Are You Listening?

Judge Judy is fond of reminding people in her courtroom that we have two ears and one mouth, meaning we should listen twice as long as we speak. Truth, even for brands.

Every brand needs to have a social listening strategy. Social listening happens when you monitor and analyze conversations across social media to better understand the customer, brand perception and the current impact of its online presence.

Understand Your Customer

The first reason to invest time in social listening is to better understand your customer. Social listening can help you discover the habits, interests and problems of your target audience. Social listening also helps you to discover which channels your target audience uses and how they are used. With this insight, you can create content that is shared in the right places and is relevant to their interests.

Increase Engagement

Social engagement is not always easy, but social listening tools can help you stay on top of conversations. It increases your ability to find conversations everywhere they are happening, not just on your channels.

Discover Business Opportunities

Social listening can lead to inspiration for new topics to cover in your content marketing. You can tap into top of mind topics and pain points. You may uncover an issue you didn’t know existed and win by addressing a customer need.

Reach New People

You can find new people in your target audience via their social conversations. Monitoring keywords and phrases that are relevant to your brand can lead you to people who need you and don’t know it yet!

Research Competitors

Social media is public, so it is a very transparent place to monitor competitors and complimentary organizations. Listening can help you learn about what your competitors are doing. You can see the impact of their content and who is engaged.

Rebranding Tips for Small Businesses

Guest Post by Jenny Le, Owner of WebSubstance digital marketing agency

Branding, whether for a company or an individual business owner, is one of the most difficult tasks in marketing. I discovered this over the past year as I underwent a rebranding for my own company. I want to share my journey to inspire you to do the same for your company.

What is Branding?

First of all, what is branding? When thinking about the definition of branding, I came across this simple description on Shopify: “Branding is the process of creating a distinct identity for a business in the mind of your target audience and consumers. At the most basic level, branding is made up of a company’s logo, visual design, mission, and tone of voice.”

Why Did We Feel We Needed to Rebrand?

When my business partner and I started WebSubstance in early 2000, our target market was “almost everyone who needed a website.” We were excited to offer ourselves as a trustworthy and reliable post-sales service company. As we grew and added more sophisticated clients, additional services were needed.

Our target audience changed as our business grew and evolved, and the brand we chose at the beginning no longer reflected the clients we wanted or how we wanted them to perceive us. This is a normal process during the lifecycle of a business.

We loved working on branding and rebranding for our clients, but now we discovered just how complex working on our OWN brand could be. We found we were very—even overly—critical of every item on our rebranding to-do list and needed much more time than we thought to envision, digest, and finally settle on new ideas, graphics, and images.

We had redone our logo, business cards, and website a couple of times. We faced our biggest challenge in August 2021 as we worked on the rebrand for our digital marketing agency.

Was it because we were now more focused and intentional this time around? We were.

Why Did We Need Time to Think?

For us, rebranding involved updating and strategizing our new client acquisition process and defining how to retain and educate clients and prospects.

On top of this, we needed to take care of current and new clients. It was overwhelming.

I listened to my inner voice that told me I needed to allow enough time to complete the rebranding process. I gave my rebranding team of strategists, copywriters and designers 12 months to complete it. It took 14 months.

How Did I Know the Rebrand Was Right?

After all this time, I knew our brand was right because I still liked it as we worked on it. That meant we were headed in the right direction. We had to let each of the new ideas sink in for a few days. If we still liked them, we moved them into reality, creating the look, feel and synchronicity that would be our new brand.

For example, it took five months to finalize our new logo. We just weren’t convinced that the preliminary sketches were right and knew they needed a little something more. We set aside time weekly to review them, and that worked well.

We needed time between each viewing to “try them on.” We reached out to people we trusted to see what their thoughts were and incorporated their responses into our final decision. We believe our new logo aligns perfectly with our strategy and target market.

How Does Our Journey Help You?

Give yourself time to generate ideas, think about them, process them, and let them sink in. You’ll see which ones rise to the top.

Honesty plays a big role. If something doesn’t look right to you, trust your gut. Don’t wait until the end of the project to mention you didn’t like a graphic or image. This will only discourage your rebranding team, and you and they will have to move backward in the process to modify elements and match the changes.

You want a brand you can live with for a long, long time. Rushing the process will only lead to indecision, and potentially having to change the brand before long. It’s best to take the time needed to get a final product that is right for your company.

In the end, the effort is worth it. I am happy to see our final product and proud of our rebranding team’s efforts. Even though the journey was challenging, it was definitely worthwhile.

I hope my journey inspires you to create a brand that delivers the message you want and need. Take a look at our new logo and brand on our website at We’re awfully proud of it!

Turn fear into bliss when you speak

Guest post by Rosemary Ravinal

Blowing bubbles isn’t just for children. You may think it’s silly. Yet the deep breathing required to blow bubbles will help you relax and de-stress, all-important for nervous speakers.

When I work from home, I sometimes take calming breaks and blow bubbles as I sit by the lake behind my house. The way the sphere forms on the tip of the wand and how it floats above the water for just a few seconds makes for a small moment of bliss for me. That’s why I came up with the acronym BLISS to help you remember five ways to control your nervousness.

I’ve written often about conquering fear of public speaking, and it remains the most frequent question I receive from my clients. Performance anxiety, stage fright are some other terms for fear of public speaking. The clinical term is glossophobia. More than 70% of human beings on the planet suffer from it. Even experienced speakers feel some degree of fear when they’re in the spotlight.

There are many techniques for managing fear when you speak. Notice I say manage because in truth the jitters or butterflies in your stomach will show up most of the time. The trick is how you deal with them.

Would you like to turn presentation hell into presentation bliss? Here are five proven steps to turn your fear into peak performance.

What constitutes BLISS?

B stands for Breathing

Speaking is simply breath and proper breathing is essential to speaking well. Most of us never learn to breathe properly. We take light short breaths at the top of our lungs, as opposed to deep long breaths which engage the diaphragm. If you sing or practice pranayama yoga, you know what I mean.

When you’re nervous and tense, adrenaline kicks in. Your heart rate accelerates, and our breathing becomes shallower and constricted. You may lose breath mid-sentence or speak faster than normal. Two of my favorite breath-centering techniques are blowing bubbles and straw breathing.

The act of blowing bubbles moves the focus away from your nervousness to your breathing. You take a deep inhale and exhale into the wand to create the bubble. This is the pursed lip breathing technique which increases pressure in the airways and keeps them open and flowing.

Similarly, you can practice the straw breathing technique to calm your nerves and fill your lungs with air to strengthen the volume and quality of your voice. Take a drinking straw in your hand, inhale deeply through your nose, and exhale all the air through it. Do five repetitions in total. You’ll feel energized yet serene.

L is for Love.

If you love your audience, you’ll connect with them on a human level and much of the anxiety will disappear. Ignore the cliché of seeing your audience naked. It’s disrespectful and simply doesn’t work. Besides, talking to a naked audience can be distracting—and you don’t need distractions. Your job is to help your audience do something, solve a problem, and make their lives better. Another way to love your audience is to make eye contact. Select a few people in the front rows and make direct eye contact for just a second. Scan the back of the room and try to do the same, even if people are too far away to see their eyes. On a video call, make steady eye contact with the webcam lens to suggest that you’re looking straight at the virtual audience.

I stands for Imagine.

Imagine your highest achievement. Visualize the success of your presentation. Anticipate the applause that will follow your talk. How will you feel after you ace your keynote?  What are the sensations in your body that come with hitting it out of the ballpark? Stand in the imaginary glow of the spotlight of success. Hold on to those images and sensations as you take the stage.Visualization is a powerful technique used by elite athletes to train, compete, and win. You can do the same.

The first S is for Smile.

A smile is universal. It will put your audience at ease and help melt away your own tension. It signals that you’re happy to be there. Plus, when you smile naturally you use facial muscles that trigger the neurons of happiness in your brain, so there’s a real chemical reaction that induces happy thoughts. Smiling is also contagious. Your audience will mirror your gestures and feel happy themselves. It works on Zoom calls as well. Use a smile wisely and make it your superpower.

The second S and last letter is Service.

Think about your speech, talk, or presentation as a gift you’re bringing your listeners. Keep your ego in check and think about your audience’s interests, not your own. Dave Bricker, professional speaker, and friend says: “Turn nervous into service.” Shifting your focus from you to your audience and what they need from you is a powerful way to develop a winning mindset.

BLISS will help calm your mind and body and remind you of what is important: delivering a talk that informs, inspires, and transforms your audience.

Originally published in Rosemary Ravinal’s The Master Communicator Blog

About the Author
Business leaders and entrepreneurs who want to elevate their public speaking impact, executive presence, and media interview skills come to me for personalized attention and measurable results. I am recognized as America’s Premier Bilingual Public Speaking Coach after decades as a corporate spokesperson and media personality in the U.S. mainstream, Hispanic and Latin American markets. My company’s services are available for individuals, teams, in-person and online, and in English and Spanish in South Florida and elsewhere.