Blue Footprints in the Snow

Business Owners: What Kind of Footprints Are You Leaving?

Footprint in soil

Although most businesses try not to leave much of a “carbon” footprint, there are types of “footprints” that you as a business owner should WANT to leave.

Like a parent, you should want to leave a memorable footprint.  Most children imitate their parents, copying mannerisms and ways of responding to situations.  As parents walk through life, they leave footprints that express the qualities they value for their children to follow.

Businesses work much the same way.  If you have taken over a family business or have purchased an already established company, you immediately step into the footprints of the former owners.   Although you eventually want to put your own stamp on the company, it might be smart to keep some of its clients, traditions and protocols at least for a while.  By doing so, you honor the people who invested their lives into the company.  By following their footprints, you recognize that you have been given a “step up” by standing on what they have already accomplished.

From the moment you set up your business, whether it is new or purchased, you start leaving your own footprints.  These will be followed by your employees.  Understanding how crucial footprints are to a business will make the difference as to how successful you are:

  • Footprints—obviously—leave an impression.  When you walk on soft ground or crunch into three inches of snow, your feet leave a clear impression.  The way you run your business should leave a clear impression, too.  It should make a recognizable mark on the world.  Your integrity, grit Blue Footprints in the Snowand aspirations should make others stop and admire what you are accomplishing.  The impression you leave should even inspire them to reach further for their own dreams.
  • Footprints should be followed.  Life is pitted with dangers and potential disasters.  No one knows this better than soldiers who have to pick their way through a minefield.  The leader painstakingly tests the ground for mines.  Those who follow must step in the exact footprints of the person in front.  Your expertise has enabled you to be that kind of leader.  You test the ground for your company.  You lead the way for all your employees.  If you consistently demonstrate your expertise in a way that both challenges and motivates them, they will trust you and will follow in your exact footprints.
  • Footprints are proof that you have been there, done that.  By walking forward and leaving footprints, you are leaving behind a permanent record of your accomplishments.  This allows you to confidently claim experience over the ground where you have walked.  This proof of experience will enable you to be a powerful example for your employees and to effectively teach them the ins and outs of your business.
  • Footprints show where you have made course corrections.  No one is perfect.  We all have had times when we started in one direction, and then realized that we are heading the wrong way.  We stop, backtrack, and then move toward a different heading.  Our footprints act as a diary of where we have been, including the course corrections.   A good business leader is not afraid to admit that he or she has made a mistake.  Backing up and setting off in a new direction is a sign of resilience, not failure.  Failure is stubbornly continuing in the wrong direction or stopping and giving up altogether.  The pattern of your footprints is a testimony to the kind of person and business leader you are.
  • Footprints are distinctive.  Just like fingerprints, footprints can be used by forensic scientists to track down criminals.  The business footprints that you leave are just as unique.  They are permanently tied to you and your business.  They are recognizable and distinguish your company from the rest of the pack.  If you capitalize on making your business’s footprints unique, they can help to brand your company in a positive and memorable way.

Turn around and take an honest look at the kind of footprints that you yourself and your business are leaving.  Do they express the values that you want your employees to internalize?  Have your footprints made a clear impression?  Do they keep your employees focused on a shared purpose?  Do they demonstrate both your experience and your ability to make course corrections?  Are your footprints expressive of what you want your company to stand for?

If so, then you can be assured that your business is making a positive impact on the world.  If not, then maybe it is time to pause and re-evaluate both your company’s priorities and your own.

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The Secret to Making an Impact

ID-100104496(1)Most of us want to leave our impression on the world, whether it is for a humanitarian cause or to get customers to purchase our company’s products or services.

In order to make an impact, we have to get others excited about the same things that excite us. In today’s fast-moving, in-your-face environment, this is not easy to do.

 

What is the secret to making an impact?

Passing our own passion on to others.  Our passion has an emotional energy all of its own. When we share it with others, it can prompt them to become as committed as we are to our passion.

This may sound like a simple process, but there are a number of barriers to getting our message across.

ID-100185968The first barrier is Clutter. The Internet, TV and radio, as well as our personal computers and smartphones are cluttered with information, most of which people can do without. Our potential customers are being bombarded 24/7 with ads, emails, YouTube videos, music, sports and news, leaving them with information overload.

Image courtesy of twobee/freedigitalphotos.net        

Our marketing has to cut through that clutter in such a way that we make a lasting impression.

Numbness is the second barrier that we have to overcome when getting our message across. Consumers eventually become numb to the attempts of salespeople trying to grab their attention to convince them to buy products that they really don’t want or even need.

Out of sheer self-preservation, customers block out the majority of sales pitches, and only open up to the ones that engage them personally within the first few micro-seconds. It is critical that we find a way to infuse our marketing with our passion. Without that emotional connection, we will miss that tiny window of opportunity to engage our prospective customers or donors.

Fear is the third barrier to making an impact. Most people have been burned numerous times by shoddy products and false advertising. They are more than a little hesitant to commit to a purchase, even when they find our marketing appealing. To overcome this barrier, we need to find a way to prove our trustworthiness. We have to demonstrate that what we are promoting will do what we claim it will, and that we back it up with our company. Testimonies from happy customers and a bullet-proof, money-back guarantee go a long way toward reassuring potential customers.

Whether we are promoting a service, product, or cause, or are starting up a website or selling our book, the barriers are the same. By cutting through the clutter, emotionally engaging numb prospects and building trust to overcome their fears, we will stand out from the competition and elicit a positive response from our prospects.

How Can We Accomplish This?

It’s not WHAT you say, but HOW you say it. The way you word your marketing and how you lay it out visually for your prospects determine whether or not you can overcome the barriers of Clutter, Numbness, and Fear. Approaching your potential customers with the old “Hard Sell” will probably send them running in the other direction. Today, high-pressure “Hard Sell” has morphed into the pop-up ads that annoy consumers as they surf the Net. This type of ad tends to create the impression that the company is either a scam or a false advertiser.

Today’s customers are savvy and well-informed. They have the entire Internet at their fingertips and can research a product with a few clicks. They check out the online reviews, so building your credibility and trustworthiness is paramount. It will separate you early on from your competitors.

Wording is the Key

Your marketing has to be worded to solve the problem that prompted your prospects to start shopping or searching in the first place. They may be looking for clothing, appliances, computers, contractors, medical or health advice, encouragement, or a cause to connect to. Your marketing must identify that need and immediately demonstrate how your company, product, book or website will meet that need. How you word your marketing must accomplish three objectives:

  • Make you stand out from the crowd (cut through the clutter)
  • Engage the prospect emotionally and logically (overcome the numbness)
  • Prove that you are trustworthy (dispel the fear)

Too many businesses fail to clear one or more of these hurdles. If you want to write effective marketing, you need more than sales talk. You must also be able to word it so that it inspires people. They have to catch your passion! The goal is to make them see how what you are promoting will enhance their lives.

If you are struggling to get the wording just right, a solution could be to bring in a ghostwriter. Your ideas and vision coupled with a ghostwriter’s unique skills can infuse your marketing with exactly what you need to make that impact.

Have an Appealing Layout

Your potential customers want to be able to quickly scan your marketing or webpage and see if you are answering their questions. They don’t want to be forced to sift through pages of print.

Lay out your message in a clean, uncluttered way. Include eye-catching pictures and intriguing videos that enable customers to experience your passion more deeply. This will visually attract potential customers to your product or cause. Keep paragraphs short and insert bullets with key points whenever appropriate. Use sizes and styles of fonts that are comfortable to read. Intersperse some color and emphasize with bold lettering and underlines. For websites, you can use website creation software or WordPress to do this on your own, or hire a web designer. For printed brochures, go with a print shop or online printing service.

If you want to make an impact…

Your marketing needs to overcome clutter, numbness and fear. These barriers keep your customers from purchasing your product or committing to your humanitarian mission. By simply tweaking how you word and present your message, you can make that impact on the hearts and minds of the people you are trying to reach.