September is National Prepardeness Month and to “celebrate” that, I am offering a very special teleconference on September 18th from 12:00 to 1:00 Pacific (3:00-4:00 EST). My guest
will be nationally renowned branding strategist, Dorie Clark.
We all know that being prepared for crisis is critical to surviving one. Whether it’s a natural disaster, an economic crisis, or a travesty like what happened at Penn State University, you must be ready to make tough and smart decisions.
Is part of your process on how to protect your brand and reputation?
Reputation risk may be just as damaging as the crisis that started it. Just ask BP! You must have a plan in place to communicate effectively to employees, investors, clients, prospective customers, the media, and your community. Failure to do this will lead to distrust, loss of reputation, and lost revenue. Having a plan in place, on the other hand, will set you in a postion to not only protect your good name, but take advantage of the opportunity to thrive.
In this teleconference, Dorie will share with your strategies, tactics, tips, and suggestions on how to prepare your business or organization to respond to a crisis both internally and externally. You will walk away with new ideas on how to:
- When and how to effectively work with the media
- How to inspire and lead your employees when chaos is all around you
- How to communicate with your supply chain and key stakeholders
- How to protect your brand
My guest, Dorie Clark is the President of Clark Strategic Communications in Boston. Dorie is recognized as a “branding expert” by the Associated Press, She honed her crisis communication skills as a spokesperson for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign and as the press secretary for former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich’s gubernatorial race. Today, she is a frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and the American Management Association’s publications. She is also a columnist for Mint, India’s second-largest business newspaper. She consults on marketing and branding strategy for clients like Google, Yale University, and the Ford Foundation, and is the author of the forthcoming Harvard Business Review Publishing book Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future (2013).
Dorie has taught marketing and communications at Emerson College, Tufts University, Suffolk University, and Smith College Executive Education. She has also lectured at universities worldwide, including Harvard University, the University of Michigan, and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. She is quoted frequently in the international media, including the New York Times, NPR, the BBC, and more. At age 18, Dorie graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Smith College, and two years later received a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School.
All throughout my career, I’ve been told I need an “elevator speech.” You know, that 30-45 seconds that you might spend on an elevator pitching someone as to what you do and how you do it. Enough time to sound like those fast-talking voice over guys who tell you everything that can go wrong with you if you use their erectile dysfunction medicine, as the other guy in the elevator sprints off a floor early to get away from you.
Elevator speeches are mostly about pitching. It’s your opportunity to bore the other person quickly about what you do so well and how you do it. Here’s a memo. They don’t care about what you do and how you do it. All people generally care about is how you can improve their condition. Instead of pitching, I prefer accumulating at bats. “At bats” for me means a next meeting. And, contrary to popular opinion, you don’t have to rush to get it. In fact, if you do rush through an elevator pitch, you’re unlikely to make the connection you need to begin to gain trust.
Most elevator speeches sound something like this…
“Hi, my name is John Smith and I sell insurance. I have programs for all businesses and can really save my clients money by doing all the shopping for you. I have 20 years experience and know what my clients need. Here’s my card.”
That’s a pitch. The other person didn’t get a word in. In fact, they are now briskly walking away to get some spiked punch. Here is creating an “at bat…”
You: Hi, my name is John Smith. It’s a pleasure to meet you. What do you do?
Other Guy (OG): Hi, I’m Skip. I own a manufacturing company. How about you?
You: Skip, I dramatically enhance peace of mind for my clients so they can effectively operate their businesses.” (Now shut up…I know it’s hard, but don’t say a word)
OG: I’m not sure what that means. How do you do that?
You: It is a pretty vague response, isn’t it? Instead of being theoretical, why don’t you tell me a little about your business and what your biggest challenges are. Then I can give you more specific ideas on how we might work together.”
You now have a situation where the OG is talking. You now need to listen. In reality, if you’re at a function, this may not be the time or place to discuss it, or he wants more information. This is where you suggest a meeting (an at bat) to discuss his situation in greater detail.
The difference between a straight elevator speech and a value proposition is that the other person will do the majority of talking in the latter. Elevator speeches are just that…speeches. We get so caught up in our methodology…in this case, selling insurance…that we forget this is about improving our client’s condition. If you’re in any type of professional service profession (real estate sales, consulting, banking, financial planning, architect, etc.), you must avoid talking about the “how.” You need to concentrate on the output for the person you are speaking with. By doing that, you secure the opportunity to set up a meeting (which you do right then and there), rather than wasting everyone’s time by following up by email for weeks. Remember, nobody wants to be “pitched.” They would much rather buy something from someone who genuinely wants to help them improve. That’s you!
So get a little exercise. Don’t take the elevator. Jump on the stairs and take the slower and more deliberate route. It will end up getting you business faster!
© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
I recently received a very nice testimonial from a new coaching client. Aaron Murphy is an exceptional consultant and architect for aging in place. I’ve had the pleasure of working with him the past month. Aaron was very kind to send out this unsolicited testimonial on the value he has received from working with me. Many thanks to you, Aaron!
“Two weeks into a 90 day personal business coaching session, with the wonderful Mr. Dan Weedin. Great conversations, clarification of intentions, and goal setting at each sit-down. He also has me working hard, and accountable to deliverables each and every week. We are sorting some important things out that will keep me at my “highest and best use / value” with my time. Professionally, and personally as well… GOOD STUFF!!! “Work Smarter, not harder…” Thanks Dan!”
© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
This weekend, Barb and I were at a picnic with friends. One of our friends, Diane, asked our opinion on which coffee flavor sounded the best – Kahlua or Chocolate Raspberry Truffle. Barb responded with, “Kahlua is my favorite!” I followed with “You can’t go wrong with chocolate raspberry truffle.” She opted for suggestion. When Barb asked why she chose mine, Diane said, “I don’t know. He seemed to make a more convincing case.”
There is an outstanding event coming up in October for all women CEOs and executives in the Puget Sound area. Click here to learn about the event.
If you know of someone who should be attending or be invited, please contact Michele Bosworth at firstname.lastname@example.org. This might be women in your own company, community, or clients. I know the guest presenter, Lauren Owen, and she will put on a dynamic presentation.
Last Tuesday, I had the honor of sitting next to Jim Lefebvre as I was Master of Ceremonies for the 13-year old Babe Ruth World Series. Jim was the manager of the Seattle Mariners about 25 years ago. Today, he is a tremendous ambassador for the game of baseball. I enthusiastically listened to his stories for an hour. The one constant he had, and was highlighted in his keynote address, was the importance of being a teammate. Baseball is a team game – you are called on to sacrifice bunt, move runners over by making an out, swinging on a hit and run, and a myriad of other things. He stressed that a successful team was one made up of great teammates.
The same is true in business and life. Who are your teammates? In business, it’s your employees, your clients, your vendors, your board of directors, your investors, and your community. In life, it’s your family, your friends, your community service groups, and your community. Being good teammates often means sacrificing for them, too. It means letting others be the stars sometimes, It also means taking leadership roles when you’re called to, or when you are the obvious choice. It takes courage.
Final thought. When I coached high school basketball, I only had one simple rule for my players. Don’t let your teammates down. It encompasses a lot of selfishness that can ruin a good team. How are your teammates doing? More importantly, are you a good teammate?
This week’s quote – “If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant’s life, she will choose to save the infant’s life without even considering if there are men on base.”
© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
Yesterday, I held my monthly executive group workshop and the topic was time management. Several of the group members want to make more time to strategize and are frustrated in not making that time. In talking with one member in a follow up this morning, she shared with me her dilemma. “Strategy” as a word can be very amorphous and overwhelming. In fact, in can be so overwhelming that it actually paralyzes you from doing it at all!
Strategy work for executives and business owners should be like eating an elephant. One bite at a time.
Bite # 1 – Define what you want to accomplish. Are you making short or long term goals? Do you need to contemplate sales or operations challenges? Are you formulating an exit strategy (regardless of how far in the future that might be)?
Bite # 2 – Once you’ve defined strategy, “unbundle” to make them more bite size. Take only one small bullet point of one of your categories and work on that. Maybe you schedule out your strategy sessions over the course of six months and attack only one piece at a time. This will keep you more focused and the sessions shorter.
Bite # 3 – Put your strategy time on the calendar and hold it sacrosanct. Treat your time like you are a client. As an executive or owner, you are doing the best for your company when you are engaging in strategy work.
Bite # 4 – Keep notes. They can be either electronic or paper. Always know what you accomplished and what the next steps are.
Bite # 5 – Be persistent. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Find the time, keep your commitments, follow through, and work one day at a time. This persistence in the end will pay off.
Whether it’s cleaning your garage; getting into shape; eating that proverbial elephant; or making time to strategize; you WILL eventually finish your task with a committed and consistent plan. Define, unbundle, commit, record, and persistence will finish off the elephant and your strategy work.
© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved