Tag : goal

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142: Keep Your Mission Statement to Yourself

I don’t understand the fascination with mission statements—at least not for businesses.

Communicating these goals within your organization can be valuable for training and vision-casting. When teammates are unified on mission, customers notice; and that’s a good thing. The puzzling part of mission stating, though, is why anyone would find value in communicating that to potential customers.

If you’re living up to your mission, you don’t have to tell people. If you’re not consistently hitting those goals, why create expectations in the marketplace that you can’t meet? If, like many firms, you’re filling that part of the business plan outline with mushy cliches that give you a lot of leeway, what are you communicating with those vapid words?

Thankfully, I’m not sure people read mission statements, anyway. When was the last time you did? Probably a long time ago. Even if it was yesterday, that mission statement didn’t have a “Buy Now” or “Add to Cart” button beneath it. People don’t pay for mission statements. They buy goods and services.

Without a public mission statement, you are free to have open-ended marketing with which to guide customer perception. Cutting that paragraph from your marketing gives angry tweeters less fodder and disgruntled Facebookers less to quote.

Instead of publishing a goal checklist, you should be telling your brand’s authentic, unique story. By that, I don’t mean your company history as much as your organizational culture, the heart of your brand.

For many entrepreneurs, brand means logos and colors and slogans. A brand is much bigger than those elements, though. Brand is the sum of every marketing choice—even small decisions like voicemail recordings and employee attire, company vehicles and return policies. The consistent, intentional stacking of these small stones atop each other eventually draws the outlines and nuances of your brand’s public perception.

In the social media age, it’s easier than ever to narrowly define your brand, find its audience, and converse with its fans. While it might be more difficult than ever to stand apart from marketplace noise, better tools and distribution options make it easier to target, test, and analyze your message and marketing.

If you communicate your brand story well enough, others start telling it for you—multiplying your audience. Even if they don’t, you’ll be more likely to sell people on your successes and eccentricities than on your intentions and goals. So, spend less time wrestling with your mission statement and more time crafting and communicating your core brand identity. Get that brand story right, and you’l enjoy “mission accomplished.”

Stock image purchased form iStockPhoto.com

10 Tips for Better Marketing Emails—Part 1: Do’s

Spam Folder, used by permission through purchase from iStockPhoto.comEven if you’ve never wired money to an African banker, snagged name-brand software for pennies, or purchased a product to enlarge any part of your body, chances are good that you’ve been offered it via email multiple times—maybe even this week alone.

Thankfully, junk filters are getting better at separating the garbage from the valuable emails—both the ones we want to read and the ones we want others to read.  Even without these filters, it’s a challenge for marketers to get past the personal filters we all use to weed through our respective inboxes.  There’s no tip that will guarantee your email will get read, but these tips will raise your chances of your message getting absorbed by your prospects.

DO use headlines of 50 or fewer characters.  
When we check our email, we typically look at either the “sender” or “subject” fields first.  Neither of those fields contains a lot of space.  If you use a lot of characters in the subject line, the extraneous characters simply won’t be seen.  So, spend characters wisely on what would matter most to the recipient.  Avoid adjectives, multiple exclamation marks, and unnecessary words.  Know that abbreviations like “BR,” “BA,” “SF,” “HWY,” etc. are acceptable and still professional.

DO condense email content and use links to more detailed content.
An email, especially a marketing one, doesn’t need to be exhaustive.  The reality is that if the recipient doesn’t have the motivation to follow an offer or story to the other end of the link, they wouldn’t be motivated to make a purchase, place a bid, read a story, or share your content on social media.  So, sell the sizzle; and link to the meat of your content.

DO use an email service like Vertical Response, Mail Chimp, iContact, or Constant Contact (instead of your computer’s email software).
We can tell when we’re just a BCC—or far worse: a CC—on a group email you typed in Outlook.  Online email systems allow you to upgrade the look of your emails with custom or pre-made templates, helping you build your brand through consistent formatting.  In addition, email services enable you to schedule your emails in advance, include social sharing buttons, and even stream RSS content from your blog.  On top of that, they offer analytical tools to help you evaluate your email strategy and execution.

DO use custom mail-merge fields, where appropriate.  
This makes your emails more personal; and we all take notice when an email has our names in them.  Most online email services provide this ability.

DO create a separate email address for your bulk emails.  
In the event that people mark your email address as junk or that online servers flag your email address, you don’t want it to be the address you use every day.  Definitely avoid using your personal email address, too.

If these suggestions seem like common sense, know that I’m still not seeing them used as common practice by many small business owners—auctioneers in particular.  For all you do to sell your professional brand in the marketplace, don’t sabotage that work and expense with cheap and lazy email marketing.
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It’s true that a successful life requires sorting through our junk while pursuing our talents and dreams.  Those with both a good filter and a healthy amount of determination tend to accomplish their goals.  That seems common sense to people on the other end of a goal accomplished, even as the disgruntled (who may or may not occupy a public park) look at the results as products of chance or fate, privilege or fortune.

While I struggle to eliminate distractions and to work diligently, I’ve found that it’s a very different type of choice that can keep me from my dreams: which dreams to follow.  I know people more talented than I will ever be who have spun their wheels for years, because they didn’t choose one or two dreams from their many potential life paths.  Candidly, I have stunted my own growth in some areas by trying to grow less significant areas.

It’s true: the jack of all trades is the master of none.

Hardest of all, is the prospect of chasing dreams that won’t matter in the long run.  I am utterly convicted by one sentence in the Bible: “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”  It’s a daily challenge to align my dreams with God’s, my kingdom with his, my walk with his path—even though God’s dreams for me are bigger and presumably better than my own.

[footer]Stock photo used by permission through purchase from iStockPhoto.com[/footer]

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