Monday, February 25, 2013

Referrals are welcome

Repeat customers and referrals are at the heart of a healthy business operation. When was the last time you recommended a restaurant to a friend? Maybe you were happy with a car wash and told a neighbor, who now frequents the same place. When someone compliments your suit, shoes or coat, you might even tell them where you bought those items, unprompted. So much business is spread by word of mouth.
Owners of businesses can’t be in all the right networking places at the right time, but building up referral sources is imperative for a professional service firm.
Recently my accountant passed away. Unfortunately, no provision had been made to complete my taxes. It was time to go looking for another accountant. Being a small business, I didn’t need a powerhouse accounting firm but I did need someone local who could get the taxes done on time. An added value would be someone who could provide financial expertise to help my business thrive.
I decided to call on an accountant who is a friend of the family. I was disappointed to learn that she wasn’t available to do my taxes. I asked her if she knew of anyone else. She told me about a CPA in Livonia, who shares an office with two others and is very competent. In fact, my source said that she often refers prospective clients to this CPA when her clientele gets too full. Her vote of confidence was reassuring. It was also a big relief because I didn’t have to keep looking. My new CPA is gaining a new customer without even having to knock on my door or make a cold call. Given that scenario, you see how important a good referral can be.
That’s why we welcome your referrals. My team at Cezat Creative Resources and I can manage your print or web project from concept to completion. We are to the print/web/presentation process what an event planner is to a wedding, conference or fundraising event.  We make your job easier by handling all the details and ensuring that deadlines are met and budgets are adhered to.
Referrals can take small business to new places. Photo by Liz Cezat.
We offer complete project management – writing, design, photography, printing/mailing, and posting online – for timely communication. Our newsletters, brochures, annual reports, websites and presentations are designed to keep your audiences informed, inspired and loyal to your organization/firm. I also offer social media – posting and blog content.

We can help you:

• sell professional services
• raise funds for a nonprofit organization
• boost loyalty from alumni and/or association members
• prepare for a capital campaign
• engage your key supporters.

If you are pleased with the services that you have received from Cezat Creative Resources, please tell your associates about us when they go looking for a small yet smart business to take on an important project that involves marketing, fundraising or B2B sales.
If you have questions, comments or want to discuss a project, please contact Liz Cezat at 734.416.5915 or send an e-mail. Thank you for helping us get the word out.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bloom where you’re planted

I just learned today that my accountant Bob has died. I knew he was sick but I didn’t know that it was life-threatening. He was my age. He leaves behind a wife and three adult children. I also have three adult children and a loving boyfriend (and a former spouse). We both run – or did run – our own businesses. There were lots of similarities.
Photo by Liz Cezat, Mt. Ranier wildflowers.
Bob always had a smile and encouragement for me and my business through its ups and downs. He thought small business was pretty cool. I would get discouraged easier than he did when times got tough. I’m persistent and hard-working but am also impatient and, at times, pessimistic.
His passing makes me realize how fleeting life is. How we don’t know for sure how much time we really have. Although I think that I will live well into my 90s, I have no crystal ball to tell me if this is true.
The past few years – with a fragile economy – have been hard on my business. I fear that the craft that I love – interviewing, writing, sharing stories, informing audiences, and producing publications and marketing materials – is no longer valued. That’s also a death.

In the midst of death, it’s doubly important to make the most of life. I’ve been guilty of wishing that I was somewhere else doing something else. The desire to thrive is all encompassing. Bob’s death does motivate me to flourish once again with a new focus.
For starters, I will try to live with more optimism and gratitude. Life is only lived once; days wasted on despair don’t come back as a do-over. Whether it’s a long life or a shorter life … I want to make the most of each and every day. 
Most of you who read this don't know Bob, but you probably do know someone whose life ended much too soon. It is these individuals  - ordinary yet extraordinary - who have such an impact on us. Their passing often is a "wake-up call" for us to pay more attention to how we live our lives.
God bless you Bob. May you rest in peace, knowing that you have inspired me and others through your kindness, your commitment to your loving family, and your work ethic. Bob’s world – his sphere of family, friends, community and business - won’t be the same without him and that is a profound loss.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Writing and flow can make your speech transformative

Good writing is the linchpin of a presentation. As a Toastmaster, I hear a lot of speeches. The good ones have a beginning, middle and end. The bad ones take the listeners along a path that leads to a fog – they don’t know where the speech is going.
Near hits are those that have a great opening, good solid points, descriptive examples and personal stories that connect, but at the point of wrapping up the speech – the speaker veers onto a tangent before ending it.
Why did the speaker throw in this extraneous element? When writing, your speech should have a  flow to it. Do the points you are making lead logically from one to another? Do your real-life examples support a point or are you just adding them for comic relief? Everything that goes into a presentation – facts, examples, humor and statistics – needs to support the message you want to impart.
A good speech is like a river, it takes the audience on a journey.
Photo by Liz Cezat; Virgin River, Zion National Park
When writing a speech, if it appears that you have too much stuff in the form of a double ending or content that doesn’t flow, you need to closely examine the extraneous elements. If an element is indeed a supporting point of the speech, put it where it belongs. Maybe it needs to go toward the front of your presentation or in the middle. It if doesn’t fit anywhere, cut it out. Think of great films and how many scenes are left on the cutting room floor.
Now, picture a river with a strong current. You want to take your audience in at one point (set the stage), and then have them travel with you along that river – learning and ideally being entertained as they go. At the end, put them on solid ground with new knowledge gained. Give your speech legs – take-away points the audience can either act on or reflect upon.
It’s true that the audience forgets much of what is said in a speech, but if you can create a good flow to your speech and have an ending that wraps up the most important points, the audience will be delighted not only with the presentation but with you as an expert.
Exceptional speeches stick with audiences for years because they’ve imparted new knowledge. Your words can motivate your audience or inspire them to change a behavior or viewpoint. With a bit more attention to content and flow, your speeches can be transformative.
If you need a professional speech writer, please contact me at