Clarity in Marketing Begins With You

December 5, 2013 by · Comments Off on Clarity in Marketing Begins With You 

As I write, snowflakes hide the city lights. Even the roadway, just a few feet away from my front door, seems distant. In a storm like this, it can be difficult to evaluate actions: Should I drive? Will my meetings be cancelled? How will the weather affect tomorrow’s schedule? (It’s already snowed longer than usual.) Perspective changes, intention softens, vision blurs…

The snow becomes a metaphor for marketing.snow, a metaphor for marketing

Clarity in marketing starts with questions. Where am I now? Where do I want to go? How will I get there?

The actions needed to bridge the gap between where I am and where I want to go may be referred to as a marketing plan. Defining those actions, narrowing the scope of what must be done and moving with certainty down the path requires effort.

Begin by working through the problem(s) at hand. You may find it easier to hire a professional to help you. Here are five reasons to use a marketing coach:

  1. Accountability
  2. Perspective
  3. Expertise
  4. Advice
  5. Synergy

1. Accountability. Set benchmarks for progress and then inspect what you expect. A coach helps you think through the plan. Time after time I’ve discovered incremental progress as a result of specific goals. Small promises such as, “Email me after you write your blog post,” produce results that may have otherwise gone by the wayside. I appreciate that my coach holds me accountable to do what I say I will do when I say I’ll do it. While I may not be thrilled with my report, I own it.

2. Perspective. With perspective, I evaluate from another angle and take advantage of critical distance. My coach points out unrealistic expectations, judgmental attitudes, or emotions that unnecessarily block success for me. We can talk through irrational fears or overstated exuberance. Voicing these emotions to an objective third party helps me think them through.

3. Expertise. There’s no substitute knowledge. Specialty information takes time. Since today’s marketing cycle is made up of thousands of little things it’s easy to get caught in seminar after seminar to shore up confidence. A coach with expertise you can use offers incredible advantages: focus, shortened learning cycle, and a recommended course of action.

4. Advice. Because your coach has an ongoing relationship with you and your business, they are up to speed on your specific situation. Professional advice becomes meaningful in context, and therefore more important.

5. Synergy. What I most love about my coach is that together we’re greater. Most of the time I find that an idea discussed in our call gets polished, even embellished, and perfected before it’s released. Maybe the time spent in preparation for a coaching call forces additional thought and preparation. Or, writing down an idea lets the subconscious go to work. Whatever happens, it works.

You may come up with other reasons to hire a professional. Feel free to add them in comments at the end of this post.

Good luck. Your plan will be as good as the questions you ask. In the spirit of the season, here’s a handout I use to guide clients through the process. Work through it. Use it. Send the link to your friends.

Above all, have fun with the process. Are you clear?

What Goals Will You Set For Yourself?

November 12, 2012 by · Comments Off on What Goals Will You Set For Yourself? 

Goal  — Noun: the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end | Synonyms:  target, outcome, intention

Our family of seven didn’t set goals. We created New Year’s resolutions, Lenten intentions, and Advent “angel” acts, but no “goals,” per se.

After I attended a Nightingale-Conant seminar  in my early twenties, I began to set goals.

In a non-scientific way I studied goals. First, I worked with the “SMART” acronym, ensuring my goals were each:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic/relevant
  • Time-bonded

“What was I missing?”

Even when my goals seemed SMART-perfect, I could fail.

I read books by self-improvement gurus like Brian Tracy.

  • “Goals! How to Get Everything You Want – Faster than You Ever Though Possible”
  • “Change Your Thinking Change Your Life – How to Unlock Your Full Potential for Success and Achievement”

This led to practices like re-writing goals daily. Until recently, I had dozens of journals with page after page of handwritten goals.

Still searching for the “Aha!” connection, I devoured Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander’s “The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life.”

Then, a major success led me to realize a new mind-body connection.

My desire to lose weight once and for all caused me to enroll in a 90-day “Body for Life” challenge.

Initially, I worked to integrate the meal plan with my lifestyle. (Body for Life encourages frequent, high-protein, small meals.)

It wasn’t until I understood the importance of food and exercise intensity in unison that I began to see significant results.

As my exercise intensity increased, I felt different. Instead of exhaustion after a workout, I noticed energy later in the day.

My commitment became a given approximately halfway through the challenge. I no longer questioned my reasons for participation or the probability of my success.

At the end of the challenge, I’d lost 17 pounds and more than 17 inches.

My physical transformation from a size 12 to a size 8 was significant. More importantly, my mindset altered forever, “for life.”

You would think that this success mindset meant “I got it. Repeatable. Guaranteed!” Not so.

I experimented, searching for the perfect mind/body connection that would ensure every goal acheived.

I tried writing my goal list, sealing it in an envelope and then, some months later, reconciling intentions with results. Sometimes the surprise was bigger than expected, as if to prove the thought could direct life actions.

Using short-bursts, such as 21-day goals, I modified habits and thoughts to accommodate my efforts.

When someone suggested I might be driven by goals, I dropped them for a time. No goals left me feeling less directed, less purposeful and less successful.

Obviously, goals fascinate me. Thanks to Tony Robbins, I’ve added clarity and purpose to my goals.

Brendon Burchard’s bestseller, “The Charge” caused me to focus even more intently on directing goal achievement through mindfulness.

High Performance Academy, a live event from Brendon Burchard, took the goal process to yet another level, emphasizing that goals are about the journey, not the destination.

My conclusion: I plan to happily continue to think about, read about, and set goals. I’ll recommend goals for others.

In the words of Joseph J. Lamb:

The road to success leads through the valley of humility, and the path is up the ladder of patience, and across the wide barren plains of perseverance. As yet, no short cut has been discovered.

What goals will you set for yourself for the coming year?


Strategic Messaging Amplifies Social Media

February 6, 2012 by · 3 Comments 

As simple as social media seems, I find it necessary to think about how my message jives across various channels. It doesn’t just happen. Message is a strategic decision. The channel? A tactical one.

During the past few weeks I’ve talked with dozens of small business owners about social media and their approach to it. I’ve read blog posts and white papers on social media and thought carefully about the approach I advise people to take.

The conclusion I’ve reached: clarity across all social media channels builds synergy…and that means your message is amplified!

Let me explain with a bit of a case study.

Cynthia Morris, friend, client, creative coach and author of the soon-to-be-published novel “Chasing Sylvia Beach” said she’s using an existing project to talk about the problems her audience faces daily. Simple. Effective. And this strategy works across all social media channels.

The idea builds positive momentum for Cynthia’s content (on Facebook and on her blog) and ignites buzz for her book in the process.

Meanwhile, she adds to her content offerings with well-coordinated products such as this author retreat.

Like most of us, Cynthia evaluates on an ongoing basis.

“What’s working? What’s not?”

“Twitter’s not doing anything for me. I don’t see the kind of results other people are getting,” she said.

The answer? Time to be a little more strategic. She posed a question,

“Could Google+ be a little more useful than Twitter for me?”

Meanwhile, her tactics include continuing to Tweet, where she promotes her own products such as “Feed the Content Monster,” or “Free Write Fling,” uses the hashtag #writing, and comments on creativity and other topics.

When quizzed about her most successful ongoing social media tactic, Cynthia sites email.

“An email to my list generated five figures in sales one day last year. That’s working pretty well.”

The conversation with Cynthia sprang from my ongoing work with Social Media as I began the re-write of that chapter in the third revision of my e-book, “The Marketing Master Plan.”

Cynthia quickly and passionately called for a reduction in my questions. Her advice for others:

“Use the opportunity to get a light bulb moment for yourself.”

The conversation was a light bulb moment for me. Cynthia’s input:

“These questions involve serious focus and thought. Reduce them. It’s too long. The average person won’t answer these questions. They’ll simply feel overwhelmed.”

When you talk with your audience, think about the problems that keep them up at night. So, if you’re talking with me or any of my marketing friends these days, you may want to talk about strategic messaging in social media.

And, by the way, don’t just give me your pat answer. Tell me why strategic messaging is working for you. What do you notice?