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The Cycle Of Striving

Are you stuck in a cycle of striving? Busy brainstorming, creating, iterating, going for it, launching, succeeding and then doing the rinse and repeat routine.

Sometimes we get so caught up in our projects and wanting to make everything work, that we forget to stop for breath, or come up for air. We adopt two postures. One is waiting for the starters gun and the other is striving. Going for it for all we’re worth towards the finish line. And what happens when you get there, when you finally achieve your audacious goal, have the ‘big win’? You probably just turn right around and start again, without even looking up.

When you get stuck in the cycle of striving and don’t give yourself permission to celebrate you eventually burn out and lose longer term momentum. I know I’ve lived it and I’ve seen it happen to countless other ‘driven’ people. I also know that you’re driven, that’s why I’m putting this out there.

When you do great work it needs to be acknowledged and celebrated by you, not just the rest of the world. It’s okay to stop, drape the flag around your shoulders and stand smiling on the podium.

Image by Matt Hinsta.

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You Don’t Have A Marketing Problem

There’s something you’ve convinced yourself of that just simply isn’t true. Like many people I work with, you are working incredibly hard to produce beautiful, life changing products and services, that are not getting the attention they deserve and you can’t understand why your message isn’t reaching the people it needs to. So you’ve convinced yourself you’ve got a marketing problem. It’s time to get really clear on this.

You don’t have a marketing problem and it’s highly likely that if you’re here reading this post, you don’t have a product problem either. What you do have is a storytelling problem.

If you are marketing a fabulous product, an innovative application or a life changing coaching program that isn’t selling, then your brand story isn’t connecting your audience to the idea.

People don’t know why they should be interested in your stuff.
Your job is to give them the reason, it’s that simple.

Look at Instagram, it’s just a photo sharing app, right? Wrong. Instagram enables anyone (with an iPhone), to make their life and photos look more spectacular than they really are. For free! It allows users to seamlessly create something beautiful, share it in 60 seconds and get instant feedback, love and adoration from their own audience. Instagram founders Kevin and Mike don’t tell the story, they give the users a reason to share it with their friends. The story is baked into the interface.

You do have a compelling story to tell, maybe you’re just not doing it yet. You don’t need to throw the baby out with the bathwater… really you don’t! Sometimes it’s a simple as changing a single word or a line of your copy. It’s that subtle. Perhaps it’s knowing what does one person says to another to recommend your idea? The reason people will fall in love with you is already there you just need to work out how to dust it down a little.

Image by 1Sock.

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Stop Waiting For Google

You’ve probably heard marketing gurus talking about ‘warm traffic’ and ‘cold traffic’. They’ll tell you that you need plenty of ‘cold traffic’, in order to improve your chances of staying in business. They will argue the case for buying traffic so that you can sell more of your ‘standard vanilla whatevers’.

Is that really how you want to build your business? Obsessing over this is stopping you growing your business in a way that’s right for you.

Are you waiting for Google to pick you? Or paying them to pick you perhaps? More than 2 million Google searches are performed every minute and yes, over time you might make a tiny dent in the backlink universe. Then what?

Will you be engaging the kind of clients you want to work with? The kind of clients you would kill for don’t judge you by the amount of backlink muscle you flex. They don’t find you this way either.

Google can’t optimise the best of you. It can’t optimise what makes you and your work unique. And most important of all, Google can’t really optimise for what the non-average, exceptional, client wants to invest in.

Google can’t optimise your purpose, your heart or your soul, your art or judgement, your professionalism and enthusiasm

Google is terrible at defining your talent and your edge, your clarity of vision or communication skills.

Google SEO will rarely demonstrate your work ethic and dedication, your inspiration or your ability to solve problems and overcome obstacles.

Google can’t tell clients who will be the icing on their cake, or the best in their world. Only you can do that.

It might be an idea to stop competing for average and just concentrate on being great

I just sent out a beautiful workbook to my newsletter subscribers today, because I appreciate them being here. I’m building my business by creating value for others, shining a light on what they do and making lasting connections with my audience.

Are you still waiting for Google?

Image by Kachina Daze.

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There’s Something You’re Forgetting To Tell Us

It’s time for me to get really honest with you and let you know that there’s a reason why people are not crossing the street or the Inter-webs to buy from you, and it has nothing to do with how good your idea is. People might be noticing you left and right, but you’re not giving them a good enough reason to go beyond simply paying attention. Forgetting to do this one thing means that you are sabotaging your chances of being a leader, or an influencer. It stops people from trusting you enough to care about your idea. It makes them hold back and keeps their credit card firmly in their wallet.

I want you to stop telling people what you are, and start showing them what you are not.

You need to start telling people why you’re and showing them how you’re different

Do you know? Have you given much thought to what makes you and your idea extraordinary?

It’s not enough anymore to say I’ve got an MBA, a really reliable product or a bazillion twitter followers, plenty of other people have those badges of honor too. You need to do more than just wear your ribbon on the opposite side to everyone else. You’ve got something more valuable than all those credentials put together, you’re just keeping it hidden.

Your gifts are too precious, your ideas too important, don’t squander your opportunity to make a difference.

Once upon a time, an amazingly gifted client of mine thought she was an Etsy store owner and a decorator, when what she was all along was a stylist and interior designer. She just wasn’t telling people.

Are you up for the challenge? Deep down you know what makes you different it’s time to start articulating it.

Image by Emar.

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Take Off Your Little Black Dress

Maybe you look amazing in a little black dress with no help from anyone. Very few people can pull it off without at least a leg wax, high heels and an airbrush tan. Think about why you wear that dress in the first place. Is it to make you feel good about yourself? Possibly…..or is it to attract attention?

You know deep down that you won’t attract the right kind of attention with your little black dress.

When will it be time to show the best of your real self, not just in your life but in your business too?

Are you spending so much time working on the ‘how to attract people’ part, (tactics); that you’ve stopped focusing on making a difference to people, (objectives)? Have you forgotten the unique value of your own message?

You have something important to share, but if you’re wearing the equivalent of a little black dress to attract people to your idea, blog or your business then you’re doing yourself a disservice. You are diluting your idea and making yourself invisible to the people who need what you have.

You are one-of-a-kind, your story is what makes your idea unique, and that idea it is going to make a difference to someone. Don’t bury it by dressing it up in 10 inch heels and covering it with lipstick.

Image by Zar Cor.

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The Secret To Building Ideas That Fly

Every single successful idea is born from tapping into just one thing. It’s the secret to the success of entrepreneurs the world over, from Derek Sivers to Richard Branson, Seth Godin to Jack Canfield. You know what it is, but sometimes you get so caught up in creating momentum around your idea, that you forget to pay attention to the one thing that really matters.

Ideas that fly are born from discovering neglected worldviews, then creating something to fill the void

Each business in the Virgin stable was built on this foundation. The neglected worldview is the first perfect brick. Think about any successful business, book, movement or cause you care about and ask yourself the question; what neglected worldview did it set out to fulfil?

I want your idea to fly, maybe it’s time to take a step back and look at the foundations of this thing you’re trying to build. What is your first perfect brick? What void are you filling?

Image by AmpamukA.

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20 Things You Need To Do More Than Google Plus

Any occurrence requiring undivided attention will be accompanied by a compelling distraction ~ Robert Bloch

There is a shiny new toy in the social networking sand box and you can’t wait to get stuck into it. It’s only natural to want a piece of the action, to see what the 10 million early adopters of Google Plus are raving about and to understand how circling is better than adding. Why? Because following is easier than leading and belonging is magnetic to the human condition.

Being in the Google Plus loop might be fun, it may even become a useful tool to leverage in your business down the track. But tools are just tactics. Tactics can become distractions and tactics alone don’t build your business, or make your idea a success.

You need to act on your own great ideas before you get distracted by someone else’s

So what could you do instead of getting distracted by Google Plus, (unless you’re Robert Scoble)?
Here’s a start, feel free to add your own:

1. Schedule time in the day to do uninterrupted work that supports your goals.
2. Start a blog. If you have one write a guest post.
3. Write a digital guide and give it away for free.
4. Notice things in the real world that aren’t working and think about ways to fix them.
5. Read books from start to finish.
6. Map out your objectives for the next year.
7. Start implementing strategies that will support them.
8. Design a product.
9. Build a twelve month launch calendar.
10. Look for unfulfilled worldviews and think about how to fulfil them.
11. Give a talk.
12. Write a newsletter and earn the right to connect with your audience.
13. Plan ways to make a difference, not just to be popular.
14. Skype a mentor.
15. Call a client.
16. Spend 30 minutes doing one thing without interruption.
17. Start a movement.
18. Take a day off.
19. Spend time offline, with people who matter to you.
20. Go outside, walk on the beach, by the river, or in the park.

*Full disclosure. Yes I do have a Google Plus account by kind invitation from a friend. So far I’ve added my profile picture.*

Image by rikulu.

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What’s Stopping You Making Your Idea Matter?

The most brilliant idea, with no execution, is worth $20 ~ Derek Sivers

You’ve got lots of great ideas and more than a few stuffed Moleskines to prove it!

An idea, even the most fantastic one, only begins to matter when you can take it from scribbles in your notebook to implementation.

So what’s stopping you? Why are you stuck?

When will the time be right?

If you have the kind of idea that will benefit others more than it benefits you, it matters. Don’t waste it!

I know that ideas aren’t a problem for you, so what would take you from Moleskine to momentum? What do you need to start? What’s holding you back?

Image by Mike Rohde.

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Forgetting The Facts

We all know that love affairs don’t begin with facts

Ric Bixter was given a college assignment; to take something boring, that you could buy for less than a couple of dollars and repackage it to make it more interesting and valuable. So Ric set out to tell a different story about elastic bands. One that had little to do with the facts.

Your customers will sometimes need to know the facts about what you’re selling. How many sessions? What’s the fuel consumption? Does is come with a guarantee? But that’s not always where your story has to start. Take a look around you at all the marketing messages you see working. The products and services people fall in love with aren’t just about the facts or specs. They are about the story and things people care about.

Your job is to communicate more than the facts

This doesn’t mean telling a story that isn’t true. It means getting people to take a second look and giving them a reason to fall in love with what you do. We all know that love affairs don’t begin with facts. If you want to make people believe your true story, then you need to ask yourself one simple question.

How is this adding to my customer’s worldview?

Take a look at how perfectly Ric told a new story about elastic bands, with colour, typography, nuance and humour.

How could you do this in your business? What story can you tell? How can you make your idea matter to the people who need to hear from you?

And if you’re looking to add a great storyteller to your design team in London next year, give Ric a shout @fellbridge. He’s sure to be snapped up!

Images and package design by Ric Bixter.

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How Not To Name A Startup Or Anything

A brand name is more than a word. It is the beginning of a conversation. ~ Lexicon

Everyone can agree that there’s nothing really objectionable about calling your business ‘Bargain World’. It’s an innocuous name and most people won’t hate it. And that’s the problem.

If you’re going to name your business, non-profit, product or service something that people won’t hate, then you’re giving yourself an identity that they will never be able to care about either.

Bunkum! I hear your cry what about Apple and Amazon, aren’t they just unobjectionable words too? Back in 1976 when Apple was Apple Computer, tech startups and corporations were called IBM (what does that stand for?) and Microsoft. I bet a few people were laughing behind their hands at the idea of branding an incorporated tech company with a stripey apple. When Jeff Bezos named Amazon after one of the biggest rivers in the world in 1994, other book stores were called Borders Books and Waldenbooks. It didn’t take people long to fall in love with Amazon, which of course aspired to be the biggest, fastest, get what you want bookstore, (that had room to grow not to be just a bookstore) in the world.

Your business or product name is the hook on which you hang your story and start the conversation with customers. It’s the mechanism you give people to identify you. And when you earn their trust and loyalty it’s the way they spread the news about you. Your brand and product names are some of the most priceless assets your business can own. They should make you stand out, not fit in.

If nobody can find an objection to the brand name you choose, then you’ve probably got the wrong name. This kind of brand naming architecture often happens by committee, which means you end up with something that will be forgotten. Your name should polarize people, spark their interest and make them want to get to know more about what you do.

Here’s a simple test. If you can’t imagine someone wanting to wear your name on a t-shirt one day, then it’s probably not the right name for you now.

I know that choosing a name for your brand has caused you to waste valuable time and slowed down growth and momentum in your business, so I’m working on the brand naming white paper you asked for, which will be available to you soon. Hallelujah!

How did you choose your brand, blog or business name? Which brand names do you love and why? Which ones do you wish you’d thought of first?

Image by World of Good

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