Step Out of the Marketing Echo Chamber

This article is a call to put more intention into the way we market our products and services – because our actions inform how we perceive ourselves, which affects how we think and act subsequently.

It started with a conversation with a seasoned entrepreneur who had built several businesses, including coaching/consulting and technology.

We talked about the fatigue and skepticism that’s growing around all the marketing and promotional tactics flooding our space right now.

The blueprints and formulas that make everybody sound the same.

The hype that lures newcomers in the door with big promises of rainbows, unicorns and magic bullets; The churn and burn to make room for the next wave of new prospects.

I’m on the list of several “big wigs” in the “coaching” space (just to keep my ears on the ground) and I noticed how they’re pumping out the same cycles of content year in year out launching the same programs – some of them twice or three times a year!

This churn and burn fatigue is getting worse. The cycles are getting shorter. Some marketers don’t even bother to build relationship with their audience.

They may pay lip service to providing value… but we can smell clone-drone marketing from miles away. Might as well just go straight in for the kill.

The intention back in the beginning is threadbare – the collection of motions we’re going through has been stripped of its meaning. It’s hurting all of us.

The “rinse and repeat” makes not-giving-a-crap OK and encourages intellectual laziness rather than evolution and innovation.

I don’t care how sparkly the sales pages are. I care about what comes up at the other end. That’s what I see and hear – from the trenches, boots on the ground:

People get dumped out of the hamster wheel – dizzy, dazed, frazzled; feeling like a loser who takes 4 steps forward and 3 steps back, and not knowing what to do with themselves.

This is not right. We can’t expect to get the whole “running a businesses” thing in just a year or two. (By that I mean really get it, not regurgitating jargons or reciting feel-good fluff.)

Yet this is the “life-cycle” of getting sucked into the machine, got churned and burned then spat out with a scattered bunch of tactics without the experience or perspective to tie them into a cohesive whole.

Leaving those with big ideas and good intention disillusioned, deflated and often out of funds.

We’re done with those 4-video launches, 5-email sequences, 6-figure sound bytes and funnels with a dozen up-sell, cross-sell and down-sell permutations.

I’ve tried them. Sacrificing my voice and seeing the same thing happening to others made me sad.

I wish I had a “solution.” I’m in as much of a pickle as everyone else.

If not more. Because somewhere along the way I’ve fallen in love with clarity, discernment and words…

Not only to do everything with utmost intentionality, but also to express the intention undiluted and unapologetically.

We’ve been around the block a few times. We’re done with the cookie-cutter BS and ready to do something differently – with clear intention to create meaning.

We’re in the gap where the old is wearing out and the new hasn’t fully emerged.

We’re stuck with the same “formats” we’ve grown to be skeptical about.

So much so that sometimes I resist taking action because I feel like I’m just going through the motion.

I don’t want to be pessimistic. I don’t want to throw in the towel.

Yet sometimes, it feels like there’s nothing new under the sun and cutting through the clutter has become a futile exercise in fighting with myself.

I’ve spent a good part of the year “detoxing” from the “how things are supposed to be done.” Maybe the questioning and self-scrutiny only made life harder.

Of course the format of delivery shouldn’t be the hurdle. I want to believe that intention and messaging are what matter.

Alas, amidst all the noise and distraction, we’ve built mental shortcuts to survive. We’re conditioned to tune out.

While we may still have to work with the same mode of expression for the time being, I believe we can get behind on what’s emerging:

Less information, more conversation…

… for how we communicate, and how we’re being communicated to.

Lead with our action, vote with our response.

Wake up, be discerning (no 60-minute webinar can give you the magic bullet to get all the clients you want while sipping cocktails by the pool) and don’t insult your audience’s intelligence.

Don’t spoon-feed your audience stuff that some blueprint or formula say you have to say. If you don’t buy it, why should your peeps?

I started out in the “coaching world” but I never take to those cookie cutter promotional tactics.

The fake scarcity. The “you have to invest a boatload in yourself or you’re a loser.” The “you’re not serious about succeeding if you don’t pull our your credit card now.”

Making people feel like crap, inadequate, wrong – using guilt to talk them into buying more stuff.

Hiding behind the disguise of “being of service” while pulling the fears and scarcity trigger mercilessly.

Most of us are swimming in this same stew, reading the same stuff and letting the same emails eat at us.

What if we step outside of the box and ask better questions?

Break out of the echo chamber. Step back for a broader perspective.

Go back to asking – what matters?

Small Telephone Systems Verses Multi-line Business Phones

Choosing the right telephone system from start is always the best path, but not always the most economical. Before you head down to your local electronic store and pick up the cheapest multi-line business phone you can find, here are few pointers you should keep in mind.

Many multi-line business phones have a pretty decent feature set such as voicemail, caller ID, call waiting ID, 3 way calling and intercom (in multi phone setups). These phones integrate the Key System Unit (or KSU) into the phone itself, which means each individual telephone functions as its own “mini phone system.” The term KSU, (Key System Unit, Key Signaling Unit or Key Service Unit) dates back to the early day’s phone systems, it’s basically “the Brain” of the phone system. All call processing data and telephone line interfacing is carried out by the KSU. For many small offices with less than 4 phones (extensions) and 4 telephone lines, these multi-line phones are adequate and economical. However, as a business grows, the many disadvantages of these phones begin to show their merits.

By comparison, multi-line business phones are sold with the marketing term, “KSU-less design,” which translates (in buyers minds) to lower overall costs. Small telephone systems on the other hand include a separate KSU unit or “Brain” in addition to each telephone. A major disadvantage comes to play when you are interfacing your phones with the telephone company lines. The KSU acts as the “line interface,” for a phone system, all major system connections terminate at the KSU. Now with each multi-line phone acting as its own “mini phone system,” each phone now needs direct connections to each telephone line.

A single telephone line consists of 1 pair of wires. Almost all multi-line phones support up to 4 lines, meaning each multi-line phone needs up to 4 pairs of wires or the equivalent of a standard Cat5e cable. As you begin to add more KSU-less phones to your office you must factor in the cost to install another drop of cat5e (or cat5) cable. You must also account for the additional termination blocks in your telephone closet where all these phones must be “Bridged” (or shared) to the 4 phone lines. As you can imagine, for installations with more than say 4 or 5 phones the wiring aspect can get pretty complex. Anything over 6 or 7 phones will be a wiring mess, if done unprofessionally, which adds to the cost of these low budget systems. However, this bridged connection is how multi-line phones “intercom” one another. By sending a signal over each bridged line, each extension can communicate without actually tying up any of the 4 phone lines. As long as every multi-line phone is connected to all 4 lines (or matching number of lines if less than 4), each phone can intercom each other internally while keeping the phone lines free for external calls.

Small Telephones Systems on the other hand, which come equipped with a separate, dedicated KSU unit, are at a distinct advantage in both areas. Having a single KSU unit means a single interface point for the telephone line connections. Many small telephone systems need only a single pair of wire to connect each extension telephone. What this means is if you are deploying a number of phones in one particular area, you can save dramatically on cabling costs by having your contractor “split” the single Cat5e cable into, at most, 4 single telephone jacks! – This becomes very cost effective as you deploy additional phones. (However, many pros will only split single Cat5 cable once for 2 telephone jacks leaving the remaining wires as spare pairs). Cable management becomes much easier (and neater) as you need not worry about bridging 10 phones to 4 telephone lines. One single pair of wires (to connect to a telephone) of the 3 or 4 pairs in a standard telephone cable is enough for as many lines as the small telephone system can handle since the actual line connections are at the dedicated KSU unit and not at the individual telephone.

Another plus for the small telephone system is the ease of transitioning to a larger phone system. The wiring scheme for the most part will remain the same albeit installing more cable drops to new areas. Not so much the same for the multi-line business phones. Depending on how each phone was “bridged” to interface to those 4 telephone lines, this entire wiring scheme may need to be undone as most small (and large) telephone systems require individual (not bridged or shared) connections to the KSU.

Programming wise there is one disadvantage when comparing small business telephone systems to multi-line business phones, which can be viewed as multiple disadvantages. Since each individual telephone functions as its own KSU it also functions as its own Voicemail unit (if equipped). Which means if you want to enable an Auto Attendant feature (where your callers are greeted by a company recording instructing them to press 1 for Joe Boss, 2 for Sales Manager etc…) you will have to record this greeting for as many times as you have voicemail enabled phones (up to 4). Here’s why, with most multi-line business phones, the voicemail feature includes a personal voicemail box for the extension and an optional auto attendant feature. The auto attendant feature can only handle one call at a time; ergo if you want the system to answer up to 4 incoming calls simultaneously you need at least 4 auto attendant enabled phones. So technically speaking you must record the same auto attendant greeting 4 times, 1 on each phone. You must also enable the system mailbox for each of the 4 phones to accept general messages. You now have 4 different phones/voicemail boxes in your office where you must check for general messages. This is known as a general mailbox, which is a default destination for callers who do not press a menu option or dial an extension. This scenario is not efficient for larger setups but may work for smaller ones.

With a small business telephone system, there is just one central voicemail unit which can handle multiple calls at once. Storage times are much greater and there is just one mailbox for general messages. You can also take advantage of advanced features (if equipped) such as voicemail to email (where the system sends the voicemail in a standard wav format to your email address), which in this fast paced world can be a BIG time saver and added convenience.

One last point on this topic to cover quickly; with the advent of the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) continually proving its cost effective existence, many businesses find themselves wanting to take advantage of these savings. Many small business telephone systems on the market today are equipped to handle VoIP telephone lines through either a simple hardware or software upgrade. An upgrade may include adding an Ethernet (or media) port to the system or if already equipped, simply enabling this port through software activation. Simply plugging this unit into your company LAN and perhaps minor firewall configuration you can now start saving on land line costs by calling out over less expensive VoIP lines.

Multi-line business telephone can benefit as well but through a 3rd party VoIP gateway. This gateway converts a VoIP line (sometimes called a “Trunk”) to a standard telephone port. You will need as many gateways as you want lines, (or opt for a multi-port unit). However you may have to plan on spending some time configuring and adjusting the settings of the unit to obtain the proper volume levels while minimizing echo and other artifacts that may be induced when converting the signal from a standard Analog telephone line to SIP or other VoIP protocol. Many high end units come with built in (hardware or software) echo cancellers and noise suppressors which minimize these adjustments (and work very well) but increase the cost of the gateway dramatically.

To conclude, although it may seem like great savings early in your start up phase, for needs of 4 or less external lines and extension phones, the multi-line business phone can actually prove to be a cost effective solution. In my humble opinion these multi-line phones are better suited for a home office (or SOHO) situation. If you have big plans to expand exponentially (and don’t we all!) I recommend you at least consider a small business telephone system. Although a bit more initial investment is required, the benefits far out way the cost disadvantage if not cancel it out completely.

Copyright © 2009 Damian Parkins for PBX Interactive, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Bring Business To Life With Web Conferencing

Web Conferencing is the new way of interaction over internet and giving live presentations. In this kind of conference system, each delegate has to sit with a computer connected with internet and through it one can interact with other people. If telephone is also used, VoIP technology is used else we use only chats. This technology is very cheap and saves time as well as cost and is very environmental friendly as well.

Web conferencing provides easiest method to stay connected without spending lots of money. Web conferencing is of many types such as web meeting, Webcast, the Webinar, online presenting, and online collaboration. The choice depends on the specific needs. It can be a audio, video or text-based conversation that is conducted in real time.

Usually organizations that have global presence, use this technology to remain connected. Using this technology, any person can be working at one geographical location while being connected with other far away offices etc.

Web conferencing is used as it cuts traveling costs, accommodation costs and save time also.

It’s just not business that derives benefits from web conferencing. If you and your family live apart and can not meet often, this can form an excellent form of communication with them.

When you are sitting in web conference, there are certain etiquettes that need to be followed. One must speak slowly and always try to be clear. Listening to other person attentively is important so that they do not have to repeat themselves.

Before you start a web conference it’s a good idea to check the equipment. Always test the system before the conference starts so that there is no interruption in the middle of conference. Check variables like lighting, seating arrangements and microphone position, background etc. Keep an extra monitor with you so that the conference participants can see themselves on the screen.

Proper care must be used when organizing the conference, as some people may be in different time zones. Remember to press the mute button when not talking, in order to prevent echo. If a problem of echo is there, consider using echo cancellers. It’s possible that the audio or video quality may be poor at the beginning of the conference. Try adjusting the microphone position, lighting etc. This may fix the problem. If things do not improve, hanging up and redialing or even rebooting the system may be necessary. If there are issues at one end, always information should be passed on to all the other parties so that they are not troubled due to disruption.

Although setting up a full fledged studio might be expensive, it pays over a period of time. If it is felt that costs will not justify returns consider renting the equipment. Lot of firms will easily provide good technicians as well as equipment for good conferencing service.

Web conferencing has made life easier for us be it business or personal lives. It is a great way of exchanging information and keeping in touch as well.