Recently we talked about what it means to be invisible. Not the ninja superpower kind…we were talking about the kind of invisibility where you don’t get picked for the big client pitch, or you get passed over for the promotion you deserve, or you put yourself into a corner where no one can see or hear you.
In case you missed it: WHY WEARING YOUR INVISIBILITY CLOAK IS REALLY BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH, WEALTH AND SUCCESS
With real life examples, we felt the pain of knowing you are good enough but struggling to get others to see that too. Actually, let’s call that out for what it is – it’s an injustice, isn’t it, when you don’t get the great results you deserve?
It certainly can feel like that but unless someone can see your value, how can you expect them to reward it? (If they see it but choose not to recognise it – well, that might be of those toxic situations we also talked about last week. Put your sanity and health first, and get away from those just as quickly as you can.)
Whether you are solo or leading a team, an employee or a business, your visibility is beyond important. It’s everything. Your brand, your product, your service, your value, your talent, your contribution, your potential, the experience of working with you…these need to be seen to get the results you want and deserve.
Everything we do at Lucy & Emma is about helping talented people be more visible. We help them build the confidence and the skills they need, and to think strategically about the big opportunities (and all the tiny moments inbetween) to get seen and heard more, for all the right reasons.
In our last post, we promised to share a quick teach-in on how to elevate some of your business content so that it really helps you increase your visibility and get the results you want.
To help make sense of this, we want to share a conversation we’ve had just recently with a client who wants to enter her business into her industry’s annual awards. She told us she knows her business and her team are shining examples in her sector – but she also knows it’s not enough just to inform others about it. She also has to influence them…
Get recognised for your role in your industry
Entering yourself or your business for an award gives you the opportunity to demonstrate to your peers and your potential customers that you are a thought leader and a role model. That you add value. That you are worth their investment.
Awards help you to build your reputation and add to your brand story. They give you visibility in new places, and attract more fans. They build customer confidence, and can even make it easier to get business investment and attract new talent as you grow your team. And, if you have a team already, winning prestigious awards helps you develop a culture of professional pride and recognition.
All in all, an award can create great marketing opportunities – but it takes some hard work to do it well.
Not just a report
Award entries are not simply reports of an achievement. They are selling documents, and they have to compete in a crowded and probably well-regarded field. Your entries must answer the right questions, and trigger favourable responses in the hearts and the minds of the judging panel. They must be crisp and compelling, and show you off in the very best possible light.
Here are a few practical tips for boosting the spotlight on your award entry…and remember these apply just as much to a job application or a business pitch:
- Double check the exam question, and then check it again. What are the criteria for this award? What are the requirements for the pitch? Think of these as your brief, and make sure you really see the clear parameters being set out for you.
- All your content needs to answer this exam question. Obviously, no less – or you won’t be seen as meeting that criteria. But beware answering too much more as well – it creates too much detail that no one has time to read in the first sift, and they may think the easiest thing is to put your document on the ‘no’ pile without further ado! It might even ‘over-qualify’ you – and we all know that’s a real thing.
- Before you even start to create content, step back and think of people as having their own search engine filters (which they really do!). What can you do to appeal to those filters – just as you would think about search engine optimisation (SEO) in your online content? What words will subliminally tick boxes in the mind of the reviewer? (Bear in mind that the first sift on things like job applications and award entries are often done by someone relatively junior or unrelated to the award programme – simply because there are a lot of them, it takes a lot of time and their time costs less. They might not have the same insider knowledge that others have, and will be given an evidence framework to help them decide – slush pile or next stage? Make it easy for them to say yes to you – make sure your content ticks off the evidence as explicitly as possible.
- While you’re writing your content, think carefully about the language you use, and the impact of every word. For example:
- Are you talking about features or benefits (to use a very classic marketing term)?
- Are there particular words that stand out in your industry – such as safety, schedule, shareholder? Speak to those special interests.
- Are you including words that will appeal to different processing patterns – for example, visual/audio/kinesthetic words, or words that will appeal to all the personality types?
- And finally, are you storytelling or are you reporting data – and think about how compelling a narrative story is!
- Now you’ve written your material, cross-check it with the criteria – are you definitely answering that exam question? Is anything missing, and if so what can you include to maximise your chances? Or is there content that doesn’t really stand up to the ‘so what?’ filter?
- It’s time now to sleep on it, so that when you come back to it you can let go of the forensic stuff we’ve just talked about, and just read it through for sense and flow. If you can, ask someone else to read it. There is so much value in that fresh pair of eyes – you know what you are trying to say, but is it clear to anyone else?
- Now for the small print (sorry, it has to be done!). Proofread the hell out of this thing! Make sure your wordcount has laser precision (these things can even throw you out of the running). Check your grammar and your spelling, make sure you don’t have too much passive voice in there, don’t trip over any homophones (words like hear and here, bear and bare). You can even do some advanced stuff like making sure your word and sentence patterns make it more fluent and easier to read….but we’ll save that for another day!
Sound like hard work?
Well, yes it is! Effective communication is a professional discipline, not a pink-and-fluffy thing you might think about if you have the time. It requires skill and competence, and it demands your time and attention.
Is it even worth it?
Of course it is! Do you want to be the one chosen for the job? Do you want to win the award (and not just runner-up)? Do you want all the value that will come your way as a result of being SEEN as the best in the pack?
Of course you do. Of course it’s worth it. You’re worth it!
All these things add up and help rocket your visibility into the stratosphere. And if you’re ready to come out of the shadows, show up and step up to a place where you are seen and heard just like you deserve – well, the good news is there are many tools and strategies and opportunities to help you do that.
Think of them as your rocket boosters. And who doesn’t want some of those?
Check back with us next week, or give us a wave on social media (links below), for more rocket fuel to help you get seen and heard.
Until then – have a fabulous week!
Lucy & Emma | The Communication Coaches