Unsolicited Generosity, Trades from Hell, and Dealing with Bartering

When I was a new-ish business owner, I’d be approached by people (largely people I met at networking events) who’d want to work with me… and they’d want to do a trade.

Why not?, I reasoned. They seemed nice. I wanted the experience. Plus, I thought, maybe they’ll refer me.

The absolute worst experience, though, was with a woman named Wanda.

I’m not sure how it happened. Walking into our meeting, I was under the impression she wanted to learn more about my services. A precious hour and a half later, I walked away being booked to work with her, in exchange for her service. A service I didn’t want or need.

Caution: chance of trade ahead

I was gobsmacked.

I’d been hoodwinked! I’d been had!

I was LIVID. And too scared to do anything about it.

Days later I realized what happened: Wanda offered her service and she was so nice that I felt like if I didn’t accept, I’d risk being insulting and unappreciative.

So I reciprocated.

And it was painful.

All Work is Not Equal

Delivering the services were painful. She wasn’t my right person and we weren’t having the level progress that I normally see with clients.

Again, I was reminded, that committing myself to some one who obviously wasn’t a “fit” with my approach was painful.

Plus it was exhausting.

If your work involves prep time, drive time, re-caps and client communication, you’re ‘trading’ that ON TOP OF the actual interaction. And it’s a sunk cost.

Trades are a time investment in which you cannot do anything else, including generating revenue from paying clients.

As our trade progressed, I began to question my competence (and my sanity).

Halfway through this trade, it dawned on me:

Generosity is a two-way street. To be true generosity a trade needs to be received in the spirit in which it was given.

Someone who doesn’t want what you’re offering but takes it anyway isn’t receiving your generosity.  And you cannot accept someone’s generosity if you don’t want to take it wholeheartedly.

I quickly learned that when it comes to trades, low-investment meant low return.

The whole shebang with Wanda felt like an exercise in white-knuckling and contorting.  I didn’t feel my work was valued. And I didn’t value Wanda’s services, which made me judge myself as unappreciative.

If there isn’t an equal value of services, fundamentally, no one will be doing their best work.

And here’s the kicker: if you’re not doing your best work, you’re not going to be referred the way you want.

I white-knuckled through my time with Wanda. One result from our interaction is that I’ve learned to set strong(er) boundaries.

I’ve learned to put the brakes on my knee-jerk reaction to generosity.

Accepting and reciprocating are no longer my only options.

It’s as simple as preparing for the possibility and taking a breath after the moment someone makes the suggestion.

I’ve practice saying the following with a smile: “I find that trades can get messy, I’d like to avoid any hassle and figure out a better solution. How about…”.

What about you? How have trades served you and where do you steer clear?

From agencies to interns, choose the RIGHT marketing for your small business

I recently got the following question in my inbox:

Q: How does a small business decide when to hire a marketing firm on a part time basis? Full time? Or hire an employee with a marketing degree?

A: When a small business starts to look for outside help, the possibilities seem limitless and the potential costs can appear both over-whelming and uncapped. You’re smart to take a few moments to weigh your options and get more information.

I’m a fan of keeping marketing in-house for as long as it makes sense because you can control, learn, and grow on your terms.

The question is, when does it stop making sense to keep your marketing in-house?

When a small business is looking at outside help, it’s usually for one of three pivot points:

marketing pivot points

  1. Whatever we’re currently doing isn’t working… maybe someone else knows better.
  2. Our marketing worked for where our business was in the past, the trouble is, we’ve outgrown it and need something to take us to the next level. But we’re not sure what.
  3. We are way too busy serving customers and being profitable and we know marketing is important – we just don’t have the bandwidth to stay ontop of it.

Marketing Pivot Point #1: Whatever we’re currently doing isn’t working… maybe someone else knows better.

If your company is in the “whatever they’re currently doing isn’t working… maybe someone else knows better” stage, then it’s time to get a new perspective.

If it’s an issue around a specific tactic, then you may find yourself working directly with a graphic designer, developer, or copywriter.

If you’re looking for tools to be created, you’re not happy with your current flier or business card, website, you’ll be working with a professional who specializes in that specifc tactic.

However if it’s more strategic – if your answer to “what isn’t working” is either “everything” or “I don’t know” then I recommend you meet with someone trusted who can help you untangle what really is the current situation from a strategic standpoint, not from a tactic standpoint.

I’m a strategist (so that’s what I do best) and there are many flavors marketing consultants can also help you decide where you are and what the real challenges are.

It’s important that whomever is helping you with perspective and strategy is asking the questions to help you determine whether what you have on your hands is a marketing challenge, sales challenge, or a process challenge.

A challenge with people not understanding what you do is different that someone not understanding how to buy from you or how to buy from you in the future.

Once you’re clear on the challenge, you’ll want to be smart in building a solution – the solution can likely come from in-house, if you have the talent, or from independent contractors who help you create the pieces. Sometimes your consultant can oversee this. Together you develop a few key systems or pieces to help solve the problem efficiently, getting you to the next level of business – a correlation between your marketing and sales.

Rarely would I recommend an agency at this stage because costs are high and control is low. At this point, you want low costs and high control so that you’re able to efficiently oversee your own process.

Marketing Pivot Point #2: Our marketing worked for where our business was in the past, the trouble is, we’ve outgrown it and need something to take us to the next level. But we’re not sure what.

First, congratulations on getting to this point! It’s not always ever easy.

If you’ve outgrown your marketing and need new pieces developed, you may want to return to who helped you get here before.They already know you and you save time in ramp-up.

If you weren’t happy with them, ask for referrals for a strategist or consultant who can help you outline what is next in your marketing. If you’re looking for a referral, you’re welcome to contact me directly and we’ll see what we can find for you.

If ongoing marketing support is needed – for instance, you’ve correlated that Google AdWords is an important part of your business (aka it works for you), then you will probably still find it less expensive to hire someone indepdent to oversee the process and report back to you.

However, if you have seven or eight of these independent people working for you, it may be time to start looking at bringing in a part-time person to oversee your marketing.

The challenge here is finding a someone who has the individual talents of the different providers at a price point you can manage. Usually, I find what can be taught to a part-time person and pay the provider to train them so that the skill set is now in-house.

I’ve trained in-house marketing coordinators to think strategically, so there’s no limit to what the right candidate can be taught.

Marketing Pivot Point  #3: We are way too busy serving customers and being profitable and we know marketing is important – we just don’t have the bandwidth to stay on top of it.

When this is your challenge, it may be time to get help with making your process become more efficient and the first step is often deciding whether to make your part time person into a full time person or to go with an agency.

Agencies are wonderful options for companies who have more important (and profitable) work to do than run their marketing.

The brilliant shift in today’s world is that there are different types of agencies for different budgets, usually that involves a flat-rate retainer fee for a certain number of service hours, with you paying for any analog (paper) or digital materials developed, or specific services outside of the scope of the retainer.

If you have questions on this process, or are looking for some help navigating, definitely reach out – you’re welcome to schedule a chat with me and we can outline what’s needed, what’s next, and what’s unnessciary for where you are today.

Have a marketing question? Send it to me straightaway on the website or send it to me Rebecca@Tri-LineMarketing.com

 

How I got my inner-12 year-old to stop sabotaging my marketing.

The first six years that I oversaw the marketing for the family business, my inner 12 year old was in charge.

Our marketing ‘strategy’ (if you could call it that) was absolutely guided by my insecurities.  I was afraid to put anything up. Afraid someone would disagree (and publicly air their disapproval).

Maybe, if I just bury my head in the sand, this will all pass. {via}

How Insecurities Take Charge

It all started with one guy on our newsletter list.  He would reply to every issue with edits, comments, and critical feedback.  My 12 year old self loathed him.

My 12 year-old self quickly learned to balk and put off ever triggering his replies: messages never went out.

In addition to procrastinating, I was so afraid of making mistakes, that I obsessively studied our competitors for better ways of doing things.  The trouble with that, though, was that their work seemed 1000% better than anything I could come up with.

Thus, began the downward spiral of avoiding creating anything.

The boss (my father) had no idea the extent of insecurity that was running the marketing: he was busy with the scores of other things he had to accomplish. Plus, as a 12 year old, it was easier to bear your dad’s frustration than it is to field responses from strangers.

It’s easier to put things off than it is to face the discomfort around exposure.

When Pops would ask me about deadlines or deliverables, I’d make up all kinds of stories that I knew he’d never follow up on: issues with printers or the website and challenges around getting things to look “just right”.  I began to believe those stories myself.  Getting caught up in details was easier than chancing my actions might actually stir things up.

And when I had no choice but to get the message out (like when we had time-sensitive offers or events), I procrastinated until the very last minute possible, scrambling to get things up.

Like Rushing over Hot Coals

My attempt to avoid discomfort by procrastinating was like rushing over marketing hot coals, leading to exactly what I was afraid of: making careless mistakes and typos (especially on dates and times!).  Quite the cycle.

Looking back, they weren’t careless mistakes. Because (boy, howdy!) did I care.

But like most 12 year olds, I cared way too much about the wrong things.

My uncertainty, doubt, and anxiousness crippled our ability to reach people.  It stunted our potential and effectiveness.  It caused confusion for customers and totally justified frustration from the boss man.

Worst of all, it set up the limiting behavior in me that there was something wrong with the way I did things. I gave away my autonomy (as 12 year-olds are known to do).  This was especially caustic because I was the only one available to do the marketing.  If I didn’t do it, it didn’t get done.

Four Things My Inner 12 Year-Old Needed to Know About Marketing

Ideally the marketing would have been sherpa’d by a less emotionally volatile person.   But since that wasn’t an option, here are four things I wish that my 12 year-old self could have realized:

1) One lone critic isn’t something to get overly concerned about.  Particularly if he’s got no experience in what you do and no platform.  People who criticize have nothing better to do. They guy with the newsletter? He’s retired and this is how he gets his shits and giggles. Take his spelling and grammar advice and defer the rest. If you heard this from three different people, then I’d worry about it. But one person? Notworthit.

2) You think that monitoring and berating yourself will keep you from making mistakes?  In truth, the pressure you put on yourself is stopping you from doing anything: making mistakes, yes, but it’s also stopping you from doing anything valuable. In trying (even though it sometimes feels like failing), you’re setting yourself apart.

3) Give yourself massive credit for trying because a) you deserve it, and b) giving yourself credit will make you want to do more.  One thing successful people know is that you have to DO in order to get better.  And getting better at anything marketing related requires doing and testing.

4) Have fun. There will never be another time just like now: you’ve got a whole world of industry knowledge at your fingertips, a boss who can’t fire you, and the title of student on your side.  Have fun. And remember that even though it seems inconceivable, the process is just as important as the outcome.

Now it’s your turn. Where have you seen your inner 12 year-old running your marketing? How have you helped him/her push past?

Simple statistics that get people to take action

Photo by Penguin & Fish

Is there a little kid in your life?

Chances are, they almost always have something in hand: a blanket, action figure, ball or a stuffed giraffe.

Comfort items change as we age, but our urge to “hold” the tangible in-hand continues: children like holding stuff. Adults, you’ll find, carry fistfulls of tangible facts as a comfort item.

Why a Statistic?

Think of all of the concise, catchy bits that pass your way each day—via quotes, blurbs and terse blips of wisdom.  The best facts we hold on to are true, practical, unpretentious and easy to recollect during a cocktail party (or on a social networking platform).

These bits and bites anchor political candidates, brand non-profits and launched the bumper sticker industry.

At one end of the tangible-fact spectrum you have mnemonic tricks, rhymes and catchphrases.  At the other end, analytical number-oriented “did you know…” facts.

If you want your marketing to have strong recollection that mobilizes, good, clear facts are the way to go.

One Intelligent Marketing Strategy is boiling down a passion, story, mission and action into ONE can’t-argue-with fact that sticks.

Case Study: Cinda Baxter, the 3/50 Project

One of my most favorite statistics comes from Cinda Baxter, Founder of the 3/50 Project, who eloquently fact-ized the fiery topic of supporting small businesses.

The retail consultant and speaker has lots to say on the topic, but has pared down her knowledge one point: 3/50.

Pick 3 businesses, spend $50 a month and save your local economy.

The 3/50 Project

The 3/50 Project’s homepage first has you contemplate 3 small businesses you’d miss if they were gone.

Using numbers to connect with you on an emotional level.  

Because numbers are comfort, there’s power in tying them to story.

The 3/50 project does just that.

What three small businesses would the reader miss? Perhaps it’s that ice cream parlor your kids love, and you loved when you were their age.  The hardware store where the owner knows every trick in the book.  The cute yarn shop that your mom calls her second home.

Use facts to mobilize – challenge readers to act

Her next request is to spend $50 at these three small businesses.

Don’t spend money you don’t have, but if you do have money, spend it at a small business.

Here comes the next beautiful, tangible fact (the comfort items continue to roll out)…

68% of money spent at a local business goes right back into the community (compared with only 43% at chain stores).

By taking a strong “what’s good for community is good for me” stand, the 3/50 project does amazing work with numbers and statistics.

You can read more – like how Baxter’s site provides the reader with so much value – FAQ, fine print, details, logos, ways to become a part of the cause as a shopper, business owner or simple caring citizen.

The site empowers those who connect with badges, icons, stickers and posters that bridge both the online and offline world.

Facts, used well with story, are like a delicious dinner accompanied by good conversation. It sticks to your ribs and gives you something to think about long after the table is cleared.

You’re hard-pressed to forget the simplicity of fact.  It rears it’s head when you talk with a local business owner about the economy.  Each time you choose to do some specialty shopping at an independent store, you’re connecting with the 3/50 Project, the store and more-importantly, you’re not clashing with your newly acquired information.

For more information on the 3/50 Project, check out http://www.the350project.net/home.html

Feel less naked in your inbox with Streak {Free Tool}

This week’s featured free tool is the genius-inducing power email add-on named Streak.

Streak email send later function

The problem it solves: Email and Timing
If you’ve ever put off writing emails because they have to be sent in the future, or written drafts that you’ve had to write and re-write, Streak is going to change your game… for the better.

What it does
Streak works inside Gmail and allows you to send emails at a later time and date.

Three Practical Ways to Use Streak:

  1. Write meeting reminders each Friday (at the end of your work week), but schedule for send on Sunday morning (for the start of your recipients work week).
  2. Writing a month of birthday emails early in the month when you have some time to really think and reflect on how much they mean to you… and schedule for send on the eve of the birthday person’s special day.
  3. Writing a detailed follow-up email to someone who you’ve just heard speak… knowing that they’ll be bombarded with emails right in the 12 hours after their talk, with virtually no  chance to reply to them all. Write your email while you’re on cloud-nine, but schedule it to send for the following weekend when they might have more time to read and reply.

How it works
1) Install Streak
2) Refresh Gmail
3) Write an email… notice the blue clock – the “Send Later” button that now comes with each email.
Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 5.55.37 PM

4) Click the button and schedule the email for the time you want it to send. Click “Schedule for Later”.

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 5.54.24 PM

5) You’re all set! If you’d like to edit your email, change, or remove the send time, simply go into your “drafts” folder.

Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 5.55.18 PM

But wait! There’s more…
Streak is a CRM (customer relationship management tool), which means it does plenty of amazing things – and ‘horrifying’ things too ;)

Personally, I’ve found that this feature is all I need right now, but I’m curious to play with the other functions Streak offers in the future.

Never forget: I want to hear from you!
If you find these tool tips useful, do shoot me an email saying so {Rebecca@Tri-LineMarketing.com}. Keep those comments and feedback coming – my heart soars when you do!

Get all of my favorite tools
In case you haven’t heard, I’m putting together a free resource of my Top 20 favorite free tools – Streak being one of them. If you’d like to receive the document – slated for May 1st- let me know and I’ll make sure you’re among the first to receive a copy.

Three lists with the power to revolutionize how you use Facebook (Twitter too).

Finding your time (and mood) is being dictated by what is (or isn’t) happening for your business on Facebook?

I curated these three lists for Facebook and they’ve absolutely revolutionized my experience with the tool.

Plus, in my time tracking, since building these lists, I’ve decreased time spent on Facebook by six hours each month.

The Three Lists

My three lists are:

Custom Facebook Lists

  • “Daily Goodness”,
  • “Close Friends”, and
  • “Professional Interests & Inspiration”

How it Works

The Daily Goodness List

My “Daily Goodness” list is comprised by a handful of people who I find inspiring. People who I look up to. Folks who remind me of Why I Started.

Inspiring Leaders

Funny enough, no one would categorize these folks as ‘business related’. Authors, meditation experts, yogis, and even an astrologist or two, this group helps guide me each day with sweet posts and compelling ways of staying present, maintaining perspective, and loving whatever is.

If (more like when) I’m tempted to check Facebook the first thing in the morning, this is the list I set my computer and mobile to go to. If I’m going to consume, let’s consume quality.

Close Friends

This list comes standard for all Facebook users.

But I doubt many of you have taken time to customize.

I have a few dozen of my most inspirational and amazing in-real-life friends and colleagues on this list and they never fail to delight and amuse me with their wit, their bravery, and their pretty awesome photography skills.

The *only* people who make this list are the ones who I can answer a resounding YES about when I ask myself this question: “Do I want to grow up to be like them?“.

When I want the dopamine hit Facebook offers, this is the list I go to. It keeps me up to speed with the amazing hearts I’m lucky enough to actually have ties to.

Professional Interests & Inspiration

It’s pretty clear from the title who and what I keep on this list.

Inspirational thinkers. Thought leaders. Brilliant minds. Ass-kickers, do-gooders, and movers-and-shakers.

Professional Interests and Inspiration

These include my amazing clients, non-profits, and yes, the occasional world-traipsing Brit billionaire who comes up with clever and awesome things to share (looking at you, Alain de Botton, and you, Sir Richard Branson).

The KEY RULE is that I’m not allowed to include ANYONE who makes me feel bad about where I am in my business. If (for whatever reason) I feel triggered, off they go from the list.

Do try it out and let me know how it works – happy curating!

 

Is there room for your personal brand in your business brand?

A darling new client brought me a recent challenge.

He wants to personally brand himself in order to stand out in a crowded space. The personal brand is clever, catchy and strong. All good things.

Square Peg in a Round Hole

However, from where I sit, things are clear: the personal brand he’s shooting for – what it stands for, what it’s supposed to represent — is not parallel to what his business does. More importantly, it’s not going to help in the process of where he wants his business to grow.

This struggle isn’t unique to entrepreneurs. On the big stage, it plays out by companies like Burger King.

In blind taste tests, Burger King’s burgers win on taste every time. That’s people saying “you’re really great at what you do!”. Yet, they keep trying to add a layer of personal branding on – most famously with The King.

The King got attention (maybe not the most positive attention, but attention no less). Yet it did nothing for sales, loyalty, or consumer preference.

This “personal” brand agent didn’t support where Burger King wanted to take their business. A big, expensive attention-getting attempt that got eyeballs, but didn’t pay off.

You might reason that my client should just drop the schtick, right? Well, that’s difficult to do when you’re eager to (and need to) stand out in a highly competitive industry.

Together, we’re working on developing the personal brand into something that can work for him as a figurehead, and something that he can transition out of over time. Kind of like a reverse Richard Branson.

This adjusted personal brand helps him build a base of clients (and sales), and we’ll work to position it as a complement to his business and it’s ever-evolving goals.

Here are two ways to prepare a personal brand that will fit with your business brand:

  • Make sure the personal brand values are parallel to and an amplification of the business brand.

If the business values transparency, the personal brand can just take this a little bit further – a “tell all” approach to content strategy, or a “caught being honest” weekly column may work well.

  • Follow a few brand mentors who do a great job billing themselves as a “2.0″ human being – showcasing their ‘super power’ in their personal brand… and highlighting that same ‘super power’ in their company.

Watch how they shine their spotlight on like-minded individuals in their company (and beyond). They’re building their personal and company brands by the company they keep and talk about.
For example, Toms (the shoe company) does a great job highlighting the volunteer work of every employee, a key driver for founder Blake Mycoskie.

Your Business Deserves Less Caricature, More Character

If your aversion to marketing has something to do with avoiding caricature-izing you (and your business), thank your gut.

developing business character

I’ve come dangerously close to turning my role in my business into a caricature three or four times in the last eight years.

The attempt towards becoming a caricature usually stems from an effort to simplify what you do (or how you talk about what you do). It’s normal to start thinking about caricature-izing when you see people aren’t “getting it”.

I reasoned that maybe people weren’t buying because I was making things too complicated. If I simplified, via a caricature, maybe people would buy more, with more ease.

What kind of caricatures did I flirt with?
I’ve toyed with being a::

  • marketing travel agent
  • marketing camp counselor
  • marketing big sister (:::insert cringe:::)
  • and a marketing sidekick to your business superhero

Ughhhh.

And yet, at one point I’ve been all of these things. But none of them felt right as stand-alone analogies.

More importantly, when I took them anywhere in my head, they felt stupid.

Maybe Burts Bees does it well because they’re a product business. As a service provider, it just fell flat for me.

You know the term “so broke it hurts”? This fell so flat it hurt.

So instead, I just kept forging ahead, dabbling with new analogies (“I’m like the Robin to your marketing Batman!“) and berating myself for being too stupid to come up with something right, or too fearful to pick something and own it.

And it’s slowly dawned on me that a caricature would have limited me too much in my journey. Caricature-izing my business would have been a shortcut, when what the universe really wanted me to do was to take the scenic route.

If you’re looking for a shortcut because, like me, you have the charming habit of wanting everything yesterday, please remember that your would-be customers want to look at a masterful work when they see your business. Not a slap-dash caricature.

Your depth means something important to your customers, clients, and partners.

It means quality. It means pause. It means that you care enough to put thought into something of meaning.

And it takes effort to find the right mix of depth and simplicity.

One of my favorite colleagues, Abby Kerr at the Voice Bureau, is a fantastic example of this deeper route. Her newsletters are among the few that don’t get filtered into my mail’s archive.

She gives me something to chew on and I appreciate her depth, be it in her newsletter or her Instagram.

You’re creating a masterpiece with this legacy business of yours.

As with most masterpieces, aficionados long to see something new each time they lay their eyes on you. Something they can contemplate and study.

Caricatures are a cheap thrill. Works of art call forth deeper discussion, meaning, and they’re harder to replicate, harder to duplicate, and there’s something to be said about loyalty.

Generosity and Marketing: where does generosity show up?

In your business, how does generosity show up?

It’s there. In the way you lend your time to answer emails. In your serving on boards for non-profits. In your volunteer service. In your donations to charity events. Maybe in mentorship or volunteering or simply taking the time to provide an insight – even when you know it may require you to step up, sit back, or otherwise shift from the path of least resistance.

If we look at generosity under the light of marketing, it can sometimes cast a shadow.

People jump back, afraid that if I tell people how my business is generous, we’ll look like we’re using what is supposed to be good and pure and tarnishing it by trying to make it part of our sales process.

How to talk about generosity in your marketing without being shady?

First, it’s important that this giving is directed by you – we want you to be actively choosing how generosity shows up in your business. The last thing you want, when it comes to giving, is to feel like the underdog in a ping-pong game.

That’s not fun, sustainable, nor does it have the “mojo” you’ll want to imbue your authentic, useful marketing pieces.

Next, make sure your needs are being met.

It may be that your needs are to be of service, or to connect with people, or to impact a certain feeling that comes up when you speak with people.

You’ll want to make sure that whomever you’re giving to–it could be an organization, indivdual, group of individuals or broader cause–has some sort of reciprocity that fulfills your needs.

It’s natural to feel good after receiving some sort of appreciation (“Thanks for helping!” in a follow-up email goes a loooong way).

And finally, for longer-term relationships, remember to double check on these needs every quarter. It’s almost a cliche to see a gung-ho business owner get all fired up to work with an organization and within a six months become disenchanted or distracted while the organization ends up deflated by the lack of participation.

By carefully choosing where you spend your time and energy and being aware that, like most long-term relationships, involved relationships require thoughtful re-evaluation, you’re distilling clarity.

And in marketing, clarity = awesome
because clarity = genuineness.
The better chance you’ll have a meaningful, accurate, passion-filled piece of content to share.

The Advice Giver
You spend between twenty and forty minutes a week giving advice to people who solicit it from you via email, in person, or on one of your social media channels.

You might think these conversations are pretty mundane, but I recommend that you use them for potential blog content.

Here are some basic questions you may get asked frequently, which could be turned in to writing or speaking platforms:

  • How someone gets started in your field
  • What are some of the pitfalls of your industry
  • How do you stand out in a crowded market
  • How you survived the recent economic downturn
  • What’s the best part about your job
  • What are the challenges that no one told you about when you first started

You can also take this further and see how you can reach your goals through generosity.

For instance, if you’re a business owner with a primary business goal of (someday) owning your space, and renting spaces to help cover the cost, you probably also want to become known in your community. So write or speak on the topic of building a thriving business in your industry. Take the answers from the above frequently asked questions and build a platform.

You’ll beging engaging the people who will eventually help you pay that mortgage, you’ll find yourself on the radar of a bigger conversation, and you’ll also hear questions that you can answer for an larger, searching audience.

The Volunteer
When donating time to an organization you believe in, there are powerful ways to weave them, and your work with them, into your marketing message.

  • Talk about a success story you witnessed, and how it plays in to the bigger picture of your work.
  • Talk about how an interaction you observed made an impact on the way you run your business, or show up in the world.

The Cause Champion
If you have a cause you’re passionate about, invite your tribe to learn more. Consider writing a “day in the life of a _____ supporter” and cover an event you went to, and how it’s changed you, as a business owner and person, for the better.

Invite your tribe to events.
Ask your business partners and suppliers to donate to your cause, and give them exposure in your marketing materials (think website, eNewsletter, or Facebook page – giving them a link and shout-out). It will also motivate your other business partners to be on the lookout for opportunities to partner with you in non-revenue-specific ways.

The Jig is Up: why does finding my “Ideal Customer” seem like believing in Santa Claus?

Did with a radio interview for The Possbilities Group (click here for recording). We had a few questions that didn’t get answered on-air, so here’s the full answer.

Q: I hear all of this stuff about my ‘target market’ and ‘ideal customer’, and heard it again today. Well, where do I FIND my them? It’s beginning to feel like Santa Claus and I’m beginning to think it isn’t real.

Sounds like you’re really in need of practical details. So here’s how I’d begin looking:

First: look back.

Where have you had interacted with folks who paid well and were a pleasure to deal with? If it was last month or last week or a year ago, great – start with them.

Now ask yourself: How did they find me? What had them buy from me?

If you don’t know, ask them those questions. Don’t assume you know if you haven’t asked!
Then commence light “stalking” (see below for details).

What if they aren’t a client but I interacted with them in a prior career?

That’s cool too. List what made them so appealing. Think about where they might be now (or people very similar to them), needing your service/product today. The commence the light “stalking” (see below).

What if I don’t have anyone?

If you don’t have anyone, then start making a list of the qualities of clients you’d like to have. Now look for those people in your life.

Ask them to join you for lunch or coffee and ask them for their feedback on what you’re trying to do.

Then zip up and listen. (And if you’re in San Diego, come to one of my Free Marketing 101 classes. Taught in conjunction with the San Diego Small Business Center, I’ve held this class since 2011 and we spend significant time figuring out WHO is right for you.)

Light “Stalking”: make like Jane Goodall and observe.

Then commence what I call “light stalking”: follow them on social media – check out their Facebook or LinkedIn Profile (if appropriate in the context of your relationship). Learn what they like, what they share, and where they spend their time (events they attend). You can also see if they’re active on Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. In most cases all you need is their email address.

Megawatt thanks to Debbie Seid of The Possibilies Group for making the hour fly by! What great fun!