It’s no secret that libraries enjoy tough economic conditions. I don’t mean that they aren’t affected by budget cuts and layoffs–they are–what I mean is library patronage sky rockets when incomes go down. Try parking at your local library these days and it’s likely you will be jockeying for a parking space.
I must say that really threw me on a recent visit is that my library doesn’t seem to support books–just videos. Book shelves have been shrinking in the past several months and the middle isle formerly covered with tables and chairs for study–now houses as many DVD racks as possible (still allowing for fire codes) and tables and chairs have been relegated to the corners behind the ever-dwindling book racks.
I understand that as a fast-food nation the tendency is to consume stories and information the same way. No seat down dinners here. No–just grab your flick and run it through the plastic case remover and under the scanner on your dash out the door (probably to a waiting get-away car.) No seating, no savoring, no skimming of chapters –I’m waiting for libraries with the drive-thru window. I’m not talking about the book drop-off slot, I’m thinking more like order your DVD buy shouting your selection into a crackly speaker box and pick it up at the next window. These must exist–someone please write and tell me about your drive-thru DVD store –oops–I mean library.
Me? I still prefer words on a page. What are your thoughts?
Don’t underestimate the lure of a compelling story to sell your product or service. Everyone relates to stories. Stories create the emotional connection that inspires people to buy.
Use stories to market your brand. Consider the products that have been created around folk tales, lore, myth or desire. Paul Newman’s products support his desire to help kids with health challenges. Ben and Jerry were two young guys that loved fun and ice cream and created a business model around those passions.
If you want customers to connect with you don’t be shy about incorporating your story into your marketing. Describe the circumstances that propelled you to start your business. What problem did you have that needed solving? Was necessity the mother-of-invention for your product? Did you feel an intuitive pull you couldn’t ignore? Were you fulfilling a childhood dream? Did an unfortunate event spur you to create a service others needed?
Encourage your customers to tell their stories. People love to talk about their experiences so make it easy for them.
Here are a few ways to help your raving customers generate good stories:
- Hold a contest. Give a prize for the funniest, most inspirational, or unexpected good result that came from using your product or service.
- Give an instant discount or bonus for an original 7-word story praising your product. Use social networking sites to reach more people.
- Make story telling easy by creating a fill-in-the blanks form or supply the first sentence of a story to jump start your customer’s creative juices. Remind them to tell the truth—this is creative non-fiction not fantasy.
- Collect the stories and create a book featuring your customers. The book can be used to encourage new customers to contribute to the next edition.
Start collecting customer stories today–it’s the most effective marketing you can do and you can’t beat the price.
Misunderstanding a job role causes more issues than simply lost production. Customer complaints, lost business, public safety or legal issues are all at stake.
Clear communication takes more than a paragraph in a handbook or a few sentences uttered by human resources or a manager. Ideally, the job function conversation should occur not only during the interview and orientation process but throughout the first ninety days.
Here are a few ways to clearly communicate the role of a job to decrease misunderstandings:
- Verbally describe the role including tasks and expectations. The challenge here is to be both specific and broad. Use stories and examples to help create a picture that words alone fail to illustrate. Communicate the desired outcome graphically.
- Written job descriptions are critical to compliance. Don’t rely on an initialed checklist indicating the new hire has read and understood the information. Written communication alone does not address questions adequately and leaves the new hire without an appropriate venue for voicing questions or concerns. Take the time to review and expand the job description using real examples.
- Use a detailed description of a typical day or scenarios the new hire might encounter. Again, using a story format helps put the new hire into the picture.
- Describe situations outside the job description the new hire would be expected to handle. Give end-result expectations and examples.
- After giving a verbal and written description ask for feedback in the form of a summary–not a list or recitation–but a description of how they see the function and their role in making it happen. Ask how they would handle a situation and encourage details about the end results. Listen for any disconnects between their “idea” of the job and the actual expectations of the job. What is not being said is more important than what is being said.
- Ask for where they see their biggest challenge in their job. Ask for a strategy for achieving results. Do not let “hopefully, I can…” be an acceptable answer. Hope is not a strategy. Too frequently new hires are skilled at giving the appropriate answers but have no intentions or aptitude for actually doing the function.
Clearly communicating policy, processes and job function is a part of your job if you hire or manage people. Spend more time on this critical message upfront and enjoy fewer misunderstandings in the future.
If you want more tips you can use on the job be sure to get your FREE 6 part audio series by putting your name and email in the boxes to your upper right. Now, pick up a copy of Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work-What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up, for dozens of tips and techniques that can change your life.
One of the great understandings in life is the realization that not everyone thinks the same way that you do. And so it goes with communication.
Misunderstandings occur when you fail to communicate in the way others want to want to listen. The solution is to make a shift in your style that better matches the recipient. You do this by using words, intonation, pacing and gestures that resonant with them.
The challenge is to incorporate this into your daily communication.
Here are some guidelines for making a quick determination of communication style types:
- When greeting someone for the first time, notice how quickly they move. Is it quick and determined or slower and relaxed?
- What about their gestures? Are they sharp and staccato, animated, measured or barely visible?
- Is their posture displaying confidence, timidity, friendliness or overload?
- Do they appear approachable or inaccessible? Do they make direct eye contact or shy away?
- What emotion does their face reveal? Do they have an easy smile and grinning eyes, a polite half-smile and concerned eyes, little or no smile with darting eyes or a resolute mouth and purposeful eyes?
You can begin to make changes in the way you approach and communicate with others by noticing these physical characteristics. Make it a game to observe the people you work with, on the street and at home.
Quickly shift your energy and physicality to better match theirs and watch what happens. Think of this as dancing with different partners. You don’t need to become someone else you simply need to learn how to move together so you glide smoothly across the room without stepping on each others toes.
The study of communication styles is exhaustive but if you apply this simple method you can begin to communicate with less effort and enjoy fewer misunderstandings.
If you would like to learn 29 more tips and techniques just grab your FREE 6-part audio series on “The Power of Effective Communication” by putting your name and email in the boxes on your upper right. Or simply pick up a copy of Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work-What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up. Get it today at Amazon.