“I use Grammarly for proofreading because without TYPOS, I have less gray hair and then I look much, much younger*.”
(Read the entire blog to make sense of this opening quote.)
Of all of my skills and talents, proofing text is not one of them. In fact, if there were an award for the most consistent practice of missing those grammar gaffes, those punctuation oversights, or the spelling snafus, I’m sure I’d be a finalist.
I’m okay with this because I know I have many other valuable skills that these grammar gurus and spelling bee society members don’t possess.
I know these shortcomings drive my journalism-minded, editing buddies nuts. I’m okay with this, too. I do respect the English language. I understand that errors and bad writing reflect poorly on one’s professional image, and that’s not good brand-building.
Therefore, while I’m not convinced that the use of my time to master these skills is a good one, I do support tapping people and products that do proof well or can aid me in the process of just cleaning up my work. This is a worthy investment.
With good intentions, I still sometimes put out work with typos because even when I hire people with better proofing skills than me, they sometimes miss stuff, too. Then I get brutally scolded by the Monday morning quarterback proofers, and I pledge to do better.
As a serial bad speller and typo-misser, I do have private moments of joy when I see The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other credible news sources miss typographic errors, too, especially on the front page.
A new tool.
The other day, I got an e-mail from a company that requested I blog about their proofing product for some compensation, a $100 Amazon gift card. The only requirement is that I include a specific line of copy as the front of my blog post. They requested I insert this line of copy at the beginning of my blog.
“I use Grammarly for proofreading because . . . and fill in the blank with something funny.”
Sure, I can do that. See the first line of my post today*.
They also gave me a two-week trial of this Grammarly service, so, today, I’m trying it out, and I’m reporting to you my opinion about the offering.
Wait a minute.
If I’m getting a kickback, how can I be honest? I thought about that, too, so here’s what I’ve come up with. I’m inviting you, my readers, to share your most egregious typo nightmare on my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/Brandingdiva?ref=hl.
For an example: When I owned a PR firm in Houston, we once printed 2,500 brochures and misspelled Public Relations. Instead, we called it Pubic Relations, which is an entirely different service.
Win a $100 Amazon gift card.
This means you need to post on my Facebook page a typo you saw or let slip by. The most shocking, embarrassing, or just plain funny submission will get the $100 Amazon gift card Grammarly gave me. If it’s not transferable, I’ll buy you $100 of what you want on Amazon. The contest ends on November 1st, so don’t miss out.
My take on Grammarly.
I ran this blog through their proofing app. The service can cost between $11.00 and $26.00 a month based on the length of your commitment.
It was an interesting experience. It’s easy to use, and the app caught a bunch of mistakes. Before they start reading your document, you are asked what style of work your document is, an academic paper, a creative work, or a casual communication etc.
Your paper earns a score from 0 to 100. Each mistake they pick up on, you get an explanation and an example of a similar situation with the corrected grammar, spelling, or punctuation.
On my document, they did flag some spelling errors that, in fact, were not errors but either slang or made-up names, two being their own product names.
They do point out that their app should be used as a second set of eyes and should not replace a human proofreader.
This service was helpful. But for me, it does not cure my lame grammar and spelling disease.
Proofit, another service they offer.
Okay, then, if you are someone like me who is a high producer of grammar and spelling errors, they provide another safety net or extra layer of checking. This service is called Proofit.
I also used the Proofit service to check this blog after I ran it through the Grammarly app. Proofit has a pay-for-mistakes pricing model. The worse your writing is, the more you pay, and the fees scale is based on your required turnaround time.
Instant turnaround: 2 US dollars per mistake
3-hour turnaround: 1 US dollar per mistake
24-hour turnaround: 0.50 cents per mistake
Charges are assessed only for changes made to your document. Their professional proofreaders review documents and correct only writing, spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. They don’t read for content credibility or validity. The interface is easy to use. They work around-the-clock. They provide a quote before they begin the project, and they guarantee their work.
In less than one hour, I had my document back. They corrected all of the mistakes in the tracking mode of Microsoft Word. My document, this blog had 51 mistakes in it after it went through the first online proofing app. Since they had quoted me a fee of no more than $38.00, they billed my credit card $38.00.
After I received the proofed document, I reran it through the proofing app and my score was 100!
I like what this companyis doing and recommend checking them out. They provide a couple of quality, low-cost, and around-the-clock proofing services for people like me.
We live and breathe technology. Smart phones, dumb text messages, notebooks, PDFs, videos, virtual meetings, cloud computing and all the “apps for that”.
All this stuff has certainly added convenience to our lives, however, its also created a society of gadget addicts. And Heaven forbid, there is no Internet connection for 10 minutes! Someone call 911 and order me a respirator. IT withdrawals are worse than needing a crack fix.
Technology has had a profound impact on how we function and communicate.
This new world order has also zapped the tangible factor in many business connections. The days of touch, hold in your hand marketing and ink on your fingers are gone. We are now a digital domicile. A planet of wifi, plugs, chargers and adapters.
We are all striving for meaningful ways to build lasting relationships in this highly competitive marketplace. Maybe it’s time for a little return of those long trusted tangible tools. You know the ones. Things you can feel, throw on your desk, touch with your hands, pin to your real bulletin board. Sorry Pinterest.
Here’s a novel thought.
No one else is doing it, the tangible stuff. This could be your way to stand out. Grant it, digital is cheaper than dirt but so are many of your competitors.
Do this stuff right and the results could be priceless.
I’ve been tooling around with these un-used opportunities and here’s my take on some classic tangibles. Heck, maybe its even the new black.
I just launched a five-card series of postcards and they were not the Walmart model of “low prices”. They were a significant investment for a small business. My total investment was $6,000 and that included, photography, design, printing, red envelopes, and 1st Class ladybug postage stamps (both the red envelopes and stamps are believed to bring good luck). Getting to a clean mailing list required an investment too.
Does snail mail still work?
Everyday, the average, busy businessperson receives around 300 emails and is bombarded with over 3,500 brand messages. So yes, they can work. I believe a few, well-done snail mail pieces can break through the noise and be noticed.
To date, I’ve only mailed two of the three cards and already I’ve gotten booked for a speaking event in January. The fee from this one event will cover 100% of my campaign expenses and then some. In addition to the booked speech, I’ve received 10 calls or emails from people that I’ve not talked to in years. The net effect, I’m back on their radar screen. Thank you snail mail!
Tangible business cards.
Are expensive business cards worth it? Over the years, I’ve written extensively on the importance of great business cards. Business cards are a critical touch point in branding. A cool business card is a surrogate messenger that reflects a brand image for pennies, compared to other useless expenses.
A global client recently told me their new, stand out from the crowd, two-sided business cards, cost four times as much as their old ones did. Not surprising to hear, they will likely be four times more effective too. This card is the first tangible point of contact to many business prospects and it screams their progressive, innovative brand.
Remember you only get one chance to make a good first impression.
Tangible, hand-written notes
Hand-written notes are more important than ever and they are becoming a lost art. Again, not a lot of people send hand-written notes. Instead, they take the non-tangible alternative of sending an email, blowing it off or worse yet, they send a lamo-text message. I’m sure, my relative, maybe, Emily Post, is flipping over in her grave about all of this.
We all can do this one. It’s in everyone’s budget. They will require a stamp though, so if you’re not sure what that is, Google it. Send a card, a thank-you note, or a relevant news article with a Post-it® note on it.
Take back some of those old trusted tangible tools. It’s in vogue. It’s time.
They put you to sleep, it’s a poor reflection on a good brand, and its just a down- right bad presentation, but they are still spreading around the globe.
I experienced one just the other day.
The saddest part of this story, these presenters were not first-time entrepreneurs committing a branding crime or a recent graduate new to the business world. These were executives from a large company, with resources, who should have known better.
Here’s a recap:
· The company is new to the market.
· Every move they make is crafting their brand with the local business community.
· They invited 50 would-be clients and referral sources to a very nice restaurant for lunch.
· An executive spent 30 minutes walking through a word-infested, bullet pointpacked, boring stock photoloaded PowerPoint presentation, covering what the company cared about, their goals for market share, their sweet spots for business and their strategies for growth.
· Then another executive followed with 30 more minutes of tranquilizing content with the same dreadful slides, same boring blah, blah, blah.
Nine ways to turn a speech into a brand-building event.
1. If an executive, or business leader, is not a great speaker, don’t let them speak or limit their talk time to one to two minutes.
2. Open every talk with something funny, shocking, or compelling that engages the audience within the first few minutes. If you need help with being funny, read Punchline your Bottomline by David Glickman, a fellow Floridian and my buddy. Although the book is no longer in print, you can grab a used copy on Amazon for pennies. Or hire David to punch up your materials.
3. Leverage stories.
4. Lose the bullets.
5. Highlight one to two big, important points only.
6. Use PowerPoint as an aid to help stay on your message course, not as a dissertation document.
7. Use simple, memorable graphics to back points or concepts.
8. Focus messages on topics that are relevant to the buyer and tell them what’s in it for them and the benefits.
9. Prepare and know your topic.
Speaking opportunities are powerful opportunities to make lasting impressions and build a brand.When you have a stage to show off your stuff, tell your story and leave a lasting impression to build your brand. Be grateful. Don’t waste the situation and don’t be dull and boring. That is worse than lice.
Age withers the human machine. It slows down the body and dulls the brain. As young as 35 your major organs start to decline. YIKES! For life-long achievers and supercharged entrepreneurs this can be a disheartening and brutal truth. There are two choices. One, surrender, join AARP and start drinking Ensure®, or two, you can fight it with the same passion that helped you be on your “A” game throughout life.
I’m taking option number two and will remain a relentless warrior against time.
For my body:
This means not looking at exercise as a chore, but an enjoyable event that is guaranteed to make me feel good. I love playing tennis, power walking and hitting the weight room, jamming to my favorite tunes. And it’s never to late to start. I was a total fitness slug and over weight until about the the age of 32, and didn’t start playing tennis until 40.
If you hate the thought of exercise, find some activity you enjoy. There are a lot of fun things you can do to burn calories that don’t require Spandex®. And if you think you are creative now, add 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, and your creative output will significantly accelerate. Research shows the creative boost from exercise can last for least two hours afterward. However, there’s a catch: this applies to the already physically fit. For those who rarely exercise, the fatigue may just make you want to nap and have creative dreams.
For my mind:
I just discovered Lumoisty, online brain training program. They have been running banner advertising on CNN.com. The video ads are extremely well done and advertising works, they converted me into a buyer.
The idea is quite simple. As your brain ages, it naturally looses some of it cognition performance. Your memory gets fuzzy, your attention span shrinks, and your problem solving skills get slow or even disappear. Their online games help you get mentally fit again. Like a muscle, with brain exercises you can reactivate the napping neutrons and get your cognitive brain function back.
Lumosity has over 40 million users exercising their brains and seeing impressive results. Their research shows after 4-weeks of brain exercises, you can achieve a 10-20% increase in cognitive functions. Those functions contribute to a better and happier life.
I signed up over the weekend, and I started today. It was challenging. Some of my scores were pretty pathetic. It took around 30 minutes for four exercises. The cost for an annual subscription is $5.82 a month. They offer family plans, too.
All of the brain exercises are designed like games you play on your digital device. After taking a quick test, Lumosity designs a custom brain training program based on your current functions and your areas needing improvement. They recommend, to achieve optimal results, you exercise your brain 2-4 times a week. They also offer reminders, so you don’t become a slacker. The personalized dashboard shows your progress, which is very cool. I’m going for the three times a week plan and will keep you posted.
I can definitely see the logic behind it.
Use it, or lose it!
Yeah, we all know that but when sales are not happening, how does one get around this rejection-ridden routine?
My buddy Jeffrey Gitomer, the modern day Godfather of selling, shares this answer along with many other unbreakable laws of selling in his new book by the same name.
I’ve known Gitomer for nearly 10 years. Throughout my speaking career, he’s been a close friend and a consent source of inspiration and influential ideas. He’s direct, can be brash, but walks his talk. From selling T-shirts out of his car in New Jersey, to an international best-selling author, this guy knows how to sell.
His new book, 21.5 Unbreakable Laws of Selling, comes out today. I’ve read an advance copy, and if you need to sell more, I recommend you get a copy, too. If you’ve read any of his other books, this one is like his greatest hits, a compilation of his finest tips, plus it addresses how social media has changed the sales playing field, too.
Here are three points from his book:
- Your belief system is the root of your success and bane of your failure.
- Laughter leads to listening.
- Ask before you tell, and you won’t have to sell.
Get a copy today, September 3rd on Amazon, and you’ll get a bonus link to tons of free stuff from Jeffrey and 40 other top business leaders, motivators, authors, and educators, too. I am one of those authors. The giveaway from me is an ebook on creativity.
It’s easy, after you order your book on Amazon, send your receipt to email@example.com, and receive hundreds of dollars worth of downloadable e-books, white papers, articles, videos, reports, and chapters of best selling books being offered by today’s top sales, marketing, publishing, communications, public relations, and business growth leaders. See the full offer HERE.
Password annoyance ranks up there with people who are clueless to cell phone manners and pesky black flies.
All three can make me cranky.
The later two may be hopeless, but the passwords management may have a new solution. It is an app called PasswordBox and is worth checking out.
Basically this freemium service lets you easily save and store your passwords so you don’t need to remember them.
Depending on how many passwords you have, it can take a little time to set up. But once you set it up, it syncs to all of your devices, allows access to your accounts, saving you time and aggravation. It will also changes the look of your browser. If that bugs you, like it did me, you can disable this feature by going to the bottom right of your screen and changing the option.
Got a team member or significant other that needs access to some of your passwords?
Not a problem. PasswordBox allows you to share select passwords with others you trust. And, if your trust withers, you can delete them from your share list.
Leave the planet?
PasswordBox offers a legacy service where your passwords are provided to assigned members of your family, or those in charge of your estate, etc. This is done by simply having them mail a death certificate to PasswordBox’s corporate office.
PasswordBox is similar to Dropbox. Users can store up to 25 passwords and sync across all devices for free before being prompted to upgrade to a premium account. A premium account has unlimited password storage for $1 per month, billed annually.
If a dollar is out of your budget, you can earn a free for life membership with unlimited password storage by referring friends to PasswordBox. Once five referrals have been accepted, you will automatically receive a free for life membership. I like that.
8 marketing truths
Almost a year ago, Chip (short for Chipolte) entered my life. A long-haired, kind of crazy, very co-dependent Chihuahua straight from the local SPCA.
So, how does a former homeless pup turn into a very upscale canine that now demands only the finest things in life? The pet industry knows how to market, and brand, doggone well.
Whatever the business category, we all can learn from these simple marketing truths.
1) Sympathy sells
Consumers have big hearts. Rescuing a needy, lonesome animal from a well-positioned brand, the SPCA, as a non-profit, savior of little souls shelter feels good.
2) Everyone is into digital
Now that I’m the proud co-parent of Chip, my radar screen picks up everything that can make me an even better dog owner. A few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal featured a woman who trains dogs to use apps on an iPad. Digital technology enables rapid relationship building, too. When I shop at one of Chip’s favorite pet stores, Wag, upon entering the place, they snap Chip’s photo. He instantly appears as the big star of the day on their Facebook page.
3) Luxury is alive and well
What haute dog doesn’t like to be pampered? Mine sure does, from staying at dog-friendly hotels like the Ritz-Carlton, to hanging at the just for pet spas with massages, peti-cures, designer perfumes and wearing the latest fashions (see the above shot of Chimp sporting his new life preserver/swim jacket).
4) Personalization is good for the ego
Maybe it’s my ego, or maybe it’s Chip’s, if you can monogram or engrave my dog’s name on anything, we’re in. After all, what dog doesn’t need a few branded travel bags, or some sterling silver dog bone bling?
5) Niche segmenting has never been stronger
Who said there are enough cable TV stations? One more niche channel just debuted it’s called DogTV. For five bucks a month your dog can watch commercial free, color-corrected for dog vision, programming, with no violence or barking dogs which can cause anxiety. What a deal.
6) Hallmark has it right
From greeting cards for and from pets to holiday themed toys and gift wrap, too, holidays are relationship building, publicity producing and sale-generating machines for many businesses.
7) Mental health is big business
Chip has some social issues. I have hired an anger management coach Angelica of Courteous Canines for him. I give him Zen pills to calm his nerves, and seriously thought about swapping his water for a premium tequila.
8) Packaging can change anything
OK, another small admission, Chip was not the prettiest dog in the pound. Not a problem, with today’s sound marketing skills and technology, good lighting, art direction and a little Photoshop, any product can be transformed.
Do you need more on insight dogs can give us? Check out a good book, What My Dog Taught Me About Life.
Being stumped is an essential part of the creative process. Step beyond discouragement.
For the past 6 months, I’ve been thinking about my next book. I want to travel more globally, and I want to expand my speaking topics from pure branding to a message of motivation, self responsibility and personal empowerment.
As a keynote speaker and consultant a published book can open lot of new doors, generate new streams of income and be a platform for a plethora of media interviews that can help me meet my new goals.
This past week I believed I came up with my next big idea and title, something that I could sell to an international publisher. I drafted a 2 page summary that I had planned on sharing with my last publisher who has the first publishing rights on my next book.
I ran the idea by an editor, a former acquisition editor for Simon & Schuster, I’ve worked with on my last two books, Brain Tattoos and Brand Turnaround. She liked my idea and did a search on the premise and not much showed up with other published books. I was feeling really good about my idea, and I was anxious to start writing my proposal and get this puppy going.
As I was reading my draft summary one more time before I hit send, I tried a few more different key words and phrases similar to my topic and Holy Crap!, three books showed up. How could that be? I researched this topic several times and nothing showed up and now I see three, by credible authors on my big idea.
My balloon felt deflated. My big idea shrunk to a tiny crumb. I was so bummed. For a couple of days, I wallowed in my disappointment. Then a light went off in my head. I’ve been reading a really good book on creativity by Jonah Lehrer called Imagine. The book uncovers how big ideas get hatched, how innovation happens and how creators come up with killer stuff. Lehrer contends being stumped is an essential part of the creative process. And this state of hitting a wall helps lube creativity. He cites many cases of before the “brilliant next big thing” was a dark hole that seemed too deep to get out of.
I convinced myself his concept had merit. I also revisited the New York Times best seller list of books, and there was the proof. Nothing is new. Nothing is original. The winning horse prevails because they find a new way to spin an idea. They present it from a different perceptive. And they are resilient and don’t give up. For every best selling book on success, leadership and happiness, there are thousands of equally as qualifies works that never even get printed because those authors gave up.
I’m not going to give up. I’m going to go back to the drawing board, research the three similar books I found and find a way to present this idea in a compelling, different and better way.
If you are working on a project and got a little push back too, join me and leverage that temporary setback and invite your creative will to find a way to keep moving forward. I’ll keep you posted on my journey.
Like I mentioned last week, I attended the National Speakers Association’s annual convention and brought back a bunch of good ideas. Here are the remaining 19 tips. If you missed Part 1, you can read them here.
Social media was a big topic.
Social media take a way was from Philipp Riederle, a digital guru from Germany. Philipp was the youngest speaker ever to take the big stage at an NSA convention. Philipp, 18 years old, gave his first paid speech at 15. At 13, he broke into the biz after producing a podcast about how to hack an iPhone and soon had over 1,000,000 listeners.
13) The moral to this story, if you have a valuable message, it is never too early to start sharing it, and get paid for it, too.
14) People have more close friends these days. Before social media, most people had 4-5 close friends, with social media that number has increased to 8-10 per person.
15) If a company or brand is careless with their social media relationships a wicked Shitstorm will follow. (Philipp claims Shitstorm is a German word.)
16) A positive interaction in social media like a retweet, a friend’s compliment, or referral is viewed by Gen Y as an emotional experience, like a kiss or a hug.
Branding insight from Bruce Turkel, one of my favorite fellow branding buddies.
Bruce Turkel also wrote Building Brand Value, a book worth reading.
17) People don’t buy what you do. They buy whom you are.
18) 3 myths about branding from Bruce:
- Uniqueness does not make a brand
- Competency, being best, does not make a brand
- Mindfulness does not make a brand, who knows about you does
19) A good brand makes people feel good. A great brand makes people feel good about themselves.
20) Emotions are often hidden in the buying cycle. This is especially the case in B2B branding.
21) Buying decisions are rarely made on price, rather on priorities.
22) Emotional strategies sell products. 80% of all Nike products are bought by non athletes.
General motivation and business tips for anyone who wants to make money speaking.
The next set of tips came from former NBA star Walter Bond, also known as Mr. Accountability. This 6 foot 5 inch, powerhouse of inspiration had some awesome words of wisdom.
23) Don’t watch the news, it’s depressing and can be toxic.
24) Make sure your audience hears your voice in their heads long after you are finished speaking. This happens with a phrase or really strong message.
25) Your salary will be the average of your 5 closest friends. Not happy with your salary, maybe it’s time to get some new friends.
26) Limit pity parties, and feeling sorry for yourself to three days. PERIOD.
27) Likability is the secret to success in speaking way more than your content.
28) Always look as if you are successful.
29) All buts stink. (For example, “But, I can’t do that.”)
30) Kids like to be held because it changes their perspectives. Change people’s perspectives, lift up people every day.
31) Sell hopes and dreams, not products and books.
Time to practice all this good advice.
Till next week!
This past weekend I attended the National Speakers Association’s annual convention in Philadelphia. Talk about a room full of chatty, type As, the 1200+ person event had no shortage of big personalities, topic expertise and energy.
The convention chair was David Glickman, a fellow Florida speaker, who is a master of humor and built a name for himself writing and performing comedy and custom song parodies for corporations. So, needless to say, the event was packed with entertaining and educational experiences. Great job, David!
I learned a ton and was inspired by both the speakers who presented and the speakers I met. So, whether you speak professionally like I do, or speaking and presenting are an important part of your job, I hope you can apply some of the gems I took home.
Today’s blog (part 1) includes 12 tips focused on humor to help you be a better speaker and a few other random items from my trip. The balance will post next Wednesday.
How to add more humor to your presentations
1) Laughter is contagious and can have domino-effect.
When you get a laugh from your audience, tag it with another funny statement, facial gesture or physical movement. It’s a natural opportunity to build momentum with your audience because laughter is contagious and can have a domino-effect.
2) Research what’s funny with your audience before your speak.
Before you address a group find out what they think is funny in their industry or something funny that happened in advance of your talk. Building on this topic is usually a sure fire laugh.
3) Don’t over describe a humorous story.
This robs the audience from them filling in the blanks and using their imagination (see tip #8)
4) Self-deprecation is always good and do exaggerate your flaws.
5) Silence is powerful.
Don’t underestimate how a big pause of silence will help your point stick.
6) Use call backs.
A call back is when you get a laugh from something, a theme, a story, a phrase, and you repeat it again later in your talk.
7) Love every audience you address more than your pet.
This may not make you funnier, but it will make you a better speaker.
8) Before you give a presentation get in a peak zone, this means blood circulating and ample oxygen flowing by doing a physical activity like __________. I will let you fill in this blank.
9) Hangout with funny people, you will get funnier.
It pays to lighten up and be fun (Scott Christopher author of book The Levity-Effect). Here’s an interesting stat: 90% of employees said they will stay at a company if their boss is funny.
10) To make a point in a PowerPoint, don’t use the photo you have, use a really funny photo you find on Google.
11) Use goofy family photos in presentations too, they humanize the speaker and add humor, too.
12) Compare a photo of anyone (a co-worker, your boss, a client) with a famous person, this can be hysterical. My celebrity Heritage website has a database of over 4000 famous people to find funny matches for average Joe.
…To be continued! Watch for Part 2 for more tips.
Bonus – other random observations and lessons from my trip.
These days, an hour before flight time is not enough time to get through security and make a flight.
The past 5 times I’ve flown (non-holiday times) the airports have been jammed packed, all hours, all days. The $250 airline upgrade bought through a kiosk can prevent you from missing your flight. You speed through security in minutes, pass by thousands of other people and feel less stressed.
The Marriott in downtown Philadelphia does not make my top 1000 hotels I love list.
The food in their restaurant was consistency as disappointing.
If the airline can’t assign you a seat at check in, it’s very likely the plane is over booked.
If your schedule is flexible, once you get to the gate ask the attendant right away about giving your seat back. I ended up on the next flight out and got a free round trip ticket that I can use any time this next year. A nice perk for putting up with air travel.
Invest in an extra power supply for your phone. This device is critical for a road warrior.
Power plugs at busy airports are in short supply. This great device keeps you connected for hours after your phone dies.