Rock Your Pitch


I love humans enough to not care what they think about me.

I love humans enough to not care what they think about me.

Wanna know how you’re really doing? Ask.

Asking for feedback is tough. Asking for feedback AND doing something with it is even tougher. Asking for feedback, doing something with it, and growing from it – that’s how you become the best at what you do.

In my career, I’ve read more bullshit testimonials than I want to count – and I can spot them right away. I’ve even had clients try to send me fake testimonials to add to their websites, which has made me waggle my finger and make them get real ones. Most testimonials are too consistent because they’re written by one person. They’re written in the same voice – the voice of the person who wants people to believe someone said those words about them. Is there a templated database of crappy testimonials somewhere for people who don’t want to ask their clients for real feedback?

While I’ve been building my programs, especially SPEAK With Confidence, I wanted to know what we were doing well and what we needed to do better. Sometimes I got a lot of helpful answers – other times I got back information that would only help that one person. Either way, I’ve learned I can’t take any of it personally – it’s business – and the only way we’re going to get better. It’s also the safest place for me to get real feedback in my business.

In reality, I only want to hear the good or bad constructive feedback that will make the program better. It’s usually worded like this: “More of this because _____. Less of this because ______.” We’ve taken ALL of it into consideration as we’ve built this incredible program – even if we haven’t implemented all of it. It’s the reason I KNOW this retreat is the best of its kind.

The most unhelpful feedback I’ve ever received was from an audience about my speaking. I learned quickly that getting feedback from an audience can be torturous if you take any of it personally – good or bad. They can give you the highest praise and make you feel like a rockstar who never needs to change. And they can judge you and tear you down for even showing up and opening your mouth.

You see, audiences are tough. Some humans sit there thinking: “I could do better” or “How did she get asked to speak about this & I didn’t?” or “He’s dressed like an idiot.” or “This is the biggest waste of my time.” Other humans are enthralled with you. They’re taking notes, nodding, listening intently – excited you showed up to speak directly to them.

The first set makes up about 10% of the audience. These humans will never share their name, but are happy to to tell you exactly how they feel with ZERO constructive feedback. It ends up coming out in generalizations about the entire audience or just that you suck.

The second set makes up about 90% of the audience. They will RAVE about you. They’ll sign up for your newsletter and engage with you on social media. They’ll come up to you afterward and give you a hug. They’ll remind you of why you do what you do.

The problem with being human is that we read the 10% and let it eat us alive. We sit with those remarks as if our own mother said them to our faces. We forget that 90% of people loved us – because the negativity creates a black cloud over the positivity. And guess what? You can’t blame them for being mean – they can’t help it. They weren’t taught how to give constructive feedback AND they aren’t the ones on stage doing what you do. You have to blame yourself for focusing on that shit. For letting it eat you apart.

While I was on my most recent vacation, I sat under a cloud of negative energy for a whole day. It was a cloud I believed someone else put over me. Until I journaled about it and gnawed on it for awhile and came to the realization that I don’t have to care what other people think of me – because I care about people.

So, I wrote a phrase that will stay with me from now on. I’m even going to write it next to my desk so I can’t forget it.

I love humans enough to not care what they think about me.

I care SO much about what I do – and I love people enough to share it with them. I know I’m meant to do this so much that I can’t care what they think of me. I say things people don’t like to hear – and I do it on purpose. Some people in my audiences don’t have the space to listen. Maybe it’s not their time to hear what I have to say. That’s 100% ok. They don’t have to. But I love them enough to not care what they think of me or my message. I love them enough to say what needs to be said.

I care so much about what I do because I KNOW it gives humans the ability to become who they are meant to become. And I have to do it without apology. Thankfully, I have a space that I’ve created for real feedback that I can review any time I want – to remind me of my impact. And the impact of my Crew. All the negativity falls away and I start cry-laughing when I watch their beautiful faces.

While we’re hosting our SPEAK With Confidence retreat, we ask our Rockstars to do on-the-spot Confessionals. Little video clips of them telling us how the retreat process is going. Some start recording them before we even start the retreat and others record them after they’ve gotten home. Some record one every day, others give us just one. What I love about these videos is that I get a glimpse into how someone is feeling throughout the retreat. It gives me real-time feedback that I can review when we’re done. They give us their in-the-moment feelings, thoughts, fears, excitement, and wins.

It’s such a delight that I put them on YouTube in a playlist for you to watch. They’re my favorite form of testimonial – and they’re 100% real.

Sometimes I wish I could get these kinds of testimonials from my audiences while I’m speaking or even from those haters who finally hit the epiphany moment years later. Because I DO get little notes from people 2 to 5 years later saying that one of my talks affected them deeply and that they finally got to a place in their lives to share what happened. THAT is why I have to love people enough not to care what they think. Because I have to keep saying what needs to be said.

Now, it’s your turn to ask. To get REAL testimonials. To get REAL feedback.

ASK YOUR CLIENTS

Send a survey to your clients – anyone who gives you money to do what you do.

  1. What do we do well?
  2. What could we do better?
  3. On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to refer us?

ASK YOUR TEAM

This one is even harder for most companies and personal brands. Send the same survey to your team – anyone who gives you their time (executives, employees, contractors, vendors, interns, and volunteers).

  1. What do we do well?
  2. What could we do better?
  3. On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to refer us?


When you get the feedback from both sets,
do the following:

  1. Delete all non-constructive feedback immediately. (Have someone else do this for you before you read it if you don’t think you can handle it.)
  2. Look at what you do well and ask yourself if it’s what you want to be known for doing well. If it’s not what you want to be known for doing well, create a plan to change it. If it is, focus on it and keep doing it well.
  3. Look at what they said you could do better and ask yourself if it would really be good for your company to do it better – or if it’s actually a blessing that you’re not good at it. Then make a plan for only making the things better that MUST be better.
  4. Look at the average number on the scale of 1-10 and figure out what you can do to keep it between a 9-10. If it’s really low, go to the “What could we do better?” answers and start fixing things.

Then post the goodness in THEIR words on your website, your social media, and your proposals. If you want to keep growing as a business or personal brand, you’ll send out this survey every 3-6 months to your clients and your team. Keep asking, keep growing.

  • PUBLIC SPEAKING: If you want a safe place to get constructive feedback as a speaker, come join us for the yearly SPEAK With Confidence retreat.
  • CORPORATE TRAINING: If you want a safe place for your team to give each other constructive feedback, bring us in to rock your team with a corporate training.
  • JOIN THE CLUB: If you want to be really vulnerable, share what you found out about your business or personal brand in the Kickass Humans Club. It’s a safe space for you to share yourself with the world.

I love you enough to not care what you think about me. AND I am so excited to share my world with you.
xoxo

Word-of-mouth is a crap marketing strategy

Word-of-mouth is a crap marketing strategy

“I get all my clients from word-of-mouth.”

 

Yep, that’s how it’s supposed to work. People should be talking about you. And yet Nike, Apple, and Google still do marketing.

When I was in college, I accidentally got a job as the webmaster of my school. Someone in the IT department found out I had been building HTML websites – and back then, I was rare. As a full-time college kid, I wasn’t looking for a job but they hired me anyway. The Communications Department paid me $8.50 an hour as a part-time staff member to build their website in Fireworks and Dreamweaver 4 (yes, you read that correctly – I still have the CD with my access code in case you want to use it.) It was a 2,000 page website built one page of code at a time.

2002 Keuka College website thanks to waybackmachine.com

This private liberal arts college I attended needed more students – and in 2000, the World Wide Web was becoming a place for potential students to find out more about where they wanted to go to school. This was before everyone had phones. I had a Palm Pilot and a desktop computer with dial-up. I would print pages of the website for them to review because it was quicker. Laptops were only a dream. Few even had computers at home. (I got a briefcase, not a laptop bag, from my sister for college graduation.That’s how old I am.) It was the land of chatrooms & “You’ve got mail.” We were on the cusp of a new age with the generation of humans who wanted to get more connected.

When we were putting together the website plan, we were also putting together the marketing plan. The Communications department would meet to discuss our differentiators and why students would even care to look into getting their education with us. We weren’t going to compete with the bigger schools, we didn’t have a brand big enough to talk about, and our sports claim-to-fame was our ranking in synchronized swimming because we had been an all-girls school until the early 80’s. Although we had a beautiful campus located on a lake, we had a lot going against us – except the one reason I decided to originally attend. Experiential education.

Most students graduate from college never getting to “try before they buy.” Experiential education is a fancy way of saying that all of the students got January and the summer to go do the actual work of their degree. It was required to get your degree – and it was better than an internship. It made you stand out from other students applying for jobs after college. The Education majors could go work in a real school. The Occupational Therapy majors could work in a real doctor’s office. The Nursing majors could work at a real hospital. Plenty of students would do their term and realize the work they thought they wanted to do wasn’t really as sexy as they expected. THIS was why I wanted to attend. I wanted real world experience before getting out into the real world.

When we put together the website, we made Experiential Education front and center to everything else. We had great copy, photos, and testimonials. But putting it on the website was only one step.

Before we could be successful, we knew we had to pitch the rest of the departments on why this would work to get our numbers up. We put together all the Data behind why our students were more successful at their post-college jobs. We knew the Impact Experiential Education had on their careers after college. We found the Stories of the students who found success AND why they changed majors thanks to this program. We also knew the Humans we were targeting would want more out of school than just classes and campus life.

Armed with all of this helpful information, we had to make sure the marketing team was focused on sharing it with the outside world. We made sure the recruiters were talking it up. Then we had to be sure the tour guides for the campus were telling stories about students who had been a part. The admissions team had to make sure it was part of the excitement of the onboarding process. Finally, we had to make sure our students AND alumni knew the focus. Everyone had to know that this was what we were pitching in order for it to be successful.

The word-of-mouth didn’t come from people just talking about us – we TOLD them what to say and how to say it. I see now – years later – that the experiential education of working with the Keuka College Communications department was worth every penny I spent on tuition (and the pennies I made working there.) It gave me a foundation for everything I know about branding and marketing. (Shout-out to my professor, Amanda Harris & the Communications Director, Doug Lippincott.)

“Your brand is what everyone else is saying about you. Not what you’re saying about yourself.” – Melanie Spring

 

Word-of-mouth is a crap marketing strategy because it’s not a marketing strategy. Word-of-mouth is the result of having a worthwhile marketing pitch. In order to put together a worthwhile pitch, you have to be clear on your DISH – your Data, your Impact, your Stories and your Humans.

An inexpensive version of this is the marketing strategy of TED. Their focus is Ideas Worth Sharing. It’s their tagline AND their mantra. TED doesn’t spend thousands of dollars on marketing. They show you clearly that they want you share their talks. They choose talks with share-worthy content. They are consistent with their branding. They don’t have to tell you to watch, you know it’ll be worth your time.

TED knows that their Data is in their views. The more views they get on their talks, the more Impact they can make. They also know that if the Stories aren’t worth sharing, the Data won’t show up. And at the end of the day, the Humans are the ones who will drive the traffic to their videos. They don’t put their money into their marketing – but they spend ALL of their time finding ideas worth sharing.

An expensive version of this is the marketing strategy of Nike. Everyone knows who Nike is and yet they still spend millions on making sure they’re in front of you. When they launched their 30th anniversary campaign featured Colin Kaepernick, they were VERY clear on their Humans. They knew they had to differentiate themselves from their competitors by honing in on getting EVERYONE talking about them – for better or worse. They set themselves apart by doing this because you were talking about them – even if you didn’t like it.

Their Data showed them where to focus their energies and helped them target their Humans – the lovers AND the haters. Their Stories captivated you and made you want to buy more of their products – or they repelled you so much that you burned their sneakers while making shareable videos about it. Their Impact was clear – they were aligned with those who aligned with their core values and they were interested in working with anyone who didn’t. Their pitch was sensational – and got everyone talking about them.

Your target customers (your Humans) want to talk about you. It’s up to you to give them what they need to say about you.

You don’t have to be a huge company with lots of money to put together a great marketing strategy. You DO have to have a great pitch. You have to pitch them on why you’re worth talking about. Why YOUR ideas are worth spreading. Why YOU are their favorite brand OR their greatest enemy. One way or another, they need to be talking about you.

Look at your next pitch. Does it have data, impact, and stories – and does it target the humans who need to be sharing it? That’s how word-of-mouth really works. Create your next marketing pitch and get them talking.

Grab our free mini-course – The DISH Method: dishmethod.com

Or join us IRL (in real life) at our next retreat: melaniespring.com/events

To ideas worth sharing.
xoxo