The Art of Digital Leverage

Wow, just wow. Next week is Thanksgiving in the United States. It's the time of year you hear everyone say, "This year sure went by fast!" It really did. The iPhone turned 10. Puerto Rico was destroyed in a single day. If you feel like you are even further behind the curve, you are not alone. It's more than just a feeling. Change happens faster, is more disruptive and the struggle to keep up has become a primary focus. You can forget about getting ahead. That bothers me. If it bothers you, here are some ideas you can use to not only keep up but get ahead in 2018.

The Need For Speed

Stop running. Sounds counterintuitive, I know, but you can't add the number 13 to your clock. The key to getting more done is is to increase the speed of execution, not your pace. There are only three ways to make this happen. Focus your energy on any one of the three and you will be amazed at your success and peace of mind.

Tools

If your phone looks like the Swiss-Army-Knife of Apps, stop and take inventory. Start at the back. If you haven't opened an app in over a month, delete it. Ignore that twinge of anxiety, just let it go. Second, look at the Apps that remain and identify the task it was meant to do or the challenge it is supposed to solve. If it lacks purpose, delete it now. Finally, identify the Apps you can't live without, (not Facebook, I hope). Drag them to your home screen. Not enough room? Drag the less frequently used Apps to your second or third screen to make room.

My personal motto, Discard Nothing, works on two levels. first, I don't throw away people, things or ideas just because they are old or have slowed down. Unless, on the other hand, they have been revealed to be nothing. If your digital tools no longer bring you joy, let them go. 

Talent

 Now that you have a lighter digital toolbox, let's make sure they, as well as you, are sharp and ready to do great work. Here at Leveage Unlimited, we just launched a direct mail campaign to promote a client's new App. We were able to obtain thousands of targeted leads, for free (and not only for a single use). Using the digital tools we already own, we segmented the database and printed labels for our in-house postcard design.

Did you know you can automate the publishing of a weekly newsletter to require nothing more than writing a blog post? You are holding it in your hands right now. Make a commitment today to learn more about the extraordinary functions of your magical modern tools

Technique

Once you've chosen the right tools, sharpened them and yourself, you are ready to hit the gas and build momentum for 2018. Defining, documenting and designing streamlined procedures is the point where you will see your productivity soar. Every organization has at least one process that contains a bottleneck, a step that's always left out, one that never quite seems to reach 100% complete. Maybe it's collections. It's killing your cash flow. Maybe it's prospecting.

Whichever one you choose, start there. The rules of business have not changed, just the tools. Combining business rules with digital tools is vital to your success in the year ahead.  Use 3x5 index cards or post-it notes on a whiteboard to define your business process. Decide which digital tool will help you execute quickly and focus on including all the steps to eliminate the need to do something twice. If it fits the process, create a template to give you a headstart and create a consisant, high-quality outcome.

Digital Leverage for More Sales in 2018

 Each January I conduct an invitation-only session to sharpen my client's tools for the new year. If I wait until January, it will be too late. Please check your calendar for December 14th, 11-1 p.m. here in Jacksonville for a special session. If you like an invitation, give me a call at 904-566-8325. I call it The Gathering. 

"Know your numbers" was the top takeaway from last weeks Small Business Consulting Services Group Meetup here in Jacksonville. Richard Scherzer of About Floors N' More shared classic business management principals with the entrepreneurs in attendance.  Richard's tough love mindset and timeless truths brought audible gasps from the crowd. Not surprising when you consider the contemporary mindset is that all you need to succeed today is a website, a social networking feed and a killer app.   

Richard is right. It takes discipline to sustain success in business. I believe the entrepreneurs are also correct, it takes modern tools and techniques to connect with new clients and compete in the digital age. The truth is your success in the future requires a combination of the best of both mindsets.

Business Rules and Digital Tools

Maximizing cash flow is one of the most important business rules to ensure success.  In fact, it's one of the primary Leverage Principals we focus on when working with business owners or buyers. It's a great example of the power of combining the truth of business rules with the leverage of digital tools. If you are a business owner looking to get paid faster with less hassle, these tips are for you.

At Leverage Unlimited we create client success in three areas. Acquiring the right tools. Building better teams. Streamlining business processes. To maximize your cash flow, document your Accounts Receivable process. Create a timeline of all the steps and durations. Don't forget to include surface mail delivery, invoice aging, bank deposit holding, etc. Make sure you are sitting down when you total up the elapsed time. Next look for all the places you can eliminate all that wasted time. Electronic invoice delivery and online payment systems can cut your receivables aging by 75%. 

With a streamlined process, research the digital tools that enable the process. Mobile card readers are now available for swipe, chip reader, and tap-to-pay. We recommend clients explore PayPal for electronic invoicing, online payment, and requesting a PayPal debit card to eliminate waiting for payments to clear, giving you instant access to your hard earned cash.

Beyond Accounts Receivable

Streamlining your AR process is a big step in the right direction. Another opportunity is building a payment strategy that sets the payment expectation from the start of an engagement. that eliminates the hassle of invoicing for both you and your client. A member of our ResourceArmy, Sara Hansen of Phoenix Online Solutions requires online recurring billing to eliminate the hassle of invoicing for you and your client. The client doesn't have to remember to pay Sara, and Sara no longer chases clients for payment. 

The bottom line is this. You have to wear a bunch of hats to run a successful business. Bill Collector shouldn't be one of them. 

Resources

Tips for Streamlining Accounts Receivable

Last week I shared an insight I learned about a local luminary with a close associate. He cautioned, "I wouldn't publish that on Facebook." Even though it was complimentary and a great tip for those who present from the platform, I never gave a thought to writing about the celebrity's superpower. The encounter got me to thinking about the topic of privacy vs secrecy. Organizations work hard and make a considerable investment in their brand reputation. In the age of online transparency, the transformation from hero to zero can happen in the blink of an eye. When I think of online privacy, my thoughts turn to how marketers control what I share online. As outlined in, 10 Reasons Why Privacy Matters, author Daniel J. Solove challenges the idea of who ultimately controls your personal privacy. 

Does this Post Make Me Look Stupid?

Like the fit of an unflattering pair of pants, if you have to ask, you already know the answer. Just because we live in an age of transparency, we don't have to share everything with everyone. In fact, the all-seeing, all remembering eye of the Internet, calls for caution before tapping the unrecoverable, unforgiving Send button. I've learned that although I have the right to remain silent, there are times when I don't have the ability. Apologies take effort, can be costly, and often require lots of forms.

Most well-run websites publish privacy policies. What if you had a written personal privacy policy? Imagine the feeling of being in control of your personal brand reputation.  I think I'll start on #9 today.

I'm back in the office now that Deborah and I have returned from our vacation to Costa Rica. As I checked in with clients yesterday their first question was, "So, how was your vacation?" Thanks for asking, it was a disaster. A natural disaster. 

As Tropical Depression 16 grew into Hurricane Nate, thoughts of sun-drenched sandy beaches were replaced by torrential downpours, loss of electricity and flash flooding. Oh, did I mention we lost the Internet? I could share a whole litany of trials and tribulations, but I won't because, in the middle of all those challenges, I found opportunities. Four in fact.

Matt, Victor, Antonio, and Remegius

Matt and Joellen are the proprietors of El Chivo (the Goat) in the little town of Nosara. It is the best restaurant in town. In fact, during the storm, it was the only restaurant in town. Matt's goal was simple, "Keep the lights on." They emptied their refrigerator, slow-cooked everything overnight at their home up in the hills and singlehandedly kept the community together. Each rain-soaked, poncho-wearing patron was greeting at El Chivo's wide open double doors, often by Matt himself. When we arrived, Matt expressed concern about my missing flashlight I'd left behind earlier in the week. I had just met him, but it felt like I'd known him for years. Lessons from El Chivo: Keeping the lights on is not a slick marketing slogan, it's a mindset. It kept the community fed, the staff employed and the operation in the black.   

Victor patiently listened at the United Airlines counter in Libera as I attempted to explain our missed connection to San Jose. We were going to miss the last flight of the day to Houston. There was a flight leaving Liberia, but it was completely full. I thanked Victor and headed back to the Sansa Airlines counter to work on Plan "C". With the thought of spending an additional night somewhere in San Jose in mind, we headed for security. All of a sudden Victor bounded across the concourse and shouted, "We have two tickets for you!" Even with missing luggage and incessant seatback video marketing, I'm left with a positive feeling of United team members. 

Antonio, our Nosara Transport driver, did his very best to miss the potholes on the last 60 Kilometers of gravel road to Nosara. I'll share on Facebook the photo of his Crucifix hanging sideways from his rearview mirror as he dodged quads and pedestrians and an entire heard of Bhrama bulls (morning rush hour). As we neared the Liberia airport, I thought about his lonely ride home. 

Remegius was not the only attraction in Houston. The shiny new airport sports a sea of iPads mounted squarely in front of any traveler brave enough to sit and endure the incessant video marketing. Remegius gave us the gift of elevating our golf cart shuttle ride into a giddy parade float resplendent with princesses' waves and hearty hellos to all the perplexed onlookers. It was the perfect distraction to the last leg of our journey, a mad dash in front of Hurricane Nate on our way home to Jacksonville. 

The most important thing I learned on my vacation is that the customer experience is not about marketing. It's about the customer.

It was too easy. Sharing news reports, industry findings, and product launches with everyone on the planet was so easy. Find content, copy the link, post it to social and you are done. You didn't even have to create your own intellectual property. Like a cover band, all you had to do was copy the work of others. 

It was so easy everybody started sharing. We didn't even have to write the obituary, we simply copied and pasted social sharing to the grave. What started as an idea to create value and demonstrate expertise has devolved into a quick and dirty method of demonstrating just how little respect you have for your readers time, intelligence and value to your organization. There is a better way to meet the original goal. One that doesn't require an increase in your investment. All it takes is a change in mindset.

The Americans With Disabilities Act was meant to protect the rights of Americans. About 15 months ago we started hearing about law firms taking advantage of the act by sending small businesses "Demand Letters" to produce revenue through intimidation. Yesterday we received reports that the practice has arrived here in Jacksonville. Jim Poggott, I-Team reporter with News4Jax reports, "Dozens of ADA lawsuits seeking compliance or cash?" The report indicates the alleged scam involves a law office contacting local small businesses and threatening legal action. They offer to make it all go away, for a price.

We have been working on a related issue, web accessibility. Law firms have been using similar tactics to attack small medical practices. They allege they have a client who was denied access to the practices web site. Same tactic, same demand. Once a medical practice receives a demand letter, it's too late. There is only one effective solution to this threat, prevention.     

Thursday, August 10th I will be presenting the three steps Practice Administrators need to take to avoid becoming a target.

Use the link below to learn more or register now.

Web Accessibility Standards for Medical Practices
August 10, 2017 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

DPC Technology Center
7845 Baymeadows Way
Jacksonville, FL 32256 

A recent article from PracticalEcommerce by Armando Roggio documents the decimation of the brick and mortar industry. As many as 4,000 brick-and-mortar stores have closed in the United States since last year. Armando suggests two reasons, technology, and training. My research indicates it's not about tech, it's about mindset. You need to look no further than popular culture. Marvel comics transformed from comic books to a multi-billion dollar empire simply by taking the same stories out of the books and onto the big screen. It was made possible by the invention of digital effects. 

Take Your Best Self and Make It Timeless

In another recent article, Digital Transformation Is More About the 'Transformation' Than the 'Digital' author Rich Wood makes the case that technology is the enabler, not the engine of transformation. He goes on to say, "Real digital transformation, which holds the idea of transformation at the heart of the concept, is really about applying the new to the iconic, improving it and making it timeless.".

The implications of digital transformation extend beyond retail and comic strips. In three years all industries will be impacted by the disruption. For your business, it comes down to two choices. Will you be a champion or a victim of digital disruption? Three ideas for your consideration.

Develop the Need for Speed

If you were able to increase the tempo of business, how would that impact your bottom line? Digital enables your organization to respond quickly to inquiries, establish a dialog, provide prospects with answers faster than ever before. Closing more sales in less time is the result.

Stretch to Increase Your Reach

It is simple math. More prospects equal more revenue. Digital helps you get your brand story, your grand opening, today's special offer to those you serve best. If you use a street side changeable sign, snap a photo after each change and share on Social.

Place Your Processes on Autopilot

 One of the best ways to leverage your digital resources is by applying it to streamline your business processes. Automate repetitive processes to reduce expenses. Look for ways to transform labor intensive tasks involving paper and pencil into automated digital processes. 

Although it's rarely spoken out loud, fear is the biggest obstacle blocking established business from profiting from their digital future. It starts with the fear of change. It paralyzes business leaders into putting off the inevitable transformation. Then the fear changes into the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). By then, it is often too late.

Develop your 2020 vision for a profitable future. Call 904-566-8325 how your organization can profit from a digital transformation.

 

 

 

 

Actually, the opposite is true. The cost in dollars is low, it's the effort that appears to be costly. It a recent article from Forbes titled, How Technology Can Help You Engage Your Audience The Right Way, contributor John Hall outlines the Golden Equation for digital success,

Technology + authenticity = engagement

Earlier this morning I fired off a reply to a product support ticket from ZAGG, the folks who make a Bluetooth enabled keyboard for iPads. They are not going to send me a replacement for my replacement keyboard. This is the second keyboard where the hinge failed. I expect hardware to outlast the warranty. Neither keyboard made it. The true fail here is customer relationship and retention. ZAGGs one-size-fits-most reply, the $10 gift card and the empty promise of, "please don't hesitate to contact me back. I would be more than happy to assist you" transformed a rabid fan and promoter into a staunch detractor. 

I have an equation for ZAGG, Keyboard + Hatchet = Customer Satisfaction. Join me on Facebook at YourDigitalLeverage this afternoon for the main event.

I feel better already. The main takeaway from the Forbes article is that engagement requires more than an investment in technology, it requires authenticity. In addition to the golden equation, John shares two principals representing a distinct shift in digital mindset.

 Make the shift from me to you

Talking “at” versus talking “with”: It’s a big distinction. It's not about me. It's not about you, talking about me. It's about you.

Pursue new technology for better relationships 

John provides a link to a new product that focuses on communications preferences. I believe it starts with listening, then responding appropriately using the contacts preferred channel. Consider adding "Communications Preference" to your CRM. I added it to Nimble. No more out-of-sync conversations. 

Now, where did I put that hatchet?

 

 

Is this Legit?

The questions start with the arrival of an innocent looking envelope to your practice. It's from an obscure law firm, accusing you of violating a federal law, one you've never heard of. Even though you are holding the actual letter in your hand, "Is this legit?" is still a reasonable first question. The ADA recently addressed these so-called "Demand Letters." The letters quote the Americans with Disability Act (AwDA) and mention Title III, public accommodations as it pertains to businesses. Unfortunately, the answer to this first question is, "It's complicated."

Is it Real?

The AwDA was enacted prior to the birth of the Web. Although internationally developed Web Accessibility Standards exist, the actual US Federal law isn't expected to take effect until 2018. Is it legit? No. Which begs question #2. Is it real? Yes, most definitely. The demand letters include an accusation that a practice is denying access to disabled patients or prospects. The letter demands remediation to make a website accessible and payment by the practice as a settlement to avoid a lawsuit. By the time a practice receives a demand letter, it's more than real. It expensive. Even if you successfully avoid a lawsuit, the cost in time and treasure will impact productivity and profits.

Can this be Avoided?

The law firms involved have developed a process to identify litigation targets. The distance between their firm and your practice is one click. They use an automated tool to determine your site's accessibility. Even the demand letters are automated. Your best defense is to develop a plan to avoid becoming a target in the first place. An even better approach is to understand the challenge, then develop a process to mitigate the risk.

What Steps Could I Take?

The power is in knowing. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) were developed by W3C.org as an international standard for web accessibility. They have developed an automated tool to test your compliance. Involve your web professional. Once your site follows the standards, invest in staff training on how to respond to inquiries from patients who are covered under the AwDA. Develop written procedures they can use to eliminate the possibility of undue attention from a law firm.

What's In It For Me?

Inclusiveness is a growth strategy. Adopting standards that make your website accessible to prospective patients with disabilities is more that a nice thing to do. In the not too distant future, it will be the law. More importantly, it is just good for business.

 

Resources

Join Us in Jacksonville on August 10th for dinner and a discussion on how to make sense of this important topic for all healthcare practices. 

If you mark time in Internet years, it was only yesterday. June 29th will be the 10 anniversary of Apple's iPhone. Why iPhone? Steve Jobs knew users were unhappy with their mobile phones. It launched as a replacement. Why the "i"? The iPhone succeeded because it could adapt to the Individual. Their impact on personal culture has been so profound that we can't remember a time when they were not around. They have starred in major motion pictures, which you can watch on your mobile device. The are with us the moment we wake and are often the last image we see before we close our eyes to sleep. In many cases, they are the objects of our desire we reach for in the middle of the night.

The often intense personal relationship we have with our mobile devices is documented in a LongReads.com article, "A Sociology of the Smartphone". The most critical change is change itself, "[A]ll of the conventions and arrangements that constitute our sense of the everyday now no longer evolve at any speed we’d generally associate with social mores, but at the far faster rate of digital innovation." Each software upgrade forces us to change and adapt. Not always grudgingly, because we perceive our glowing rectangles and providing tremendous value.

Your Results May Vary

Consumers have embraced mobile devices into every aspect of their lives. Businesses on the other hand, still struggle to capitalize on the mobile transformation of our society. Startups get it. Established firms continue to operate in wait and see mode. I must admit I am totally baffled trying to figure out what they are waiting for. If you have an idea, please share it with me.

Mobile Mindset

There is more to mobile than squeezing your website to fit on a mobile screen. Your customers operate with a mobile mindset. It is time you did the same. Here is the difference.

Not long ago businesses focused on finding the right day and time to deliver email offers. Mobile makes this thinking obsolete. A better tactic is to target prospects at the time they are best able to take advantage of your offer. If you use a changeable sign in front of your business to create a drive-by call to action, consider using your mobile device to snap a photo. Post it to social or send it to your loyalty program members in the afternoon. It gives them the opportunity to start thinking of stopping by on their way home. 

"I'll send it to you when I get back to the office." Successful sales team have everything they need to close deals at their fingertips. Have you armed and trained your sales force to work independently in the trenches? Here is an easy way to answer the question. Have your top sales person sit at their desk with their mobile in their hand. Have them run through a mock in-person sales call. Do they have every piece of information they need, not just from the desktop, but also from their mobile device?

The iPhone launched as a replacement for mobile phones. The success of the platform happened when users started adapting it to their individual needs. A mobile mindset includes leveraging all the inherent features. Photos and videos bring customers and your team together. The ability to record or transcribe audio is a feature often overlooked by businesses.

 

As a business professional, your decision to celebrate iPhone's 10th anniversary as less to do with Apple's accomplishment and more to do with what you accomplish with mobile technology. Happy Anniversary iPhone!

 

 

 

 

During my LinkedIn course at UNF last week I recommended the free version of the platform. I believe in mastering the free versions before investing in the paid version of any software. However, leverage comes not from acquiring more tools, it appears in the moment you invest in developing your talents and those of your team. Every business professional has access to the tools of technology. I work with successful companies that have all the tools. The key to their success is their commitment to learning. If everybody has access to the same tools, your firm's best opportunity to create competitive advantage starts with education. It is the #1 way to leverage technology.

Tear Down the Walls

The pace of learning has failed to keep up with the rate of digital transformation. Since Microsoft acquired LinkedIn a year ago the user interface, features and content have experienced radical change. When was the last time you invested 20 minutes learning what's new, what's changed, what's gone? LinkedIn has changed direction. They are moving away from Groups and toward Messaging. Advanced Search is one of LinkedIn's most valuable features. Do you know how to use it for prospecting? 

Investing in more technology, or even infrequent training sessions won't deliver the ROI you seek. You have all the technology you need. It's time to invest in yourself. 

Leveraging your digital skills takes more that a New Year's resolution. I'll bet your gym was packed last January. By February things had returned to normal. The best approach to modern learning is to break it into bite-sized chunks. Here's the plan I use.

Add Tech Training to Your Schedule

Open your calendar and make a tech training appointment with yourself. Find 20 minutes on tomorrow's schedule. You get bonus points if you make it recurring. Pick a day and time when you have the energy to focus. Don't worry about the topic or learning objectives just yet. Commit to the goal, the process will appear just in time. Already making excuses? Don't have time? Too Busy? Successful business professionals are disciplined, organized, and committed. Don't worry if you are feeling uncomfortable right now, it's not fear, but excitement you're feeling.

Document What You're Learning

They are called progress notes for a reason. Choose now how you will take notes of what you learn in a way you can retrieve them when needed. I use a plain piece of paper to scribble and scratch out ideas, new words, unfamiliar concepts. I created a Learning notebook in Evernote. I add a note whenever I learn something new. Although I learn best when I write longhand, handwritten notes are difficult to catalog and retrieve. Using a digital notetaking platform and keeping it simple increases the future value of your learning investment.

 Pick Your Shots

Business professionals often use the word overwhelmed to describe their relationship with technology. You will never learn it all, so don't even try. Instead, focus on what you need to learn most. Learning keyboard shortcuts is a quick way to increase work productivity. Learning how to automate tasks you perform frequently increases productivity. Guided discovery is an effective way to increase the value of your investment in technology tools.   

Guided discovery is another way to increase the value of your investment in technology tools. Endeavor to learn something new each week. Modern software programs, Apps, and cloud-based platforms are tremendously powerful tools. A small investment will pay big dividends.    

What's Next

Creating a process and a plan for keeping up with digital transformation will increase the value of your technology investment while reducing that feeling of being overwhelmed. 

I'm planning a Summer Learning Series for many of the major tech tools you use every day. Produced locally, they will be available globally. Interested? Call me at 904-566-8325 for an invitation.

It's not a protest movement or an attack on dining out. Millennials are voting with their feet. SFGate.com reports in an article, Millennials are killing chains like Buffalo Wild Wings and Applebee's, that generation Y is to blame for declining revenue in the Fast Casual sit-down market. A similar situation exists right here in downtown Jacksonville with brick and mortar restaurants who have requested "protection" from food trucks. Applebees was singing a different tune two years ago when they announced, Applebee’s Recasts Itself as Millennials Bar

It sounded like a great plan: “We’re changing things up and going back to what we do best.” The journey from bright idea to monumental fail was doomed from the beginning. Two words sealed their fate: "Going Back". Like it or not, the world is moving forward. Dining, lodging, and transportation are not the only industries who are facing digital disruption. Your industry is next. If you don't see it, your business will fail. My research indicates 2020 is your deadline. Speed has become the #1 competitive advantage. Your window of opportunity has narrowed. Here are some ideas you can use today to start moving forward.

Stop Buying More Technology

You (and your competitors) have all the technology needed. Digital transformation is not about technology, it's about mindset. Take an inventory of what you have and let go of the technology that no longer serves you. Build a strategy before filling your toolbox with any more tools.

Engage With Your Newest Customers

Not with fancy online marketing or stalking. Stop shouting at them. Start a conversation, engage in social listening. The change you see in your industry is not in technology. It's in the behavior of your customers.

Create Digital Leverage

There are three specific, very important, ways that you can use technology to grow your business success. The technology can help you reach farther. It can bring customers closer while building stronger relationships. It can increase the speed of your execution, operations, growth, and profits. 

The Best Investment You Can Make

Applebees invested $40M in wood-fired ovens for each of their restaurants. Millennials didn't care. As a business owner, your best investment is in building a new mindset. Applebees had all the tools they needed to find out what Millennials DID want. Change isn't about disruption, it's about transformation.

 

I work with established organizations who want a return on their digital investment. When you are ready, let's talk. 904-566-8325.

 

  

At least, it is the end as we know it. The term "content marketing" was coined by Penton Custom Media in 2001. The original concept, according to Content Marketing Institute, dates back to 1732 when Benjamin Franklin first published the yearly Poor Richard’s Almanack. Author Joe Pulizzi goes on to say, "But despite the age of the technique, the power it wields hasn’t diminished at all. In fact, examples of brands using content marketing – and the impact of those efforts – have increased exponentially over the years."

More is Not Better

The increase means that your prospects are drowning in content. The onslaught starts early each day with social media updates, blog posts, whitepapers, online videos, and infographics. It's enough to make them want to turn off their phones, or at the very least, tune out your valuable digital content. Value the central issue, followed by who decides what is valuable? The ability to share via copy/paste gives you and everyone you know the ability to share everything with everybody. Content has now become a worthless commodity.  In the recent article, The Content Trap: When Content Becomes a Commodity (and Three Ways to Break Free) MarketingPros suggest a solution.

How to Break the Content Marketing Trap

It starts with basic economics. Businesses can create production efficiencies to reduce cost. They can differentiate their offering based on service delivery. They can re-engineer the commodity to add value. Efficiencies allow you to distribute more content, but buyers don't want more. My clients are finding success in differentiating by channel, including live video. Adding value is the easiest of the three. Focus your content on aligning tightly with what your buyer wants to hear from you, at the specific time they want to hear it is the key. Guide your readers to the right information that addresses their specific needs, challenges, wants, and interests. 

What's Next

Technology continues to provide tools and insight that allows you to target those you serve best. I see a shift away from mass marketing with a return to direct sales. Connecting the dots between your customers topics of interest and your expertise appears to be the shortest path to engagement. An email targeted to a handful of prospects will produce a greater impact that a generic broadcast to thousands.

Additional Resources

Ernie Smith of AssociationsNow.com published more on the topic in his article WHEN YOU SHOULD BUILD YOUR CONTENT AROUND YOUR USERS’ HABITS.

The primary business development goal for any organization is to start a conversation with suspects and prospects. Which is why I’m so baffled by business professionals who insist on pushing those valuable contacts away through the use of social networking. Under the guise of content sharing, they post tweets and profile updates containing links to anywhere but their own web presence. Pushing people away kills your opportunity to start a conversation. Path of Engagement Back in the day when our Internet platform was nothing more than a website the key to

Path of Engagement 

Back in the day when our Internet platform was nothing more than a website the key to attraction was Search Engine Optimization. SEO has taken a back seat to Social Networking. There are three destinations that matter when it comes to digital attraction. They all lie along the Path of Engagement.

  • Social Networking – PR
  • Content Marketing – Marketing
  • Engagement – Sales

When SEO was king the path was clear. Your mission was to publish content containing words and phrases your prospects might use while searching online for your services. Your audience has moved. Your new mission is to shift your mindset and your efforts to a new strategy. Social Networking. The new path starts with publishing the same words and phrases through social networking. Your profile updates must contain direct links to similar content on your website. Not to interesting articles somewhere else. Your social linking should always point to your site.

Drive visitors to your site. Use it as the destination where you provide value to your followers. Simply sharing content via copy/paste is lazy. It creates zero value. Is that the brand statement you had in mind?

Publish articles and posts that reference current events and trends then add value by sharing your insight, your expertise.

Internet Game Plan – Social Networking

  • Find Your Audience – Choose to invest in the social networking platform where your audience hangs out. Watch and Wait – Learn the ropes of building a profile to “dress to impress”. Seek to understand online social etiquette before attempting to be understood. Bury Your Treasure – Build a content marketing library so you will be prepared when asked to demonstrate your expertise. Draw a Map – Give clear, direct directions when linking from your social updates to your content. Never, ever direct prospects to visit your home page. Always treat them as VIPs by escorting them to a private entrance.
  • Watch and Wait – Learn the ropes of building a profile to “dress to impress”. Seek to understand online social etiquette before attempting to be understood.
  • Bury Your Treasure – Build a content marketing library so you will be prepared when asked to demonstrate your expertise.
  • Draw a Map – Give clear, direct directions when linking from your social updates to your content. Never, ever direct prospects to visit your home page. Always treat them as VIPs by escorting them to a private entrance.

Insight

Your prospects have left the [search engine] building. Meet them where they are, Social Networking. 

Hospitals proved to be the most vulnerable targets from last weeks ransomware attack—a type of cyber attack where criminal hackers encrypt data on individuals’ or institutions’ computers and demand a ransom to unlock the information.

As if that wasn’t a big enough threat, I’m learning that dental practices are also becoming targets, and in this case, it’s perfectly legal. My healthcare clients have reported receiving demand letters from lawyers threatening legal action to force compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

It’s a legal shakedown to extract payment for lack of compliance with the 1991 Act. It’s possible because of lack of awareness on the part of practices and their web developers. Non-compliance comes at a high price. They threaten legal action unless you agree to their demands. The good news is compliance is fairly simple to achieve and to maintain

It’s all about effective communications with people who have vision, hearing, or speech disabilities. It starts with your web presence and extends to communications by telephone and when they present at your practice. I was asked to weigh-in on this issue because of a scary sounding email received by a practice. I’m not sure what I dislike more, the demand letters from lawyers or "the sky is falling" messages from web developers. 

Fact or Fiction

Let’s start with the facts:

  • It’s not a scam. The requirements for effective communication under the act were published in 2010. 
  • The requirements are specific. No guesswork required. Developers have a checklist and a web-based tool they can use to test for compliance.
  • Staff training will be necessary to maintain compliance. However, your investment increases the quality of the patient experience while significantly reducing the chance your practice will become a target.  

What’s Next

Here at Leveraged Unlimited, we have developed a process to address this challenge. Below are some “First Steps” you take to learn if AwDA compliance is a concern for your practice.

  • Ask your web presence developer - contact your web professional to learn if your site is compatible.
  • Self-testing - use the WAVE tool to assess the risk.
  • Review existing procedures - Determine your level of compliance during your daily operations.

Take a Deep Breath

At Leverage Unlimited we believe regulatory compliance in highly regulated industries is fairly easy to maintain. Expectations are clearly spelled out. Uncertainty is eliminated. We also believe the cost of compliance is much less that non-compliance. In fact, it’s just good business.

Concerned about your AwDA compliance? Give Jerry a call with your questions. 904-566-8325

Resources

If the sound of the word "Digital" causes you pain, you're doing it wrong. With all the hype surrounding the latest app, or really cool software, it's no wonder business owners are overwhelmed by technology. If the thought of posting a social update, or writing a blog post makes you dizzy, this post is for you.

Leveraging simple, inexpensive technology you may already have for more sales requires only three simple steps. Creating loyal customers starts with discovering your firm, building a relationship of trust, then engaging in a one-to-one conversation with them. Established companies already have a head start. Their existing customers. If you are one of those lucky souls, the process starts with rediscovery. How long has it been since you connected with them? If it's been more than 30 days, it's time to reconnect.

Discovery

Take a look at your customer database. Do you have email addresses? If so, great! If not, create an event or special offer (something you would normally offer is fine). Create a direct mail postcard with a link to visit your site to request this special offer. Now you have the email addresses and returning customers. Now you can use email announcements and social posts to stay in touch with current customers and reach out to prospects. 

Build a Relationship

The folks at Tide build a strong relationship with their loyal customers with a landing page. Tide.com/Remove-Stains. It creates value for customers without making a pitch for the product. What could you publish on a landing page to create value that would build a better relationship with your prospects and customers? Yes, it's that simple.

Engagement

Once prospects and former customers have discovered you, and you've built or reestablished a relationship with them, the next step is easy. All it takes is a written invitation. The customer journey is nothing but inviting those you serve best to take a single step. Stop long enough to see your post on social. The invitation is a link to the landing page. After you've created value and built a relationship, you create a link at the bottom of the landing page to Learn More. These small, easy steps allow future customers to get comfortable with you. They help your existing customers keep your business in mind.

Quick tips to creating the Perfect Customer Journey

  • Create a link from your social posts that lead to your website. Pick a page that creates value for those you serve best.
  • Review each page on your site. Make sure each page ends with an invitation to visit another page. We call it a Call To Action (CTA).
  • Make it easy to connect with you. When you include the phrase, "Call us" don't forget to add your phone number immediately after. 

I used to love Radio Shack. They had a repair facility that would fix broken technology. It died when replacing became cheaper that repairing. My affection switched to Sears Craftsman tools. Now that has also been replaced. So much is changing so fast.

It's the first thought that comes to mind when I'm asked to explain Digital Disruption. I say it's not about technology, but of course right at the beginning is the "D" word. It's no wonder we are all confused. Today I ran across what I hope is the perfect phrase to define the essence of the concept.

Digital DNA

It came to me by way of a Harvard Business Review IdeaCast with author Ray Wang, Making Sense of Digital Disruption. I've been told I should stop using the word disruption. I don't do it to scare people, but because it scares me. Transformation is much nicer.

However, the concept is still fuzzy. Wang goes further by defining the impact as a business model transformation in terms of how we operate and how we engage."

For established companies, the solution requires more than mobile devices or a new website or a social media strategy. To succeed in the future your organization must embrace a culture shift that goes all the way to your core digital DNA.

United Airlines had all the technology they needed, yet they failed to adapt their technology to meet the human need. Tools can help increase your speed, but transforming your business culture increases your revenue. 

Before you spend another dime on technology, buy Wang's book, Disrupting Digital Business

Additional Reading

This will be the last edition of the Digital Daily. 

Blogging fits under content marketing. Its purpose is to engage readers by building or maintaining a relationship. It's measured by the open rate. For Digital Daily it is more than triple the industry rate. I hold my publishing to a higher standard. I measure engagement. I ask, does it create value, does it create leverage? Digital Daily does not meet my standards. 

 

I'm often asked two questions about blogging: "How often should I publish a blog post?" and "How long should it be?" The answers have been the same since I started blogging a decade ago. Publish as frequently as people want to hear from you. Write only as much as they can comfortably read at that frequency. The other side of the equation is how frequently can you comfortably write articles of quality? And there's the rub. 

I can write daily, but I have to stretch to grasp ideas that create value. It's like watching CNN. During my 2 hour a day stint in a Hyperbaric Oxygen chamber as I recovered from a health issue, I was startled to learn CNN only had 15 minutes of news. Digital Daily started to feel like that. You deserve better. It's not honest. It's not me.

What's Next?

What is next always starts with what would be better. I believe it starts with more focus, more engagement, more awareness. After all these years, my goal for you remains the same. Whenever you finish reading something I've written or reflect on a take away from a coaching session or experience, or an "Aha" moment as you leave a presentation, I want you to have become the "Master of Your Digital Domain." Here are the three ways I intend to deliver on that goal.

The Art of Digital Leverage

I will continue my weekly newsletter on what's happening in the area of digital transformation published on Tuesdays at 10 AM Eastern. If it's not being delivered directly to your inbox, consider subscribing.

Digital Direct

Everyone says they are overwhelmed by technology. What if you are not? I've been informally sharing targeted, valuable content to individuals for years. It's time to make this legit. You can assist right now by replying with no more than three tech topics you'd like to learn more about. I promise I'll keep my eyes open for you. When I find something I think you need to know, I'll shoot you the link and include my two-cent's worth about why I think this is important to your success. Either hit reply or send me an email and share the three topics that interest you the most.  

Office Hours

The best method to leverage engagement is in person. Second best is live video. I invite you to join me at 3 pm Eastern each Thursday for an open discussion via live video. No appointment necessary. Just show up to ask a question, share what you know, or just to hang out and listen. If you are reading this as an email hit Reply to request a personal invitation or send me a message. I can't think of a better way to engage with you.

 

That's it. I hope this gives you one or more ideas on how I can help bring you success. Thanks for your support and may your day be, Just Another Day In Paradise!

 

 

 

Your new title will be, Entrepreneur. Oh, not me, you say? In a classic article from Forbes.com titled, Why Everyone Will Have To Become An Entrepreneur they recall a scenario from 20 years ago. It's full of CD's, record stores, maps and pay phones. It would be full of warm nostalgia if not for all the people who were put out of a job when these products were no longer in demand. Author  Paul B. Brown, puts it in perspective with, "As you think about this scenario, and countless others you could imagine, you realize that it’s easier to list the tiny handful of professions and industries that will remain unchanged in the next 20 years than it is to write down the ones that will be altered—radically."

I don't have "5 Tips" or the perfect strategy to share with you today. Just a question. If your job went away today, what would you do tomorrow? I know what I'm going to do. If you'd like, I can share it with you. Just make a note to return here tomorrow at 10 am Eastern.
http://leverageunlimited.net/blog/digital-daily 

 

 

 

 

I don't mean alcohol, I'm talking about the Hooch App. The title above is a quote from Lin Dai, CEO of NY-based Hooch. The premise is that everyone want's a free drink. The magic behind the concept is bar owners want measurable ROI. 

An article published on Medium.com, Free Drink App Hooch Is Growing A Market By Giving Its Products Away makes the case for metrics. Hooch has been steadily growing their audience to 100K subscribers, many of whom are paying $9.99 per month. Dia touts tcustomer data as the most important factor behind the success of Hooch. 

The Gold in Data-Mining

 Using technology to extend your reach drives value. The wealth of data generated by growth sustains profitability. The platform gathers info on product, location, and even time-of-day to provide valuable metrics the company provides to bar owners in real-time. Current research methodologies produce PR metrics in 6-8 weeks. The question for established organizations is this. What if you knew, right now, what your customers are doing? Not what they are thinking about doing, actually doing? 

Adopting a Digital Mindset

The benefit of real-time data collection is often missing from the ROI calculation when making a case for digital transformation. Adopting a digital mindset is the first step toward growing sales and profits in the digital age. Better data leads to better decisions.

 

I've been told not to use this word.

I'm told, "People don't like it, it makes them uncomfortable, even angry." I get it, but like it or not, change is coming to your business, (Like when the Apple store moved just a few blocks). Then I read an article and a lightbulb went on. After reading the article, Tommy Hilfiger on a Game of Hangman, I realized what was different. 

The word? Disruption. I wouldn't be surprised if you winced just now. When I use the phrase "Digital Disruption" it evokes the fear of an uncertain future. However, in the article chronicling Tommy Hilfiger's big breakthrough, it's a celebration of his success. Back in 1985, Hilfiger was introduced to George Lois, as an "advertising genius". Tommy wanted an ad campaign that was the same old, same old. George offered a different idea.

Lois displayed campaigns from a lot of the big brands. It was hard to tell the difference between them. “This”, he said, “is the problem. Unless you do something different – something disruptive – nobody will notice.”

It worked. the so-called "hangman" ad positioned Hilfiger as on of the top four fashion designers. It caused an uproar in the community and yes, made some designers angry. Calvin Klein, confronted George in a restaurant, ‘Do you know it took me 20 years to get where Hilfiger is today!’ I politely grabbed his finger, bent it, and answered: ‘Schmuck! Why take 20 years when you can do it in 20 days?!’”

Established businesses here in Jacksonville don't have 20 years. Digital disruption is changing the way business is done. Besides, why wait for disruption when you can profit from a digital transformation, right now?

When you're ready to hear more about tapping into the transformation to enhance your bottom line, call me
904-566-8325

 I'm sure this is no surprise to you, but in a recent article from MarketingProfs.com titled, Your Buyers Are Experiencing Marketing Fatigue; Here's What to Do About It, the author, a marketer admitted he was tired. No kidding. The post lists 5 items to work on. There is even a fancy metric to go with it, "Outreach Cadence". The thought appears to be that we are sending way too many messages. No kidding.

Each of the 5 items makes sense, but only from the marketers' point of view. I believe the central issue to why buyers have stopped opening your emails is you are bugging them way too much. If you are a sales professional using more technology but getting much less return, here are some ideas to disrupt your rut.

  • Tighten your reach, expand your pool. If you find yourself returning to check in with the same prospects, stop. Return to your target prospect. Are you engaging with your perfect prospect? Tighten your definition, then expand your reach to a larger audience. When those folks you've spoken with are ready, they will contact you.   
  • Go legit. Authenticity and transparency create value. Drop all the lame excuses for reconnecting. Use social listening to create legitimate reasons to connect. Focusing on what's going on in their world opens your eyes to opportunities to be genuine.
  •  Sharing is caring. Stop sharing everything with everyone. Add "favorite topics" to your contact records. Which topics do prospects follow or need to know more about? Instead of one size fits most, tailor your info sharing to earn your place in your prospect's inbox.  

It's time to stop kidding yourself, prospects are not waiting for your generic email followup. Rediscover your creative side, stop being hard of listening, demonstrate you have respect for their time, effort and attention.

 

My client was walking on cloud 9, "I'm going to be on TV!" After I congratulated their good fortune, I asked, "How will you leverage this opportunity?" I didn't mean it as a buzz kill, simply as a call back down to earth. A TV appearance is a perfect opportunity for exposure and so much more.

The Art of Digital PR 

Both our current and former presidents have mastered digital PR. President Trump understands that by using Twitter, there no longer is a need to wait for the media for him to speak directly to the American people. Former President Obama continues to leverage social media to extend his reach. In traditional PR, communications professionals would call on all their media contacts to leverage a TV opportunity. With access to social media via mobile, the PR machine is always available at a moments notice. Taking a page from the presidential PR playbook, here's some tips you can use to leverage your time in the spotlight.

Get Ready for Your Close-up 

The producer will give you a specific time to arrive for the taping. What you really need to know is the specific airtime and more importantly, where and when your appearance will appear online. Where refers to the URL. Telling your followers to "tune-in" is pointless. No one watches live TV during the day. The invite you share online must include a web address. A live feed is perfect. A generic link to the station of fine. An archive link after the event is great for your mom. She's the only one who watch it once it's old news.

We are Live in 3-2-1

Local Jacksonville PR legend (and client) Rebecca Hart taught me to stick to three, short easy to remember points during an interview. It is your #1 priority to include the organization name in your response to an interviewer's question. NASCAR drivers are famous for including the names of every sponsor in response to the question, "So how did you win the race?" It can be as simple as, "At XYZ Corp, we believe..." Don't assume the media will include your contact info. If you get luck, and they ask how to reach you, provide the easiest method. I recommend your web address as long as it is easy to say, spell and type.

And We Are Out!

You'll hear someone on the production team use this phrase to let you know when to start breathing again. It may be the end of the taping, but it is not the end of your PR promotion. If you've done your homework, you will be ready for all those new prospects who just discovered you or your organization through your interview segment. If you chose to send folks to your website, acknowledge them on your home page and extend an invitation to take a single action. Give them too many options and they will disappear. Post the web link to the segment and include a text invitation with a link to an appropriate landing page.

Being on TV is exciting. Leveraging the opportunity for PR for your cause or organization is very exciting. Technology provides you with the tools to extend your reach to new members, sponsors, and patrons. Keep Calm and PR on! 

[Editors Note] This TV PR strategy is part of Jerry's upcoming course, Social Engagement for Public Relations at UNF.  

Resources

 

It's a scrap of a lyric from a classic from Bob Dylan, "Like a Rolling Stone". It starts playing in my head each time I see a social post without a link to drive traffic to the organization's website. I've heard the justification for not linking to your site or linking to valuable content from other publishers. The irony is it's often shared by the same folks who wish they could increase the traffic to their website. If you are seeking a position online as an influencer or expert, it's time to deliver your own intellectual property (IP). Here's why.

You owe it to your followers. Photos are nice, but after a while it begins to feel like vacation syndrome. I'm glad you had fun, but I didn't get to go. If you create a link that leads to something I can learn, I'm engaged. If all I see is a photo, I'm gone. 

I won't remember you. If you share a link that leads away from you or your web presence, I will forget the source. I can't even remember what I ate for lunch yesterday.

A photo leads to a limited engagement. If I click the image you shared and all I get is a bigger image, I've already seen it twice. I may add a comment, but that's about the extent of it. Seems like a lot of work for so little engagement.

Delivering Value to Those You Serve Best

Developing unique content you deliver directly to your community creates value, builds trust, and top of mind awareness. Here are some quick content ideas for a successful landing page.

  • A blog post a new development in your customer's world. Create value by including your two-cents worth.
  • A news page covering the local angle on a national story.
  • A customer success story.
  • An update on your hours of operation.
  • Your new menu items.
  • Today's special
  • A short page with tips on how to receive more value from a purchased product

Landing pages bring prospects as well as loyal customers closer to you when you can't be there in person. What will you publish on your landing page? 

 

 The idea that your business success depends on buying more technology is a myth. You have suspected it for a long time. The truth is your business can profit from a digital transformation. If you are a business leader who wants to gain an ROI from your technology investment, you'll be surprised to learn it's easier than you think. All you need are 5 essential technologies

Technology, What is it good for?

Each of the five essentials creates value for your organization by extending your reach, bringing prospects closer, increasing your speed of execution, or reducing expenses. As you consider each of the following technologies, make sure your decisions are grounded in where they create value.

Social Media

It's not about pictures of what you had for dinner, it's all about discovery. The first step to transforming prospects into loyal customers is helping them discover your organization. There is only one tool that deserves your attention and investment. It's the social platform your customers use.  Not sure? Ask them. All you have to do is show up and execute two essential techniques; engage in conversations that replace shouting with listening, master the art of the written invitation. All your social media invitation requires is colorful visuals, details about who, what and why, and clear directions in the form of a link to learn more about your organization.

Content Marketing

If you use social media to invite prospects to your party, make sure it's memorable. Their first impression is critical to the decision to stay or leave. The best technique to build the relationship is to create a landing page. Think of it as a VIP entrance to your world. The best tool for this assignment is a blog. The content changes frequently and provides prospects with a sense of urgency. The key here is to provide information that answers a prospect's needs. Jot down a list of the questions customers ask, like, "What are your hours?" Where are you located?" or "Do you have this in stock?" are examples of content you can use to build trust.

Sales Automation

At no time in history have so many, had such vast access to so much information about everyone on the planet. Yet we squander this fortune when we craft emails addressed to, "Dear valued customer." The traditional sales funnel has been replaced by the virtual sales pipeline. The customer journey starts long before prospects become customers. A Contact Relationship Management system is the perfect tool to document where your prospects are in your sales process. More importantly, it transforms data into actionable information.  

Customer Service

User experience (UX) attracts customers. Support experience, (SX) converts them into raving fans. Take a good look at any of the major Internet platforms and you will see a robust, valuable customer service and support strategy. When the student community for a client's learning management system designed for 1,000 students exploded to 22,000 students, we build a support platform. Once you have customers, what will you do to keep them?

Brand Reputation

In the age of Twitter, your good name is a fragile commodity. A social monitoring tool is the first step. Training your team to respond when things go wrong is a talent development imperitive. Having a disaster recovery plan is the best technique to guarantee your organization will not only survive but thrive.

Connecting your digital dots is the ultimate goal. The first step is to pick one of the 5 essentials. Focus in one area then move to the next. Before you know it, you will have become the master of your digital domain!

The question, "Does Social Media Make You a Better Leader?" is more than a trivial pursuit. As customers and staff become increasingly connected, social media skills have become an essential skill for budding CEOs. The article cites a recent report by Development Dimensions International, a leadership development consultancy. As part of its High-Resolution Leadership study, DDI examined different aspects of leadership among potential CEOs and,  "Not every CEO is savvy on social media, but the ones who are often have a lot of other traits considered desirable in leaders".

 More than just some nice to have traits or behaviors, the study found that those executives who were active on social media were stronger than their counterparts in key metrics; 89 percent stronger at empowering other people, 52 percent stronger at compelling communication, and 46 percent stronger at influencing others. 

I find the last metric to be significant. Traditionally, CEOs were measured on their ability to direct others. The rise of the Internet has elevated the extended network over the organization. In the digital age, leaders must learn an indirect application of power. Social media is about infulence, not control.

 

 

At first, I thought I had stumbled across an article authored by my trusted advisor Frances Pound Fisher. Chances you've heard of those courageous folks who work without a net? Frances works without a To-do list. It was the article, Could Time-Blocking Replace Your To-Do List?  from Fast Company that brought Frances' lesson to mind. 

The logic is simple. Since completing tasks on your to-do list takes time, why not schedule them in advance? Frances' top tip is to create 20-minute blocks on your calendar. When the time arrives, start immediately. Make the call, start writing that blog post, commence working on the next task to move your project forward.

Two key finding from the Fast Company article by Gwen Moran. The first is paying attention to cycles. I plan my week in advance Sunday evenings. I schedule early meetings at a nearby undisclosed location to avoid rush hour. The second key is known as the Zegarnick effect. We remember what we haven't done better than what we have done.

I recommend reading the full article. If not now, consider blocking out some time on your calendar.

 

'

With giants like Target, Yahoo and the DNC victimized by hackers, it would be easy to throw up your arms and give up on cyber security within your organization. A recent report from TechCrunch on a leak of exploits by Shadow Brokers reveals the single most important, simple to execute solution to protecting your computing environment. 

First Step to Cyber Security

What is the first line of cyber defense? Keeping all your software up to date. A spokesperson from Microsoft confirmed that the majority of the exploits leaked had already been patched. In the blink of an eye, an urgent call to action switched to yesterday's news. 

The continuing shift to cloud computing means that the day will come when your software and systems will be up-to-date the moment you log into the cloud. Until then, take action when you receive a software update announcement. Immediate inoculation is the best defense against the nastiest of Internet viruses.