How to Use Silence to Strengthen Your Leadership Presence

Handsome confident young bearded man in a denim shirt shows a finger more quietly on a gray background.

Jack Reacher is a fictional character in a series of crime thriller novels by British author Lee Child.

In the 1997 novel Killing Floor, Reacher randomly exits a Greyhound bus in Georgia and is later arrested in a local diner for a murder he did not commit. While questioned in custody, Reacher wields the power of silence to maintain his personal advantage:

“Long experience had taught me that absolute silence is the best way. Say something, and it can be misheard. Misunderstood. Misinterpreted. It can get you convicted. It can get you killed. Silence upsets the arresting officer. He has to tell you silence is your right but he hates it if you exercise that right. I was being arrested for murder. But I said nothing.”

Communicate Authority with Silence

Silence holds immense power, especially in situations that involve negotiation.

As inventor and artist Leonardo da Vinci said, “Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.” Dynamic leaders often use silence to their benefit. When handled with intention and purpose, silence is what some leaders call “a communication superpower.”

Do you tend to interrupt, dominate conversations, or explain your perspective from multiple angles in order to sway opinion? If silence is an overlooked resource in your communication toolkit, you might need to change strategies.

Silence can increase your authority and grow your influence in at least four powerful ways.

Silence Builds Trust

According to best-selling author Bryant H. McGill, “one of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”

If you want to develop effective relationships, you must build trust. And trust begins with listening. Unfortunately, most people don’t listen with the intent to hear, they listen with the intent to reply. When people realize you are truly listening to them, they are much more likely to buy into your ideas.

Silence Can Emphasize Your Point

When you have something important to say, state it briefly and allow a long pause for your words to sink in.

Communication is more than the words we speak, it involves the energy we transmit. When you give room for a lengthy pause, you show people you aren’t scrambling to convince them. And as your words fully land with others, you don’t need to talk as much because silence creates room for people to understand and connect to what you are saying.

Silence Communicates Credibility

Have you ever sat through a meeting where several people squabbled while one person stayed silent?

Eventually, everyone felt tension and curiosity about what the quiet party was thinking. When a silent observer finally interjects an opinion, it speaks louder than the clamor and carries a more memorable quality. “She is so wise,” people think, because sometimes there is a credibility that can only be communicated through silence.

Also, it never hurts to take a lengthy period of time to think before commenting. Abraham Lincoln has been credited with this quote: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”

Silence Increases Negotiating Power

A primary negotiation tactic involves asking a question and letting the other person answer first.

Silence when negotiating can give you the advantage because its “deafening” weight can prompt others to speak first. For example, when the other party offers a salary figure or point of compromise, don’t answer immediately. Instead, pause and let the discomfort of silence flush out a bit more detail. Maybe they will offer more or show their own hand.

Leaders know how to use silence as a tactic to communicate authority and influence. Experiment with silence during your conversations and observe the impact it can make. Call us at 410-574-0780.

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7 Banner Options to Raise Your Bottom Line

Easter banners with ornate eggs

As a small business owner, you need ways to grab attention and look your best, and business signage is your foremost advertising tool.

For high-traffic areas custom printed vinyl banners are an excellent investment. In terms of cost, a vinyl banner is one of the most inexpensive, most high-impact marketing tools.

Vinyl banners are also versatile, great for large exteriors, point-of-sale kiosks, welcome centers, or interior displays.

Studies show that good signage directly boosts a business’ profits. Pole banners can add up to 15.6% to your bottom line and larger storefront signage may boost sales by up to 7.7%.

Banner Inspiration

Need some inspiration to get your creative juices flowing? Here are several types of banners that can give you a killer first impression.

Ceiling Banners

Get your customers looking up by taking advantage of your unused ceiling space!

Use ceiling banners for event signage, special events, product features, or welcome messages. Suspended banners or circular hanging signs are eye-catching, easy to install, and extremely impressive.

Personalized Retractable Banners

Great for special events or pop-up displays, roll-up retractable banners include accompanying stand and carrying case for mobility.

Economical retractable banners are sleek, lightweight, and easy to transport.

Seasonal Business Banners

A fresh look conveys momentum and energy.

Print seasonal business banners to spice up any seasonal promotion, window display, or an exterior signpost.

Feather Flags

Want to get the job done with a contemporary edge?

Feather or teardrop flags are especially effective when you have limited space or want to enhance your exterior advertising.

The average storefront sign is seen 50-60 times per month by anyone living within five miles of your location. This could be responsible for as much as 85% of your monthly walk-in sales!

For street and sidewalk advertising, festivals, trade shows, and more, feather flags or waving swooper flags will catch attention and make your message shine.

Text or Graphic Only Banners

Sometimes, the simplest designs are the most effective, especially when you want to send a straightforward message that can be understood at a glance.

Try monochromatic backgrounds, all caps letters, or sharp contrasts between the images and elements in your banner.

Welcome Banners

Whether it’s a grand opening, a sidewalk greeting, or a hallway banner, welcome banners are an appealing option to add a professional, hospitable touch.

Bright colors and branded designs are ideal for putting your best foot forward.

Sale Banners

When surveyed, 50% of in-store shoppers named “on-premise signage” as the reason for their visit or purchase.

People are always hunting for a deal, so shout it loud with banners that can’t be overlooked.

Want to stretch your budget? Print generic banners (think “20% Off,” “Free Shipping,” “Featured Item,” or “New Collection Clearance”) so you can use them repeatedly.

Banners can attract attention, create brand association, and set the tone for your business. Capitalize on this simple marketing tool and accelerate your sales today!

 

Increase Conversions with Great Closing Techniques

baseball player taking a swing with cloud background

The most expensive deal in baseball history was finalized this February in a casino.

The Phillies pursued outfielder Bryce Harper for months, introducing him to some of Philadelphia’s finest, sweet talking him in the high-backed gold leather booths of the ARIA resort in Las Vegas, and ultimately offering him the most expensive deal in baseball history ($330 million over 13 years).

At age 26, Harper signed the longest contract in baseball history. In a casino that radiates the fragrance of mid-century Hollywood, the showmanship of the atmosphere embodied the glamour of the agreement. It was an epic conversion.

Just Sign on the Dotted Line

Sale-closing conversations can be nerve-wracking and nuanced.

No matter how impressed people seem during your presentation, there’s no telling whether they will postpone or look elsewhere. After wooing your customer, it’s time to take the plunge and ask for a commitment.

Here are a few keys to make this step easier.

Identify the Decision Maker

To close a deal, be sure you’re actually talking to the person in the driver’s seat.

In some cases, supervisors send scouts in to assess the options, but they do not have decision-making authority. In this case, be sure to customize your pitch to the decision maker or do whatever you can to arrange a meeting or phone call with this individual.

Offer a Solution

Sales can seem pushy if they center around your product or package.

When working with a prospect, do your best to provide a holistic solution that meets their business needs. If a consulting relationship would be better than a particular product, consider how you can flex options or offer a better fit.

Solutions-focused conversations include re-stating customer concerns, asking clarifying questions, overcoming stated objections, or possibly returning later with more information.

Be genuine and assure clients that you care about their business (and not just the sale).

Attach a Deadline

No decision is, in itself, a decision.

It’s human nature to shy away from commitment, and your job is to help people overcome this inertia. Offer incentives to commit: a discount, a free add-on, or a trial subscription to start.

Incentives give your prospects a reason to make the decision NOW, giving them confidence that they have the upper hand in negotiation.

Ask for Next Steps

After any customer call or completed action item, ask your prospect how they would like to proceed.

If they are uncertain, make suggestions or ask pointed, closing questions.

Here are some options to get you started:

  • Why don’t you give us a try?
  • Ready to move forward?
  • Why don’t I send over the proposal now?
  • It seems like this is a good fit for your company. What do you think?
  • If we throw in ____, will you sign the contract today?
  • If we could find a way to deal with _____, would you sign the contract by ________?
  • You’re interested in X and Y options, right? If we get started today, you’ll be up and running by ___.
  • Unless you have any other questions, I think we’re ready to move forward!
  • When should we begin your _________?
  • What are your next steps?
  • Why don’t I leave you with ____ and follow up ______?

Being a courageous, tactful closer is one of the most important techniques you can master.

Use incentives, closing questions, and solutions-based options to move your prospects to action. Superior networking tools will only strengthen your ask, so visit with us today about printed pieces that can help you seal the deal!

3 Simple Resets to Squash Stress at Work

Businesswoman Relax from work. At the office

32-year-old Amy Alabaster had recently been named VP in her company as a successful New York sales executive.

She had friends, a wonderful marriage, and many professional accomplishments. But one day, the weight of her responsibilities came roaring in as she awoke on a bench outside a West Village restaurant.

Alabaster later learned that she had fainted on a flight of stairs and her blood pressure was so low EMTs could hardly move her. Though she considered herself happy and healthy, doctors uncovered her problem with one simple question: “Would you say that you deal with a lot of stress?” Amy said this unraveled the real issue:

“I had never been asked this question before. Like so many other companies, mine had downsized after the economic pitfalls of 2008 and I had absorbed many responsibilities after the layoffs. I thought incessantly about work. I talked about it all the time. I couldn’t turn off, ever. I checked emails and my blackberry constantly. I even dreamed about work, sometimes confusing what was real and what had manifested in my slumber. The last vacation I had taken was stressful because I was so uncomfortable with what could be happening without my oversight and control . . . My doctor said that almost every health-related issue could inevitably be drawn back to stress.”

How to Self-Regulate When Your Tank is Low

What about you?

Does your job cause low-grade stress that never quits? While many people enjoy their jobs, all of us can benefit from a daily internal inventory. When you are running on empty, medical experts offer several tips to self-regulate.

Reset Yourself Internally

Intermittently, close your eyes, lean back, and take three full, deep breaths.

When you feel stressed, force yourself to speak more slowly. This will clear your thoughts and allow you to act more reasonably in challenging situations. When you find something upsetting you, make a tangible choice to let it go. Refuse to show emotion and quickly unclench your teeth (or fists!) and move on. Effective anger management is a tried and true stress reducer!

Reset Yourself Physically

When we get busy, we forget ourselves.

Make it a priority to drink plenty of water, to move around, or to eat small snacks during the day. Take short walks outside or do a few jumping jacks or stairs. Continually adjust your posture to avoid muscle tension or a slumped emotional state. Try these exercises:

  • Shoulder Rolls. With arms hanging freely, breathe deeply and exaggerate rolling both shoulders forward then backward 10 times.
  • Chin Tucks: Place one hand on your chin and the other behind your head, gently pushing your chin toward your Adam’s apple for 10 seconds to relieve tension at the base of your skull.
  • Pectoralis Stretches: Clasp hands behind your back and lift up as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold ten seconds and repeat three times. This is especially effective for those hunched over a keyboard.

Reward Yourself Regularly

Plan something enjoyable for the end of the day and build key relationships or hobbies into your routine.

Leave a few chores undone and care for yourself! This will refresh your body and sharpen your mind for creative solutions tomorrow. Alabaster says she now prioritizes eight hours of sleep each night, locks her phone in the safe during vacation, and she finds small ways to increase joy each week:

“Professional achievements still mean a lot to me. Success, however, is in the process of being re-defined. Prioritizing my well-being is the lesson I’ll be learning for the rest of my life. After all, what is success worth if we’re not fully present to enjoy it?”

Small Business Twitter Tips for 2019

Follow me

If you’re a small business owner, you know time is limited.

Usually, your task list far outweighs your capacity for meeting your goals. When identifying social media objectives, you have to be clear on the what, why, and where you will engage.

How Can Twitter be a Valuable Resource for You?

Stats show that Twitter is still an effective way to connect with a broad range of customers.

Forty-seven percent of people who follow a brand on Twitter are more likely to visit that company’s website, and 75% of companies with an online presence are now using Twitter for marketing. Twitter’s own study found that Twitter users, compared to the general online population, were more likely to discover or try new things and were more receptive of change. Twitter can help you reach broader audiences and engage with a generation that values interaction and experience.

As you evaluate your Twitter marketing in 2019, be clear about your goals. Do you want to increase brand awareness? Offer customer support or increase online sales? Also, evaluate what kind of Twitter voice you want to have. Some Twitter accounts exist to respond to customer complaints while others seek a playful or promotional tone. Find a persona and stick with it to build trust and continuity with readers.

Twitter Metrics That Matter

Next, take a peek at these performance metrics as you consider how to engage:

Post Native Media

Twitter favors posts that are uploaded to its own platform more than sharing from another platform, so it’s always better to upload something directly.

Uploaded photos and videos will receive a larger preview treatment than external links.

Use Video Frequently

Video Tweets are six times more likely to be Retweeted than photos and three times more likely to be Retweeted than GIFs.

Studies found that regardless of length, in-feed video ads were effective in introducing products, creating buzz, or communicating a brand message.

Get Eyes on You

Want people to Tweet more about your brand or product?

Add a branded generic business hashtag to your bio and share it in all your print and digital marketing. Pin upcoming events to the top of your page, tag other businesses or customers when you post, or consider giving people discounts when they make a reservation or win a special trivia challenge through your feed.

Play With Words

Part of Twitter’s appeal is that it’s short and sweet.

Marketing hashtags are a punchy way to launch a campaign or to connect all other Tweets about your company or product (classics include #TweetFromTheSeat by Charmin or the #WantAnR8” driving surprise days by Audi).

Hashtags give your Tweets context and give conversations longevity and momentum. Hashtags aren’t case sensitive, but adding capital letters can make them easier to read, like “GoForGold” versus “goforgold.” Short, distinct hashtags are more likely to get used. During recruitment season, colleges on Twitter may use the hashtag “#NSD2019” instead of this, “#NationalSigningDay2019.”

Refresh and Repeat

Many users are on Twitter for quick bursts of time so even daily posts can be missed.

Don’t be afraid to resource your material and Retweet the same material several times. You can change photos, captions, or the featured media but attach the same content several times over the course of your marketing schedule.

As you grow on Twitter, be sure to listen! Twitter offers a great platform to hear what customers are saying, to keep a pulse on industry opinion, or to network with other businesses. Some of these people may end up being your most valued customers or your next project partner!

Four Design Keys Every Novice Can Master

Young creative people working together in office

Ever feel stuck in a rut when it comes to your print or graphics capabilities? “It’s impossible,” you say. “I just don’t have an eye for design.”

There’s hope for even you!

In today’s generation, incredible graphics, fonts, and digital capabilities are literally at our fingertips. And while design may not come naturally to you, everyone can make their projects look better. Whether you’re creating newsletters, small advertisements, or presentations, here are four concepts that are fundamental to every well-designed print project.

1) Proximity

The main purpose of proximity is to organize.

When you begin your layout, remember that items relating to each other should be grouped close together. This reduces clutter and gives your reader a clear sense of structure.

When you’re thinking about proximity, organize your elements as groupings that form one visual unit rather than scattering around several separate pieces. Physical closeness implies a relationship, so items not related to each other should be spaced apart, while elements you want to connect should be grouped.

Don’t be afraid of white space! Sprawling elements throughout a page to avoid white space will make a piece more visually challenging for your viewer to comprehend.

What to Avoid: Too many separate elements on a page, grouping unrelated items in proximity, sticking things in the corners or the middle to avoid empty space.

2) Contrast

Contrast is one of the best ways to add visual interest in your page.

Contrast excites the atmosphere, draws the eye, and clarifies communication. Contrast is nothing if not bold, so one goal of contrast is to avoid elements on the page that are merely similar. If fonts, colors, or outline borders are not the same, then make them extremely different: white on black, 24-point font above 12-point font, or neon shapes near pastel text boxes.

What to Avoid: Being wimpy, using similar typefaces, highlighting a non-focal element, creating unnecessary chaos on a page.

3) Alignment

Alignment unifies a page and creates flow and personality.

Nothing should be placed on your page haphazardly. Every element you use should connect with other elements to create a clean, sophisticated look.  When items are aligned, the result is a stronger cohesive unit. Be conscious of where you place elements and align pieces in a page even when the two objects are physically far apart (like a top headline with the bottom footnote).

What to Avoid: Using multiple alignment styles (i.e. some center, others left) on one page or always defaulting to centered alignment.

4) Repetition

Repeating visual elements of design throughout a piece will bring consistency and strengthen the unity of your projects.

Repetition can be used with colors, fonts, bullets, graphics, borders, subheadings elements, or anything a reader will visually recognize. Repetition is a conscious effort to unify all parts of a design: elements repeating through various pages, colors displaying patterns, drop caps in lead paragraphs or sidebars in successive layouts.

What to Avoid: Making repetitive elements too subtle or infrequent, being haphazard rather than intentional, or repeating an element so often it breaks the flow or the document as a whole.

While design may not come naturally to you, everyone has room to grow. By using these four principles, your work will look more professional, unified, and interesting. And you will have more fun creating!

How to Survive the Off-Season Sales Slow-Down

Slow money transfer.

Vancouver’s Whistler resort, owned by Vail Resorts, is currently the most-visited ski venue in North America.

But as one of Vail’s 19 prestigious resorts, Whistler still deals with the reality of seasonal slumps. Part of Whistler’s off-season strategy includes summer activities like carnival games, ziplining, and bear-viewing.

Vail has recently taken a more aggressive ticketing strategy as CEO Rob Katz made the $899 “Epic Ski Pass” the centerpiece of its pricing structure. This upscale pass provides visitors unlimited skiing at Vail’s 19 resorts and partial access to dozens of resorts worldwide.

The effect has been substantial, with 2018 revenues rising 41.5% in just one quarter! With the Epic Ski Pass, Vail also removed discounts for skiers paying in advance on one- and three-day passes, instead limiting these discounts to early-season purchasing. While this has drawn criticism, county councilman Steve Anderson praised Katz’s bold move in incentivizing off-peak sales:

“For a company that runs a ski hill, that makes good sense because they get a lot of cash coming in when they are not in peak operating season, and as you get closer to the lifts opening, these bargains start to disappear,” Anderson told Business in Vancouver.

Strategic Sales Cycles

Every business has its slumps, and accounting for slow days is critical.

As you prepare your yearly budget, consider peaks and valleys in revenue and be creative in planning sales or service bundling options.

Resourceful entrepreneurs say it is helpful to break sales cycles into six seasons:

January-February

Post-holiday lulls may bring purchasing drop-offs, so smart businesses work to craft sales around health-related themes, branding or re-order opportunities, February holidays, bedding/linens/cozy comfort items, or electronic upgrades.

March-May

Spring is a time for renewing, cleaning out, or vacation planning.

Incorporate “think spring” themes like outdoor activities, Easter or gardening, trimming or tidying, tax-time incentives, or “going green” options. By April, finalize your summer sales campaigns and prepare to roll out hot new products or services.

Early June to July

Enjoy that summer freedom with longer days and lazy schedules.

People are spending plenty of time outside, so build your messages around recreation, refreshment, family, and everything that’s free and easy. Think weddings, outdoor gatherings, or strategic fall planning as you connect with your clients and plan your next move.

Mid-July to Early September

As vacations become memories, think ahead on school prep, fashion, fall landscaping, and new routines.

At this time, people are ready to stock up, plan ahead, or solidify year-end business goals. Also, a relatively new phenomenon is changing the second half of summer: Amazon Prime Day (mid-July).

As people take advantage of Amazon’s sales and free shipping that day, many online and e-commerce retailers also offer Back to School specials on this day. Even merchants who aren’t on Amazon tend to see a bump on Amazon Prime Day, so consider how you can grab this momentum and turn it your way!

Late September-October

Now those new rhythms are established, and the holidays are just ahead.

This season sees people finalizing home repairs or DIY projects, locking down system upgrades at work, and making major contacts before the holidays arrive. Find your client’s problems and find creative ways to help, because everyone likes a strong start to the fall season!

November-December

In this season retail sales explode and businesses plan for changes in the new year.

Whether this is your slow season or total survival mode, these months can make or break a business. Review data from previous years, tighten up shipping, or set aggressive agendas for the new year. Woo customers through holiday sales, Christmas greetings, or other incentives.

No matter when your slump hits, remember to push hard during the busy months and be strategic in the off-season. Set aside cash for slow months, plan for busy seasons in advance, and keep evolving in your skills. Your best years are still ahead!