Archive of posts from August 2019

August 31, 2019     Daily Post

What The World Beats Out Of You, Sets You Apart

Whether you’re a founder, designer, project manager or customer service rep, the world beats some things out of you.

And it’s the things it beats out of you, that set you apart…if you can hold on to them.

Traits that slip

It remains a fascination to me how things like decorum, decency and honor – things we should extend to all human beings anyway – are so frequently deemed stand-out features among leaders.

Being a good person… looking for the best in others… going the extra mile… showing respect whatever the weather… these things shouldn’t make us special.

Yet they do.

Most teams are riddled with those who lose these traits. Yours need not be one of them.

During the storms

Storms will come. They do for every business.

How we behave during the storms is all that matters.

It’s easy to be nice when everything is nice. It’s easy to be fun when everything is fun. It’s easy to be glum when everything looks glum.

Leadership kicks in when we change the way things are, to how they should be.

The world may try to beat you down, but we choose whether to let these traits slip, and we choose how to behave during the storms.

August 30, 2019     Daily Post

Bigger VS Better

SurveyMonkey spent almost a billion dollars in three years, didn’t grow, and still posted losses. How come?

Bigger isn’t always better.

Bigger

We like ‘bigger’. Bigger gets you on the cover of Inc Magazine. Bigger makes you move to Silicon Valley and go on hiring sprees. Bigger is “successful”.

But bigger isn’t always profitable. Often the opposite is true, training a team to get good at spending money for a living, rather than earning it.

And bigger isn’t always impactful. Usually, cause-driven contributions are not only absent, but an immoral misrepresentation of investor funding.

So if ‘bigger’ doesn’t help you generate profit and make an impact, what’s the alternative?

Better

We don’t often look at ‘better’ very much. ‘Better’ doesn’t make headlines in quite the same way.

There may not be as many zeros in ‘better’s earnings report. And spending time away from their core competencies to create a sustainable, meaningful impact in the lives of their team and their communities doesn’t move them any close to making those zeros happen.

But it’s ‘better’ that tends to change the culture. ‘Better’ is what takes responsibility for real problems, with the freedom to tackle them without shareholder judgement.

Being both ‘bigger’ and ‘better’ is also an option. But your culture is determined in part by how you’d choose, if it were a choice.

August 29, 2019     Daily Post

Bring Emotions To The Conversation

Ever heard someone say, “Check emotions in at the door”?

We hear it regularly during discussions about sales calls, client meetings, and the like.

It’s missing the point entirely:

**Their emotions are the point **

Those you wish to serve have a problem. One that is felt.

Felt strong enough to drive them to search the web, ask Siri, or pick up the phone to make the problem go away.

If there were no emotional connection with the problem, you wouldn’t be having that conversation with them in the first place.

To suppose emotions do not belong in that conversation is to suppose the conversation shouldn’t happen. Or indeed, that the act of solving it might be extraneous. That doesn’t bode well for the future of your business.

**Your emotions are not the point **

Because it’s not about you.

Whether you relate to the way they describe the problem or not isn’t the point. There’s something to be learned there.

Whether they understand – or value – the way you solve the problem isn’t the point. There’s something to be taught there.

Empathising with their emotions – while keeping yours out of the picture – not only helps with closing deals and serving clients, it’s also the respectful thing to do.

They’re hurting.

Listen.

August 28, 2019     Daily Post

Paying The Best Rates Is A Losing Battle

We all know that trying to be the cheapest option in the marketplace isn’t a good strategy.

Why?

Because people won’t choose you because of who you are, or why you do it, or indeed for any reason at all aside from the fact that you were cheapest.

If we look at the ‘talent poaching’ plays of Silicon Valley, we’ll see the precise same thing happening at some of their largest brands.

How so?

Because people don’t choose their team because of who they are, or why they do it, or indeed for any reason at all aside from the fact that they paid more.

Offering affordable products and being paid for your skills are both important. But alone, they’re both short-sighted plays that lack vision, mission, or the gift of belonging to something that matters.

August 27, 2019     Daily Post

Will You Still Be Here Tomorrow?

Comments on most blogs are rarely all that interesting.

But one discussion, covering updates to a popular banking product, really caught my eye this weekend.

The product was regarded as being the most feature-rich outside of unfavorable, bloated alternatives. It was described as being the individual’s top pick.

But they then went on to describe how a product with fewer (even basic) features, that was less fit-for-purpose in their particular case, was fast becoming there new market preference.

How can this be?

A case for trust

The ‘lesser’ competitor was not winning in features and functionality. But they were starting to win on trust.

They had transparent development practices and roadmaps, so everyone knew what was coming and when. They had a very small – but active – community with strong engagement and support. You knew what was going on, and you knew people cared about the work.

A case for tomorrow

The lacking of these elements led the commenter to fear their former-favorite tool could “close down at any moment”, citing they had consequently spent years also using a backup product “just in case”.

Paying twice, to use two products, “just in case” the favorite/popular option disappeared. All because there was no transparency and no perceivable community.

The quality of the product is only a part of one’s decision to take action.

The world surrounding that product – trust in the company, trust that others care, trust they will still be here tomorrow – matters even more.

Will you be here tomorrow?

It’s one of the reasons why companies like Basecamp.com have such loyal supporters – there is transparency from the company and there is a promise to still be there tomorrow.

Similarly, it’s one of the reasons why we roll our eyes when Google announces another messaging platform – they tell us nothing, and they’ve a track- record of terminating their work without warning.

Will you be here tomorrow? Does the market know that?\

August 26, 2019     Daily Post

The Accidental Scammer

Can an internet scammer be so, accidentally?

I wrestled with this question in an attempt to reconcile the delta between how businesses behave and what businesses believe. Of those who appear to be scammers, “Surely, they know what they’re doing?”

Some know what they’re doing

Of course, some know precisely what they’re doing.

They’re intimately aware of the psychological marketing tools available to us, many of which can be used to manipulate and coerce resources out of the hands of others.

And so they do.

The resource matters more than the reputation. The money, more than the moral justification for finding a better way.

Some don’t know what they’re doing

You may be – or may have been at a point in time – in this category.

The ‘accidental scammers’ don’t know that they’re in this category.

The businesses who found their product or service to be undesirable in the market, or those who found a modicum of success but are struggling to increase their numbers.

These folks, in an act of well-meaning ignorance, sometimes start trying every trick in the book to get you to do the thing they want you to do.

They begun inadvertently setting traps for those they claim to have a heart to serve, succumbing to the sensational, baseless falsehoods of pop-marketing in an attempt to move the needle. All with good intentions, but without realising the damage they’re doing to their reputations along the way.

Some wake to the idea of showing up for those they wish to serve, and serving them. Of helping people in order to help them.

Others remain trapped in a web of ‘low-stock’ eBooks and unrelenting pop-ups.

Each of us makes the choice. Do we look for ways to serve and make a real difference, or force short-term sales at the expense of a long-term vision?

You can always get money back, service back, opportunity back, strategic advantage back… but it’s much harder to get reputation back.

August 25, 2019     Daily Post

Good Boss Bad Boss

What’s the difference between having – or being – a good leader or a bad leader? A good manager or a bad manager? A good boss or a bad boss?

I saw this conversation come up this week, and thought I’d share my thoughts.

Bad ones

The ‘bad ones’ acknowledge that a business is a machine. It makes things. It has resources, it produces widgets, it (hopefully) makes more than it spends.

That’s fine. What makes them ‘bad’ to work with is their mindset.

They look for cogs to fit the machine. You are considered a cog. The best place for you is the space you were made for. That’s where they want you to stay. Do the thing you’re meant to do.

It may not sound all that bad until you compare it to a ‘good one’:

Good ones

These folks still acknowledge how a business works. They recognize that things must get done, properly.

But you’re not a cog anymore. Cogs don’t have the potential to make the machine better, they merely maintain the current state of affairs. Team members have the potential to transform the machine. To build better machines. To create something new.

To a ‘bad one’, this would be awful – if you’re great at what you do, you must keep doing it, precisely as you always had. To a ‘good one’, being great earns you the trust – and opportunity – to do something amazing.

Which do you have leading you? Which are you to those you serve alongside? (We’re all one or the other…).

August 24, 2019     Daily Post

The Entrepreneur VS The Fool

I came across this quote today:

“An entrepreneur is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down.”

A popular premise predicated on the notion that entrepreneurs are dare-devils.

This has not been my experience.

It occurred to me that this quote doesn’t represent is the logic of an entrepreneur, but of a fool.

Failure leads to growth providing failure is not catastrophic

We’ve covered the importance of failure many times on this blog. It’s our assumption, though, that those failures aren’t so significant as to remove you from the game.

Failed events, failed products, features nobody needs… these are failures that lead us toward progress.

Shattering your reputation, dishonouring your team, lying to the marketplace… these are failures that can cost you your career.

There’s a stark difference between experimenting with product features and jumping off a cliff.

Operating with balance

Entrepreneurs, executives and core team members must have the gift of weighing upside against the downside. Not the gift of putting it all on ‘red’.

Perhaps it is quotes like these that contribute to the staggering numbers of failed new ventures. Dare-devilry is always outperformed by careful consideration and critical thinking skills.

Please, for your own sake, don’t be a fool.

August 23, 2019     Daily Post

You’re Not Always The Expert

Young faces proclaiming the secrets to living well…

Old faces explaining what the youth need today…

You’re not always the expert:

Expertitis is a thing

The challenge that comes with becoming an expert, is that it runs the very real risk of becoming habitual.

One can fall into the illusion that they’re a noteworthy fountain of insight on all topics that cross their desk.

No truer has this ever been than today, where ‘guru’ status can be entertained for merely 5¢ per video view on Facebook.

The cure for Expertitis

Expertitis need not be chronic, or indeed ever contracted, if you know how it’s contracted and consequently cured.

It’s caught by turning your affections away from those in your care and instead toward yourself. The question on your lips strays from, “How can I equip these people?” to, “How can I look clever and enhance my brand?”

If you happen to contract this terrible virus, the cure is simple: remember who you’re in service of. All good experts – and all good leaders – are so because of their willingness to put those they wish to serve ahead of themselves.

Beware those with Expertitis. You’re not always the expert; that’s precisely why you’re the best person in the world to serve your choice of market.

August 22, 2019     Daily Post

The Day Got Messed Up

Oh, your day didn’t go so well?

That’s alright. It happens to everyone. All of us. Even people on Instagram.

Unforeseen things

As organized as you may be, ‘unforeseen’ things still come up from time to time. 

It’s natural to find these tedious until the realization comes: this is part of the process.

Why was it unforeseen? What will make it – and things like it – ‘foreseen’ in the future?

Unforeseen is an opportunity to improve your vision. That’s a good thing.

Made a mistake, had to fix

As talented and methodical as you may be, mistakes will come up from time to time.

It’s natural to kick yourself and feel bad about these until the realization comes: this too is part of the process.

Why did the mistake happen? What will make this – and things like this – un-mistake-able in the future?

Mistakes are opportunities to improve your process. That’s a good thing.

Just a bad mood

Yep, even the nicest of us get in a bad mood from time to time. 

It can be natural to suspect there’s something wrong with you, be it a lack of belief, or that there may be yet another book about ‘mindset’ you need to buy. Until the realization comes: this is part of the process.

Why were you in a bad mood? What can you do to redirect yourself from that response?

Moods are opportunities to improve your self-awareness. That’s a good thing.

This is the path to optimization and effectiveness. Not reading about people’s morning rituals and trying to be insta-perfect. But rather, the act of living and learning.

August 21, 2019     Daily Post

“I Have An Idea”

You have an idea, you say?

What are you going to do about that?

“Think about it”

Alright, by all means think about it. Create a clear, focused, specific vision for what it should become. Ideas may be fragile, but they need to stay standing when constraints come their way: constraints are essential for idea formation.

But remember that you can’t ‘think about it’ it all the way to completion. At some stage, action must take place.

“Research and discuss it”

You’ve done that already. Give it a time limit, past which research is over.

Putting your ideas into extended “research” is like putting leftovers in the fridge – it won’t be better tomorrow, and it’ll probably just end up in the trash.

“Give it a chance”

That sounds more like it. Imperfect consistent action. Not over-thought or over-researched, but pragmatically pursued into existence.

The best works all start like this. A little ‘beaten up’ from scrappy beginnings, certainly incomplete and a far cry from its eventual glory. But able to reach such goals, thanks to the bravery of its owner(s) to give it a chance.

So. Did you say you had an idea?

August 20, 2019     Daily Post

Client Mutual Respect

The holy grail in client relations, beyond advocacy, is deep mutual respect born of a long, fruitful and (mostly) successful partnership.

You do good work. You almost always do. Occasionally you slip up. They’ve known you long enough to know it’s an exception to the rule, and they think nothing of it. They flag it, but everyone knows it’s no red flag, merely an observation with mutual respect.

They listen to your direction. They almost always do. Occasionally they don’t. You’ve known them long enough to know sometimes it’s just part of their process, and think nothing of it. You take their lead and lead up, as acts of mutual respect

You’re partners now. They’re important to your business, as are you to theirs. Good work is done, personalities learn to dance together, they wouldn’t choose anyone else, thanks to that mutual respect.

If this sounds alien to you, step up your game. If it sounds familiar, well done: keep it up.

August 19, 2019     Daily Post

More On Things That Last

Last February, we talked together about investing in things that last.

I thought I’d unpack in a little more detail some differences between what does – and doesn’t – last for companies doing meaningful work:

Things that don’t.

Tactics fade. There are countless tactics across industries, and each tends to lose effectiveness with saturation. Invariably, by the time there are umpteen online courses preaching the majesty of a particular tactic, it’s too late.

Hacks/tricks fade. “Hidden secrets that will transform your business” aren’t hidden and won’t transform your business. These suffer the same fate as the tactics above. A dependency on tactics may bring small injections of results, but are all short-lived in their nature. If it’s in a blog post, it may already be losing its luster.

‘New’ fades. An iPhone X is ‘new’ until the iPhone XS is released, or indeed any annual cycle flagship device. If ‘new’ is your advantage, prepare for its short shelf-life. Some things get better with time. Others hold value as a brick swims.

Things that do.

Great offers last. A powerful offer that speaks to the needs of a particular body of people, that is not predicated upon certain tactics or hacks or newness, is an asset that will last. Great offers are rare, given the marketplace’s tendency to commoditize itself. If you have one, t’is a precious thing.

Great messaging lasts. Part of the power in the offer above is in its ability to understand who it’s talking to, and what they need to hear from you. This communication ‘superpower’ extends to your entire operation. A lifelong learning exercise and a gift that never stops giving.

Great mission lasts. If you’re making an impact in an area your audience shares a heart for, your connection with those in your care will far exceed your competitive advantage. Consumers wear their hearts on their sleeves, heads, backs, feet, etc.

Invest in things that last, for your enterprise to stand the test of time and make a lasting difference in the lives of those you wish to serve.

August 18, 2019     Daily Post

Proud Enough To Sign It

When you’re proud of something you’ve written, you sign it. When you’re proud of something you’ve drawn, you sign it.

What about the time and energy we dedicate to our daily work?

The project you’re working on maybe in your control, or it may simply be something you must follow instructions within. In either case, we have the opportunity to ask ourselves, “Were we to be permitted a signature on this piece, would we sign it?”

The business you’re building may be your own, owned with others, or be something you enrolled in later on. In any case, we have the opportunity to contribute to its success or its mediocrity with our work. Would we feel proud enough of today’s contributions to sign it?

The difference you’re making in the world may be of your design, or led by a leader you admire. In either case, we have the power to make the time we invest into life matter for a cause and drive it forward, or merely pass by with marginal results. Are we contributing in a way that is worthy of our name?

Most opportunity is by our design. Our contribution is up to us.

August 17, 2019     Daily Post

Who’s Your Competition?

Let’s take a little look at who your competition really is:

If it’s your industry competitors, that’s your choice. They’re only competitors if you choose not to find complimentary ways to bring yet more value to the market, together. To work together on things to create more meaningful advantage for those in your care – events, products, systems – than you could create alone. Your choice.

If it’s your inner voice, that’s your choice. The voices that tell you that you suck for whatever reason it deems important today, only matters if you choose for it to matter. Should it matter any more than a Facebook comment from a faceless grump? Could you introduce new – better – voices into your head, since it’s your head? Your choice.

If it’s the economy, that’s your choice. The marketplace always has enough in it for everything it needs, and it’s printing more all the time; more money, more innovation, more opportunity. Should you participate and share in the opportunity available? Does a recession have to mean that many will get a share, but not you? Your choice.

If it’s your choice, your competition is by your design.

Who’s your competition? Doesn’t matter, you made it up, and you play by those rules by choice. Choose to compete, or choose to change the rules. Your choice.

August 16, 2019     Daily Post

Progress Shouldn’t Slow You Down

How can making progress…slow you down?

It sounds like it shouldn’t make sense – progress is suppose to mean things are getting better, faster, stronger, more effective, more fulfilling, more powerful. Yes?

For companies though, progress can carry with it some extra weight:

##As a company grows it slows.

Often, progress starts to really manifest after a company gets its around effective systemization. Things can start moving faster in the direction it set out on.

The risk here, is turning that vehicle into a train – very powerful at going where it was designed to go, but not very good at finding new routes should its path become less effective.

In that instance, the system made the mistake of forgetting the genius behind masters who designed it.

##Team members must be freed, for speed.

Companies can’t just stay the same forever.

Industries change. Customer habits change. The problems people are trying to solve, change.

The locomotive that systemized away the steering wheel can’t react to such obstacles in its path.

When creating progress – when scaling your operation – remember that what works today, will need relentless ongoing optimization and even occasional pivoting in order to keep the machine on track.

That means enabling the genius trapped in your team free to refine the machine, and steer when necessary. That’s what will keep you nimble, relevant, effective.

The fastest on the buzzer still wins.

August 15, 2019     Daily Post

The Reason You’re Scared

Years ago, a mentor many years my senior quipped that even great men still feel like little boys inside.

I found it to be a powerful reminder that, while the inner-talk is in our control, we all have similar default settings.

We all remember the bad grades and the bullies in school. Richard Branson got bullied for being dyslexic at school. Many moons after becoming a millionaire, he still had to have staff explain to him the difference between net and gross. And yet he owns a bank – Virgin Money.

I can relate to this, also finding numbers difficult. Our team has to support me in a similar way, ensuring math that gets anywhere close to me is double-checked for correctness.

We all remember the times we tried what we do so well now for the very first time… and were terrible at it. Most successful business owners have a laundry-list of failures that they seldom reveal to the public, that led them to the success they currently experience.

I can point to a number of my own, but not as failures so much as learning experiences – each taught me something that made the venture that followed more successful than it could have been otherwise.

CEOs, cause-driven business leaders, and everyone within those businesses, are all full of those who are still little boys (or girls!) inside. Just like everyone else.

August 14, 2019     Daily Post

The Scary World Of Business Growth Through Contraction

Growth by contraction? How does that work?

Let’s paint a picture of crazy, for a moment:

“Trying to do everything you hear in blog posts, all at once, because you were told you should be doing those things.”

Sound familiar?

You were told you should be guest posting. And using Facebook Ads. And Instagram stories. And LinkedIn messaging. And pop-ups on your website. The list goes on.

Ever notice how, when you try to do everything at once, nothing ends up working?

Those posts don’t get placed. The ads don’t work. Nobody sees your stories. Nobody replies to your messages. Your pop-ups wind everyone up. The list goes on, again.

What if you were to scale down the number of things you tackled at once… and focused on them one at a time?

Contraction gives focus, and focus enables expansion.

But freneticism doesn’t enable expansion. Rather, it results in contraction.

Maybe you’ve tied a bit of this and a bit of that. You’ve tried dabbling, hustling, trying to do everything at once. Maybe you’ve realized it doesn’t work.

What if you were to instead choose contraction in efforts today, for the focus it can bring toward the things that matter first, so that you can start creating some small wins?

It’s more fun to build upon success to create more success than it is to build upon failure to create more failure.

August 13, 2019     Daily Post

Your Customers Don’t Trust…Themselves

Your customers don’t trust themselves, not really… and that’s a big reason for lost sales.

In this post, let’s take a look at what Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote on the matte of self-reliance:

“Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this.”

Translation: We don’t trust ourselves until we see someone else first having done it.

This is like the person who “had thought of Uber first”, yet did nothing about it. Surely, had he believed his idea was a ~$100 billion idea (as Uber is presently valued) surely he would have done something about it? Unlikely; validation creates validation.

It doesn’t need to be Uber, either. It could be buying marketing services, or perhaps a nice new suit. We may not feel worthy to pursue it until we believe we’ll “make it work”. The fear of failure and of being misunderstood holds many back.

Which leads us to the next quote:

“Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

Turns out, breaking consistency, being seen to fail on occasion… these things are what all greats suffer.

Those we wish to serve need to believe the transformation they seek is possible for them… and that even if it isn’t, the act of trying will still transform them into that which they seek to become.

Are you helping your customers trust themselves?

August 12, 2019     Daily Post

The Little Things We Buy

There are lots of little things we buy online while shopping. Our customers are shopping for these things too. Do you have these in stock?

Respect: Stock tends to run low on this for customers who don’t align with a company’s ideals. Perhaps the customer doesn’t understand how to use an item, or they’re more emotional than many. You can do better: make sure you stock levels more-than-match the number of customers you have.

Discipline: Stock run down to back-order on this when companies sell more product than they have available. Perhaps the business got busy, they felt temporarily invincible, and they ‘relaxed’. You can do better: make sure you have as much of this in stock as you do the products you sell.

Empathy: Nothing else sells if you run low in stock on this item. Customers tend to buy their own narrative told back to them, not products and services. It’s a big reason why so many businesses don’t sell much. You can do better: ensure you always have abundantly more of this in stock than you need.

There are many more items like this that we must keep stocked in our companies. These are just three that are frequently ‘out of stock’. Do you have enough respect, discipline, and empathy in stock for your customers?

August 11, 2019     Daily Post

Your Customers Have Trust Issues

People don’t buy if they have trust issues. But those trust issues may not be with you. It may run deeper than that:

Do they trust us?

When we think about building trust, this is what we tend to think about. Getting folks to trust us.

And the act of earning trust is well-documented; with a good narrative structure and a powerful offer that has proven itself in the marketplace, maintaining trust is expressed as as state of mind – to see it as your moral responsibility to deliver the best results in your power, for the benefit of those in your care.

But what if all the trust in the world isn’t enough? What then?

Do they trust themselves?

This is something most of us don’t consider when creating offers to the market for our sustainable and cause-driven businesses.

You may have been able to develop trust with them… but have they developed trust in themselves?

The act of enabling this trust receives far less documentation; here the narrative you share with the market can’t just be good, it must be great. Great enough to not only empathize with where they are and how they can move to a solution, but to empower them with the confidence and self-belief that such a transformation is possible for them.

Your job isn’t just to help others see how great you are. It’s to help others see how great they can be.

August 10, 2019     Daily Post

It’s Not About Which Platform You Like Best

“But I like using Facebook more than Twitter”, says the marketing person.

Who said we get to choose where our audience is?

If your audience is on Instagram, it doesn’t matter if you think it’s a shallow show-reel of humanity’s worst, or not. They’ll remain there independently of your feelings on the matter. You can choose to show up and use the platform fully, or you can leave those you wish to serve to be served by somebody else instead.

If your audience is looking for things on Fiverr, it doesn’t matter if you think it’s marginalizing, or not. They’ll remain there independently of your feelings on the matter. You can choose to show up and use the platform fully, or you can leave those you wish to serve to be served by somebody else instead.

If your audience is on a golf course in Florida, it doesn’t matter if you think golf is a sorry excuse for a sport for lazy people in loud clothes, or not. They’ll remain there independently of your feelings on the matter. You can choose to show up and play with them, or you can leave those you wish to serve to be served by somebody else instead.

It’s not about platform, it’s about people: we get to choose whether to serve our market or not. If we show up for them where they are, with their story, we get our turn.

August 09, 2019     Daily Post

The Things That Don’t Matter, Matter

Happy customers need more than just your products.

HomePod

Why, when you buy an iPod, do you then buy a Mac, an iPhone, an iPad, AirPods, and a HomePod?

Hint: it’s not because you needed any of those things.

Your phone worked fine. So did your laptop. You didn’t need more headphones. Or a new home stereo.

The glue was the experience. A story you told yourself as you used one product, that you wanted to tell yourself again, and again, and again.

Mountain Zebra Scarf

Why, when one has plenty of appropriately-priced scarves, would a $415 Hermes scarf become something someone ‘needed’?

Why, when denied the purchase of a Birkin bag, would someone then proceed to purchase twillies and tableware to “earn the right” to purchase the bag?

Experience. A story one tells themselves as they use one product, that they wanted to tell themselves again, and again, and again.

Sometimes, the luster isn’t in what you sell, but the story you tell.

August 08, 2019     Daily Post

The Problem With “Marketing Automation”

Marketing automation has a problem. 

Picture this: you get a letter in the mail

It’s hand-written. It has a hand-written note on a special letter-head from the company. It’s signed with a real signature.

How do you feel? Having received a letter that someone took the time to write just for you, with your name on it etc?

Now let’s add a layer to the story…

On closer inspection, you realize the note wasn’t hand-written, but a font. The signature was printed on the letter-head paper. It knew your first name, but you recall you entered that on a webform a few weeks earlier.

Now how do you feel? Having received a letter that pretended to care, but didn’t?

This is marketing automation in the conventional sense. An exercise in accidental deception as a result of simply trying to show you care.

How can we fix this? By removing the deception, while still showing you care. Ensure the “special” still exists in your letter.

Better marketing automation

What can our morning routine teach us about better marketing automation?

Well… If we care about getting things done in the day, we usually set an alarm to wake up to, don’t we?

That alarm won’t get us up, nor will it brush our teeth. But it introduces some automation: the act of automatically responding to the alarm with manual, intentional action.

Each morning gets an intentional act of care and attention from us. Such is the power of the morning routine: not the steps, but the intent, care and commitment.

We get to approach marketing automation with intent, care and commitment, just like a morning routine. The act of showing up for someone and spending a moment with them is the point. Or, we can treat it as the process of de-personalizing what was formerly done with intent, care and commitment. We can make our work cold, searching for ‘hacks’ to trick people into thinking it’s not.

We love marketing automation. But the kinds that enable us to better show up for those in our world. To get closer to them, not further away.

We could call it, “marketing semi-automation”!

Are your marketing efforts moving you closer to those you wish to serve, or further away?

August 07, 2019     Daily Post

On Doing The Obvious

My wife and I had a coupon in the mail for some free coffees at a local coffee place this week.

I asked if we’d get one each if we used them.

Of course, it’s limit one per visit, only applies when you buy a particular item in their store.

“Obviously” the coupon wouldn’t be for just a free drink without strings attached. “Obviously” it would be only if you buy something.

What if it was just for free?

They would have new customers experiencing their brand in new ways. Customers who may want to repeat that experience if it was great.

Perhaps offering what would normally be “obviously” not possible, would be precisely what they need to stand out.

When it’s “obviously” not possible to everyone else, making it possible is an act of service that doesn’t go unnoticed.

“Discount today” can’t compete with “Free today, paid tomorrow”, particularly when ”tomorrow” becomes the day after too, providing the experience and service were good enough.

Fear is the only reason why things are “obviously” not possible; fear that your experience isn’t good enough, that people won’t return.

Are you afraid to be found out as a fraud, or are you brave enough to serve like you’re not?

August 06, 2019     Daily Post

The Reason You Don’t Like Marketing

There’s a good reason why you don’t really like marketing as a cause-driven or sustainable business.

“It makes you feel icky.”

Here’s why, and here’s what to do about it.

Icky marketing is what we see most often.

The Instagram or Facebook ads you see of the guy promising to reveal a super-secret that will change your life.

The limited-time-only webinar that will show you how to unlock untold riches so you can live a life of conspicuous spending.

The last-chance to get your half-off discount on a product that’s actually been half-off for the last 6 months.

Yeugh.

This is why you don’t like marketing. Here’s my advice for you if you’re turned off by this: Don’t do it.

Just don’t do it. Don’t lower the tone of your business, team or cause, by producing content that presumes those you wish to serve are ignorant or naive.

Better marketing is what we don’t see.

The social posts that never asked anything of you. They were simply helping you out along your journey.

The materials and tools you needed that were freely distributed to you without forcing you to mess around with opt-in forms or unrelenting email sequences.

The people who seem to keep showing up, day after day for your benefit, like a benevolent aunt or uncle, who you would genuinely miss if they stopped doing it.

There’s the key point: your marketing is ‘working’ when your target market would miss you if you stopped.

Your relationship through contribution is more important than your CPAs and CTRs. Because good relationships mean you don’t need to keep asking for the click, or for the share, or for repeat business.

Which bucket does your marketing fall into?

August 05, 2019     Daily Post

Your Cause-Driven Work Started As A Child

What did you do as a child that influenced your direction toward the work you to today?

I liked to make and sell things from an early age, and wanted ways to contribute.

I remember programming a video game at around 13 (I made quite a few, this was one of the bad ones!), where the player would play as God. He would fly around looking for people who looked down on their luck, zap them with his cane, and they’d start jumping for joy (giving God a ‘point’). It occurred to me while testing the progress of the game that… it’s really boring to play.

“You can’t lose. You’re God.”

Other times I’d make things that people seemed to really appreciate, such as a trading card game that my friends would help pack some the evenings to sell the next day for a small commission.

All the while hoping to find a way of making things that mattered, that made a contribution. I hadn’t heard of social entrepreneurialism at the time. I wish I had!

If we’re doing work that matters – important, fulfilling work – we likely didn’t get there by accident. Which makes our work all the more important: our lives have led us to this moment, where now we can make our mark.

Do something important. Make a difference. It’s what you do.

August 04, 2019     Daily Post

Learning To Love Shoveling Dirt

Every member of a company with a cause eventually discovers ‘dirt’.

It’s usually before they join. Sometimes it’s after.

But all must discover it, or the company risks losing its soul.

Dirt defined

‘Dirt’ is what motivates most of them to join the company in the first place.

It’s the hard work that directly affects those they’re in business to truly serve.

For companies that do business to support those in extreme poverty, the ‘dirt’ could be going to where they live and experiencing their lives, building housing and living how they live.

For those who help fund the fight against human trafficking, the ‘dirt’ could be experiencing the stories of those who have lived through things we can barely imagine.

The ‘dirt’ is on the front lines of that which we’ve declared is so important to us as social-good companies.

Dirt forgotten

The problem is… when a company makes progress and becomes increasingly profitable, there are many within such an organization that forget what the ‘dirt’ is really like.

They don’t experience it as often as they used to. They become increasingly acquainted with the trappings of comfort and further removed from the narrative at place in the areas they’ve taken responsibility for.

When the narrative weakens, so does the connection with the market. We can’t speak effectively to people we don’t understand, about things we don’t understand.

The distance makes liars of us.

How well do you know your ‘dirt’, and are you as committed to it as you were when the company was young?

August 03, 2019     Daily Post

Out-Serving Your Competitors

Why don’t more company out-serve their competitors, instead of worrying about what the next ‘funnel’ is that they need to get more customers

For example:

Why is the material you really want people to engage with hidden behind email opt-in forms and time-access restraints?

I get it, ‘funnels’, right? Here’s a question: if your competitors are all doing that in the same way – some of which are ‘lowering the tone’ with sensationalism – would you gain a marketing advantage if you simply made some of those materials freely and publicly available to the world?

You won’t get email addresses. But building relationships is more important than collecting email addresses.

Why are your brightest minds reserved for those who have paid lots of money?

I get it, ‘money’, right? Here’s a question: if your competitors are all limiting public access to those who make your company great – instead connecting low-trained low-care folks to those you wish to serve – would you gain a marketing advantage if you simply closed the gap a bit?

It may cost the team some time depending on how it’s done. But isn’t over-protecting your time sometimes preventing you from building the relationships with the very people you set out to serve?

The popular ways are popular because everyone’s doing them, not because they’re best. You get to choose whether or not to out-serve your competitors by building better relationships with the market than they dare.

August 02, 2019     Daily Post

Why You Got Complacent & Didn’t Notice ​

We all got complacent in our businesses. Maybe not today or yesterday, but some time, in some parts of our work.

We got complacent and we didn’t even notice. We may still not have noticed. It’s time to take notice:

You made a product and it worked

A product that doesn’t sell gets your attention. You try things, you’re brave with the changes. Because you need to make it work, right? What is there to lose?

The problem is, you figured it out. It started to work, and you kept it that way. Now you have some time to lose.

What we don’t tend to notice is, when we stop being brave, we leave the potential to be many times greater for our market and those we wish to serve, on the table.

Upside, advantage, transformation… it’s left on the table.

You got complacent. But what if you decided to be brave again?

You fit in and you like it that way

When your working relationships are a mess, they get your attention. They’re broken, and they need fixing. You have brave conversations where people get real about how they really feel. They’re the conversations that shape your relationships for years to come.

The problem is, eventually get on with those peers. Perhaps some more than others, but you get a thing going that works. Now you have something to lose.

What we don’t tend to notice is, safe conversations create tepid relationships. We leave the potential to be more with those around us so that we can collaborate and create more intimately and effectively than we could have thought possible.

When one keeps dropping the ball, the other is too comfortable to point it out.

You got complacent. But what if you decided to care more?

Our work gets better and our impact greater when we’re brave enough to care more.

August 01, 2019     Daily Post

Dog And Pony Marketing

When something is clearly articulated to meet my needs, I don’t need convincing.

When something is not clearly going to meet my needs, out comes Dog And Pony Marketing.

What is Dog And Pony Marketing

Dog And Pony Marketing is the art of creating a carefully crafted sequence of sensational nonsense designed to compel unsuspecting prospects to part with their money.

When we’re not clear on who we’re talking to and what to say to them in order to help them progress, there’s lots of tools we must leverage.

Thinly-sliced eBooks that up-sell webinars and $47 cheat-sheets. Sales calls that are rebranded as strategy sessions. Eighteen months of unrelenting email follow-up for that limited-time offer that expires in 24 hours.

Hacks and tricks are all that remain when we don’t care to understand our audience well enough to truly serve them.

What is the alternative?

At its core, the alternative is to do none of those things.

Certainly, technology can be leveraged to serve more intimately. The tools can be retrofitted for acts of service. But, at its core, none of it is required.

What is required, is a thorough understanding of who we’re talking to and what we should say to them (example). Armed with such a message, what else do you need?