What’s the Return on You? Seven Services with No Price Tag

What’s the Return on You? For professional service providers, it’s imperative to speak the language of numbers to the accountants and business managers that run corporations. Many CFOs question the value of public relations, the power of a brand name, or the role of reputation management. They want to know one thing: Return on Investment.

Wired for hard costs—building and energy bills, employee health insurance, computer fees—investments in soft skills and sustaining customer relationships are difficult for them to quantify. It’s even more challenging when we add social media into the service mix. Tweeting and blogging as marketing? That’s why in every client pitch, we prepare for the CFOs in the room. As we passionately show our creative skills and share our success stories, we are careful to include real costs and deliverables.

As a business owner and the payer of our firm’s fixed costs, I understand that language. Our team knows that “Every day we wake up unemployed.” Giving 110% to every project and every client reminds us that in addition to a client expecting significant Return on Investment, they deserve significant R.O.Y.—Return on You.

Just what do we sell and what do we freely give?

Here are seven services that have no price tag, but help create long-term client relationships and significant R.O.Y.

1. Loyalty and protection.

In the 1954 TV series Lassie, a collie dog plays with and guards young Timmy night and day. His loyalty is palpable. Lassie barks when he senses impending trouble, protects Timmy from harm, and intuitively runs for help when needed. A loyal PR firm protects its clients’ trade secrets and seeks their best interests in every interaction.

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Stop paddling once in a while, and look around you.

Yesterday, I went kayaking on Green Lake. It is Wisconsin’s deepest lake at 237 feet deep, and it is wide and windy. Paddle anywhere near an open bay, and you need the upper body strength of the Hulk to keep going. So I clung pretty close to sheltered shoreline. But, what I was thinking about was mostly this lesson I have decided is the most important thing I need to bring home from vacation.

In paddling, and in life, it is not actually necessary to paddle furiously the entire time, as is my tendency and I suspect most of yours.

It is actually OK to stop paddling, float for a while, and just look around you, savoring exactly where you are at this moment, rather than the next point at which you are trying to arrive.

If the swells are up and the wind is high, you might start getting pushed too close to a place you don’t want to be. So, you’ll need to redirect yourself from time to time.

And then, when you’re ready, you can start paddling furiously again, with renewed strength and focus.

This morning, I sat on the bench in this photo with my latte and gazed directly across the lake, at the point where my lovely childhood memories live (see previous post). And while I may or may not have shed a couple of tears thinking about how my past compares to my overall present non-vacation state of being, it’s a healthy thing to have one eye on the past, if it helps you redirect your future.

I had to overcome a lot of pressure to come back from vacation yesterday, to attend a meeting today that was planned long after this vacation was planned. And as important as my work is to me, it will never, ever be more important than this time to break away with my family to just enjoy the beauty of the moment and reflect on how we want our future to be.

What do you think? Are you capable of stopping the frantic paddling, to just float on the waves for a while? The last time you did so, what was the result?

Susan Spaight

Ford CEO: 14 Lessons in Leadership & Marketing

Alan Mulally

“We are fighting for the soul of manufacturing. There is no reason we can’t compete with the best in the world.” Ford Motor Company CEO, Alan Mulally

With these words, Alan Mulally, dubbed “Ford’s Comeback Kid” by Fortune magazine, summed up his passion for success and his confidence in the resiliency of American ingenuity even in the worst of economic times.

Alan spoke these words during a charitable dinner, on February 5, 2010, in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The dinner was sponsored by a local Ford dealership, L.B. Smith, to benefit “The Second Mile,” a charity that offers a variety of services for at-risk children. About five-hundred people attended the event.

I had the privilege of attending the evening as a guest of the event organizer, fireball Anne D. Gallaher, a dear friend and business colleague, in the company of the great connector, Amy Howell, another dear friend and business colleague – a story of Twitter friends networking in real life, a story deserving of its own blog post at a later time!

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Building Personal Brand Within the Social Media Landscape

Web 2.0 Expo NY: Gary Vaynerchuk (Wine Library), Building Personal Brand Within the Social Media Landscape

Still as valid now, if not more so, than when presented in September 2008!

Stop doing things you hate – you can lose just as much money being happy as hell.
Do something. Care about everything. Give a shit.
Have a business model. Make some cash along the way.
Legacy is better then currency. Make your grand children happy.
If you make good stuff people will follow.
You must believe in what you are doing. 100%.
We can only play once. One life.
Brand equity. Build it in yourself.
Believe. Work hard. Know what you are doing.
If you love it you will win.
Be completely transparent. You’re legacy is your life.
Stop thinking about tools. Use all of them. Connect where you can.
Be authentic. Do what you’re about.
How do you get money for what you love? You don’t. You position yourself to make money. Find the time. Work!