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Marilee Driscoll
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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

 
Marilee DriscollWhat’s the Rush?Wills and WaysMurphy (Brown’s) LawEeeeeks!  Differentiating The Invisible without Looking Like an EgomanicFonts and Knowledge“It’s Worse Than The Flu. It’s Big-Case-itis”I sat down with…

http://www.marileedriscoll.com Tue, 11 Aug 2015 18:14:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.3.1 http://www.marileedriscoll.com/whats-the-rush/ http://www.marileedriscoll.com/whats-the-rush/#respond Fri, 31 Jul 2015 19:48:20 +0000 http://www.marileedriscoll.com/?p=645 Read More]]>

Sometimes I see kids enjoying the summer…towels around their shoulders, on their way to or from the pool or beach, and I remember what it was like when summer seemed to last forever.   Hot days, sprinklers, and lazy nights of relatives drinking coffee after dinner while I got an ice cream soda.

It seems that ever since I’ve become an adult, my pace of life has been more rushed.

I’ve come to realize that there are thoughtful rushes, and mindless rushes.  One is very good, healthy, smart and proactive, while the other is reactive, often consists of frenetic activity, and is usually not in our own best interests.

Most successful and happy business owners I know don’t have a lot of free time. They have filled their free time with activities specifically chosen very thoughtfully.  They work long hours (although it may not look to work to other people).  They reach out for new strategic relationships, they are learning new things, they are thinking, they are exploring.

As Seth Godin would say – they are poking the box (yes, I’m reading the book “Poke the Box” now – highly recommended).

There are informed rushes, and rushing for busy-ness’ sake.  We are a society that prizes activity.  It can seem that we reward activity for its owns sake…but that’s not how things work.  At least, in my experience.

I think most of us know that only inspired activity  (in other words, the right activity) activity that we’ve come to recognize is important for your goals – makes sense to do.  We should systematize it when appropriate, and reward ourselves for having accomplished it.

An example: if you desire to get into shape – scheduling several workouts a week is smart.  Watching videos or reading books on how to get in shape MAY BE a great activity if you are planning on pulling together and executing a new exercise regimen, or it could be a delay tactic.  So the motivation behind the activity is extremely important to know if something is worthwhile or a waste of time.

Business owners who are in a growth mode (and why wouldn’t you be?) can seem time-strapped because they don’t have any lack of activities to deploy to meet their goals…or even to help them define a new goal.   That’s good.  That’s exciting!

From:

  • Hiring the right people, & figuring out what training and resources they need
  • Reaching out and cultivating new relationships
  • Personal development (in both biz and personal realms)
  • Choosing what books to read

It’s all wonderful when it’s thoughtful.  The rub is we can’t make thoughtful decisions about what activities make sense and which are to be avoided unless we are very clear about our goals.

If we aren’t very clear on our goals, our only rush should be to nail those down.

Once we are very clear on our goals, we can find that there really are enough hours in the day.

And that’s a rush.

]]>http://www.marileedriscoll.com/whats-the-rush/feed/ 0 http://www.marileedriscoll.com/wills-and-ways/ http://www.marileedriscoll.com/wills-and-ways/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 20:12:45 +0000 http://www.marileedriscoll.com/?p=637 Read More]]>Ah, the workaround!

I know you have these in your business too. It’s when you have so much experience, that’s it’s easy for you to fix a problem that seems insurmountable to someone you’re talking with.

The only way to know of workarounds is either though life experience, or, if you’re lucky, learning at the knee of someone who punched the ticket enough to have their own workarounds.

Here’s a workaround that you may find helpful.

One of the new subscribers to my LTCi website service lamented that he had been using a website who’s web address (URL, domain) never felt quite right to him. He had been told the URL he wanted wasn’t available.

I explained to him that there was almost always more than one way to skin a serial killer (I wouldn’t want to skin a cat).

Let’s say that the URL that he pined for was this (it wasn’t…but will allow me to illustrate the point):
SecureOurFuture.com

I suggested to him that the best URLs/domains resonate with the desires of the prospect or referral source, NOT with the website owner. Does the prospect desire to secure OUR future – or MY future (or, to a lesser extent YOUR future)? That was lightbulb number one. He agreed that MY and YOUR were far preferable to OUR.

That’s not the workaround, but it’s great advice when picking a domain.

So, let’s say he then wanted the domain/URL to be SecureMyFuture.com (again, this domain is for an example only…and is owned by someone who is NOT my client). But SecureMyFuture.com was not available (or was available but only at a prohibitive price).

Brick wall? Hardly.

If SecureMyFuture.com is not available, how about the following (minor) variations?

SecuringMyFuture.com
SecuringYourFuture.com
SecureMyFutureSite.com
HowToSecureMyFuture.com

And, of course, there are now a variety of extensions (.com, .net being the most easy-to-remember and held in the most esteem). So, perhaps SecureMyFuture.net would be available.

When it comes to choosing a domain name/URL for your company or brand, there are many, many things to consider. However, remember, once you’ve fallen in love with a particular URL that may be taken, where there’s a will, there’s often a way.

]]>http://www.marileedriscoll.com/wills-and-ways/feed/ 1 http://www.marileedriscoll.com/murphy-browns-law/ http://www.marileedriscoll.com/murphy-browns-law/#respond Fri, 10 Jul 2015 23:37:03 +0000 http://www.marileedriscoll.com/?p=614 Read More]]>How important is a great assistant?

I can personally attest to how important it is – but only if you want to remain composed, unhurried, thoughtful, and less frazzled.

Like one can’t prove a negative, it’s hard to imagine the value of a great assistant. Until you lose one. Like I did in January.

Experience has taught me that the only thing worst than not having a great assistant is having a mediocre one.

Yup, life is too short for bad wine, substandard books, and employees or subcontractors who don’t pull their weight.

Why, then, do so many of my consulting and coaching clients find themselves putting up the b.s. of energy-and-money-sucking underperformers?

It’s because we’re lazy. Not lazy as in lay around and pop bon-bons lazy. But lazy in that we want to buy our way out of what we don’t want to do (read cold-call, or input contacts, or provide customer service, or pre-qualify), and we hire people without adequately vetting them, don’t manage them well, and don’t hold them to measurable outcomes which we monitor.

You may recall in the long-running series Murphy Brown, Candace Bergen played a single working mother back when that was still a scandal. One of the running gags was the series of administrative assistants that Bergen’s character ran through.

Let’s be honest. Sometimes we think we can just throw a body at a problem and kid ourselves that it’s fixed.
Or buy a subscription or program…that is never set up correctly, and monitored. We often never revisit our decisions, or the problem.

I sincerely think that sometimes it’s easier for us to keep paying for something than to admit we made a mistake. I see that kind of thing all the time with the business owners I counsel; several times just this week! The busier the business owner, the more likely. Hundreds of dollars a month spent on non-performing services, all the way to thousands for sub performing people!

So, a month ago I made the decision to embark again on the process of replacing my virtual assistant (VA). The first 2 candidates crashed and burned during the interview process. The third came highly-recommended, and was supposed to start yesterday. However, we had a miscommunication during the intake call (after having had one during the hiring process, too).

That was such a red flag for me that I did some thinking and decided to pull the plug on her before we began. A big part of my brain wanted to continue, hoping she would work out. But I had to trust my gut.

24 hours later, through the use of eLance.com (about to become upwork.com soon), I had identified 3 candidates that appear to be well-qualified. Two have already scheduled appointments with me on my online calendar. When I looked at the Linked in Profile for one candidate, I saw a written recommendation from someone I respect tremendously (recommendations are MUCH more impressive than those dime-a-dozen Linked In endorsements), so it’s looking good.

What has been your experience finding – as my former VA would say – EPIC administrative help? Do you have any tips or stories to share? Or is it just me who feels very Murphy-Brown-like?

]]>http://www.marileedriscoll.com/murphy-browns-law/feed/ 0 http://www.marileedriscoll.com/eeeeeks-differentiating-the-invisible-without-looking-like-an-egomanic/ http://www.marileedriscoll.com/eeeeeks-differentiating-the-invisible-without-looking-like-an-egomanic/#respond Fri, 12 Jun 2015 21:15:34 +0000 http://www.marileedriscoll.com/?p=595 Read More]]>Are you an insurance agent, lawyer, coach, bookkeeper, virtual assistant, speaker…or do you have a business where you are selling an intangible?  Then it’s likely you know what I mean when I say there’s a fine line between building your brand and looking like an egomaniac.

To most people, intangible means invisible.  It means air.

Although you are certainly not selling air, it sure can be hard for prospects to distinguish between your intangible (read invisible) service and the similar ‘invisible service’ down the road.

Since all business owners understand that invisible is not good, the default stance taken by those selling intangibles is often this: to promote the business using ONLY themselves.  Their name, their photo, their title.  That’s it.

Even when you ARE the business, people aren’t JUST buying you – they are buying what you bring, how you make them feel, the comfort of working with a caring, knowledgeable person who knows their stuff, (insert your value proposition here).  

When/why to use your photo.

When you ARE the business, here’s when and why you SHOULD use your photo when marketing:

– if you rarely meet people in person (you sell over the phone) – your photo can make them feel more comfortable.  You are not a stranger.

– if some of your competitors are big (and people consider the firm impersonal) outfits, making a personal connection with people gives you a big competitive advantage for many purchases.

–  when networking, having a photo on your business card makes you much easier to remember, and people tell me they keep cards with photos longer (who throws away photos?).

– branding yourself (name and photo) can position you as the go-to person, with a somewhat elevated status (think mini-celebrity).  We know what Tony Robbins and Suze Orman look like, don’t we?

However, unless you are an undiscovered supermodel, your photo and name are not enough to drive sales and referrals.  Especially when you have competition (and who doesn’t?).  When we can take the ego out of our marketing, and instead deliver something that serves the client, it helps not only the client, but our company.

Here are my 4 overall tips for great branding that drives sales:

1) Define it.  What do you provide for whom, and how is it delivered and priced?  One of the most powerful tools when it comes to ‘defining it’ is a tagline.  I’ve been playing with a new one for my primary business of strategy consulting (below).

Strategy:

     Defined.

     Designed.

     Delivered.

2) Prove it.  How can you prove that you are what you say you are?

3) Look it.  It’s not enough to answer #1 and #2, when you, your business, your website, etc. don’t LOOK it. This bar is being continually raised, and it’s why my graphic designer is a very critical member of my team.

4) Deliver it/message it   Determining how we will reach our important constituents/audiences is critical.  Frequency, method, content?  Once we’ve nailed items 1-3, this item becomes an ongoing activity.

The judicious use of our names and photos in marketing can make a lot of sense.  At the same time, we can’t go wrong when we focus our content, messaging, and branding on serving the needs and desires of our prospects.  And THAT’S the difference between ego-driven marketing, and prospect-centered marketing that promotes the business owner as the perfect solution.

To subscribe to my free weekly newsletter, and get not only these blog posts, but other helpful content, go to this page:

]]>http://www.marileedriscoll.com/eeeeeks-differentiating-the-invisible-without-looking-like-an-egomanic/feed/ 0 http://www.marileedriscoll.com/fonts-and-knowledge/ http://www.marileedriscoll.com/fonts-and-knowledge/#respond Sun, 19 Apr 2015 03:30:32 +0000 http://www.marileedriscoll.com/?p=586 Read More]]>Fonts – Can’t Live With ’em, Can’t Write Without ’em!

This article is from my current newsletter. For your own subscription sign up here.

You and I are knowledge workers. Our value is not measured by how quickly we can do something physical (dig that ditch, there!), but in the knowledge we bring to the project or task at hand.

Which can bring up a dilemma. Clients may not know how important our knowledge can be to the success of their endeavor. They don’t have the experience to understand how they may:
– suffer from substandard results,
– waste time,
– waste energy, and even
– pay much more than they need to …
because they simply, literally, don’t know better.

You know this if you sometimes think
“if only my prospects knew what they didn’t know, it would make my life easier?”

It can be frustrating when someone doesn’t understand a major value-add or underlying principle of a project or a decision. Fonts are a great example. (If you are now frustrated and wondering why I’m wasting time writing about fonts, you may want to skip directly to the P.S.).

Understanding what fonts bring to a project – whether it’s a website, a white paper, or some other graphic, could fill a book.

Some quick thoughts on fonts:

NO MORE FONTS FOR YOU!
When too many font styles, or fonts that are too different, are used in a project, viewers can be left with a feeling of (often unidentifiable) unease. This is similar to using colors that slightly clash, or listening to music in as minor key. Although the untrained eye may not be able to identify what’s wrong – the brain will note it – and it can hurt your results (especially if you are selling something like an intangible, where people need to feel very comfortable with you and your offering).

It’s a good rule of thumb to never use more than 2 different fonts in a piece unless you have a compelling reason to do so.

JUST THE GRAPHICS, NOT SO MUCH ON THE COLOR
When working with fonts (or other design elements, for that matter), best practice is to first do all design in black and white. It allows the eye to judge the DESIGN – without the important emotional context that hits us when color is added. Often, in order to save time, or because some elements of the design have colors that are set in stone – we go straight to color for the initial concept.

THAT’S SO WEIRD!
Some fonts have strange quirks. For example, after an important project was rolled out, we discovered that number nine of the font looked like a lower-case ‘g’. It even hung below the regular text line…making things look even stranger. My takeaway from this was to – before selecting any font – first see all the letters and all the numerals (as well as other characters) beforehand.

FOR THE FONT-EPICUREAN
You can hire a designer to produce a custom font. Many of the most well-known logos include custom fonts for company names. Actually, I hired a designer to use 2 custom fonts for my MARILEEdriscoll company logo (below).

My father was proud of his salaried position at the State of Connecticut (Chief Bank Examiner). I remember him saying “I get paid for what I know, not what I do.” By that, I know he meant that he wasn’t paid by-the-piece, like some of the workers at the factories nearby. The value of a vendor or subcontractor who knows a lot can’t be beat by the typical mediocre solution – even if they are only charging 1/4 the hourly rate of the superior solution!

As I work with graphic design, web, and print vendors, especially those ‘inherited’ on client projects – I am struck by the vast difference in foundational knowledge they have of their crafts. Some are getting by with what I would call a thimble’s worth of knowledge compared to the ocean’s worth I’ve found in my most valued vendor relationships. This usually happens because the people making vendor selection don’t have an ocean’s worth of experience in the area. And that’s when expensive mistakes are made.

You could say that valuable vendors are fonts of knowledge (no groans allowed at my puns).

‘See you’ next week! BTW, you won’t want to miss next week’s issue – which includes a custom video that ties in with the upcoming Kentucky Derby (with a BIG twist).

]]>http://www.marileedriscoll.com/fonts-and-knowledge/feed/ 0 http://www.marileedriscoll.com/its-worse-than-the-flu-its-big-case-itis/ http://www.marileedriscoll.com/its-worse-than-the-flu-its-big-case-itis/#respond Tue, 27 Jan 2015 21:02:50 +0000 http://www.marileedriscoll.com/?p=452 Read More]]>Reach goals are a healthy thing. But big-case*-itis is not.

Big-case-itis is a malady that can befall someone who has identified an extremely potentially profitable opportunity, and is blinded by dollar signs. The pursuit of the opportunity will take more time and energy than their typical case, AND is a MUCH, MUCH longer shot.

Symptoms of the disease:

– You believe that your business will change forever, once the big case is sold

– The deal is to an atypical prospect, and/or involves an offering that you don’t normally provide

– You aren’t keeping up with your day-to-day obligations, thinking “when the big case happens, these won’t even matter”

– Your world view is defined as ‘before the big case happens’ and ‘after the big case happens’ – instead of a continuum of activity that will naturally include big cases

Cures:

– get a business coach or go through sales training designed to help you identify what is real and what is so long shot it’s not worth your precious time and energy (identifying and qualifying real live prospects). There are many good sales systems out there. I went through Sandler Selling System about 22 years ago, and highly recommend it. My friend Marc Wayshak has written a great book on selling that everyone should have: Game Plan Selling.

– wake yourself up and smell some coffee! Limit the time and energy that you spend each ay on long-shot sales. Be very strategic, and mercenary. Answer questions like “What if I could only devote 30 minutes each day to this deal…what exactly would I do each day?…and do it!”

– If a big case is a big deal to you, you might be better off either:
1) facing the fact that your business is one of higher volume smaller cases, and developing a system to get you more of those leads, or
2) consider prospecting for more big cases on a regular basis. Maybe the right ratio for you is 12 smaller cases open at one time, with 3 big cases (but NOT just one!).

One last piece of advice: When you are taking care of your bread and butter business, while having your antenna up for opportunities, you are in an infinitely better place to have the state-of-mind to foster and land really big cases!

*If the word ‘case’ isn’t correct for your business, substitute ‘sale,’ ‘contract,’ ‘deal,’ etc.!

Most sincerely,
Marilee

]]>http://www.marileedriscoll.com/its-worse-than-the-flu-its-big-case-itis/feed/ 0 http://www.marileedriscoll.com/i-sat-down-with/ http://www.marileedriscoll.com/i-sat-down-with/#respond Wed, 22 Aug 2012 21:37:14 +0000 http://www.marileedriscoll.com/?p=286 Each month I interview a top long–term care insurance agent for an insurance industry publication.

The current interview is with Phil Grossman. Phil gets leads from radio commercials, and also from relationships with 200 agents, planners and advisors.

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The Marilee Driscoll Company
Plymouth, MA
855-588-5850, #1
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