Map to overall business goals: Focus on how the results are helping your company realize its broader metrics such as customer acquisition, growing the channel ecosystem, and revenue growth. Bringing PR into that conversation is the best way to demonstrate the value of your efforts.

What hasn’t changed is the importance of establishing strong relationships with the media important to your market. The media landscape is undergoing its own significant (and often painful) evolution, but journalists remain a primary source for information your customers trust to guide their buying decisions. The old hardbound clips book may be a relic of PR past, but securing consistent and positive media coverage remains a foundation of any successful integrated marketing campaign. But the definition of “media coverage” now includes videos, podcasts Tweets and blog posts.

Therefore, when measuring the value of media coverage, don’t worry about counting comparative ad values and circulation numbers. Focus instead on whether the journalists understand your story. Does the key messaging you’ve worked so hard to develop come across in their articles, and are they “talking” about you across their other platforms, like Twitter? Are these stories helping to build your brand and grow your company?

How we measure the value of PR has changed, but the value of PR has not. If anything, it’s become more important in an age when there are so many influencers scattered across so many different outlets that advertising and other traditional marketing materials simply cannot effectively reach.

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Marketing/Sales/PR Commandment: Know Thy Customer!

Blog-image_personas_2015-01-08There is an unwritten commandment to marketing, PR and sales … “know thy customer!” Knowing who the customer is requires a holistic view based upon good research and solid facts to ensure that what you deliver in the way of content, messaging and features meets your customer’s needs.

There are many approaches to understanding how customers engage with a brand and ultimately purchase products. One effective approach is the development of Personas. A well-researched and developed persona can make all the difference in meeting quarterly and annual sales, lead and engagement goals.

What are Personas and why should I spend the time creating them?

Personas provide everything about key customer(s) that marketing and sales need to know to deliver solid content, features and sales strategies. By creating a well-defined persona you can weed out the customer noise and focus on what matters most to those who care about your brand and solutions.

Unfortunately, some marketers and sales professionals consider personas to be unnecessary and too general to make a difference. Despite this thinking, taking a good look at the customers that matter most and getting to know their needs, focus and sales process can ultimately change a mediocre campaign into a very profitable one.

What should be included in a persona?

There are a number of questions every marketing/PR/sales person should ask themselves when creating a persona. The following is a short list and doesn’t include everything that we explore, but provides an idea of the depth needed to create a solid persona. Questions include:

  1. Demographics (age, gender, personality and interests related to your product)
  2. What is their role?
  3. Size of company they work for?
  4. Responsibilities – do they manage people/processes?
  5. Where do they prefer to get their information on products?
  6. What are their key pain points?
  7. What drivers lead them to search for your product?
  8. What are their buying criteria?
  9. What role do they play in the purchase process?
  10. What are the common objectives to their purchasing a product?

Personas take time:

Investing the right amount of time up front will save money, frustration and even time in the long run. Getting to “know thy customer” requires understanding their demographics, responsibilities, buying habits, purchasing process, information sources and pain points. All provide a strong story that can be told through proper placement of content, resources and messaging. However, all of these steps take time to completely understand what matters most to your customer.

Getting the right people involved is also critical to the development of personas. Marketing, PR and field sales team members can help pick the right mix of customers and what challenges or concerns come up during the buying process. In general, refining this list down to 3-4 key personas can have the largest impact on the company’s bottom line.


“Know thy customer” requires the right questions, research and team members to ensure that the personas drive leads and sales. I have had the privilege of doing this with a number of companies with great results.

Some of you may read this and say – no duh. But if we are honest with ourselves, how much time do we really spend getting to know our customers/readers? I know I still have work to do, but knowing the right questions to ask to the right people in the organization makes the creation of personas easier and more successful. When I have done this the right way, clients programs and lead generation efforts are more successful. It feels amazing to be a part of their success especially when it is done right.

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What the Red Cups Revival Can Teach Us About Timely Social Media

Blog-image_pumpkinspice_2014-12-15It’s that wondrous time of year again, when the temperature drops, snow starts to fall, and Christmas flavored everything hits the market.  What can gingerbread lattes and peppermint mochas tell you about social media?

Well first of all, it highlights timeliness. Would peppermint mochas mean so much to us if they were around all year? Would you be as excited as you are the first time in winter when you walk into Starbucks and see that they have changed over to the magical red cup? Or see the very first @Starbucks tweet? I’d wager you wouldn’t be.  I am sad to say, this year I was out and about and saw a lady with a red cup and then proceeded to change direction and drop what I was doing just to find the nearest Starbucks.

The thing that makes the red cup so special is that it comes out at a time that reminds everyone of Christmas and staying bundled up surrounded by family and friends.

While social media is an all year round strategy, we can learn a bit about timeliness from the great red cup revival. You have to hit your audience with news and posts when they want and need it. You also need to be able to analyze the situation and respond with content that your audience is looking for.

Many companies have one of these figured out but not the other. Below are four things that all social media teams must pay attention to in order to be able to respond swiftly and correctly and ensure your social strategy capitalizes on timely activities and events:

    1. Breaking News – social media thrives on the news. Always make sure you know what is happening, since you may need to alter your posts to be sensitive to a situation.
      1. Make sure to always be on top of the news. You want to make sure that all of your posts are sensitive to a situation, unlike the NRA after the Colorado shooting in
    2. Trends – make sure to know what’s trending and tailor your posts and content to give the audience the type of information they are looking for in the moment.
    3. Relevant Hashtags – don’t be afraid to jump on popular hashtags. If used properly a post with a trending hashtag can reach a much broader audience. You need to be careful and make sure that you’re not being too promotional or insensitive.
      1. Do not be like DiGiorno. Make sure that you take the time to figure out what the hashtag really means before jumping on the bandwagon.digiorno-tweet
    4. Questions – by always keeping your eye on your social channels you will be able to spot customer questions shortly after they are thrown your way. Increased response time will make a loyal follower.
    5. Crisis Communication – it is pivotal to keep an eye on your social channels for potential issues. You need to quickly assess a situation and take appropriate action before it escalates to a crisis.
      1. UK chain Greggs is a great example of how to stay on top a crisis while responding to users in a friendly and in charge manner. Earlier this year, someone changed the Google Wikipedia page to say something inappropriate. Many users attacked the company, but their immediate response and messaging saved them from a PR disaster.

    With the holiday just behind us, it is important that you follow these easy guidelines to ensure a timely and relevant social media presence going in to 2015. Like building a snowman right when the good powder hits the ground.

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Social Media Tips for the Holiday Season

Blog-image_Holiday-Season_2014-12-11It’s the holiday season, and everyone is winding down for the end of the year and getting ready for the December holidays to begin. It’s important to think ahead to figure out your social media strategy for the upcoming season.

Below are a few tips and tricks to make sure you have your social media presence covered over the holidays:

  • Preschedule posts – depending on your company’s annual holiday leave you may or may not be in the office before or after Christmas. It is important to have some social media scheduled in the queue, so that you don’t have to worry about creating content while enjoying family and friends. You also want to make sure that you never ‘go dark’ and leave your channels silent for an extended period.
  • Make sure that you have someone online and checking your channels – while this may not be what you want to do during the holidays, it is important to keep your social presences active and make sure that you are answering any questions that come in.
  • Create a list of responses that can be used for questions that come in over the holiday – In order to help answer questions that come in over the break, it is helpful to have a question and answer guide that will allow you to respond in a timely manner.
  • Make sure you have a consistent tone in your responses – the holiday season can be a time of high stress. People can take to social to vent frustrations with the company, services, or products. It is important to always respond in a clear and levelheaded manner. Do not let your emotions get the best of you.
  • Cover your holidays – not everyone celebrates Christmas, so it is important to not single out just one winter holiday.
  • Use holiday hashtags – these will extend the reach of your posts. Be careful not to go overboard on them.

Now that you have some tips and tricks to help your social media strategy over the holidays, get cozy and warm and enjoy the season of giving.

Everyone here at Connect wishes you a happy holiday and a successful social media strategy!

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Get Rid of the Muck – Five Tips for Contributing a Gem

Blog-image-get-rid-of-muck-2014-12-05Editors at TechCrunch and ReadWrite say they’ve seen more poorly written contributed articles cross their desks recently than ever before. The editors at GigaOm are so tired of promotional articles being submitted for consideration that they are now refusing to consider articles submitted by PR and marketing professionals.

“Wading through the endless off-topic pitches in our email inbox is a chore I’m loath to ask any self-respecting editorial person to do anymore; sure, you can throw out the obvious SEO scams, but the deluge of PR-submitted guest posts (most of which are clearly ghost authored) we receive each week forces us to wade through considerable muck in order to find the very small number of gems.” – Tom Krazit, Editor-in-Chief, GigaOm

Contributing thought leadership articles is becoming one of the most valuable tools and techniques that we have as marketing professionals. Producing quality content that represents our clients well and meets the approval of some of the most experienced editors in the industry should be high on our priority list.

Consider these tips when pitching a contributed article to one of the top technology business publications:

  • Quality content – What is your point of view? Is it unique and timely? Will it initiate a discussion? Is there a clear takeaway for the reader? Include specific examples and real anecdotes to illustrate your point. Make certain it isn’t too general and confirm the focus matches the core coverage area of the publication you are targeting.
  • Cut the promotion – This is a no-brainer but look at your article carefully, be certain that the premise doesn’t even come close to subtly shilling your product. As one editor at a top technology business publication stated:

    “If you are bringing up a problem that your company is well-suited to solve, you are probably on thin ice.”

  • Prove your expertise and experience – Position the author as an influencer and strategic voice in the industry. Include a link to the author’s Twitter profile, blogs and bio. Editors always have a preference for authors who have credibility, knowledge, expertise and a large social following.
  • Images – It always helps to mention infographics or screenshots to accompany the story. Make sure they are simple and clear and match the format of the publication.
  • Be authentic – The author of your article needs to be a C-Level executive. Even if the article is ghost written, you want to make sure the article expresses the voice and personality of the executive.

Follow these simple tips, and the guidelines provided by each publication, and you’ll create excellent content and most likely have a real gem on your hands.

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Steve Jobs Didn’t Like Focus Groups. Why You Should.


Steve Jobs reportedly hated focus groups. His famous quote …

“It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

Steve Jobs

… is often cited by tech companies who think of focus group research as out of date in the fast-paced tech world.

Was Jobs right? That depends. Taken literally, I agree with his quote. If the customer knew what the next big thing was, they would be CMO. It is neither their job, nor in their wheelhouse to design products. That’s your job.

But focus groups rarely ask such a broad question as “what do you want.” At their best, focus groups help marketers to understand what makes prospects and customers tick, and how they might react to something new.

Early in my career I attended a focus group for Peter Norton Computing. Norton was testing a new, product designed to be “Norton Utilities for Networks.” An important feature was the ability to manipulate the inner workings for network storage volumes to salvage valuable information from hard disks gone bad. That same feature for PCs made Norton Utilities the industry’s number one utility.

Not so fast. The focus groups hated the feature. Here is a quote from my original notes: “If you introduce a product with that feature I will make sure my company never buys another product from your company.”

Who knew?

As a result, that feature got the deep-six, other features gained prominence and the product went on to a very successful run.

Okay, so what would Steve Jobs have done? Well, here is an insightful anecdote. The original Mac had no arrow keys (nor a numeric keypad, for that matter). Why no arrow keys? Jobs felt users should use the mouse instead.

I wonder how that focus group would have gone. Here is a hint – Apple rushed out an auxiliary numeric keyboard (complete with arrow keys) months after the original Mac launched. I have to believe a focus group could have spotted that before the original Mac shipped.

If you start the right discussions with the right people, focus groups can be a valuable resource for any marketer. Next time I’ll share some thoughts about how best to do just that.

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The Kobayashi Maru and Other Marketing Stories

CM_blog-images_STARTREKIf you know Star Trek at all, you recognize the name Kobayashi Maru as that of a pivotal test James Kirk, as a cadet at Star Fleet, had to take to become an officer. No cadet had ever passed the scenario because it was, in fact, a no-win situation (details are here for closet Trekkies who aren’t familiar with this story).

In the Kobayashi Maru test’s history, Cadet Kirk was the first to succeed because he changed the rules (deep in the Star Fleet computers). Did Kirk cheat, or was he simply adapting? By beating the test, he received a commendation for “original thinking” and set-up his character’s reputation for being an iconoclast for the rest of time (going on 50 years now).

The Kobayashi Maru came to mind recently as I read a recent research report produced by CEB and Google. It is a fascinating report – you should read it if you haven’t already – but the stat that jumped out to me is this: The typical B2B buyer is already 57 percent through their purchase decision before they ever engage with a sales rep.

Think about that for a minute. Where would you be today if your current spouse was already 57 percent decided on who they would marry the first time you spoke to them? Or in your interview for your dream job the executive had already selected the candidate before talking to you?

These are classic Kobayashi Maru scenarios. If the prospects are already drinking your competitor’s Kool-Aid by the time your sales force talks to them, you are probably not going to win the business.

How can you possibly win? The answer: Change the rules.

The rules currently say the customer won’t engage with your sales rep until late in their decision cycle. So engage them early without a sales rep. Create the kind of content they need and desire at the start of their buying journey, and run campaigns to make sure they see it.

Change the rules so it is your Kool-Aid they drink for the first 57 percent of the decision process.

Want an example? According to their website, Flowcrete is a leader in ‘seamless resin flooring technology’. To engage with prospects early in the decision process, they create a series of 5 mini ‘clinics’ on flooring.

These clinics are fun (the flooring doctor below looks like the cartoon character Archer to my eye), easy to digest and just what someone new to flooring would want – basic ‘flooring 101’ information.

Flowcrete also gets style points for using multiple media (blog, presentations, infographics and video).


Flowcrete faced the same Kobayashi Maru scenario we all face – prospects who are all but decided before they finally talk to our sales force. But, channeling James T. Kirk, Flowcrete changed the rules. Maybe you should as well.

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7 Tips to Write Your Blog Post Today, Not Tomorrow

7-tips-imageBlogging once a week is one of the most helpful SEO practices a marketer can do. You need to feed the Google monster and it survives on a diet of fresh content. The more blog posts you create the more chances you have to boost your search ranking for a variety of keyword phrases. More quality posts mean more quality traffic.

The key to seeing this ROI from your blog is consistency. Consistent posting not only helps to improve your search rankings, but it also builds trust with your readers. Frankly though, it’s easier said than done.

For most of us blogging isn’t our day job. We have any number of other deadlines to meet and many of these can seem more important at the time. The basic problem is we’re distracted.

Here are seven tips to block out the noise of your competing interests and get down to the business of blogging:

  1. Plan your topics in advance: When you sit down to write is not the time to plan your topic. You wouldn’t launch a new website without some planning, would you? The same goes for writing your posts. Have a game plan before you sit down. Hopefully you already have a blog editorial calendar. When you brainstorm and add topics to the calendar include a column to jot down the main points you’ll tackle. Then refer back to it when it’s time to write. This will minimize the time you spend staring at blank screen pondering what to write about.
  2. Block out time: Treat your writing time like you do a meeting—add it to your calendar. And don’t let flexibility creep in. Stick to the time you set as if it’s an important customer meeting that you can’t reschedule. Everyone has millions of other things that seemingly can’t wait; move blogging up the priority list.
  3. Say goodbye to IM: The chat client is an open invitation for interruption. Writing takes focus and the blinking chat notice on your taskbar is the writer’s equivalent of a knock at the door during family dinner. Sign out of chat when you need to get your blogging done. Don’t just exit the chat client because it will continue to run in the background and an IM will inevitably pop up on your screen. You must actually sign out.
  4. Silence your cell phone: I know, I know – how could you possibly? Just do it. We’re all hyperconnected and it is killing creativity. It can be hard to resist the urge to check your phone, so put it out of sight and out of mind. I mute my phone and stick it in a drawer when it’s time to write. Whoever needs to reach you, can wait 30 minutes. If it truly can’t wait, they’ll find another way to track you down.
  5. Write what you know: The biggest doorway to distraction is trying to write about something that you don’t know enough about. Perhaps your blog administrator assigned you a topic. If it’s not in your wheelhouse, say no. That post will take you too long and inevitably you’ll abandon it for some other task, like checking Facebook or surfing cat videos. Stick to your expertise and the content will flow from you naturally with an authentic voice.
  6. Remember you are not a one man wolf pack: Sometimes you’ll dive into a post and you start to feel stuck. You may question, where am I going with this post? That’s when I pick up the phone and call one of my coworkers because it often helps just to talk it out. That act, in and of itself, can be enough to pull me back on task.
  7. Know when to call it quits: There is no need to spend extra time trying to reach some magical number of tips or word count. Say you set out to write 10 tips for blogging, but you get to the seventh and the post feels complete. Well, then you’re done.

If this post served as a distraction from writing your own blog post, then don’t let me keep you. And I probably should return the call that has come to my desk line a couple times in the last 10 minutes — like I said, they’ll find a way to track you down when you’re not on IM and your cell goes straight to voicemail.

What other tactics do you use to screen the noise out and focus on the things matter, whether that’s at work or in your personal life?

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