I have seen rumours lately that SEO is dead. Maybe that makes sense because of the continuous changes being made by Google to their algorithms (basically formulas that provide the results they display). But I disagree. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is here to stay. And I can prove it to you.
When you are trying to find a hair salon in Chicago because you are speaking at an event and your hair is driving you crazy. Where do you look? If you are like most of us, you will grab your phone or computer and type in Best Hair Salon in Chicago. The search engine you use (my go to is always Google) will give you a list of possibilities. Now how are these particular business showing up? Well, because they have optimized their websites and listings with search engines in mind.
I know that the term SEO can send people running, but I would like you to take a step back and think about the keywords themselves… not SEO.
So what are keywords anyway? Keywords can be a single word, or group of words, that are really search terms that help us find information on what we are looking for. Generally these words, or combination of words have been identified as being used by our potential customers, when they are searching online.
Here are 3 reasons why I love keywords and you should too:
By making determining the right keywords, to attract the right audience, you will begin to see higher and higher conversion.
Last year when I was contacted by a lovely lady in the spa service industry, her biggest complaint was that she just wasn’t getting any traction with her website. Bookings tended to be word of mouth and she wasn’t showing up in the first 10 pages in Google search returns. After doing some research to determine how people were currently finding her, keyword research and some competitive analysis, we made changes that resulted in her regularly showing up near the top of the first page. I was just speaking with her last week, and she is incredibly busy now.
So, once you are clear on the results you are trying to achieve and who your ideal client is, your online presence can soar.
To differentiate your business in your marketplace, offer a Certificate of Competence.
Of the programs and packages you offer, one or more can be written in competency-based language suitable for verification and certification.
In addition to competency, there are three additional words that guide and sustain a “Competence Verification for Certification” approach. They are capabilities, continuance, and capacity.
The four words are the four rungs of a ladder or the four elements of a free form, dynamic visual. Both examples are shown below:
The ladder metaphor suggests a mechanistic, step-by-step connection whereas the free flowing image suggests an organic, interweaving connection. Depending on your preference and the situation, both are useful.
Here is a description and explanation of the four words in connection to awarding YOUR Competence Verification for Certification. The article leans into concepts and practices best read and digested, than scanned and taste-tested.
Capabilities highlight the achievements, skills and talents a person currently possesses. These capabilities indicate the potential a person offers when matched with YOUR program/package profile competencies. Herein, program/package profile is profile.
Because of a person’s capabilities, s/he can apply personal learning and actions to a situation. Capabilities denote an inside-out conversation between the person and YOU (the profile-keeper/verifier/certifier).
Capabilities highlight the person’s fit with the competency profile. The degree of fit is determined by the person’s self-assessment of the competency statements. The results of the self-assessment follow the person until s/he applies for competence verification for her/his chosen level of certification.
The submission of the assessment indicates the person’s knowledge, skill and attitude alignment with the competency statements. It identifies what the person requires and requests of YOU. And reminds registrants what they bring to the competence verification process.
Competencies, on the other hand, are statements that identify what YOU require and request of the registrant applying for certification.
The competency statements are grouped into a competency profile. It conveys the level of certification offered by YOUR business. You can award a certificate of (1) attendance completion, (2) assignment achievement and/or (3) verified competence. The thread of this article focuses on verified competence.
The profile frames what is “legally and reasonably” required for a person to know and do to receive a verified Certificate of Competence. It is YOUR accountability to ensure access to the competence verification process offered through your business.
In addition, YOU manage access to education material to support the learning and action whether via your business and/or external organizations. That is, you provide some/all of the education and/or you acknowledge external educators aligned with your profile. Working with external educators is a great way to establish strategic alliances and access potential verifiers.
The phrase “the person is competent” is acknowledged when the assigned verifier confirms the competence of person against the competencies. That is the person’s capabilities match the profile competencies.
For the person receiving verification of competence it’s an outside-in conversation with YOU.
From YOUR perspective, you’ve stated what you require and request of the participant. And you state the resources you supply to the registrant to gain the level of certification for which they’ve applied.
Here is an adaption of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s writings on Flow linking capabilities and competencies:
Continuance is the requirement of time you assign a competency to counter the person’s forgetfulness and/or to identify the amount of time that can elapse between the person’s learning and verified action.
Also, the assigned timelines of profile competencies are influenced by external policies and/or regulations. These external influences identify the societal standards and practices linked to the profile. They indicate the influencers’ best judgment of the amount of time that can elapse between learning and verified competence. Their list of continuance markers highlights the ethical boundaries between the marketplace and YOUR corporate social/legal responsibility.
Continuance is a double-edged sword. On one side, continuance is a benefit while on the other side, it’s a cost. As a benefit for YOU, it ensures a reoccurring conversation with registrants to maintain their certification. It’s revenue for you and peace of mind they remain verified competent for their needs according to YOUR practices and standards.
As a cost, it is continued payment by the participant to remain verified. What is the value of their certification over time? What is the cost of their effort to remain certified?
This continuance factor requires YOU stay on point to ensure the profile is current and the participants are made aware of the profile edits and/or their need to recertify. Therefore, you have to manage the profile for the long-term. What does long-term mean to your business?
Capacity is the about the participants’ readiness, abilities and willingness to perform at a level consistent with the certification for which they’re verified.
Just as capacity is YOUR readiness, abilities and willingness to improve, focus, and strengthen your Competence Verification for Certification system and processes.
That is, the left bar supporting the four rungs of ladder shown above is about YOU. The right bar is about the person(s) YOU verify competent.
To be clear, the verification of competence is a multi-event process as evident by the requirement of continuance and the commitment of your registrants. YOU and your registrants must remain actively involved in the verification for certification process for it to have meaning to the person, your business and the recipients of those affected by the person holding YOUR certification.
The caveat of closure for the registrants acknowledges their non-renewal of certification. At this point YOU do not deem the person competent and you’re not legally linked to the person.
For YOU, the caveat of closure is your notification and the registrants’ acknowledgement of the discontinuance of the certification. Therefore, you must exit in full view and with due diligence with your registrants. To do otherwise, may result in legal issues.
The inter-exchange of capability, competency, compliance and capacity for the purpose of awarding a certificate of competence by verification serves as a springboard to realize disciplined risk mitigation from legal, financial, and people perspectives.
The legal perspective has been highlighted throughout the article. Follow due diligence to the verification process in establishment, maintenance and exit and you have done what is reasonable. However, a conversation with legal counsel is recommended. This document does not serve as legal guidance.
From the financial perspective, the person has invested in their certification from YOU. Therefore, appropriate financial controls and guarantees are required to ensure the person is treated fairly and respectfully during their engagement. Competence Verification for Certification is a commitment to quality service and experience with your registrants.
At its core, the Competence Verification for Certification process YOU manage focuses on your evolvement of your registrants. They enter the process based on self-assessment. They remain because of their experience of YOU and the process. And they exit, based on their decision of non-renewal.
YOU are a guide on their ride in their words, on their terms.
The leadership models that worked well in the past are failing to work in today’s environment causing undue stress and poor team performance. Leaders who recognize this trend and choose to make the adjustments catapult their personal and professional results and help those around them do the same. The choice is yours. How will you choose to lead in the future?
Latest research shows 90% of Americans believe the nation is facing a leadership crisis. This is an alarming statistic. Further concerning is two-thirds of North Americans are actively considering leavings their current job. What would you do if you lost two-thirds of your team? People don’t leave a company. They leave a leader.
There are many indicators to recognize if you have this issue in your company. Diagnosing the issue is only the first step in the journey to transform your leadership style and help your team do the same.
Conscious Leaders generate high performance teams and grow the next generation of high potential employees. They drive high employee engagement, foster higher creativity, improve problem solving ability, and ultimately improve morale.
We have defined Conscious Leadership as eight elements that work synergistically together to create the environment I just shared. The first four elements are focused on conscious of self and the second four elements focus on conscious of others.
Adopting the conscious leadership mindset starts with you. How well do you truly know who you are and where you are in your leadership journey? Take The Conscious Leadership Assessment and ask members of your team and close friends to take assessment (focused on you to give you feedback). Commit to leading yourself.
“Only those who devote themselves to a cause with their whole strength and soul can be true masters. For this reason, mastery demands all of a person.” ~ Albert Einstein
“Leaders Cannot Show the Way Until They Know the Way. Leaders in our world face two realities:
1. Change happens faster than ever, so leaders must remain adaptable.
2. We need timeless values more than ever, so leaders must remain principle-driven.”
~Dr. John C. Maxwell
Branding represents a tremendous growth opportunity for any type of small business owner, including entrepreneurs, independent professionals, and especially “thought leaders” such as speakers, coaches, trainers, and authors. So, why is branding such a confusing topic to so many?
Well, for starters, most owners think that branding is about having a logo, perhaps a tagline, a website, and anything else you can see. Branding, however, goes much deeper than this, beyond what the eye can see. When done correctly, it can place your product or service miles ahead of the competition and breathe new life into your business. Owners are always looking for an edge and the “visual stuff,” quite frankly, is not going to bring home the bacon. But, when done correctly, branding paves the way for rapid sales growth.
So, what exactly does it mean to “brand”? And does it require a lot of time, money, or energy?
Branding, in a nutshell, is about promising an undeniable experience to your customer. And, in the process of doing that, making sure your customer gets instant recognition of that promise and how your brand will benefit them.
Branding allows us, as owners, to stand out and get noticed in our marketplaces by differentiating our products or services in a distinctive way. We can say, “I’m different” and really mean it, demonstrate how we’re superior to other alternatives, and ultimately make a bold promise to the customer about what we can be counted on to deliver. Through effective use of the English language, we can attract even more customers by putting out a brand message that connects, engages, and moves people to take the actions we want them to take.
As consumers, we have thousands of choices across an array of products and services all over the globe. Our ability as owners to get noticed and preferred by the people we wish to sell to as if we were recommended by a trusted friend is our end goal.
While it seems that many owners are doing some, if not a lot, of marketing by creating websites, utilizing social media and other business-building tools at their disposal, they are also neglecting the use of branding as a sure-fire way to help get new customers, increase sales, and improve cash flow. It kinda doesn’t make sense, right?
So, why isn’t every small business owner branding and how is that good news for you?
The answer is one of the basic reasons so many of them fizzle out and ultimately fail: lack of knowledge.
Specifically, lack of how branding works, why it’s crucial, and a general misunderstanding of the vital role it plays to not only keep your business viable but contribute to its success.
The good news is that as owners, we face sales and cash flow issues every day and branding is a critical tool in our “customer acquisition toolkit.” Reprogramming our mind to focus on how branding can change the trajectory of our business is often all it takes to build the confidence you seek to overcome those issues. The even better news is that many owners are still not cashing in on branding (and perhaps never will) so by utilizing this tool you have a golden opportunity for mega impact than those not willing to get on the band wagon.
Making sure you avoid the pitfall of believing that branding is reserved for corporate brands with big names and giant budgets, and not underestimating the power of a powerful brand, you can still mirror similar success for yourself.
Now, I know that may sound pie-in-the-sky-ish. However, the sky’s the limit if you know how to create a strategically-based powerful brand.
1. Strong Brand Purpose Statement
Successful branding starts with establishing an inspiring, underlying purpose for your brand. A well-crafted vision and mission statement that connects with your core audience on a deeper level can motivate them to purchase your brand. Every component of your brand stems from it – a call to action for exceptional performance consumers will fall in love with.
2. Clear Differentiation
Creating a distinctive brand that offers something distinctively beneficial to your customer will generate more sales. This allows you to be, do, and say something different so you are seen as the preferred choice. It means you can avoid being perceived as cookie-cutter, rubber-stamped, or carbon-copy in an era where consumers want unique, fresh, and original. It also means later on you can present your brand “marketing content” in a manner that screams how you are different and better.
3. Unrivaled Value
Great brands like Nike, Amazon, and FedEx market and sell “me-only” value. The allure of what makes your brand innovative and the ability to say to your market you offer something others can’t (i.e. they can imitate but cannot duplicate) are incredible draws.
4. Irresistible Promise
Everything you want someone to buy is captured in your brand promise statement. Although telling consumers about the product or services you provide is great information to share, this is not what they want to buy per se. All you want to tout are mouthwatering benefits, staggering value, and outstanding, desired customer outcomes that make a heart-connection, not a head-connection, for rapid sales to occur.
5. Compelling Message
If there is any step in your branding you don’t want to gloss over is your messaging. Is it engaging or dry and boring? Does it send a lightning bolt to the heart of your targeted buyer? Your message is how people connect with your brand so you’ll want to be as emotionally-based and value-driven as possible. With the objective to load up your messaging on any communication platforms you choose (i.e. websites, social media, videos, etc.), you’ll find attracting buyers, getting leads, and more conversions easier and a lot more fun.
I truly hope that you’ll consider branding so you can join the many small business owners who are getting more customers, increasing sales, improving cash flow, and growing their bottom line.
I’d love to hear your questions and comments about creating a strategically-based powerful brand. Please respond in the comments and let’s keep the conversation going. I hope you’ll connect with me via email Gerry@dare2bdifferent.net.
We all have goals, or at least expectations, about the results we should see in our businesses (and personal lives). When the results you want don’t come as quickly as you want them do you fuss and complain or do you pause to recognize how far you have come and feel grateful for where you are?
People don’t complain about what’s working—they complain about the things that are not quite right or are downright broken. The problem is that for every situation you can choose to focus on what’s working if you want to, yet many people get stuck complaining because that is where their habits take them.
If you believe that you get more of that which you focus your attention and energy, you can see that complaining about the lack of customers won’t bring more customers, just as complaining about errors at a little league baseball game won’t bring a major-league caliber performance.
Have you ever noticed when you have had a bad day that things seem to build upon each other—events that are mildly frustrating soon become a self-fulfilling prophesy of “nothing going right”!
Gratitude and appreciation are powerful emotions. When you allow yourself to stay focused on what is working and what is good, no matter how the events are stacking up negatively, you will begin to see an internal shift that keeps any “bad day” scenarios from taking hold.
On your birthday, do you feel grateful for the amazing gifts you receive, or do you complain like Harry Potter’s cousin Dudley that there are not enough gifts this year? Poor Dudley provides the perfect example of what YOU look like when you complain and focus on the bad rather than the good.
For the next 24 hours, give up complaining. Replace complaining with a short pause to notice what is working (even if it’s just one small thing!). Allow yourself to appreciate what is working and genuinely feel grateful, even for a moment, that things are starting to work out in your favor. As you do this you can then expect to see better results.
In my experience, you will soon notice your results will follow your positive attitude and positive expectations. And THAT is something that you can feel grateful about!