The Speech AND the Pen are Mightier than the Sword: A KikScore Interview with Jill FosterOctober 17th, 2011 | Interviews,Small Business,Social Media | 2 Comments »
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with the amazing Jill Foster, founder of the speech coaching service liveyourtalk. Writing and giving speeches can be a trying task for some, and Jill is definitely the one to go to when that person is you. From my interview alone, I can safely say that Jill is a fun, energetic, and all-around great person who has a lot of wisdom to share with all of us.
Tell me a little about liveyourtalk.
The whole point of liveyourtalk is to provide coaching services in the social tech industry. I help these people improve their written content and social abilities when delivering speeches and other public speaking situations. I love doing what I do and I’m happy to be living out my dream job.
When and why did you decide to create liveyourtalk?
For years I’ve been teaching and doing various projects in the sales and social media circles. Through this time, I’ve seen a lot of fantastic people who could express their brands online and get into an offstage dynamic. However, I also saw a lot of these same people struggle once they got onto the stage. That’s when I decided it was time to start my business.
My business has been going for about a year and a half. I’ve been able to build on two loves: my love of social tech and my love for really thoughtful presentation and speech writing. The way I see it, creating liveyourtalk has been a great chance to bring more truth and fun into this world in terms of presenting and speech writing.
What was one of the biggest challenges you faced and overcame in launching liveyourtalk?
I would say that the biggest challenge has been learning how my customers think. This meant studying what the market wants from a speaking coach. In the first year of starting liveyourtalk, I discovered that what I wanted to provide wasn’t necessarily what people in the tech industry wanted from a speech writer. It was also pretty difficult to figure out what language they used when creating content for live audiences. It took a while for me to realize that writing is very much grouped in the world of speech coaching. There are certain content needs that must be made easier.
How do you advertise yourself to get more clients?
Actually, I’d say that 90% of my business comes from word-of-mouth. A lot of that business came from participation in my career before starting liveyourtalk. However, I do participate in Facebook and Twitter; more the former than the latter. In both of these, I participate in specific groups to keep within my target audience. My focus is mainly on media and socially centric clients.
Have you had any trouble proving your business’ credibility and legitimacy to potential customers and website visitors?
Not particularly, but there’s always room for improvement. One thing that I know I could always try to do is find ways to make liveyourtalk more socially accessible. What I mean to say is that, although I haven’t really encountered any problems, I’m fully aware that my site could be improved.
When you’re not working on liveyourtalk, what do you do to relax?
I love to exercise. I also have a lot of fun going out somewhere with my husband or friends. Participating in the social tech community is really enjoyable. In fact, I even have some fun video side-projects.
Based on your expertise, what two or three things do you think small businesses should be doing concerning marketing?
Frankly, there are so many different social marketing and social media opportunities that it can sometimes be daunting. One piece of advice I’d give is to look at your overall goals and choose two media platforms to use. But keep in mind that, even though there are so many different ways to use social media, you don’t have to use them all.
Another important thing is to make sure that your business culture is personalized. Give people a feel for your services and show them how you handle yourself in your industry. Again, there are tons of ways to do this. A good way to do this, in my opinion, is to make a 30 second to 1 minute video that goes over your business. It helps to create an image in people’s minds that they can really understand.
What tools would you recommend in the small business world?
A helpful tool that I use is the search function in Twitter. Even if you don’t participate on Twitter, using it to search for certain keywords can give you a lot of information. It’s really helpful when searching for clients and competitors. You can see if they’re on Twitter and, if they are, what they’re doing.
For businesses that feel more comfortable on social networks, I would also recommend HootSuite. It can help you organize your social media conversations, like those in Facebook and Twitter, as well as set up ongoing feeds for what you search. It also has measuring tools for tracking how much someone is looked at on social media sites.
If you had to pick two lessons that you’ve learned from launching and maintaining liveyourtalk, what would they be?
The greatest lesson I’ve learned in getting liveyourtalk off the ground is that you must develop working systems for your business. It’s important to be fun, clear and artistic when you’re on the stage. Therefore, you need to figure out a system for how to create this feeling while conveying it with good content.
In addition to this, I’ve learned that it is essential to remind yourself to pull back for a minute and look at your business as its own entity. By doing this, you can get an objective view of your business and see how you can make it successful.
Thanks to Jill Foster for an incredible interview! I hope that everyone can learn as much from her expertise and enthusiasm as I have!