Curiosity Top Reason to Use QR Codes

Last weekend I was planting some seeds in my garden. Believe it or not, the seed package had a QR code on it. Even more unbelievable is that I had my smart phone with me so I scanned it to see what it would take me to.

It was a site that provided information about the plant, as well as care and harvesting tips. My curiosity had gotten the best of me.

Curiosity is exactly why 46 percent of people who have used QR codes did so, according to eMarketer. Other reasons include to get more information (41%); to take advantage of a discount/coupon/ free gift (18%); to gain access to exclusive content (16%) or to buy something (6%).

Just last week I was at a store and it had a QR code on a promotional flyer. By scanning it, I received a coupon for 25 percent off one item. It was worth it!

I still don’t make it a habit of using QR codes, but they definitely have an appeal. When do you use them?

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4 Ways to Better Reach Mobile Audiences

I can’t imagine life without my smart phone.

If I have a question, I simply look it up via the browser. If there is something I want to photograph it, I use the camera on the phone. I’ve got an app so that I can swipe and go when I’m at Starbucks.

Don’t take my word for it, though. A December 2011 report indicated that consumers now spend 94 minutes on their mobile versus 72 minutes for the Web. Smart devices such as smart phones and tablets now outsell desktops and laptops.

What does all this mean? Communicators need to think about how they are conveying information, says Mike Hart, president of ComDesigns. Here are four tips to do just that:

  1. Write better headlines that immediately convey the focus of the content.
  2. Provide info-graphics, which makes the information more easily understood.
  3. Offer compelling videos. It’s true, a picture is worth a thousand words.
  4. Write fewer words. People aren’t going to scroll to find information and they don’t want lots of background.

How to Be a Good Speaker

 

If you follow the presentation tips here, you’ll have an audience that pays attention.

We’ve all been to conferences and workshops where the speaker had good information to share but something was lost in the presentation. If you’re asked to present, here are some tips to help make your presentation memorable.

  1. Provide us with a quick update about your background. We want to know what makes you an expert and why we should listen to you. Then move on and give the presentation because that’s why we are here.
  2. Respect the time schedule. We want to hear what you have to say, but when you go over your time limit, you make us antsy. We’re thinking about getting to the next session, or even the restroom.
  3. Speak to the audience, not the screen, which ties directly to the next tip.
  4. Don’t use so many slides that we don’t get to focus on you. Do use enough slides to give us visuals and another means to understand the topic. If you’re simply reading from the slides, you could have sent us the presentation to read on our own time.
  5. Use the microphone. Room acoustics can be challenging. For many of us our hearing isn’t what it used to be.
  6. Leave time for questions. No matter how much information you share with us, we’ll still have questions.

If you follow these tips, you can be sure your audience will not only learn but will enjoy learning.

Are You Listening

Do you listen?

Are you sure?

I recently participated in a global leadership meeting and one of our facilitators spent time coaching us on listening.

He asked us: What’s the opposite of listening?

We all answered: Talking!

Then he asked us, “What’s the opposite of talking?”

Of course, we wanted to say, “listening,” but we suspected we would we wrong. The answer? “Waiting to talk.”

He challenged us to consider if we really are listening or if we are simply waiting to talk.

It’s something I struggled with for years and still do at times. As a newspaper reporter, I would only half hear answers to questions because I was always waiting to ask my next question. When I finally started to really listen, my stories became stronger.

Our facilitator noted we could approach a conversation from sides, or we could approach it to find the center together.

The next time you are conversing with someone stop and ask yourself if you really are listening.

5 Tips for Writing a Proposal

Pencil sculpture

(Photo illustration by Cynthia Price)

A few years ago I didn’t even know what an RFP (request for proposal) was. Now I found myself reviewing them and sometimes writing them.

A request for proposal is a document that an organization posts to elicit bids from potential vendors for a product or service. The quality of an RFP is important to successful project management because it defines the deliverable and identifies risks and benefits at the beginning of a project.

I’ve learned a few things along the way. And whether you are on the receiving end or are writing one, good RFPs have a few things in common, including:

  1. The RPF should clearly spell out objectives and benchmarks. If I can’t articulate what I would like the company to deliver, how will the company succeed in delivering it? I also include benchmarks so we all know what we want to achieve.
  2. Set a realistic timeline. All too often we want everything yesterday. But we have to account for travel schedules, other meetings and projects and yes, even vacations. If the timeline is not reasonable the project will quickly get off track or extra money will have to be allotted to remain on schedule. Continue reading

Valuing Story Telling

During a recent planning and leadership meeting at work, we began the week focused on storytelling. Our facilitator that day, Judy Rosemarin told us that “the shortest distance between two people is a story.”

Since then I read in Inc. how storytelling can help entrepreneurs and in Fast Company how storytelling can grow a business. Although I’ve been telling stories my whole life, it was always in the context of telling someone else’s story. It’s what reporters and writers do. But this session was about telling stories as a leader or about your company.

I knew I was going to learn something when Judy said we should want our stories to be a “HUMAWAYTM.” It’s a term she trademarked, and it’s what its name implies. When a song sticks with you, you keep humming it. The same is true of a good story.

So how do you tell a good story? Several elements are needed, including:

  • Details
  • Dialogue
  • Momentum

One way, Judy said, is to act like a camera. “What can you show?” she challenged us in the room. The key is using words that create images in our minds.

She also urged us to listen with curiosity when we are interviewing or talking with others. “Dialogue is the key to rich, in the moment, feelings and experiences,” she said.

Writing and drawing utensils

Do you know how to tell a good story? (Photo by Cynthia Price)

To get to these stories, she said we must focus on the “why” and “how” and “what’s in it for me” questions, which are seldom answered.

A story should start in the present, jump to the past and springboard to the future.

Judy said the ability to tell a meaningful story is an essential leadership skill. “The sharing of stories connects us to each other, in deep and sustainable ways,” Judy said.

This is true not only for individuals, but also for organizations. “A true story,” Judy said, “is one that people remember; not your official communications, but real live stories.”

When you tell good stories, people will listen. They also will tell their own stories.

What is your story?

Consistency Key to Verbal Brand

Did you know that 96 percent of readers in a survey say poor grammar and misspelling affect their decision to hire a business?

Meghan Codd and Deanna Lorianni of Zuula Consulting shared the statistic during a presentation earlier this year.

Trader Joe's ad

Trader Joe’s verbal brand is fun and quirky and has an engaging personality as evidenced in Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer.

They focused on verbal brand, which they described as the communications component of a company or professional’s overall brand identity.

These branded messages appear as emails, blogs, phone calls, networking events and resumes.

“Consistency really matters,” Meghan said.

The verbal brand consists of three parts:

  1. Brand purpose
  2. Brand story
  3. Brand voice

The brand purpose is the foundation. “It’s the unique value you are bringing,” Meghan said. “It’s what differentiates you.”

The brand story is the framework, or the themes that guide the company. It’s important not to confuse the marketplace with different messages, Deanna said.

Brand voice is about the tone, style of language key words and phrases that are used. They are the tools of communications.

One company whose verbal brand is consistent across message platforms, they said, is Trader Joe’s. “They are fun, quirky and have an engaging personality,” Meghan said.

Have you looked at your brand?