The Author

An avid spinner and iced tea aficionado, Julie tackles association, nonprofit and small business communications challenges in this blog.  She's Senterline's Chief Problem Solver, able to overcome redundant databases and prickly politics with the greatest of ease.

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Tuesday
May012012

How NOT to Market Your Business

I received an email today from someone I've never heard of. That's not unusual. We spend most of our time sifting through unsolicited email to find the imperative ones from bosses, coworkers and clients.

But this email stood out in my inbox because it had two exclamation marks next to it. Not just important, but vital. As in MY-BUILDING-IS-ON-FIRE-AND-I-MUST-EVACUATE vital!

I checked out the subject line. "Affordable Housing Advocacy Research Support."

Plausible. I serve several clients in the housing industry, and some of them focus on affordable housing. This could be from one of their employees or vendors. With given the political climate surrounding redevelopment funding in California, an email with that subject could represent an actual emergency. Two exclamation marks.

But no.

After opening the email, I realize it's simply a marketing email. Now granted, it's a good message. It gives the reason why the company's services are needed, who they've helped in the past, and what they can offer. It's even targeted to the emails of the top providers of affordable housing in California. 

And I'll never look at it again. Why? Because of those two exclamation marks.

Marking an email as important or urgent when it's not simply because you want your audience to open the email is disingenuous at best. I used to receive these types of emails from public relations "professionals" when I was a reporter and my automatic reaction was to always delete. If they didn't respect a true emergency, they didn't deserve my time.

Now I see this tactic used in marketing, and my reaction is the same.

Don't waste my time (or anyone you want to do business with) by falsely making the email seem important to catch their attention. If that's the only move you have to get your audience to open the email, you have bigger problems than my delete button.

Tuesday
Jan102012

4 Quick Tips to Improve Presentations 

 I've been sitting through a lot of presentations lately, and I've really been surprised how lacking some of them have been.

No one sets out to give a lousy, or unclear, or completely boring presentation, at least I hope not. Still, it happens. 

You know. You've sat through them.

But it doesn't have to be this way. Anyone can give a strong presentation with a few simple tips.  

The Tips

  1. Pick out the top three points you want to make.
    One of the biggest mistakes people make is trying to cram too much information into a 15 minute presentation.  Your audience won't rmemeber more than three points.  Make sure they're the three points you want them to remember by focusing on them.  
  2. Paint a visual picture with your words.
    Studies show your audience will remember your points much longer if you include stories to illustrate them.  Use concrete language to paint a visual picture.  Be specific. 
  3. Use Images.
    So many presentations are simply text regurgitations of what the presenter plans to say. Break the mold! Use a visual image that demonstrates what you want to say, then just say it. Don't just read a slide.  
  4. Practice.
    You will be tempted to ad lib your presentation. After all, who knows the material better than you? Don't do it! 

Outline what you want to say, create the slides, then whittle away! Remember, editing is your best friend.

Tuesday
Apr052011

10 Tips for a Great Legislative Visit

It’s spring, and that means two things: the Dogwoods are in bloom and spring legislative visits are in full force!

One of my clients recently took a delegation to the state capital for its annual legislative lobby day. You know the drill. Real people. Identical shirts/buttons. Blistered feet.

The annual migration gives members/volunteers a chance to see your government affairs work in action and you’re able to attach real faces and real stories to your lobby efforts.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Mar312011

Surviving the Mistweet: Play it off or fire the bastards?

It’s a pretty scary thing to turn the online face of your organization over to one or two people, but that’s what businesses do every day when they hire a staff person or a consultant to oversee their social media outreach. And what happens when, {gasp!}  a mistake is made?

Click to read more ...

Friday
Mar252011

5 Steps to Increase Your Twitter Following

A friend and former colleague who now blogs about movies and abandoned pooches (separately, of course) recently asked my advice on how to grow her Twitter following. 

It's a very common question, especially for those new to Twitter, so I thought it might be helpful to post my response to her here. It really doesn't matter if you are a blogger or a trade association or an accounting firm. The advice is the same:

Click to read more ...