Free Listening: During the 2016 Democratic National Convention, I stood near the CNN media tent with a decorated poster board proclaiming “Free Listening”. I was volunteering for a movement, which believes that all people just want to be respectfully heard, regardless of their opinions. So that’s what I did. I just stood there and listened to anyone who approached me, without commenting or judgment. I acknowledged them, listened intently, and gave them the space to express their disappointment, their anger, their frustration, and their personal trials. I’ll never forget Bob, the middle aged homeless gentleman who wanted to talk about the homeless policies of Philadelphia, how they could do things better, and shared the best actions that average citizens can take for the homeless they meet on the street. We ended our listening session with a hug and he walked away with a smile.
Unfortunately, we don’t normally get the chance to have a captive audience who is listening to everything we say with no distractions. If you’re a small business, trying to get the attention of your perfect clients and stand out amidst all of the noise of others in your industry, especially when competing with the powerful messaging of larger companies, can feel near impossible.
National Be Heard: In 2004, Shannon Cherry recognized a need for the 145 million small businesses to be heard amidst the strong messaging of Big Business and founded #NationalBeHeardDay. This day is now recognized as a time to revisit marketing campaigns, invent publicity events, polish social media messages and find additional creative ways to make their presence known. In fact you can register your small business HERE with a sale, give-away, or special deal so that you’ll ‘be heard’.
Of course, when being ‘heard’, it’s also important to determine what you have to say and how you will say it. Other than providing giveaways so customers will give you a try, what do you want your potential clients to hear from you? This is important to think about and to develop as part of your consistent messaging. For example, do you want the exposure of Hobby Lobby, standing up for the religious beliefs of its’ owner, or the attention of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavor developed for Bernie Sanders? Does your small company have a social impact model that you want to be known for? Your consistent message, and the tools you use to say it, will garner you the attention needed to attract the customers you want. If you were Bob during a free listening session, what would you say?