Before we begin Part 2, I thought it would be prudent to clarify some things. I need to know, are you an FPI? Are you a business owner socially plugged-in fully across the board? FPI’s have the following:
- A completed website
- A business blog
You are fully plugged-in on:
- Facebook – you have a business page and even created your own business group
- LinkedIn – same here
You have a following (no matter how small) here:
- Pinterest – you’re an admin of your own community “group”
I’m making the dangerous assumption that all of my readers have these things in place. As much as I like to live dangerously (it’s my middle name), making assumptions usually don’t work out to the good.
If you aren’t FPI’d, get there! All of these sites are free to join, take minutes to complete and they are crucial in this day and age of social media. Did you know that 93% of marketers use social media for business? [fastcompany.com – 10 surprising social media statistics]
Remember the part about truth that I mentioned in Part 1 of this blog series? Mmmm, yeah. I just read something pretty cool that backs up most of what I was trying to get at throughout that post. It looks like this:
I’m totally serious when I say that I just read this tonight in an amazing book I’ll talk about –see below about “stealing like an artist” (not the dreaming book) — and considering how I posted Part 1 yesterday, I think it’s all pretty neat!
As a quick recap to my last post we went over the importance of superior wisdom and distinctively-awesome creativity and how you need both. Wisdom from other been-there done-that professionals in your field, and the cultivation, planting and growing of some “creativity super-fruit”.
The reason I wanted to lay the groundwork for these two qualities first is because you won’t go anywhere without them. Why?
Success in the new era of business is driven by your ability to stand out and be truly remarkable. That requires an ability to tap into creativity, break the mold, introduce disruptive change, and dislodge the status quo.”
– Josh Linkner, Disciplined Dreaming
You have to do this.
You CAN do this.
So to continue our recap of Part 1, find your inner nerd! Step 1: go to your library (you won’t regret it, other professionals heroes say the same), step 2: keep a notebook on you at all times, and step 3: do something boring that frees your mind. For example, keep your notepad handy while you do dishes, stare into space, make mind movies, or like I said before, drive your car in silence (don’t crash while jotting down notes!).
Now back to pic above about the library and the notebook- That pic above contains a page from a neat little book that I came across by Austin Kleon called, “Steal Like An Artist”.
And, when I say “little” I mean little, like… 6” x 6” x 1.5”! But don’t let the size fool you, I found it to be pretty comprehensive and creatively constructed. The tagline is: “10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative”.
From Part 1, I wrote tips for creativity. I’ll quickly list them here-
- Curiosity – ask ridiculous business growth questions about your field
- Brainstorming – Business exposure, humorous pitches, your “hook”
- Make something awesome – make a business logo using markers as an example?
- Free time – Busyness murders creativity
I was a little stunned (and delighted) to see that the ideas I wrote about nicely complimented part of the “10 things” Mr. Kleon included in his book (remember that little thing called, truth?) as he also talks about those things.
However the one thing that I didn’t have that he introduces in the book is about writing not what you know, but what you like. I’ll share a pic that I saw months and months ago, but has stayed with me because it resonated so deeply. Edited to add that I couldn’t find the pic [INSERT BIG UNHAPPY FACE HERE].
It was about creating your perfect life scenario within your mind before falling asleep. Seriously though, who hasn’t done this? It’s writing the story of your business life in a way that others want to read or you want to read.
Whenever you’re at a loss for what move to make next, just ask yourself, “What would make a better story?”
“The manifesto is this: Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use – do the work you want to see done.” – Austin Kleon
How do you do this?
Number one: getting off your laptop for a bit.
Number two: create a “digital free” zone in your office (tip from the book).
Make the space you need to actually utilize pencils, markers, paper, and other office supplies to CREATE. If a commercial was going to be run on TV featuring your business, how would it look? What about a print ad in one of those over-sized magazines like the Detroit Hour? I would like to see one of my readers physically draw something out and send it to me!
I’ll give you an example from my own personal life: I often have trouble nurturing creativity when it comes to my commercial photography portfolios. I’ve traveled down the Internet road of “inspiration” (looking at other examples of commercial stock) and I always come away empty.
I have to ask myself,
‘What is the story that I would like to read about my life as a photographer?’
What can I do to get that ball rolling?
I become so overwhelmed and discouraged because it’s simply too much. So, I created a scrapbook. I put in that scrapbook idea’s for images I want to see. Or, when I write, I put those ideas down for what I would actually use for my own articles. Keeping these idea’s in a folder on my hard drive just-doesn’t-work. I’m “physically” writing the story that I want to see in my portfolios.
On a related side-note, this makes me think of a good photographer friend of mine who, a long time ago was sad at the fact that film is becoming obsolete. She said that there was just “something” about being able to touch and feel the photographs (of course, I was chiding her a bit because I was super-duper excited to enter the digital age of photography where there were no more developed pictures of closed eyelids, messed up hair, wrong expression, out-of-focus faces and so much more. No more time or money wasted! Woo-hoo!).
…now that it’s been some time and I’ve grown in my study of the creative process, I understand what she was saying. I realize now that she was… well… a real artist. She’s an amazing photographer and I’m often jealous because she’s just a hands-on type person. I realize that in order for us to foster that type of growth, we have to simply step back from the computer and get our hands dirty.
When we do this, things happen, seeds get planted. After that, they get watered. Then, what grows from that can turn into a beautiful plant that produces choice fruit. It simply can’t be done any other way. It’s unfortunately that it took so long for this to sink in with me so please learn from my failure!
So back to my photography “scrapbook”- once I had the story that has been produced by my own desires and my own creativity, I now interact with the hero-photographers in my field. With this, I go even deeper (superior wisdom from others part) by:
- Learning from them (not necessarily about their work but learning about them),
- Gaining an understanding of how they think,
- Studying their creative methods by receiving access,
- It becomes an invaluable development of a small inner circle of heroes who assist you not only by inspiration, but portfolio growth based on your own creativity.
Are you getting the picture here? And, this doesn’t just have to be about photography; it can be about the business of fashion & clothing (which I love, so I’m using that as an example), it can be about construction, accounting, baking, sail boats, auto parts, whatever business you are running.
This is about marketing that business.
This is what you need FIRST before you get on that road.
Once you know the story of your business and what you want to see, hear, read and live regarding it, and once you have an inner circle of other hero-professionals (how to get them was in Part 1), you are now equipped to head on out and begin the process of spreading your ideas/products to the ends of the earth.
With a full understanding of having wisdom and creativity, we need to put that to use with all of the marketing methods out there. Which are these:
- email newsletters,
- direct mailing of promotional cards,
- advertising online or yellow pages,
- hired salespeople, and
- word of mouth
Throughout the next few posts, I’ll touch on the top five methods listed above, but for now I’m going to start with the last one on the list. I suppose because it peeks my interest in this technological age.
When you think of “word of mouth” don’t you think of people actually talking to one another? I know I do. But, that’s not necessarily what it means anymore. It used to, but now with technology, everyone talks through the digitally written word now soaring through cyberspace. Our words come from our keystrokes and powerful keystrokes at that.
Andy Sernovitz’s book, Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking was the reason I wrote Part 1 of this series. Basically, in order to even have something out there that others will be inclined to share is going to require wisdom and creativity. You have to learn what works and what doesn’t. For the former, you need to do that creatively. Then, you can move on to studying and implementing the WOM techniques.
WOM marketing is dead in its tracks if it’s not share-worthy or buzzworthy. People have got to want to talk about it for it to work. People talk about things they are crazy about (think rabid Apple fans), they tell their friends, their family, their co-workers. Well, maybe not entirely “crazy” over things; but maybe information that challenges them, information that’s controversial, debatable even.
Bottom line: opinions. Everyone has one (you know the saying which I won’t repeat). And, one of my passions is modest, yet stylish clothing. I have many girls in my family and I will tell you that it’s extremely difficult nowadays to buy clothing that isn’t low-cut, tight-fitting or revealing. I don’t want them dressing like nuns either, but when all the shorts you can see for sale at the local mall are so short your butt cheeks hang out, there’s something wrong there. And frankly, I’m quite sick of seeing it. It only perpetuates this idea that girls are only valuable and accepted by their peer groups, society and the culture at large by revealing their bodies. This is what they’re worth?! This is how they see their own worth?
C’mon. The girls in my life must know (because I tell them frequently) their worth is not in how they dress, or undress their bodies. How they appear on the outside is not “who they are” on the inside. When you cultivate and nurture a girl’s heart and she knows that true beauty lies there and not on the outside, she will respect herself and will respect others. That’s the truth.
You may not know it, but that paragraph I just wrote containing my opinion (declared as truth) would be considered “controversial” in certain circles. There’s ALWAYS an angle to everything under the sun that has an opposite viewpoint (or opinion). There will always be an opposing view, no matter what.
This is an example of what you will use to your advantage.
People won’t talk about you if you don’t give them something to say. Anything that catches attention is a topic. Anything that catches attention and then gets talked about is a fantastic topic.” –Andy Sernovitz
This is one of the lenses you will look through regarding WOM marketing. A little caution flag first- you can’t be a jerk about things… EVER. Cardinal rule number one when it comes to business is this: you must be likeable. You ARE a business person after all, right? People are your business. Businesses rely on people. Your reputation is such that people should want to do business with you. They must want to share to others what you’re all about. These people who will share and talk about you are the ones who will help propel that little statement we mentioned earlier, “spreading your ideas and products to the ends of the earth”.
Cardinal rule #2 is making sure you are surrounded by enthusiastic, life-loving people. Network with others who are POSTIVE POSITIVE POSITIVE. Encouragers, motivators, you know the people. Think right now about five people you know personally in real life who are in your life that exude these traits. And, that’s not to say you want people that are so “sunny” they’re oblivious to the need of constructive criticism when it’s needed, either.
- Don’t’ be jerk (offer superior customer service no matter what and no matter to who), and
- Find your five supporting people in your real life RIGHT NOW. Start an online group with them and only them (since you talk to them in real life, you’ll be able to sustain your online life together easier, i.e., the virtual relationship won’t fizzle out).
Sit tight, I’ll explain more regarding the second rule below… But first,
Step #1: Find three professionals heroes in your field. Get their email addresses.
Step #2: In your email you are:
- First going to explain to them how much their expertise has helped you in the area of _____________ (be specific). Then,
- you will state that you are going to promote their work through all of your social media platforms (which you will),
- by a very short interview through email simply asking three questions that you will also blog about thus giving them more exposure:
(if you would like to have a basic outline email I will share it with you for free, just contact me privately through the contact page and I’ll help you out)
- You need to find out what they’ve learned specifically about word of mouth marketing and how it worked for them,
- how it affects their business and/or online presence
- What advice they would give on how to grow your business based on this marketing method.
Step #3: Broadcast through your blog the interview and how you will implement into your business what has worked for them. This step has a two-fold benefit: promoting your heroes, and at the same time keeping track of your own marketing growth through your blog (it would be like a digital notebook, logging your progress). Be sure to email your heroes upon completion so they will know about it.
Step #4: Hire a freelancer through oDesk.com or eLance.com to promote your blog and bring more exposure. Post a simple job posting that you are hiring for a “forum poster”. This virtual assistant can help you in efficiency like this: by outsourcing the work of promotion, you then have the ability and time to hone your craft of WOM marketing for your business. The beauty of it is, your VA will work faster and often times better at promoting your work by receiving much needed traffic than you can! (For a free step-by-step walk-through on how to do this, just hit me up through my contact page, I ❤ my VA’s! I am now better equipped and educated on how to delegate tasks through outsourcing thanks to in Tim Ferriss’s book, The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated) – If you missed my blog post on that, click HERE.)
Being Distinctively Creative:
What you’ve learned from your heroes will now need to be put into practice.
Option #1: You can then make a diagram of the techniques you have learned. These are easy to read and if done well, are a big hit on Pinterest. By attaching a link to your website or blog through the picture of the diagram, viewers can find you. If it’s done well, is distinctive, eye-catching and easy to follow, it will get shared. Why is this important? Remember how we talked about the rate of exponential growth? It all starts with one pin, 2-3 other pinners pin it, then 2-3 of their friends re-pin it, on and on it goes.
For example, I created a chart (you can find it HERE) based on my inexperience and fear when it comes to horses. I knew I wasn’t alone when it came to this based on reading comment after comment on forums, Facebook and people I knew in real life. So, I charted out four of the simplest things I had done around horses that helped alleviate my fear around them give me confidence. I knew and believed that if it helped me, it could help others.
Through that project, an idea was born to incorporate the steps I outlined into a method that can be transferred into a possible eBook or video directed at children somewhere down the road. I know so many girls and boys that love horses, but because of their size, are often afraid of them. By walking out the methods I charted, they can overcome that fear. I’m excited to get working on that project.
I then posted that chart on Pinterest and on Facebook (which included information about my web site) and I got some positive responses! I then looked at other charts and diagrams done by others regarding business, graphic design, navigating certain web sites, charts on how to write, how to plan weddings, anything I could find. Some were really creative and fun to look at. Some had been pinned many times over, equaling lots of viewers (if you have a moment, be sure to check out my, “Small Business Board” by clicking HERE – lots of great tips!).
Don’t forget to ask! Be sure to place in the description of the pin, “Please re-pin. Thank you!”
Goal: More exposure for your company, more talkers, more shares.
Option #2: Designing and giving away some sort of device that has your logo on it. You can give this to potential customers or your current customers. Think some type of keychain device, a handheld gaming device small enough to fit in your pocket, a tote bag, one of those mugs with a teabag holder designed right into the side of the mug, something a person can USE…
But, this option has the potential to go way beyond what it sounds like. I know you can “creatively” think of something (you may have something in mind right now) that you know your audience would want. Think about the following questions/suggestions:
- What would you like to receive from a company that would be cool enough to show your friends and colleagues?
- How can you work to develop this gift into something people would eagerly anticipate receiving (look up the Microsoft MVP program!)?
- Ask your real life friends on Facebook and LinkedIn about it (this is where your inner five real life circle of friends come in that we talked about earlier). Make a simple poll asking what it is they would want to get as a giveaway.
- Go a step further: put all of their names in a drawing and then after two weeks, mail the best idea to the winner.
- Don’t let this fade, find out every few months what works, keep it fresh and let it grow naturally.
Still stumped? Google search it. Search under, “most popular gadget” or “coolest giveaway product”. Get inspired. The trick is to be in a constant mode of positivity. Don’t ever say to yourself, ‘I can’t do this’, or ‘this will never work’…
Or, maybe you have an idea, but don’t know how to get it developed. There’s a solution to that to. Check out two of these sites:
MAKE IT WORK!
Goal: More exposure for your company, more talkers, more shares.
Option #3: Co-partnering with a charity. This is my favorite and near to my heart. I have two that I’m passionate about, actually.
From a word of mouth perspective, charities are especially powerful because they come with their own built-in network of talkers. When you connect with any nonprofit, from a national organization to a single, small youth group, everyone in that group has a reason to talk about you. They are organized, involved, and have ready-to-go communication channels.” –Andy Sernovitz
For me, it’s the only way I can help the orphan and the persecuted and I love it! I love being a part of it.
Holding an online charity auction through eBay where 100% of the proceeds go to them is on my agenda in the coming months. It’s something I enjoy even though it will cost me something. But, that’s okay! You have to think about the things you WILL give away, it’s the natural by-product of good business. Just give something. Again, don’t limit yourself- give information, give products, give your time. It will require a little integration on your part, but trust me in the process of give-and-take, reaping and sowing, it does come back to you. Sometimes in ways you don’t expect, but it always does.
Two-fold goal: Helping others, exposure for your company, more talkers, more shares.
Option #4 (at this point, why not do them all): Hold a video contest. YouTube is so accessible and there are some people out there that will do just about anything to be discovered (disclaimer: DO NOT INCORPORATE, ENGAGE, OR PROMOTE ANYTHING DANGEROUS). Hold it locally. Tell your friends, post about it on some local message boards, create a flyer at the library, tell Facebook.
Think about something (utilize your creativity here) regarding your field that people could do that was super crazy and worth talking about held in the form of a contest. Have those people submit their videos to you, create a mash up of it all into one whole video and then launch that video with a winner at the end (winner gets recognition, or a gift, your choice).
Some ideas could be a contest for a company mascot, best impersonation contest, best practical joke, a short comedic play about brain surgery/accounting, re-enacting your most embarrassing moment, eating contest, the ideas are endless. Just get thinking!
This one will need something original, so don’t be a copycat.