Everyone Loves a Good Case Study

Author: Mic Johnson, talking about the power of a well-written case study. 

One style of writing most people like to read is a well-written case study. Ironically, I’ve been blogging for the better part of the last eight years and I haven’t written many case studies myself.

Leave it to my wife Missy to “one up” me and write one for her business, MJMeetings. While I’m her “blog coach”, she came up with the idea all on her own and wrote a very effective piece. I’ve included her case study below. Here are a few things I really liked about it:

  1. Formatting

    I loved the simple layout of the post:

    -Challenge/Opportunity
    -Response/Solution
    -Outcome/Results
    -Observations from the Client

    It makes it very easy for the reader to know exactly what they’re in for.

  2. It Educates People About How She Helps Her Clients

    Without bragging, the case study educates people about how Missy was able to help one of her clients. In addition, one of the challenges for many businesses is educating people on who their target clients are. I can assure you that many people had no idea that Missy worked with nonprofit events in Kansas City or that a nonprofit could even afford to use her services.

  3. The Case Study Serves as a Marketing Piece

    Now that she has a case study about how she helped a nonprofit client, she can share it with prospects who may have similar types of events. The pictures in the post also provide a visual representation of some of the work Missy did. Finally, the case study will be one of several featured on her new website in the months to come.

  4. You Just Can’t Beat a Great Client Testimonial

    Missy can talk until she’s blue in the face about the value she brings as a 20-year meeting and event planning professional, but when a client is willing to share their hands on experience in working with her, it’s worth it’s weight in gold.

Take a look at the case study below. What do you think? Have you or your company written case studies? I’d love to hear what kind of success you’ve had with them. Leave a comment below or drop me an email at mic@bluegurus.com.

Missy-and-Melissa-450x600Post written by Missy Johnson, Principal, MJMeetings, LLC | Meetings Consultant | Gourmet Food & Wine Enthusiast | Sports Fan

Challenge/Opportunity

The World Outreach Foundation Kansas City (WOFKC) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide healthcare services to the homeless of Kansas City and in underserved developing countries.

Established in 2014, the main annual fundraiser to support this mission is a black-tie gala called Dancing with a Mission (DWAM). Approaching the fourth year of the event, MJMeetings was brought onboard to professionalize the event planning and elevate the overall attendee experience.

Planned mostly by one full-time staff and volunteers in the past, the organization realized that while their event had built momentum, in order to keep attendance and revenues growing, it was necessary to bring in the experience of a professional event producer.

Response/Solution

The event had typically attracted around 450 people but the goal was to reach 500 while also elevating the overall experience for an audience that comes back year after year.

MJMeetings worked with the Executive Director and the Gala Chair (a volunteer) to create several strategic documents and elements that had never been used before:

-A comprehensive planning timeline which highlighted all tasks, vendor deadlines and details to keep the project planning moving forward proactively.

-An itemized budget document that allowed for tracking all revenues and expenses in real time and allowed the planning team to make decisions affecting the budget more effectively.

-A reimagined stage and room set for enhanced audience enjoyment and overall improved look-and-feel which gave the attendees and participants something new.

-A focus on expert negotiation of all expenses and analysis of overall spend to keep expenses within budget and revenues growing, thereby allowing for net financial gain even AFTER paying for consulting services provided by MJMeetings.

Outcome/Results

The event goals were reached…attendance increased by 15% and the net financial gain was $70,000 over the previous year, almost a 50% increase in fundraising to support their important mission.

Feedback from attendees, sponsors and other stakeholders continues to be positive and the organization is once again partnering with MJMeetings on the 2018 DWAM gala.

Observations from the Client – Jerry Smith, Executive Director

“The main fundraiser for WOFKC has been, since 2014, Dancing with a Mission. The event has grown over the years and the amount of work needed to coordinate and plan the event has increased exponentially.

In 2017, for the first time, we decided to hire an event professional to oversee and manage the event. This was a major step for us as previous events had all been managed “in house” but we chose Missy to be our event planner and the results were transformational.

We anticipated that the planning would be more effective under a professional, but Missy’s expertise also allowed us to extend the boundaries of the event itself. Her ideas and suggestions greatly improved the event on the night and her diligence and timely management on all the vendors and performers meant the stress on the committee members was far lower than previous years, and the results better.

It can be a difficult decision for organizations to take the step of hiring a professional organizer. Some may be, as we were, concerned about the cost but I can assure anyone thinking of hiring Missy that you will get more than your money’s worth not only in the increased efficiency of your planning efforts and the new ideas she will bring to the table but also in her skill as a negotiator that will yield you better pricing in many areas too. The feedback we received from our vendors, donors and participants was uniformly positive and all appreciated having a professional in charge of the event this year. I highly recommend Missy for any event you are planning.”

If you’re looking for expertise to elevate your next meeting or event, you can reach me at missy@mjmeetings.com or 913-645-6649.

Here’s an easy way to turn your weekly blogging efforts into an email newsletter.

Author: Jason Terry

Hello friends! It’s Jason with another thought provoking story from Blue Gurus. (I hope I don’t fail you!)

The majority of our clients are telling stories on a weekly basis. Updates are pushed out to their social media sites that link back to the stories on their website. Through this process they’re staying top of mind with their most trusted relationships. It’s an effective way to market.

But what if your client or prospect is not connected to you socially?

Send an email newsletter.The answer is to send them an email newsletter. But that takes time and resources to create and deliver each month, right? If you’re coming up with stories every week and then have to create a monthly or quarterly email newsletter, it can become time consuming. Even worse, it can feel like a tedious chore.

What if I told you that you could have a weekly, monthly or quarterly email newsletter that pulls in your blog posts and is sent automatically?

Our clients have already spent time and energy creating stories about their people, their customers and the community… why not leverage that content for their email newsletter? We’ve been doing this for years and it works really well.

Mailchimp RSS-to-Email Campaigns

We leverage an excellent feature provided by MailChimp to make this happen. It’s called an RSS-to-Email Campaign.

What is RSS?Your first question might be, “what is RSS?” This stands for Really Simple Syndication and it’s a technology that’s been around for a long time. Most websites have an RSS feed built into them. Usually, this feed is a list of recent blog posts.

To see an example, the Blue Gurus RSS feed is https://www.bluegurus.com/feed.

If you click on the link, your results may vary. Depending on the browser you use, it might look like a bunch of weird code (Chrome, if you haven’t installed a feed reader) or you might see a cleanly formatted list of the 10 most recent blog posts that we’ve written (Firefox, Opera.)

If you have an RSS feed set up on your website, you’re telling the world what your most recent stories are any time someone checks your feed.

Back to MailChimp.

MailChimpMailChimp can be set up to automatically pull your most recent posts from your RSS feed into a pre-formatted email template. It can then send the email out to your list of subscribers. This can be scheduled to happen any time a new story is found or on some other time based schedule like weekly or monthly.

If you sign up for the Blue Gurus email newsletter, you will see exactly how this works. Our newsletter is set up to deliver daily if a new story is found… and since we do a blog post every week, the email newsletter goes out weekly.

Some of our clients don’t want to send too many emails, so they’ve opted to send a monthly digest instead. Their campaigns are set up to pull new posts since the last time a newsletter was sent. Then an excerpt of the story is included with a Read More link that goes directly to their website. (Yes, this helps with SEO.) Usually their monthly email newsletter has 4-5 stories in it and it looks great.

The best thing about this solution is that you can focus your time and energy on weekly stories knowing that your email newsletter will happen automatically. Sure, you have to do some initial setup to make it all work, but once it’s up and running, it just happens!

So was I successful? Was this story thought provoking? If not, shoot me a question that you would like me to answer and you may end up highlighted in a future blog post with my answer. Have a great week!

3 Easy Ways to Give Your Employees A Voice

Hello Blue Gurus blog readers…It’s Mic here with something that’s been on my mind for…well…the last 20 years or so!

It’s a story I’ve referenced countless times to clients and it goes back to my junior year in college at The University of Kansas.

post it notesOur Organizational Communications professor was telling us how the company 3M had specific time set aside for employees to brainstorm on whatever they wanted to…improving processes, new product ideas, etc…and how the Post-It Note was invented by accident.

The thing the professor said that day that has stuck with me ever since (and I sometimes joke it’s the one thing I remember from college) is the following:

EMPLOYEES WANT A VOICE MORE THAN A VOTE. Click To Tweet

For those of you that know me, I’ve always had a voice and I have no problem expressing how I feel. It’s not because of my ego. It’s not because I want to draw attention to myself. It’s not because I think I’m smarter than everyone else. It’s because I want the best solution…and the only way to get there is to get input from people who have a vested interest in the problem or solution.

In my experience, too many organizations are top-down, with the owners, management team, etc. making decisions and then everything flowing down to the people who are actually doing the work, interacting with clients, etc. I’ve never thought this made sense.

Of course there needs to be higher level strategy and decision making among people in leadership positions, but why not include the people who are on “the front lines” who will be responsible for implementing the strategy?

With that in mind, here are…

#micdrop

#MicDrop

3 Easy Ways to Give Your Employees A Voice

1.Have Regular Meetings.
Depending on your situation, weekly, monthly or quarterly meetings where information is shared, employees are given a platform to ask questions and hear the direction of the company…should be standard practice.

If it’s not possible to get everyone together, utilize technology (conference calls, webinars, Skype, etc) to get as many employees engaged as possible. Or have team or department-specific meetings where two-way communication is encouraged.

2.CEO’s (and other C-Levels) MUST Make The Effort To Interact With Employees.  
I have a client whose CEO has quarterly coffee with select staff where they sit down and can ask her whatever they want. Not only does this give employees visibility to the CEO, but it also lets them know that she cares about their opinions and that she’s approachable. This type of informal and human interaction is good for the employees, good for the CEO and good for the company.

The worst thing a management team can do is to be seen as unapproachable. It’s not that hard to take a little time once a week or once a month to get out among employees and see how they’re doing, what’s working, what’s not, etc.

3.Encourage Employees To Write For The Company Blog.
Smart companies have a blog and share that information with their social networks (Yes, this is one of the services we provide for clients, so this is a bit of shameless promotion…but, ask yourself, doesn’t it just make sense?) Even smarter companies use their blog as a way to engage employees in sharing their stories about business and life.

I have one particular client who I told years ago “You never know…your employees may be blogging one day!” One of the senior leaders said, “Our employees will NEVER blog.” Today, the majority of the blog posts from that company are from, you guessed it….EMPLOYEES. This is an amazingly easy way to give your employees a voice and increase employee engagement.

These are just a few ways that employees can be given more of a voice within an organization. There are countless other ways to do it. If your company isn’t doing these things already, it’s easy to get started. In fact, why not pull a few employees together and ask them for their ideas on how they would like more of a voice in the organization?

I promise you this: Many of your unrealized, best ideas are sitting within the walls of your company right now. All you have to do is ask. It’s really not that hard.

To learn more about how we can help your employees get more engaged through the power of blogging and storytelling, call or email me at 913-645-6650 or mic@bluegurus.com

You Should Be Publishing On LinkedIn. Here’s Why.

Post written by Mic Johnson, Content Marketing Coach | LinkedIn Trainer | Website Guy | Rational Optimist | Jayhawk | Sushi Fan | @MJMeetings Husband

You may or may not know that LinkedIn has become a force when it comes to published content. It wasn’t always that way. People thought of LinkedIn as a business networking site and a place to look for a job. It’s so much more than that and they really changed the game and their trajectory when they announced in February 2014 (rather boldly, I might add) that they were “The Definitive Professional Publishing Platform.

DefinitivePublishingPlatformIn that post, they said:

“Starting today, LinkedIn is opening up our publishing platform to our members, giving them a powerful new way to build their professional brand. When a member publishes a post on LinkedIn, their original content becomes part of their professional profile, is shared with their trusted network and has the ability to reach the largest group of professionals ever assembled. Now members have the ability to follow other members that are not in their network and build their own group of followers.”

It’s not too late. If you haven’t thought about this before, now is the time to pay attention.

LinkedIn has 400 million people on it. One of the hardest things to do for any person or company is to gain followers and traction. There are so many people. There is so much content. It’s hard to break through and have your voice heard.

But LinkedIn said, “Hey, we’ve got the audience. We’ve given you the platform. Want to improve your personal brand? Want to encourage more people to learn about you and your company? Ok, then write something worthwhile. And then see what happens.”

PublishAPostNow I’ve been blogging for nearly 6 years. During that time I’ve posted all of my posts on the Blue Gurus Blog and then published the blog post links to our social accounts. That isn’t going to change anytime soon. That brings people to our website. That helps SEO. That’s just a good business practice for any business trying to market themselves.

But LinkedIn’s publishing platform intrigued me, so I tried it out. I didn’t put every post I’ve ever written out there, but I put a few. And recently I published “Don’t Look At My LinkedIn Profile.

And I was absolutely amazed at what happened next.

LinkedIn Pulse picked up my article and shared it in their “LinkedIn Tips” category. I’m not exactly sure how this all works, but suffice it to say that LinkedIn has people who are looking at the content that users are publishing.

Stats on DontLookAtMyLinkedInProfile (Custom)And if they like it and have a place for it (it probably didn’t hurt that my post was actually an article about LinkedIn), then they’ll promote it for you.

-To date, that post has over 3,200 views, 142 Like’s, and 47 comments.

-I engaged with people I’ve never met before who left comments on the post.

-I now rank in the top 4% for profile views among my connections.

-I have more people following me on LinkedIn now.

-And I’ve seen increased views on other status updates I’ve posted.

I’ve never had so much traction for one post in my life. Sure, the title was eye catching and the content of the post was helpful, but the key was that LinkedIn Pulse picked it up and promoted it for me. All I had to do was take the time to write a quality post and publish it on LinkedIn.

Top4percentThey don’t do this with every article I write, but one thing I know for sure…they aren’t going to promote content you’re proud of if you don’t put it out there.

So the next time you write a blog post, put it on your company website, but also think about publishing it on LinkedIn. It lives on your profile going forward so people that visit your profile can always see it. And it just might get picked up by LinkedIn Pulse and give you much more visibility than you could’ve gotten by yourself.

I can’t imagine why any business professional wouldn’t take advantage of this opportunity. Creating awareness for any person or business is hard work. REALLY hard work.

LinkedIn has made that a whole lot easier. Publish a post today…and see what happens.

I’m Selling Common Sense.

Post Author: Mic Johnson

I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out something that has driven me crazy ever since I started working with Blue Gurus 5+ years ago.

Over the years we’ve had way too many sales calls to count where we explain the 3 things we do for clients…Blogging, On-site WordPress Web Development, and LinkedIn Training.

They always understand it. They always agree with it. They always admit that they know they should be doing it. And then they do….nothing.

I often tell people “I feel like I’m selling common sense.”  Here’s why:

Read more

You Don’t Lose Weight By Thinking About Going To The Gym

Post Author: Mic Johnson

I’ve been talking to Jason, people in my peer advisory group, and others about something that’s been bothering me for the better part of 2014.

I’m hoping anyone that reads this post will take a minute to try to help me out. Perhaps your experiences can give me some perspective I don’t currently have.

First, let me quickly provide a little background. Blue Gurus does three things for companies in Kansas City:

1. Content Marketing for companies that need an accountability partner to help them successfully execute a monthly blogging strategy.

2. On-site web development where most of our projects are done in 2-4 full day sessions at our clients’ offices. (Yes, we actually come TO your office and build it there!)

3. LinkedIn Training for companies that want to better utilize LinkedIn for sales and sharing content.

ThinkingAboutWorkingOutMost people would agree that all of those things are essential (dare I say…critical?) for companies in today’s business world.

You want to share the stories about your business, your products and services, your people, and more.

You want a professional, easy-to-navigate web site.

And you want a professional LinkedIn profile that accurately represents who you are, what you do, and what you’ve accomplished in your career.

Can we all agree on that?

Ok, Now On To What’s Been Bothering Me

Throughout the better part of 2014 both Jason and I have had countless conversations with decision makers in Kansas City who know they need a new web site, who know they need help with LinkedIn, and who know that their company should be blogging.

We tell them what we do, how we do it, and how quickly we can get it all done. In fact, we’ve partnered with several businesses who had poor web sites, poor LinkedIn profiles, and no blogging strategy and had them cranking on all three in just a couple of months.

We explain this to every single prospect we talk to. It all makes complete sense to them. They get excited about it. They know it’s absolutely the right thing to do.

And then they go back to their office, get busy, and end up doing…..you guessed it…..

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

You Don’t Lose Weight By Thinking About Going To The Gym

I’ve used this analogy a lot lately to describe this phenomenon we’ve seen in 2014. Even though we all know it would be totally awesome, you don’t lose weight by thinking about going to the gym.

You only lose weight when you make the effort consistently to get up each day, get some cardio and weights in, and stay committed to it (and eating healthier of course) over the long haul. And some people do this by hiring a personal trainer. That’s very similar to how we work.

So here’s the deal….

1. Very few people are going to learn about all of the cool things that you, your team, and your company do unless you start REGULARLY sharing your stories.

2. Your web site won’t ever look better and be easier to navigate if you keep ignoring it, wait for it to go down, or wait for a client or prospect to tell you how bad it is.

3. Your LinkedIn profile won’t get better until you spend some time getting trained on what makes a good profile and learn how to more effectively use LinkedIn.

We’ve had people that have gone through painful web site projects in the past that describe the experience with Blue Gurus as “FUN”, and “EASY”, and “SIMPLE”.

We’ve had people go through LinkedIn training say “OH, I DIDN’T KNOW YOU COULD DO THAT. IT ALL MAKES SENSE. I’M DEFINITELY GOING TO USE LINKEDIN MORE!”

We’ve had blogging clients say “THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST BUSINESS DECISIONS WE’VE EVER MADE.”

It’s not nearly as hard and painful as you think it is. And we’re here to help.

Email (mic@bluegurus.com) or call me (913-645-6650) today. Let’s work together to lose the dead business weight you’ve been carrying around for far too long.

The #1 Secret To Get Real ROI From Blogging

Post written by Mic Johnson, Blog Coach | LinkedIn Trainer | WordPress Web Site Guy | Rational Optimist | Jayhawk | Sushi Lover | Cancer Volunteer

We’ve been blogging at Blue Gurus for nearly 5 years and believe in it so much that we coach and execute blog strategy for companies all across Kansas City.

We routinely have business owners and decision makers asking us about the ROI of blogging. The way we see it, the choice is pretty clear: Do you want to educate people about your company, your people, what you do in the community, the services or products you provide…or don’t you? There’s only one logical answer to that question…and a blog is the perfect solution.

Now I know the title of this post is “The #1 Secret To Get Real ROI From Blogging”, but I’m not going to give you the answer right away. Before I do, I want to share a personal ROI blogging story of my own. 

Carol Bush Her name (and the woman in the photo) is Carol Bush. She is a Nurse Navigator and Consultant for the Midwest Cancer Alliance-University of Kansas Cancer Center as well as a Nurse Consultant for Remedy Healthcare Consulting. On March 19, 2013, Carol (who I had never met before) sent me an email with the subject line that said “We Need Help”.

That subject line, and our subsequent interactions, inspired me to write a blog post with that very subject line. You can read it here: We Need Help

Carol’s email mentioned that she had been reading our blog for over a year (This is your first hint: Blogging is a marathon; not a sprint) and liked our approach. She went on to say that she wanted help with blogging, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  Read more

A Better Email Newsletter – Blog Updates By Email

Post written by Jason Terry, Entrepreneur | Social Coach | Web Developer | Scuba Instructor | Guitar Player | Cruise Traveler | Lego Collector

BloggingMore and more companies are adopting the concept of blogging to promote their business and stay top of mind.  One of the questions that we get is how to deliver new blog posts to people that aren’t necessarily connected to you or your company through social media.

For example, you might be blogging every week and updating your status on social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter… but there’s probably a good group of your customers that aren’t connected to you through social media sites.  The only real tie you have to them electronically might be their email address.

Another scenario is that you are currently doing a monthly newsletter and want a more efficient way of creating the content for that newsletter.

Wouldn’t it be great if their was a way for your email subscribers to get an email update automatically when you post new content on your company or personal blog?  The good news is that there are quite a few solutions that can do this for you.  Read more

Blog Series, Part 4: Blog Training & Coaching [VIDEO]

Post written by Jason Terry, Entrepreneur | Social Coach | Web Developer | Scuba Instructor | Guitar Player | Cruise Traveler | Lego Collector

httpv://youtu.be/9Hehz7ebsxk

Have you seen this video before?  We added it to the Blog Training & Coaching page of our web site recently.

This is the fourth and final post in a blog series highlighting the videos we’ve done for our web site. We’ve gotten great feedback on the previous posts in this series:
Blog Series, Part 1: Why We Added Video To Our Web Site
Blog Series, Part 2: WordPress Web Development
Blog Series, Part 3: LinkedIn Training

We hope our stories around how it all came together inspire you or your company to start thinking seriously about how video can enhance your online presence and help your business grow!

What It Took To Create This Video

In this video, we talk about why you and your company should be blogging and how we help our clients get this done on a weekly basis.  Blogging is one of our favorite things to do because it hits one of our passions… corporate culture. 

This video was the easiest of the series to create because the topic is the core focus of our business.  You can tell when you watch it that there is no doubt in our minds that blogging is an essential part of any sales and marketing strategy for a successful company.  This was the last video we captured, and it really only needed one take with a couple of repeats.  It felt great to have finished our videos and knew that Mike Snell would do a great job of editing them into 2 minute-ish videos we could put on our services pages.

Why Blogging?

It is hard to summarize all the benefits your will see when you commit to blogging on a weekly basis.  Here are some highlights:

Communicate with your team
How often does your company talk about what is going on?  Current client successes and challenges?  Do your team members even know each other that well? 

By blogging, everyone on your team will have better visibility into what is going on at your company.  Also, it is a good idea to have an internal team of people that contribute to the blog, and they really get to know each other during the process.

Communicate with your clients like never before. 
I bet you don’t talk to your clients enough.  We see this all over the city….so odds are that is a true statement.  When you start blogging, it takes awhile for them to realize that you are talking.  Even so, they will start to see you more over time. 

And every once in a while they will click on your story (as long as the subject is interesting and helpful!)  It’s an opportunity for them to get to know you, your company, the kinds of things you help your clients with, and more.

Communication with your prospects before you even know them. 
When you consider working with a new company for a product or service, what do you do?  Go to the company website?  Go to the sales rep’s LinkedIn page?  Hopefully the answer is yes to both… if not, you really should be. 

Imagine the difference in the initial reaction if they get to the home page of your website and see current stories for the past 4-5 weeks versus a canned, static page?  I promise you it makes a big difference.  The same is true for your team’s LinkedIn profiles. 

Whether it is the President’s profile or a sales rep’s profile, I will be much more impressed with an active profile vs. a static one….ESPECIALLY if I’m comparing a couple of different companies offering the same services!

Staying top of mind with your best referral sources. 
If you have a successful business, you have a bunch of friends out there.  Rarely is a business profitable in a vacuum.  The people that you are making happy, or have made happy in the past, are your best source for word of mouth referrals.  The vast majority of our clients grow their businesses through word of mouth referrals.

If that’s true for you, I hope you are investing time and energy in cultivating those relationships.  Telling stories through your blog on a weekly basis is one of the most efficient ways to stay top of mind with all the people that care about you and the success of your company.

Those four points are just the beginning.  And they touch almost every aspect of your business.  If you aren’t intrigued yet, then you must be independently wealthy and don’t need any new business.  If not, I hope you will consider blogging for your business.  Done properly, it will have a positive impact on your company…especially to the bottom line.  If you need help, be sure to give us a call!

Thank you so much for reading and commenting…  We appreciate you!

Are You In Banking, Medical or Insurance? Don’t Get Left Behind.

Post written by Jason Terry, Entrepreneur | Social Coach | Web Developer | Scuba Instructor | Guitar Player | Cruise Traveler | Lego Collector

JasonMany people would agree that Banking, Medical and Insurance are verticals that are generally behind the curve when it comes to keeping up with social tools and techniques. There are good and bad reasons for this reality. 

A good reason is the fact that these industries have compliance and regulatory issues to pay attention to. They have to be careful what they say in their marketing efforts, or risk being slapped with hefty fines. HIPAA and FINRA are just two of the organizations that dictate what these kinds of companies can say.

The bad reasons are statements like, “I don’t have time.”, “I don’t care what people are having for lunch.”, or “We don’t want our competitors to know who our clients are.”  These statements, and so many others that we hear on a regular basis, are an educational issue. 

If people understood the importance of being social in their business or practice, they would make time for it. 

If they understood that LinkedIn is a fantastic way to stay in touch with peers and not just a place for people to find jobs, they might change their mind about using LinkedIn more often. Read more