I admit, the first analogy I came up with was “How personal development is like an ogre” and then I had the scene from Shrek playing in my brain. You know the one where they are comparing Ogres to parfaits and onions? Yeah, that one. The more I thought about it, the more I could see that personal development through working on our mindset is like an onion. Let me explain.
Yes, I had to start here. Remember, I’m working from a Shrek analogy here.
Just when you think you have one layer sorted, you peel it back and reveal another layer. That’s the same with mindset work in small business.
When I was first addressing my personal fear of success, which was holding my business back, I thought I had all the stories set. Little did I know that the further I dug and poked around in there, the more stories I found. Our brain loves stories & it uses it to fill in gaps. We have our favourite stories that we play over again but sometimes there are those repressed ones, deep in that dark corner, that our brain can dig up for us.
So that’s why when I was working through my fear of success, it took almost a year. I had to sort out and address each of the stories I was telling myself.
My clients are no different. It’s often around disappointing other where there are layers of complexity and story.
It makes you cry.
OMG, the tears have flowed. It’s a good thing I keep a pack of tissues in my handbag because this work has a habit of making my clients cry.
They cry as they discover the crappy story they’ve been living by. They cry as we address it. They cry in relief when they are free.
When I’ve done the work on myself, I will cry and cry. It will hit me out of the blue when a piece of the puzzle falls into place and I come to the realization and am able to free myself from part of my old story.
I’ve cried for months when I was working on relationships and expectations around people.
Some people are allergic
Ok, so people aren’t allergic to doing personal development/growth/mindset work. They just avoid it, some like the plague.
Some people avoid it because they think they will react badly to it.
Some people will avoid it because they’ve had bad experiences in the past.
Some people try little doses to get used to it.
Doing the work really is an individual experience. But, the only way to do the work is in the doing.
I’ve outgrown allergies and taken on new ones (true story) and doing the self-work is the same. Somethings I’ve outgrown and never had to address. Some things I can tolerate in small doses and over time I’ve been able to get through more. Some things make me sick to my core and while I can avoid them, I know it’s there and if not addressed it will be there forever and I need to be ok with that.
An acquired taste
I’m yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like onions, but I’m sure they’re out there. (Are you one of them?) Doing work on your personal development is much the same. And like overcoming an allergy little by little, over time, and with exposure we can become accustomed to the things we need to address and grow from.
TIP: This is where I find comparison can creep in.
Did anyone have a parent who made you eat something because a sibling loved it and were shocked to find out that you didn’t? (Just me then) They were comparing you. Be mindful of comparing your personal growth against someone else. You don’t know the stories they play in their head & you don’t know how willing they are to bite on their onion.
It can repeat on you
Ever eaten red onion only to regret it later because it’s repeating on you? Yup, working on your mindset can not only make you uncomfortable, like indigestion, but it can come back – time and again.
This is sort of like the onion analogy as a whole with layers of complexity and new issues coming forward. It’s also like Spanish onion in so far that it’s there to remind and almost haunt/taunt you until you deal with it.
TIP: The good thing about working on your mindset is that, unlike antacid, it doesn’t suppress things and keep them shoved down.
It’s like going toe to toe with that red onion and taking its acid warts and all. Living with the discomfort. Acknowledging it’s there. Knowing that with time, patience, and going through the discomfort and symptoms you will come out the other end. The good thing is that unlike a Spanish onion, once completely dealt with, that issue won’t cause you indigestion again.
There are different types
We each battle our own demons, our own mindset challenges and there are different onions. The beauty is that one is no more or less important, challenging, better or worse than another. They are unique and uniquely ours.
Cook an onion a certain way and it goes from being this acrid bulb which makes you cry to the sweetest and most tender thing you can’t get enough of. (If you’ve ever had or made and incredible onion soup or tart, you’ll know what I mean)
Growing and challenging our mindset through stages of personal development can take the unpalatable and tear-jerking parts and through patience, dedication, and work they can become the most tender parts of ourselves.
Better still, when we are done we can become the most delicious versions of our past selves, some might say even better versions. (I prefer different)
What coaches don’t tell small business owners about doing mindset work
Through my years of challenging myself and my mindset: – I have been lost, I have not known where to turn or what I was becoming. It was a time where I had to be patient and not try to hurry things along. – I have endured great pain as I came to accept people as they are and not what I expect them to be and I had to realise that I would lose them and that had to be. And then I had to mourn. – I had to deconstruct myself so that I could reconstruct and become more. – I learnt to be ok with nothingness and stillness. – I outgrew people. – I began to learn who I was, now, and again, and I am learning to like that me.
These are the hard realities of doing the work when you run a small business. You do it and you still have to keep the business running.
It takes months to grow an onion. I want to hear from you how you feel about personal development and mindset growth. Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.
One of the most common things my small business coaching clients want is clarity in their business. Most of them want a clear goal and a clear path to get there. Don’t we all! Well, I’ve sat down and looked at my notes and brought together some key tips for those of you who wonder: “Who am I? Where am I going? How am I going to get there?”
There are three common aspects to business clarity:
1. Strategic clarity 2. Clarity of communications 3. Clarity of self
Let’s start with the most common one, strategic.
What is strategic clarity in business?
Strategic clarity is where are we going and how are we going to get there? It’s probably the most common business clarity questions asked as it is determining the aims and objectives of the business.
Why is strategic clarity important?
Knowing where your business is headed and how you’re going to get there helps:
1. Achieving the goal and strategy as it is known and articulated
2. Avoids distraction or shiny object syndrome
3. Helps to clarify progress, against previous performance and competitors
4. Focuses resources, time, money, and energy
5. Gives opportunities to celebrate success, removing resentment of a constant unappreciated slog
6. Makes your process repeatable or reviewable if you need to set up again
What business often forgets when developing their strategic clarity
When setting their strategic direction businesses are clear on where they are headed and how they are getting there, but often forget the why. The why in strategic clarity, is the most important as it’s what keeps the business on track when times are tough and businesses start questioning themselves.
Strategic clarity is more than goal setting and a procedure map, it needs to include the overarching impetus for the business. Simon Sinek, renowned though leader, tells us to Start with Why. Every business started with an idea that perhaps they could do something better, make a difference to an industry, or somehow impact others. This is the core to the most important piece of clarity for any business.
A while ago I wrote an article on the importance of why to having a profitable business. It goes deeper into Simon Sinek’s quote, People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. This is the strategic clarity missed by small business. It’s more than a mission or vision statement. It’s your story. It’s something bigger than you and your business. The beauty is that when you understand this, you are able to progress to the next part of finding clarity in your business: clarity of communication.
Clarity of communication
What is clarity of communication?
Being clear in what you say may seem obvious and easy enough, but there are common mistakes businesses make.
Using industry terms or jargon your customers don’t know or understand (or don’t need to know)
Using complex language to explain or express yourself (passive voice, overly formal, or being verbose)
Making the content all about you when you should be talking to and about your audience so they take action
Not telling people what action they need to take
Why is clarity of communication important for business?
Clarity of communication avoids confusion. Clarity of communication creates and builds relationships. Clarity of communication tells people where they stand and sets expectations. Clarity of communication drives action. All of these aspects are necessary to having a profitable business.
What businesses often forget when aiming for clarity of communication
Most businesses forget that their communication is there to educate, entertain, or inspire. That means that it all needs to be done with the audience in mind and what their audience finds educational, entertaining, or inspires them to take action. It also needs to be relevant as to why your audience comes to you and consumes your communication. Without these things, your communication falls flat. I wrote this article on creating engaging content and developed this checklist/training on creating your own engaging content.
However, the biggest mistake I see is that businesses forget that their customers are watching their every move and what is left unsaid can have a larger impact, what is said unplanned can damage, and what they do speaks louder than any words ever could.
The biggest gap that businesses should remember is that people will hold you to what you say and if you let them down, you lose their trust and you lose your integrity. In addition, what people say about you and your business when you’re not around and when you have no control holds a lot of weight. What we say to our friends and family, what we say online but away from your sight are all ways a brand and business is communicated, you need to ensure it’s clear and positive even when things go wrong (and there are right ways to handle bad feedback).
Why is clarity of self important as a business owner?
Like your business, being clear with yourself helps keep you on the right path, but it also all helps you to identify areas for growth. Being clear on who you are and what you stand for gives you the ability to the take anything that upsets or angers you and allows you to then see why you feel that way and if this is something you need to work on in yourself. It’s a way to grow as a person and become a better version of yourself.
What business owners forget about their own clarity
Too often business owners forget to define their clarity of self. They are so caught up in progressing their business that they lose track of themselves. Other times, they define themselves by the roles they have, parent, child, business owner and not what makes them be a particular version of that role (not all parents/children/business owners are created equal, why is that?).
While so much of your small business is tied to who you are, you are more than your small business. When you sit back and look at that you will lose the need to compare, you will be more confident, and you will find peace in who you are. I wish this for you and I am here for you when you would like help to find it.
My favourite benefit of clarity in business
I have spent much time defining and refining what my business is, the change it wants to make, and more recently who I am. The beauty of having clarity is not what I am or do, it’s what I’m not and won’t. There is incredible strength in being clear on what you won’t stand for or be or bring into this world. There’s also peace in knowing that’s part of who you or your business are. When I’ve found it and let it go, I’ve found happiness as I can be more authentic, purposeful, and it’s a sort of homecoming after all the other roles I’ve had (wife, mother, and wondering who I actually am).
It can be hard deciding that something no longer serves you or your business, but once you let it go (and I’ve had clients let businesses go) there is a lot of relief. Stopping something gives you space do something which serves you and your clients better. And I’m all for leading a happier, calmer, and better life.
Propaganda on social media hit the news in 2018 when an essential security flaw was leaked between Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. The public and governments were in uproar. People deleted Facebook, most came back.
It was also in early 2018 when I had my first speaking engagement on the psychology of Facebook at Big Digital Adelaide. I was teaching digital marketers the new area of the psychology of Facebook users. It wasn’t until late in 2019 that I was in tears when researching the extent of propaganda on social media, its use as psychological warfare on the public, and the impact it has.
What is propaganda?
Propaganda dates back to Ancient Rome & Greece and is commonly understood as the spreading of ideas, information, or rumour for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person.
What is the role of propaganda on social media as psychological warfare?
The role of propaganda on social media is to persuade an individual or group of people to a particular way of thinking so they change their behaviour.
This can range from targeting swinging voters with misinformation through to the use of repeated imagery in image filters to change their voter preference. It can go all the way through to the production of videos to target at people likely to become radicalised and fight for enemy states.
What are some examples of propaganda on social media?
There are five main methods of posting propaganda on social media:
Targeting of Individuals
You can imagine that with the different methods that it is easy to weave propaganda through what most people see every day.
Research out of NATO STRATCOM COE goes further into what that might look like.
Commenting: positive, negative, neutral, including using the term “fake news” Targeting of individuals: via reputation or deliberate attacks on their accounts Government-sponsored accounts: (Ecuador Somos + identifies individuals going against their government so that others can target them) Fake accounts: bots & astrosurfing. Flood SM with fake news or bolster reactions to information. In Serbia, Vietnam, Mexico, and North Korea humans are used, called ‘cyborgs’, to undertake this role. Content Creation: In the UK the government has created content, including youtube, with persuasive information to deradicalize under fake accounts. Russia is the most commonly known one as is Cambridge Analytica.
What is the aim of propaganda on social media as psychological warfare?
Other than to change a person’s opinion and behaviour, it can also:
Push up the ranking of content in the social media algorithm, so more people see it
Discredit people and sources
Target profiles so that they are discredited to the point of closure
What can people do to combat the effects of propaganda on social media?
There is only one tool we have to stop being swayed by the propaganda and psychological warfare and that’s critical thinking. To use critical thinking we need to look at the intent, the source, do our own research from reputable sources.
The best thing we can do when we recognize propaganda is to report it to the social media platform and not share it. Platforms are improving their ability to identify psychological warfare online but users are improving their ability to profile and so the platforms are playing catch up and need our help.
How effective is online psychological warfare?
It sways voters and wins elections to change the shape of nations. It saves people from radicalization. These are some of the extreme effects it has.
How business can use propaganda on social media?
There are four key areas that businesses need to appeal to and all must be from the user perspective:
Content which appeals to and creates one of these four responses as they are key outcomes for all propaganda online.
You might notice that fear is not a focus of propaganda online.
Fear gives compliance not a change in beliefs and behaviour. Our aim as business owners is to convert buyers and these four points are key to converting their thinking and behaviour: for the long term.
The other week I shared an article on the psychology of what drives people to do what we do. I wanted to remind you of that because you are a person as a business owner and your psychology & mindset impact your business growth; as much as your staff and your clients’ psychology do.
Over the years as a business coach, many clients come to me with technical issues about growing their business or growing social media, and we address those, but I soon see that the biggest thing holding the business back from success is the business owner, their psychology, their mindset, their fears.
So I want to address some of these with you. It will be an overview, but I hope it helps you to see where perhaps you may be holding your business up and perhaps some ideas to help you overcome them.
How do you know that it’s your mindset or psychology as the business owner holding you back your business growth?
There are four main ways that I see business owners holding themselves back: procrastination, second-guessing, asking advice from others, low self-confidence/feeling flat. So what are some of the tricks to overcome them? Firstly you need to catch yourself doing it, then you can try one of these 5 tips to get you moving again: https://www.karalambert.com/business/build-self-confidence-business/
Fear of success
Let me start with what was holding me back, a fear of success. Ever dream so big, set the goals, put the plan into place only to realise as it’s about to realise that you’re scared witless (or rhymes with) about it actually succeeding. Yeah that’s me.
The paradoxical thing about success, unlike failure, is that it can never truly be achieved. Once you’ve achieved a certain level of success, a new one appears. And I think that’s it. My fear of success is actually that I can never attain it, but don’t confuse it with felling like I will fail, it’s not that. It’s fleeting and surpassed by a new goal. I’m afraid of something I believe doesn’t exist because while I achieve a goal, success has moved. It’s a mirage that jumps along the road of progress to a new point.
Then it goes further into the stories I was told growing up and my beliefs around what success would be like. I ended up taking these on as truths, when in all honesty they were only what someone else’s fears were when it came to success or what someone else has accepted as their success. None of them were my reality. I go into this more in the section on Imposter Syndrome.
Overwhelm as a business owner impacting your psychology, mindset & business growth
I’ve helped a number of business owners through this. They come to me with a particular tool they are struggling with, generally Facebook, and they feel utterly overwhelmed. Like with most of life, what we think is the problem rarely ever is. But the thing with overwhelm is that it is all-encompassing and that so often we are unable to realise that there is more to the problem that meets the eye and if we only looked a little further the answer would be so clear and so simple.
So often I see this overwhelm and it’s characterised by any or all of the following things.
Sounds simple right? Too simple to answer the issue of this overwhelm! It’s not and here’s why.
Humans are hard-wired for connection. Connection to our family, our friends, our community, our tribe. When we lose these connections we feel lost. As lost souls we grapple and grasp for things to give us direction and meaning. Much like connections do.
In business, we have three connections. Connection to self (our passions). Connection to business. Connection to clients (audience). When one or more of these are out we feel out of whack and the more disconnection we have, the more overwhelmed we become.
So what is the one thing we’ve lost other than the connection which is contributing to overwhelm in business?
We’ve lost that all of this connection is about people. We have lost that the ‘whats’ and ‘shoulds’ are actually about connecting to people. This is where I see the overwhelm sitting and this is where the relief comes when I show it to my coaching clients.
Now for some this might seem simplistic, but I have to say that there is a tonne of science behind people, connection, and how they interplay with social media, communication, and business. And this fascinates me.
But what happens when you’re the one overwhelming yourself?
You’ve got the laundry list of things you want/need/should do and achieve and it feels like you’re drowning with no possible way out. Now I could sit here and tell you to go easy on yourself and not to compare yourself to others and not to set unrealistic expectations – and there would be a good chance you’d ignore me and tell me I didn’t know what I was talking about and that how else were you going to be a success.
In the end, overwhelm comes from being disconnected and that includes with ourselves.
Fear of rejection
When business owners come to me for help with social media, this is one of the most common psychology or mindset issues holding back their business growth. I’m/it’s not good enough… Fear of rejection is understandable. We all want to be wanted or needed. When we put our business, our services, or our product out there and forward for all to see – we put ourselves out there. Wide open for criticism and/or rejection. And when that happens, it’s a reflection on ourselves.
Growing up were you a people pleaser? Did you want people to like you? How do you go now?
I was this child and even this adult. Over the past year I have been working a lot on coming back in to alignment with my motivators. Truly understanding them. Getting rid of thoughts and stories (I’m not calling them beliefs) which no longer serve. But the need to keep people happy stuck around.
Now don’t confuse this with a fear that no one likes me. I know people don’t like me and I’m totally ok with that. I’m not afraid of people not liking me, I don’t want everyone to like me because I’m not everyone’s cup of tea.
Keeping people happy is about not disappointing, it’s about meeting their expectations, it’s about putting their needs above mine.
What about business owner mindset, not psychology, and business growth?
After the psychology, the mindset we have as a business owner is the most common thing holding back our business growth. Personally, two little words changed my world. These two words bring about thoughts of anger in every parent, competition in every sibling, and fear in every business owner. Yet as business owners, we need to be asking it more often than we do. To achieve more we need to be willing (and able) to step back and reassess. When dealing with difficult clients, these two words can change the way you approach the situation.
I’m not asking a question, these are the words. While I understand it might seem abrupt and abrasive; it’s this that gives them their charm but also their jolting power. You see, it’s not until we are jolted from our comfort zone that we see and achieve greatness. Read on: https://www.karalambert.com/business/two-words-change-business/
“Kara, I just need more self-confidence”, “I need to get out of my own way”, “I need to stop holding myself back”. It’s generally what our conversations come down to, no matter what we start with. Generally, it starts with wanting to learn how to promote their small business on social media, then after a little while, the truth comes up. It’s really a lack of self-confidence that is stopping them progressing. https://www.karalambert.com/business/build-self-confidence-business/
One of the first and most needed mindset shifts I made was around time.
When I started, it went something like this… But I just don’t have the time! I’m time-poor! I need more hours in the day! Sound familiar? I wish I had a magic wand and could give you more hours, I don’t, but I can make it feel like you do. It’s all about time management and perception.
If you constantly think and feel that you don’t have enough of something; you won’t! It is a ‘glass half empty’ approach to time management. Consider this, you have a friend who is always negative, they can’t see the good in anything; always moping, bad things constantly going wrong. If they can only see the negative, that’s all they will find.
So, now think about time. Yes, I know we all have the same number of hours in the day, but how do you value and see those hours? Do you believe that they will slip through your fingers, do you think they will whizz by; or do you think you have all the time you need, and that time is on your side? Which would you prefer?
When I changed my belief about the time I had and I realised that I can do all that I need AND I don’t have to feel rushed or stressed in completing them, it was how it was. I realised that time is an asset and when assets are seen for their true value they grow. I liken it to when you feel stressed and take a deep breath, things seem to slow and calm down. When I first started, there were a lot of deep breaths, but that’s ok, it’s working.
So change how you think about the time you have available, then plan how you use your time.
Now if you’re a bit of a procrastinator and just thought “brilliant! Now I have more time to do nothing in”, well you’re technically right but let’s tackle that procrastination.
The first issue is why you procrastinate and generally that comes from fears. Things like fear of failure, imposter syndrome, perfectionism. Addressing those is a whole other chat. But let’s tackle that never ending to-do list! How did I get around that?
The fear of being left behind is real in business. Business owners are afraid of missing out on the next best thing. Fear that their competitors are going to get the jump on them. Fear of not having a competitive advantage. It’s a competitor FOMO mind storm. All of this plays on a business owner’s psychology, mindset & ultimately their business growth.
So, what do you do when you’re afraid of being left behind in business? Or that your competitors will have the jump on you? Or that you don’t have a competitive advantage? Well, I answer how to overcome all of these in the following article: https://www.karalambert.com/business/fomo-and-business/
Some of the things business owners say when it comes to competition are:
“It’s end of financial year, no one has any money.”
“It’s holiday season here in Europe/US no one is around.”
These were tales of lack and woe. I’m not saying I’m immune. I lose clients each year in the lead up to the end of financial year. It used to bother me, now I realise that there are always better opportunities about to come by.
Looking for more information about what makes your business different in the eyes of your customer? Do you know why they choose you over your competitor? Want to be able to win a larger piece of the market? Then you’re going to want to read this article about your selling point: https://www.karalambert.com/business/point-difference-selling-point/
What if you don’t have any competitors?
What if you’re unique in your field? I can tell you that up until late last year, this was me. I had to get ok with not being like anyone else. I had to be ok with not having anyone to benchmark off. I had to be ok with being different and educating the audience as to why it was just ‘ok’ but it was necessary. If this is you, then you’re going to want to read what I wrote about going it alone in a blue ocean: https://www.karalambert.com/business/swimming-in-a-blue-ocean/
When looking over your shoulder at the competition wears you down
We are human and there are times when everything and everyone gets the better of you. Then there can be points where it’s one thing on top of another. It can also be the smallest jibe by ‘the’ wrong person and your set off down a spiral of self-doubt to self-loathing. This is what I call the confidence gremlins and I want to introduce you to them and their cures in this article: https://www.karalambert.com/business/killing-off-confidence-gremlins/
Imposter Syndrome & its impact on your business owner psychology, mindset & business growth
So what is Imposter Syndrome? Why does it matter? How does it fit in with the psychology and mindset of a business owner and how it could hold back their business growth?
For the people I speak to, it’s this constant niggling (or roaring) self-doubt combined with a constant fear that you’re going to be caught out, called out, or targeted as a fake or phony. The vast majority of people who have Imposter Syndrome are female and are high-achieving. That means that not only do they place exceedingly high expectations on themselves, they work their butts off to achieve them. These people are often referred to as Type A personalities.
They work hard to meet what they believe the expectations are of the person that they’re performing the work for. The problem is, is that they can never live up to those standards because they’re actually not meeting the standards of the person that they’re providing the work for. They’re trying to meet what they believe the standards are.
It’s the story we play to ourselves.
It’s years of hearing little comments.
It’s being passed over.
It’s the impact of tall poppy syndrome.
This constant self-doubt and feeling like you need to watch your back; the feeling like you will never live up to expectations; it’s all draining. It erodes away at your confidence and for some people, they just stop trying or putting themselves out there.
It’s said that there are 5 key business drivers: cash, profit, assets, growth and people. If I’m honest, it comes down to one and what drives it: people. So what is the psychology behind staff and customer drivers? By they way, the psychology of marketing is now called neuromarketing.
In the previous blog, I wrote about the psychology of online business and this article is all about the psychology behind the key drivers of a business, or more importantly, the people that make it happen. Let’s lead these horses to water and have them drink.
Before we look at specific groups of people, I really recommend you look at this article on how a small change in thinking about how to motivate people to drive the action you need works & makes a huge difference. Go read it now and come back! Here’s where you learn more about driving people and understanding the psychology of it: https://www.karalambert.com/business/what-really-drives-business-success/
Psychology of staff drivers
I’ve trained many staff, I consulted with many staff, and I managed staff. The most important lesson I had was when I managed 10 staff. They were beaten and needed support and motivation. So I turned to them. I showed them how they fit within the aims of the Department and asked them what they were passionate about when it came to their work & how the Department helped Veterans. I showed them how as people, they were the most important thing to our business success – because they were.
My staff went from being unmotivated to incredibly productive, happy, having less time off, being consulted more by the business areas we serviced, and they got rid of 2 years’ backlog of work in 3 months. There was no overtime, bonuses, or extra pay. Instead, I made people the most important part of the business. My staff could see where they fit in the direction & success of the Department, they had meaningful work, we had happy ‘clients’ & we were a success.
This proved what I had read in my Masters program on happy staff being the key to having happy clients.
These areas can be as open or closed as you like. You can use them to promote or sell items or events. You control who is accepted into the group. It works like your own business fandom and is perfect for growing a ‘tribe’.
There was a time where Facebook Pages were “dead” and Facebook Groups were the best thing to grow your business. By now I hope you realise that there’s a lot more to it than building the Group and hoping people will come. An active group require active and engaging content & that requires an understanding of your customers’ psychology. Before you go too much further, scoot off and read the following article and come right back: https://www.karalambert.com/facebook/whats-facebook-group-think/
So I’ve covered off running a Facebook Group for your business, what about gaining business from other people’s Facebook Groups? Yes, it can be done and I’ve generated thousands of dollars in revenue from working other groups. Now, this should be part of any business strategy, with or without your own Group. So I encourage you to read this article I wrote on how to use psychology to game posting in other people’s Facebook Groups: https://www.karalambert.com/facebook/responding-facebook-group-post/
Customer satisfaction & psychology
So the customer satisfaction survey results are in and Management come back with the standard, “Customer Satisfaction is slipping. YOU need to get it up!” How often have you been told that you need to lift the customer satisfaction rating for your area, team, or business? Then shook your head and wondered just how to make it happen. There’s no magic wand or crystal ball for this one. It’s totally out of your control if they’re happy with you because you’re doing everything you can; special offers, follow up, personalised service. You’ve pulled out all the stops for the customer. You’re giving it all you’ve got!
Traditionally, improving customer satisfaction takes on the form of “What else can we give them?” or “What else do they need?”
What if I was to tell you that there were 2 more effective ways of improving customer satisfaction than throwing more money and things at the customer. (metaphorically speaking)
70% of Americans say that they look at reviews before they purchase and 90% of customers say that their decision was based on the reviews they read prior to purchasing. Online reviews and other forms of social proof form an important part of a business’ social media marketing. However, as we are talking about the human behaviour of making a purchase, be it online or offline shopping, then we need to consider the psychology of reviews and social proof.
Drivers in Customer avatars, client personas, USPs & use in neuromarketing
To be honest, whatever you call them, you better be including what drives your ideal client. Why? Because understanding why they do and react how they do is as (I’d say more) important than knowing their age/gender/marital status etc.
So why do the standard client avatars fail in my eyes? Here’s the thing. With a degree in psychology, I know that we are more than what we do. I understand that diagnoses and labels give us meaning and structure to our lives, it makes things easier. But labels are just that, they stick on top of a number of behaviours and/or symptoms which make up the labels.
I don’t know about you, but I’m more than the labels society puts on me. Yes, I am a mother, daughter, sister, wife, graduate, business owner; but so are many other women I know. Does that mean that we are all the same? Does that mean that all of our behaviours are the same? No!
So why do marketing experts and business owners still believe that these client profiles based on labels work? At best they are generic, but how are they used and what lies behind them?
These avatars are used to help business owners with their marketing and messaging, what is now being called neuromarketing. They exist to help with what words to use, where to focus marketing efforts; but where does this come from? The business owner’s interpretation of the labels. And this interpretation comes from their lived experience and opinions of these labels. This interpretation comes from our biases. What if they’re wrong?!
So what happens when a business does a standard client avatar exercise and finds it doesn’t work, and I have had many business owners in tears because this is the case but they were lead to believe it would work and was crucial. Their marketing efforts are misguided, they don’t make the money they feel they should, they are demotivated, and some even close their businesses believing they were a failure.
All because they relied on labels rather than what sat behind them.
One of the common things business owners say to me during training on the psychology of social media is that they have an issue with marketing to their customers’ fears. They said that they had paid for neuromarketing advice and been told to market to their ideal client’s fears. But they didn’t like it and in fact, they no longer used that advice. Sound familiar.
This is what annoys me. There is so much information out there which we throw by the wayside but believe it to be true because everyone says it. It’s like learning lemmings. (My Mum would say, if everyone jumped off a cliff would you too?) Ok, so that’s a little harsh but it seems like a big waste of money to pay for advice and not use it because you’re not comfortable with it.
I believe, and teach, that there are five key motivators of human behaviour in neuromarketing (on and offline). One of the motivators is fear. Looking into the research, fear is actually a poor motivator. If you use fear to motivate someone, they will comply and follow, they are not making a choice and they are not using their free will. It is also not the way to build trust or grow a relationship. Fear is not an incentive to take action, it’s an incentive not to. Fear is there to keep us safe.
In the end, I hope that this article (while long) has helped you to understand what drives the two main groups of people your business success depends on. If you would like more tailored advice, I am available to consult and you can book a quick chat through this page: https://www.karalambert.com/business_coaching/
Be gentle on yourself, she thought. The world has shifted access and you, my dear, are at it’s pivot.
Be kind to yourself, she thought. You might want to think you can do it all and you, my dear, can some days and others will be a struggle.
Be wise with yourself, she thought. You happily give out advice and treat those you meet with kindness and you, my dear, deserve the same.
Be true to yourself, she thought. You have spent so long coming to terms with who you are, my dear, and so now you need to be it.
This is uncertain times, she thought. You know you’ve made it through many others, my dear, you shall with this.
This is a time of change, she thought. You know that it’s the world changing, my dear, you only need to change with it and not against it.
This is a testing time, she thought. You know that you can stand the test, my dear, you have depths yet uncharted.
This is a coming of a new time, she thought. You know that it will bring new joy, my dear, you only need to look for it.
And I am asked to do so much, she thought. You know that it is not forever, my dear, it will teach as much as take from you.
And I am tired from it all, she thought. You do not have to rush, my dear, we will wait and you will make it to us.
And I am hurt by what I see, she thought. You are not alone, my dear, you do not have to hurt alone.
And I am worried for what’s to come, she thought. You are right to worry, my dear, for we are facing the unknown.
Kind people walk among us, she thought. You can be one, my dear, you just need to be kind to be one.
Kind thoughts evade us, she thought. You can start them, my dear, you just need to start with yourself.
Kind words heal us, she thought. You can say them, my dear, and sometimes the kindest thing is to listen.
Kind deeds are done between us, she thought. You can do them, my dear, you only need to smile.
I wrote this ode as I struggled to write a blog post for my business. It’s been a month since Covid-19 really took hold here in Australia. It’s been 3 weeks since I pulled my kids from physical schooling to do online learning. It all seems a lot longer.
The other day I did my grocery shopping and one of the shop assistants mentioned how she was overwhelmed. She was tired of it being all she heard of. She was tired of the uncertainty. She was tired of always being worried. She was tired. You see, I asked her how she was and her sigh told me that her “Ok” was far from actually being ok. I asked her if she was “sure” that she was ok and that’s when she told me she was overwhelmed. I’m glad I asked her and grateful I could listen.
You see, outside of my psychology degree, I spent 5 years processing worker’s compensation claims for the Australian Defence Forces. It was my job to listen to the stories the personnel told me. Over the years, I learnt to hear the subtle signs of fatigue and anguish that simmer under “ok”. I learnt that sometimes, just being heard (without fear or judgement) is all people really want and need to feel better. They didn’t need sympathy, placation, but did need to be heard. When we are heard, we know we are no longer alone.
Most of my clients understand that psychology is important to their business online but how is it important to your business every day? The following article outlines the main areas where understanding psychology will help your business, it also contains a number of links to helpful articles and resources so you can have a deeper understanding of specific tactics.
The psychology of online business
So let’s start with the one thing most people come to me with: The psychology of business online. There are three main issues I see. The first people talk to me about is engaging their audience online, the second is the fear of posting, and finally it’s FOMO or the fear of missing out.
The psychology of Engaging content
Businesses keep hearing that content is king and that they need to engage their audience. They try a number of different things, some realise that they have some success by just being themselves but wonder how they are going to repeat it AND sell.
This is where the psychology of engaging a business audience comes in. Platforms want us to produce content which is engaging and relevant. Businesses are realizing that their content may be neither of these and they have no idea what it means. They can take a best guess approach but really what do their clients’ think is engaging or relevant.
The fomo is real! People hate to be left out and when we spend time online, we see all that others are doing and when we’re not – we feel left out.
I’m writing this as Australia is in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic and I feel like every other person is adopting a kitten or a puppy. Oh how I wish I could adopt one, but I can’t. My kids see photos their friends are sharing of their new pets and they ask for one. The FOMO is real in our house.
If only selling were as easy as salesmen make it out to be. To be honest, it’s not a skill I excel at. One day.
I have found that there are three main arms to sales & they are the fear of selling (it’s hard to do something you’re afraid of), the psychology of pricing (we know that we all have a maximum price we will pay), and storytelling (because no one honestly likes a hard sales pitch)
So let’s get into it.
Fear of selling
They don’t want to seem pushy
Perhaps this is a particularly Australian issue, but I doubt it. We really don’t like tooting our own horn and telling people to do things. We’re more subtle with these CTAs and to be honest they come off as weak at best and ambiguous at worst.
Hate asking for the sale
Following on from not wanting to be pushy is not wanting to be salesy. In Australia there’s nothing more loathed than a slimey salesperson.
Fear of rejection
Many business owners say that they don’t use a call to action or ask for the sale because they’re afraid to be told, “no”. We want to be liked. We want to be helpful. We don’t like rejection.
There are four main ways to overcome these issues: JFDI, use courage, use psychology, outsource.
Back in 2016, I reviewed the research around the psychology of businesses choosing a particular price for their product or services. The most interesting discovery I had was how 9-ending prices came about and what were the psychological benefits of using 9-ending prices for business.
The psychology of 9-ending prices
We all believe that if we market our products with a 9-ending, the customers will believe it’s cheaper and will flock to buy it. Right? Well, in reality it’s more like a ‘yes & no’ or a ‘depends’.
The psychology quoted on why it works is 3 pronged:
– we read left to right and drop off the numbers on the right, being the 9
– perceived gain
– price image compared to those of a competitor
if an odd number (9 for example) followed a round number (0) then consumers believed that they were receiving a bigger discount. They also found that the perceived discount increased as the price increased. However, the effect stopped once the price reached FF 100. (This study was done in France prior to the introduction of the Euro) Similarly, Bizer & Schindler (2005) found that 9-ending prices meant that consumers estimated that they could buy more of an item than was actually possible.
if a consumer is not motivated to pay much attention to the price, then they are more likely to drop off the end numbers. So this is more likely when we really don’t have to think too much about the purchase.
when the store’s message fits with the consumer’s focus then the consumer sees it as being relevant and will remember more of the price. So, if a consumer is motivated by quality and presented with a low-price 9-ending item, they won’t remember the price as well as if they were originally looking for a cheap item.
for the drop off effect to be profitable, only 3% of items actually needed to use the principle. So to some degree it seems that businesses are actually overusing the 9-ending pricing to attract appropriately motivated clients. (Though I seriously doubt that they are properly considering the motivation of their customers)
However, Anderson & Simester offered the following practical advice:
If a product had a 9-ending price and was paired with a ‘Sale’ & a ‘New’ merchandising prompt, sales increased by 3.9%.
If a product had a 9-ending price and was paired with a ‘New’ merchandising prompt, sales increased by 8.5%.
The biggest thing to consider is how good your audience is at maths. In all instances, the easiest thing is to have your price ending in a 0 or a 5, otherwise you risk confusing and losing.
Here are some of the other key points from my larger article on odd and even pricing:
– Even priced products and services are perceived as being of higher quality than odd and that intention to purchase based on quality is set by what motivates the buyer.
– If you value and promote the quality of your offer, you are better off using an even price.
– The pricing of a bundle of items requires that the items be even priced but the total bundle price be odd.
– If setting suggested prices for a Pay What You Want promotion, you should only use whole dollar amounts and preferably prices that end in 5 or 0.
– Debts are more likely to be paid in full if they end in a 5 or a 0 and to consider this when looking to recover debts.
It’s funny when you read the two psychology of pricing articles together, how it becomes clear when 9 works and why you should or shouldn’t use it.
Storytelling in your business
Sales is no longer the straight forward “buy my shit because it’s awesome & I said so”, the vast majority of us research our purchase before they’re even made & with a whole internet full of information (and mis-information) – the last thing we need and want is hard old school ram it down your throat sales. It just isn’t working.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you would know that I like to know the deeper ‘why’ & if it can go back to something about human psychology even better. (Look you don’t study the stuff for 3 years and then spend another 5 where it’s the main focus of your day job without it being a part of your ‘why’) So it won’t come as a surprise to know that I found this article by Lou Carlozo outlining the psychology of storytelling for sales & the keys to making it work. So what are they?
Oxytocin – the love drug or one that bonds mother to baby is switched on when we read stories
Metaphors matter – the use of metaphors are important in telling stories, they’re the Vegemite to the buttery toast. (Just don’t mix your metaphors or it can get messy)
Relevance – there’s no point telling a great story if it’s not relevant to the product/service or your customer.
In February 2011, I started working from home in a side business. In April 2012, I quit my day job and made working from home, for myself, a fulltime gig. Over that time I’ve learnt some hard lessons, made mistakes, and I’ve grown a lot. So I thought it was time I shared with you some of the key lessons I’ve learnt from my time as a sole trader who works from home.
Get the right support
In the beginning there were a lot of long hours working from home. My husband tried very hard to be supportive but having only briefly run his own business about 15 years earlier, he really didn’t understand the current environment. In the end, we both got very frustrated. It was then I felt incredibly alone and started to look for support.
You need the right support.
I honestly don’t mean business coaching, though this is what I did eventually need. What I really needed was someone who truly understood what it was like to work from home. Hubby has a regular office job. With regular office job distractions.
When you work from home, suddenly people think that you are available for a chat. Suddenly the housework seems more appealing than the “work” work. You can get sick of seeing the same four walls. The silence becomes deafening. And while I will go through some of the strategies I use to stay on track and get stuff done, nothing is quite like having someone who just ‘gets it’.
If you’re part of a remote team, there are a number of different tools you can use to stay in touch. Slack, Whats App, Facebook Messenger, and Zoom are all great ways to keep in touch.
Join a networking group, be it virtual or live, to make sure you get out and socialize. We humans are social beings. There are some great groups out there that are industry specific.
Having someone to call upon when things get too much, when you need to talk to someone, when you’re feeling alone. Reach out to someone you know and trust. Who gets what it’s like to work remotely, I did that for a while in my office job. Someone who will be there to just listen to you when it’s all a bit too much.
Time management when working from home
Remember that housework I mentioned earlier? Yeah, I’m a sucker for doing a load of laundry, the grocery shopping, or unpacking the dishwasher. Not! I am when there are other things I’m meant to be doing but don’t particularly want to do. Especially when the list is long, and getting longer. There’s nothing more disheartening when that list you’ve been working so hard on is getting longer.
I have to be honest, I did procrastinate a lot when I felt overwhelmed by a growing task list. It seemed like a useless folly to try and work my way through. Then I realized that something had to change. Two things did.
How you think about time
The first thing I changed was how I thought about time. When it comes to tackling a never ending to-do list and there never seems to be enough time, I had to work out how to get more time out of my day. First, I worked later and later. I just ended up burnt out with migraines and missing out on time with my family. Something had to change.
I remembered that there are instances where time seems to stand still and others it races by. I had to make it stand still more often. When I thought about it, when I believed that there wasn’t enough time – there wasn’t. When I believed I had all the time in the world – there was. And now, if I feel rushed or like I am going to be late, I remind myself that I have all the time in the world and I’m always on time and have enough time. You can read more here.
Organise your time
Having one long to do list and looking at it through the day made me anxious. It was overwhelming looking at this long laundry list of things I had to make happen. So I changed.
I tried having a number of notebooks for different tasks. I felt like I was juggling things and then tasks fell through the cracks and were missed. Not on!
I ended up setting up a bullet journal with my core business mission, strategies, client avatar and all the other items I need to steer my work. Then I have a set of calendar views; 12-month, monthly, and weekly. These allow me to have various levels of oversight into what I’m doing and when.
For those of you who have to produce social media content, I set up a 12-month content plan which ties monthly activities and promotions to content.
Then, I have my Google Calendar & my phone. These are the ones that are time-sensitive, like appointments. Sadly a hardbacked diary will only ensure that I’m on time if someone throws it at me at intervals and tells me when it’s due.
Getting structured with my time has meant that I can be flexible with how I spend it but also allows me to account for it. Just like my money!
When I’m working from home, I fall into the trap of getting in the zone and working continuously without taking a break. Don’t get me wrong, I just love it when it all flows but to be honest, it’s not always healthy.
I try to make sure that I at least eat my lunch outside, preferably in the sun. Stepping away from the desk is healthy for our minds and body and sunshine helps us stay healthy.
I also have a drink bottle which is under 1L. This is a cunning move to make sure I get up and walk to refill it. It’s all too easy to sit still for ages and drink, but I can find the motivation to get up and move harder. A smaller drink bottle helps.
Rewards when working from home
Congratulations, you met a milestone. How are you planning on celebrating it? Or did you not even consider that? Employees still need rewards and recognition for hard work, regardless if they are inhouse or remote. Targets are targets regardless of where staff are.
Self-employed? Well, I hope you set milestones and rewards already. You should! You’re just as deserving.
Have a think and a chat with your team to see how you can work it into the corporate structure.
I want to remind you that rewards don’t have to be big or costly. It can be grabbing a coffee for getting that difficult email written. It can be putting aside some of your pay for a massage.
It took me a long time to do this. I didn’t think that I could. Then I realized that the biggest thing I valued was time alone, ironic huh! My favourite reward isn’t a massage or pedicure, even though they are 2 of my rewards, it’s actually a day off. I value time alone where I don’t have to work. I enjoy the solitude. It needs to be a priority though. Don’t let your rewards slip.
Set reasonable expectations
There’s a saying that goes, “we overestimate what we can do in a year and underestimate what we can do in a decade”. Part of what had me working until all hours was unrealistic expectations. I had set them on myself and then allowed my clients to control them with the deadlines I said were reasonable. Sure there is no travel time and often fewer distractions, meaning that we can be more productive. But that doesn’t make the expectations realistic just because you’re at home. You still have conflicting priorities and urgent deadlines.
Go easy on yourself. Some people will think that being at home is easy and if you’re like me you won’t want to let them down and will work harder. Go easy on yourself. You don’t always have to prove that you can work better than someone inhouse just because you’re at home. If you, for some reasons, don’t meet the expectations. Realise that you too are allowed to get the amount of time it would have taken wrong as much as someone inhouse.
Also realise that those people who drop in, call, or chat are taking up your time and you also have to set boundaries and expectations for them around your time when you are working from home. Just because you’re home, doesn’t mean you are available.
Working from home has given me incredible flexibility. I first did it when I was studying my Masters, working fulltime, and set up my first business. Yes, I could do that load of washing. Yes, I could pick the kids up from school or attend their functions. Yes, I had to be more mindful of my time. Yes, I got more work done than I would have if I were in the office. I suppose what I want to let you know is that the ability to work from home is a privilege which comes with responsibilities but the rewards are amazing.
I realized that I may not have explained to you why I believe people are important to business & business success. It seems so logical to me, but luckily for you, you’re not inside my head and I realise I need to tell you why the people in your business are my focus.
Where I first learnt how people are important to business success
I first became interested in Psychology when I did a high school project on Vincent van Gogh in Art. It was before Psychology was even a high school subject here in South Australia and I was intrigued by how people with Mental Illness were treated (medically & socially).
I did my degree in Psychology at the Flinders University of South Australia and then went on to do a Graduate Diploma of Management in Human Resources from Central Queensland University. My passions in psychology were social and organizational psychology – why we acted certain ways in groups and the psychology of work and the workplace.
I even started a Masters in Public Sector Management. One paper I wrote was about Public Sector Principles & in my readings I found evidence to show that happy staff meant happy clients.
My studies really showed me how people are important to business.
How I applied what I learnt
After my studies, I started as a graduate for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (you can see the full list of what I got up to on my LinkedIn profile). My first job was to redesign & rebuild their website, typical “You’re young and know how this stuff works” and so with the Webmaster we rebuilt the site. The thing about Veterans’ Affairs is its focus on the veteran and veteran community, they are at the centre of their activities. So my work started putting people at the centre of online business.
I went on to work on helping to build a secure communications portal for the veteran community, it was 2002 after all. I was tasked, amongst other things, with writing the Instruction Manual. Can you imagine writing a manual for your grandparents or older parents on how to use the Internet? Yep, that was my job. I had to put the person at the centre of the work so that project would succeed.
All through my 12 years in the Department, I was responsible for various parts on the Intranet. I worked on the consultancy team that business units could call on for advice. I also built and maintained parts of the Intranet for various business units. The Intranet was used by staff for information, it was built to meet their needs and so the staff (people) had to be at the centre of the business when it came to the Intranet.
What about staff?
I trained many staff, I consulted with many staff, and I managed staff. The most important lesson I had was when I managed 10 staff. They were beaten and needed support and motivation. So I turned to them. I showed them how they fit within the aims of the Department and asked them what they were passionate about when it came to their work & how the Department helped Veterans. I showed them how as people, they were the most important thing to our business success – because they were.
My staff went from being unmotivated to incredibly productive, happy, having less time off, being consulted more by the business areas we serviced, and they got rid of 2 years’ backlog of work in 3 months. There was no overtime, bonuses, or extra pay. Instead, I made people the most important part of the business. My staff could see where they fit in the direction & success of the Department, they had meaningful work, we had happy ‘clients’ & we were a success.
This proved what I had read in my Masters program on happy staff being the key to having happy clients.
What about on social media?
When I started my first Facebook-based business in 2011, I was creating school hair accessories to meet a personal need. I had clients asking for specific colours, then I had parents asking for specific styles, then I had parents asking to meet specific developmental needs. Meeting the needs of the people using my services kept my business running.
I took this approach to the content I was putting out. What other problems did they have when it came to school, particularly with hair accessories? Hairstyles, head lice, wear & tear. This is what I gave them. I gave them information around their needs and they loved it. My business Facebook page exploded, reach extended, posts went viral. This was all before Facebook Ads! I learnt that people, even on social media, were important to my business success online. I also learnt that it was the key to having engaging social media.
What I’ve realized as a business coach and consultant
Sadly, technology seems to have become more important than people. We’ve forgotten that people drive social media. It’s a person who clicks on a link, likes a post, shares an image, or comments; not an algorithm. People are the ones who make the decision to buy things and to actually purchase them.
We are more interested in a quick win and an easy trick than building long-lasting and profitable business relationships with our customers. A quick win and quick sale runs the risk of reducing customers from the people they are to widgets. The thing is that people need relationships to build trust and we buy from people that we “know like and trust”.
In the end, people are the most important in our business success, without our staff or our clients we’re all alone.
So this isn’t your first rodeo. You’ve either been in business for a while, it’s not your first crack at running your own business, or you’ve spent time working/running a business for someone else and it’s time to make the break and go it alone. To be honest, I feel like I fit across all three. But there’s one thing that keeps you going and that’s the belief that your business will succeed.
If you’d read my article on having a clear direction in your business, you might have sensed that the thing which kept me going was a belief that this would work. Because I honestly do and I know that what I do has a profound impact on my clients. I’m sure you feel the same way about your business.
Business goals vs wanting to believe your business will succeed
Work outside of your belief structure and you feel like a fraud, fake, or phony. You’ll be gripped by dissonance, which has you feeling uncomfortable in your actions and doubting your moves.
On the flip side, if you behave in alignment with your beliefs you will be happy, calm, and you will achieve some incredible things. I often achieve more than I expect purely because I’m behaving in alignment with my belief structure.
So rather than the goal of having a successful business, your ability to believe your business will succeed is actually more important. Goals are great, but psychologists know that they are all poor drivers of behaviour (just look at how often New Year’s resolutions fail). However, our belief structure is at the core of driving our behaviour. So believe it can be done and it will.
Believing that your business will succeed when business is failing
When times are tough we often turn the spotlight in on ourselves. We chastise ourselves on the things we could have done differently. We rehash the mistakes we made. We generally get down on ourselves.
I have to be honest, when things go pear-shaped in my business, goals don’t help.
In fact, when I feel like a business failure, my goals are the first to go. They certainly don’t motivate me because it was my goals that I failed to achieve.
In the darkest of times, I’ve had to look very strategically at my business, and I don’t mean income and expenses or most profitable product. I mean where and how my business operates strategically. What is the why (some might call it a mission statement) of my business?
How believing your business will succeed works
When my business has been failing, reconnecting to the core belief of my business (putting the person we need to take action at the hub of our actions) has been key and triggers these steps:
– This reconnection and reaffirming of my why then leads me to look at why my clients come to me.
– From here I can look at my offerings and how I am meeting my client needs
– Then I can add or pivot to meet their needs
– Finally, I again believe that my business will succeed
I’ve been through this process a number of times. Each time I’ve uncovered more about the audience I want to serve, but most importantly I’ve uncovered more about myself & particularly the story I tell myself about success (or failure).
It’s incredibly motivating, knowing more about my audience. It’s also empowering & healing by rewriting the story I tell myself about success/failure. Both of these changes prop me up a little more and prevent me from slipping backwards. It means that I grow in more ways than just achieving a goal would.
A little secret
I always knew that what I had to offer had merit. I always believed that people needed what I have to offer. I always believed that I had a uniqueness. I didn’t always want the success. In fact, I feared it. I feared what it would do to me & my family life.
It wasn’t until I got ok with being me, that the fear of success disappeared. It wasn’t until I addressed the crappy stories I told myself about success in general and my success in particular that I was able to stand and act firmly from my beliefs.