Category - Communication

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Communicating Change
Your Copy Writing Formula
How To Explain Your New Big Plan
Reduce Workplace Miscommunication and Drama
The Customer Is Always Right?

Communicating Change

Whatever you’re unsure of, be sure of this – change, like that other word that starts with “S”, happens!

The change can be unplanned, thrust on you, or it can be planned because you see the need to innovate and do something differently.

In either case, you need to communicate that change to all your “stakeholders” – the people who have an interest, financial or emotional, in your business and success. Please, don’t ever think of not communicating changes – planned or unplanned – that’s just poor judgement and I believe unworthy of you. If you are creating or growing your dream business, it is to create a better life for you and the people around you, and the journey has to be transparent and open.

IMHO this means that any change, planned or unplanned, has to be explained – to your spouse and family, to your co-workers and employees, to your contractors and virtual assistants, to your customers, suppliers, bankers, financial and other advisors. They are affected – they need to know.

The question is not “should I tell them”, it’s “how do I tell them so that they come on the journey with me, willingly and collaboratively”?

In this video I discuss 7 steps you should take.

Here they are again:-

  1. Explain the reasons;
  2. Explain the new opportunity;
  3. Explain the new vision;
  4. Allay fear;
  5. Explain your support;
  6. Explain the big picture of the changes; and finally
  7. Get buy-in.

I’m sure you’ve dealt with implementing change in your business, click here to post a comment under the video and tell me a way you have successfully implemented change.

Go to my website teikoh.com if you want more of these ideas, systems and tools to create strategy and grow your business, but if you’re not getting them delivered every week directly to you, why not? Keep in the growth gradient by giving me your name and email and I will send you weekly and free ideas and bonuses, directly to your inbox.


Your Copy Writing Formula

At some stage in your business you will need to write copy, or at least review copy written for you.

You may be starting a blog, or writing an ad for print or online publication. Here I have three copy-writing formulae that I use personally and I’m releasing them to your use and care!

The first formula is what I use to write marketing copy – a brochure or website About Page, or an ad or opt-in page. It’s the “F.A.B” Formula or Features, Advantages, Benefits.

This formula highlights one of the single most useful marketing truths – if you are marketing something, you have to answer the reader’s question “what’s in it for me?” Using this formula, your copy is focused on talking about the benefits, not the features.

Spend no more than 10% of the copy telling them what the features are. Just tell them what they get. For example if you are writing about your coaching for weight loss services, tell them that you meet them for an hour every week and they get an online personal log that they can log on to.

Then spend half the remaining copy talking about the advantages they get from the product – why it is actually useful. In the weight-loss coach’s example, tell them that the hourly meeting gives them discipline and structures their personal choices as well as plenty of information about exercise and healthy eating. Tell them that the log provides them with control over their own lives, but in a way that can be remotely supported by you.

Finally spend the rest of the copy telling them about the benefits, what it means as an outcome for them. In the weight-loss coaching example tell them about the expected weight loss, the health gains they will experience, the control and confidence they will gain.

The second copy-writing formula I use is “Before It, After It, Bridging It”, which I use to write books and blogs.

“Before It” is about how things are now, the world as it stands, and it’s not a pretty place. The problems are numerous, the challenges looming. This should be about 20% of the copy.

“After It” is all about how wonderful the world could be after all the problems are fixed. Describe the ideal that could be had, if only the audience used the “It” to change the Before. This should be about 50% of the copy – you need to make them really want this utopia!

“Bridging It” is about how to get from before to after – the method that you will tell them about. In this section you could (depending on the objective of the copy) use the FAB Formula to show them what they get, what it does, and how they’ll benefit. This should take about 30% of the copy to put the idea to bed.

You can actually use this formula in writing presentations and speeches, especially if the objective is to persuade the audience that there is a better way and you know that better way.

The third copy-writing formula is “Problem-Agitate-Solve”.

This is useful for blogs and presentations, and especially social media updates. It whets people’s appetites to know more. In some ways it’s similar to Before It, After It, Bridging It, except that you don’t spend any time describing the after part, you actually make them feel even worse by describing what would happen if the problem persisted.

So using this formula, you write first about the problem that exists or the world as it stands and the issues they face. Make this bleak and realistic, and it should take about 30% of the copy so that they realise how bad it is. Then you write about how bad the problem could become if you do nothing – agitate! You want to make the audience feel even more worried and make them ready to take action. The agitate part should be about 20% of the copy to emphasise the picture worsening from now on if they do nothing.

Finally you solve the problem by showing them what can be done – it is implicit how their new world would improve. This should take the remaining 50% of the copy because you want them to go away with a sense of hope so the picture needs to be really enticing.

Now while we are into formulae, lets’ talk about a formula to check your copy against.

I check my copy against the 4 U’s:-

  • Useful – is what I have written useful to the audience?
  • Urgent – is what I have written portraying a sense of urgency to take action?
  • Unique – is what I have described unique, especially the benefits, or the after, or the suggested solution?
  • Ultra-specific – have I been ultra-specific about the uniqueness?

So there it is, my proven copy-writing formulae and the formula to check that it grabs attention!

Try it out in your next presentation, blog post, opt-in page, advertisement, FaceBook post, Twitter update.

Indeed, it’s all about finding the right formula – if you have the right step by step formula or system you can cut through the daily fog of tasks you have to do in your business. If you want to join all those who have found the systems and easy to follow models, join us now by clicking here!

You can use your new-found copy writing skills in your marketing, and talking about marketing, I am super-excited to tell you that I have created a new marketing training course that I am launching soon.

It’s based on my book “SMART Marketing – 7 Easy Steps to More Sales” available now from Amazon. I created the SMART Marketing system by synthesising my 35 years’ of learning and day to day experience consulting to entrepreneurs and small businesses across 4 continents into a simple to follow and proven process, used by hundreds of my clients.

The course itself is called SMART Marketing Planning, and is an online video training and workshop program:-

  • designed in a workshop format so that I stand in front of you as if we were one to one;
  • takes you through each of the 7 easy steps;
  • uses your knowledge of your own business to complete the proven workflow worksheets that accompany the video training;
  • available online forever so you can go back to it anytime you want;
  • is taken at your own pace;
  • and is totally affordable!

To find out more about the course click on this link to find out more!

How To Explain Your New Big Plan

So, you’ve completed your plan? Is it a Business Plan, or a Strategic Plan, or perhaps a Marketing Plan?

Whatever it is, apart from starting to implement it – do you know what’s the most important thing for you to do now? Explain it!

Who do you explain it to? Well it depends – if you have a team of employees, you need to explain it to them. If you are a solopreneur and you use contractors, virtual assistants and even friends to help you – you need to explain your plan to them. Even if you work totally alone – you need to explain your plan to at least your spouse and family, if not your bank or other people involved in helping you. These are the people corporates call “stakeholders” and you need to explain your big new plan to them because people hate change, and a plan represents change. If your plan affects them (how could it not?) you need to explain it to them.

I discuss here in this week’s video how you can communicate and explain your plan to them in a way that allays fear and encourages buy-in. It’s exciting to you – make it exciting for them.

So here again are the four points:-

  1. Explain the exciting new opportunity;
  2. Provide the exciting change vision;
  3. Explain the big-picture initiatives; and
  4. Ask for help in making sure everyone knows what to do.

I’d love to hear how you have implemented new plans in your business – and brought your “stakeholders” along – click here to go to the blog and leave a comment under this video telling me how you implemented your plan and communicated it.

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Reduce Workplace Miscommunication and Drama

Whether as an entrepreneur you have staff or as a solopreneur you have contractors and VA’s, we all have to deal with people. And when you deal with people, people sometimes say the wrong thing or say something they don’t mean. Maybe even you do it?

Building an effective team to serve your customer is hard enough under normal circumstances – you really don’t need the drama of inter-personal relationships heading south!

Most inter-personal issues are caused by the wrong messages – given or received. So, we often need a way to defuse a tense situation.

What better way than to provide an affirmative, supportive message? Turn the negative situation into a positive one!

In this video I talk about four ways you can re-frame the situation from a tense and negative inter-personal conflict into one where all parties can work together from a place of better understanding.

What better way to operate an efficient and productive workplace than to start from the positive? All you need to do is to re-frame any negative situation by understanding that you can view it from a different place, and build from there.

So, get over to the blog by clicking here and leave a comment under this video – about how you have defused some tense workplace confrontations.

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The Customer Is Always Right?

Are you old school?

If you are you were probably brought up on the old maxim “the customer is always right” meaning that whatever they said or complained about, you had to fix. If you were of a certain personality you’d spend your time being terrified about what the customer might say.

On the other hand you might be of the view that your own rights matter and if a customer was being unreasonable it is reasonable to tell them to go jump!

Well both views are probably wrong in today’s markets. After all, what’s being unreasonable is a subjective matter and if your subjective gate was set too low you might find just a few too many customers jumping!

As for the customer being always right – well there are limits aren’t there?

So what’s today’s middle way? There’s got to be some way to live up to your own values, not take too much stick, and also to turn the customer’s views around to your benefit. What I’d like to propose is that today’s maxim is “the customer should always feel to be right.”

Let’s try to be logical about this and put negative customer engagement into some typical categories.

The first is the reasonable complaint. This is a complaint about quality or standard that was not “as promised”. Don’t forget that “as promised” can also mean implied promise. You don’t have to specifically express a standard but if you said for example “our hotel rooms provide facilities for you to work in” and all you had was a coffee table I think it is implied that “facilities to work in” is not a coffee table and implies a desk of some sort.

The second is an objectively unreasonable complaint. Note I include the word “objectively” so it must pass some non-emotive test as to reasonableness. In the above example for instance I think it would be objectively unreasonable if the facilities provided were a small desk but the complaint was that the desk was not large enough to accommodate a full sized PC, printer, and room to write on.

The third is an emotional complaint. This is the most difficult one to handle because it is not only objectively unreasonable but is usually based on the customer’s emotional response to the product or service, like “I just don’t like the waiter’s attitude!”

Let’s now put the mantra of “the customer should always feel to be right” to each of these complaint categories.

What you have to do with the first, reasonable complaint, is obvious.

Fix it.

You have made known a quality standard, whether expressly or by implication. You simply have to live by that standard or change the promise.

So that the customer always feels to be right, check your product or service, and your delivery of product and service, against whatever expressed or implicit promises that you, your brand. and your marketing messages have made. Make any changes necessary, either in the product, service, delivery or promise. The reasonable complaint should just not happen.

But what if it does? Something has slipped through the cracks and a complaint occurs. Let’s take the example of the hotel room that promises working facilities but provides a coffee table.

In this case we take a leaf from the old customer service manual and we upgrade the customer outside the context of his complaint. Either upgrade his room to a higher specification room with a desk (and free wifi!) or provide free access and facilities to the hotel’s business centre. The objective is to get the customer leaving with a good war story (“I gave them what for about their coffee table, and to do them credit they upgraded me to the business suite”).

In the second category of the objectively unreasonable complaint, the task is to make the customer think that they’re complaint has been handled appropriately.

One of the ways to do this is to ask the simple question (that incidentally does not admit to any truth of the unreasonableness of the complaint) “I’m sorry, what can we do to fix it for you?”

This moves the customer away from complaint mode and thinking of ways to justify the complaint, to one where they are thinking about what can be done. If nothing else this removes emotion and the need to win from the complaint. Research has shown that when asked this question, most people actually provide a reasonable answer, and it may well be one which you can comply with without admitting any truth about the unreasonable nature of the complaint. It becomes win-win.

If the answer is unreasonable (“I want a large bench brought into my room”), the suggestion can be debated (“I’m sorry but we don’t have a large enough bench”) in such a way that it then has the ability to be modified (“Why don’t we bring in a printer trolley to set up next to the desk?”). Again the war story we want to hear from the customer is one that is complimentary (“I huffed and I puffed and they were flexible enough to set up a work station for me within the hour”).

When people are unreasonable however you may not be able to save every situation, but remember the objective is to make the customer think the complaint has been handled appropriately – and there are many ways to skin that cat.

As I have already said, the third category of emotional complaint is the hardest to handle.

The objective in this category is to take the heat out of any conversation without sacrificing your business values. If the customer walks away dissatisfied but not unhappy, it’s a good result. The first step is the same question”what can we do to fix this?”

Again it allows the customer to move away from an emotional response to one that can be discussed.

Let’s take the hapless waiter. If we ask the customer how we can fix this and the answer is unreasonable (“I want the waiter to approach me on his knees and beg”) we can express reasonableness (“We’ll do what we can to fix this but to humiliate a human being may not be the best way to do it now, how else can we fix this for you?”). Hopefully this leads to debate from one position (“I want him to apologise in public in the middle of the restaurant”) to another more reasonable one (“Do we want to disturb that nice couple celebrating their engagement? I believe you said his attitude was poor when he was serving you wine, how about I get our award-winning sommelier to personally look after you all evening?”).

If necessary to avoid confrontation, perhaps the waiter has “gone on a break and is unavailable” and the Manager personally apologises for any “misunderstanding” and offers a free cocktail.

An emotional complaint is often a lose-lose situation. The best you can do is take the heat out of any discussion and hope for the best. If the customer leaves never to return, so be it – they felt they were right!

And so we end as it began, the old school mantra revised into making the customer feel as right as possible without sacrificing your own values!

Customer service is only one part of being in business. Being in business is about juggling many balls in the air at the same time, and if you feel the need to grab one ball at a time and work on it systematically, I have the tools, models, systems and templates for you, come and join me!

You might also be interested in all the other articles about customer service, marketing, planning and organisational development in my blog at teikoh.com – see you there.

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