I live in Michigan and it happens to be very cold right now. One day, while I was driving down the snow covered road, I imagined myself in Alaska- my fur lined hood even adding some authenticity to my imagination. On occasion my dad bewails the fact that he’s not “one for the cold” as do many other people in my life, including my friends on Facebook who also post about their daily winter woes. But, as I drove down the road that day imagining myself in Alaska, the thought struck me that I really don’t mind the cold. Was it because I just happened to be cozy warm in my fur-lined hooded jacket? Well, that was part of it. The other part is that I seldom go out unprepared for the cold. I’m not cold when I’m outside because I dress in appropriate clothing for sub-zero weather. This includes snow pants, sub-zero insulated winter boots, knee-length coat (from the 1970’s, but it’s the warmest jacket I’ve ever owned), hat, scarf and gloves. Now, here are the inevitable questions:
Do I look like a freak? Heck, yeah! But, I’m WARM (even walking through Walmart).
Should I care what others think? Other people’s opinions on my attire are irrelevant (especially in Walmart), who cares! I’m prepared.
Can I fail somehow and get cold? I doubt it. I’m equipped to succeed and I’ve overcome the elements.
The point? Preparation applies to things other than just life; it applies to many areas of business too!
The sole purpose of this blog is to equip you with the knowledge and give you the tools you will need to grow your business. This post is about one of the many facets out there working to propel your ideas and products out into the social world. It’s called, marketing.
Please don’t die a little on the inside. I know, I know there are topics and articles, and blog posts, and books written about the subject of marketing ad-nauseum. But, don’t shake me off yet; let me revive you from the marketing death you are dying right now.
I’m going to start by saying that I hate to use the term, “revolutionary” because it’s been ridden harder than the 30 year old pony at my friend’s farm, but it is appropriate for this post. We’re talking about being the ones who are “cutting the edge”. When it comes to “cutting edge”, have you ever cut the edge? I believe it is integral in our pursuit to capture the power of influence and the amplification of our ideas and products.
In this post, you’re going to learn the two integral ingredients that are needed to formulate any business marketing plan. Actually, they are the foundation of that plan, clear and simple. Nothing can really be built upon that base layer unless you have these two important concepts weaved throughout to hold it up.
How To Amplify Your Business
You and I may groan at the thought of reading one.more.thing about the subject of marketing, but that doesn’t discount its importance. Obviously, it’s important or there wouldn’t be so much data on it. And, you’re still reading because you believe I have a different angle on it, and I do. I want to reiterate the fact that I’m here to help others succeed- that’s the truth! This post isn’t merely to “discuss” various business issues; it’s to solve real problems, accomplish goals and put NEW tools in your arsenal. You will benefit from the information I’m providing to you because I am passionate about building others up and building their brands. I think you believe that too, otherwise you wouldn’t be here.
Let’s begin with a simple statement on the concept of marketing, being:
Sounds simple enough, right? Well, it’s converting that concept into a formulated implementation of steps that is not so simplistic (or, “the how”). You can read guide books, perform step-by-step online or offline tuts, create a company profile on every social site, write blog post after blog post, network at group after group, etc. etc. You can do all these things, but unfortunately it will only get you so far. You’re going to need two vital ingredients as your base foundation to get further that many sources of information neglect to tell you. And, they are these:
#1: Acquiring the right wisdom. And, that’s not just a term meaning, “knowledge”. It goes beyond that. I’m talking about, “the thinking of thoughts that are above everybody else”. It’s having the right wisdom and proper guidance that leads to outsmarting everyone else. This is something you can learn from others.
#2: Utilizing the right creative methods. You have to be creatively unique and distinct in your business. You MUST stand apart. This is something you cannot learn from others.
Reading guide books, articles and taking courses on how to market your business down to the most infinitesimal detail (i.e., communicating your ideas/products to the ends of the earth) through:
- email newsletters,
- direct mailing of promotional cards,
- advertising online or yellow pages,
- hired salespeople, and
- word of mouth
…can absolutely be profitable (and we will get to the latest and greatest methods of these later). But, what they aren’t going to tell you is how to outsmart everyone else, or how to remove the rock that stifles the waters of creativity or order to let those juices flow freely.
But I will.
It’s a bold statement, I know. On a side note, it makes me think about this movie I watched a couple days ago. You’ve probably seen it, it’s called, “The Social Network” (I’m a little behind in the movie scene, forgive me). You know the one about the guy that created Facebook? Well, we all know it wasn’t just ONE guy that did it, it was a collective work, but that’s beside the point. What I realized was that the small group of guys that launched this business, originally dubbed, “TheFacebook.com” had #1 and #2 qualities listed above: #1) they had superior wisdom (Harvard education, anyone?), and #2) they utilized the right creative methods (which ones? It’s debatable, but again, not the point).
What they created by using wisdom and creativity was something addictive. They weren’t the FIRST social networking platform, just like Candy Crush isn’t the first gaming app ever created, but it works. There is massive marketing power going on there, from ads, to word of mouth, that leads to everyone and I mean, EVERYONE being a part of it.
For those who want to actually succeed in business online or not, wisdom and creativity is crucial. You have to be able to cultivate this wisdom and creativity so that people (your consumers, potential or otherwise) want need to be a part of your business. How do you CREATE something people are addicted to? How do you “create” anything when the internet is FLOODED with noise, when it’s flooded with people, when it’s flooded with information, or when it’s just plain flooded? When things are flooded there are those who aren’t prepared to survive the elements, let alone prosper and grow by obtaining superior wisdom and distinctive creativity.
This is the area where you can’t work alone. Unfortunately I’m not going to be able to tackle all of the steps I want to regarding this in a single post, but I know one thing: you can’t obtain a full dose of superior wisdom alone. A part of all that is involved with this is a close, small army of professionals in your field willing to help you and you willing to help them. Of course you can gain wisdom from other inanimate objects such as books, articles, and posts; but, nothing beats flesh-n-blood people who have done battle and lived to tell about it. They will tell you what it takes and you need that information.
In a basic sense, a lot of business networking is simply a dance- it takes two to tango. It’s co-partnering. And, it usually starts out by you initiating contact with them asking if you can help them. This is a string out of that base, foundational thread you are weaving: you really do have to give to get and it shouldn’t be anything less.
See, marketing isn’t a one-size-fits-all blueprint. You wouldn’t ask a fashion industry expert how to market the latest iPhone app for accounting, would you? Different products, different audiences, different practices, different nuances, etc. means you have to know how to find professionals in your field and you have to know how to help promote them. Because of the wonderful gift of technology that social media is in itself, this is relatively easy.
The first step is going to seem like a stretch, but it’s absolutely essential. You’re going to need to get off the internet for approximately a day or two each week and go to the library. Listen, I know you can get everything you need as far as information martini’s go from a few keystrokes at the local bar called, Google search. But, this is important. In fact, I’m going to implement some goals on this post and I’d like to see some responses. I think, in order to be great, and from reading success story after success story, people rarely get great on their own. I think the “revolutionary” thing to do in my own life, is to simply have a small group of like-minded individuals gather together every so often and literally PUSH EACH OTHER onward. You know, set goals, meet them, grow, things like that. And, not just *any* type of goals- really, big goals. Big, big goals.
Did I mention, big goals?
At the library, you need to start looking at some magazines in your niche field. Trust me, it’s going to feel good to sit down and realize bringing an Uzi to work isn’t the answer relax. Just decompress and read some interesting articles. Take notes about who wrote the article, who it’s about, think about all the things you might want to know about them and how they came to be what they are.
- How can I help this person promote their brand? (For example, what person in my circle of influence would benefit from the knowledge this person gives, would my own following as a whole be interested in this information- how so?)
- How can I find out what this particular person may be working on now that is new to them?
- What is important to them?
- Would this person be interested in an interview over email? What questions would you ask them?
- How does what they do impact your business?
The goal is to gather some names of people in your field that can possibly answer the above questions and people that you might like to promote first and then network with later. Gather the same with some books written by people in your field. Check these books out and take them home with you. Then jot down the author’s website or blog and again, go over questions listed above.
You have to think. Personally, I can’t think much when I’m in front of the computer. There’s TOO MUCH INFORMATION AND NOISE being slammed into my eyeballs! This is why I carry a notepad everywhere I go. It’s not big, it fits in my purse and it goes where I go because I never know when a really great thought is going to take shape in my brain. For me, they seem to come when I’m just about to fall asleep (which I still get up and write down) or when I’m in the car (not having the radio on is *great* for the formulation of ideas). And, if I don’t jot it down it’s lost forever, plain and simple.
Many people, sad to say, will probably not do what I’m saying here, which is go the library, gather info on other professionals in your field (the internet DOES NOT COUNT) and keep a note pad for when thoughts and questions arise. It won’t work any other way!
We need other people.
Don’t believe me? Well, you will… eventually. The truth is funny that way.
I’ll post more on wisdom in Parts 2, 3 and 4. There’s so much to say, that time isn’t permitting me right now.
(…and, if you’re wondering how gaining wisdom from other professionals has to do with marketing, hang in there!)
What happens when you don’t shake things up?
In order for creativity to take place, we need to shake things up a bit. I think that really good creative thoughts transformed into actions “shake things up” on the business scene. Remember “The Social Network” movie reference above? Those guys were definitely squeezing ketchup, no clear juice there!
- Not your grandmother’s “cool”, but way cool
- It’s unique, distinctive, and offers something so fresh, it’s still green
- It’s stunningly addictive
Have you ever asked yourself what needs to happen in order for your online business to go viral? Would you agree that there has to be at least the three things listed above going on? If so, you’re in category A.
- An already established following of over 1,000 fans and followers (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest & Instagram)
- Hundreds (not necessarily thousands) of visitors to your business blog on a daily (not weekly) basis?
- An interactive web site that allows visitors to stay and play
You are in category B, if you think it’s the bottom three.
In my humble opinion, I think it’s the top three (I’m in category A). When things ignite, they IGNITE! It doesn’t take long for the rate of exponential growth to take place (if you don’t know what “the rate of exponential growth” is, check it out by Google searching whether or not you should choose to be paid via a penny that doubles every day for 30 days or a flat 1 million dollars. Think about this scenario first, make what you feel is the best choice, then search) and before you know it, you’ve gone viral.
The difference in the two categories is whether or not you have an established base of fans with a so-so social presence or an outstandingly cool, unique, and terrifyingly addictive “product” in its infancy with little following (keyword being infancy, since anything with those qualities doesn’t have a small following for long).
After some thought, why not both categories? Why not have category A morph into category B? In all sincerity, that’s all I really want, don’t you? I suppose I could aim high and set the goal to become the next Mark Zuckerberg… but I saw the movie, remember? Yeah, yeah, I know that movies aren’t always true to life, but WOW! They painted him on a character canvas made of… [……] Well, you can fill in the blank.
In any event, you’re going to have to get creative in ways that can’t be taught. You are going to have to develop something that makes people talk. You need to ask yourself this: what can you DO that’s buzzworthy? (Don’t do this >>>>>>>>>>>>
Here are things to keep in mind about creativity (keywords underlined):
- Curiosity isn’t just for children. Start asking the most ridiculously business growth type questions possible. Seek to find the answers and don’t let fear stop you.
- Nor is brainstorming just for children or dreamlining (see more about this particular skill HERE). Get a sheet of paper and go for it. You remember how to do this from school, right?
- Concentrate on exposure (think about the approximate number of viewers one television ad might receive and what could that mean for your business if you had that exposure)
- What’s funny or witty – for example: there is a billboard advertisement on the side of an expressway by my house picturing a half-naked, overweight man next to two simple lines…
Half-off Bob = Bad
Half-off carpet = Good
**If you can make me smile, there’s a really good chance you’ll get my business.
- Short and sweet with a hook – What you promote has to be clever and easy for others to remember. More than that, it has to be “shareable” and worth it.
- Knowing the difference between doing something that someone else taught you to do with flair and doing something with flair that is devastatingly awesome YOU made up.
- Cultivating free time (remember the library scenario above?). If busyness isn’t the number 1 stifler of creativity, then I don’t know what is.
I believe every one of us can be creative in our own way. After all, God gave us imaginations for a reason. He gave us dreams, he gave us the ability to think up positive outcomes that we would desire for our lives. What do you desire to have happen for your business, your company?
Bottom line: you can read every book on the planet, but they aren’t going to think it all up for you- some of that’s your job. And, this is where I need to bring up the notebook. It’s for your brain, not the Alzheimer’s inflicted lovebirds out there (no disrespect to you Nicolas Spark).
You need this for the golden nuggets of superior wisdom you are acquiring from professionals that will help you out-think 95% of the population along with capturing the creatively juicy ideas flowing out of your brain.