When you look at people that are successful, it can be easy to become intimidated. You look at the person you admire and see all the places where they might be exceptional. And you would be right. The problem, so many times, is we start to look at the places they are strong and compare them to where we are weak. It’s just one of the problems with comparing.
But for the most part, it’s hard to pinpoint one thing that makes people successful. And in trying to nail them down, we tend to focus on things that are not in our control. Your hero might be:
A talented writer
A gifted dancer
You get the idea. They have something that seems to allude you. That is the reason they have succeeded where you have not (yet). But most of the time that is not the reason at all. Sure, those are gifts and they might give them a head start. But if you look at the history of people that have succeeded (long term) in any field, they have one thing in common…and it’s something we all have access to.
Perseverance.. They keep showing up.
People who succeed tend to have perseverance. It’s not that they have never failed. Most of the time they have failed plenty. They just kept going. They have been frustrated and disappointed, and they showed up anyway. While their competitors and their peers have looked at the mountain they needed to climb and decided it was just too long and too steep, they kept putting one foot in front of the other. They were not smarter or more gifted…they just kept going.
This is great news for me and you. I don’t have to be the smartest person in the room (thank goodness). I just need to persevere. And while I can’t control how talented I am, I can keep working my craft…and so can you.
Keep putting one foot in front of the other…for a long time. And when you look back, you will be proud of how far you have come.
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I got up early this morning. I would love to say it was because I was filled with purpose, passion and inspiration, but in fact, my dogs woke me up. But since I was up and at it early, I wanted to “push out some good in the world” and write a blog. Of course I wanted it to be meaningful and I wanted the content to inspire. I thought about the topics I might cover. Then I considered what might have the most impact.
The problem was, I was coming up with nothing.
I searched Facebook and Twitter for topics, but as you might expect, I got pulled into an infinite number of unproductive topics. Then it occurred to me that it had been a while since I had read Seth Godin’s blog. Godin writes a new post every single day. His blog often inspires me and almost always makes me think. So I type in his blog address and find this post:
People with writer’s block don’t have a problem typing. They have a problem living with bad writing, imperfect writing, writing that might expose something that they fear.
The best way to address this isn’t to wait to be perfect. Because if you wait, you’ll never get there.
The best way to deal with it is to write, and to realize that your bad writing isn’t fatal.
Like all skills, we improve with practice and with feedback.
I read this and sat back. Wow. Sometimes the universe will show you a simple truth if you just take the time to look for it.
For me it comes down to being intentional about what I put into my brain first thing in the morning. When I am not intentional, I default to time wasters, fillers and negativity…and the pattern of my day follows suit. Today was a simple but powerful reminder. Find things that inspire you, make you think and help you move your day (and your life) in the right direction.
Thanks Seth Godin for the reminder.
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So here we are in 2020. A lot has been made about the “unprecedented times” we are living. But here we are. As I have said before, we need to stop talking about things getting “back to normal.” The reality is, we don’t know when that might happen. We do need to take an honest look at where we are…and start working to succeed from here.
We need businesses to get rolling again. I mean, we NEED it. But you might be asking “how do I market our business in 2020?” Times have changed. People have changed. We need to consider that as we tell our organizations’s story today. So here are some things I see working (right now) to market your business in the world we live in.
In a world where people are less likely to leave their home, direct mail has become more effective. Yes, it’s a bit old school, but it’s a low cost way to reach the masses right where they are. And if you can create a creative, valuable offer, you have a real chance to stand out in a mailbox full of bills.
One of my favorite things that Joe Pulizzi says is that we are very comfortable ( as marketers) with “rented lists.” The radio, tv station or Facebook owns the list…and we just rent access. But a real, vetted email list of people who have subscribed to what you have to say is a list that you own. You get to decide when you send it, what they see, and who gets to see it. You have to provide value, or that audience can opt out. But there is real power in owning the list. And I am not sure how long it will last, but email open rates have actually gone up during this pandemic. Give value through your email list and you can make an impact in 2020.
Postive Content on Social
In this 2020 world of arguing politics, racial divides, mean spirited debates and complaining, your organization has a chance to stand out. Just create content that is nice! Regardless of the content platform, most of us are starved for something that provides us joy and inspiration. If you and your organization can show up like that (consistently), you have the chance to gain a real audience and a real following.
Branded Merchandise Kits
You don’t need me to tell you, but the traditional way we see our customers and employees has changed right now. Many events have been cancelled. Trade shows have been put on hold. Heck, even the idea of going to work has shifted (it’s hard to believe March was only like 4 months ago). With that in mind, Branded Merchandise kits can be an EXTREMELY powerful tool to reach your target audience. When done right, branded merchandise kits can improve brand affinity, affect behavior, help company culture, and yes, get people to pick up the phone. I talk about one of my clients using branded merch to replace an event they were holding here. If you have your team working from home, there is a kit for that. What if your team is coming back to work? You can create kit to (safely) welcome them back. What about creating an online conference and mailing attendees some cool swag to get them fired up? The possibilities are limitless.
I have been a believer is providing value first in marketing for a long time. Heck, I wrote a whole book about it! Well 2020 is a great time to do just that. Create online learning to provide value to your clients. Our friends at Commonsku created an amazing online conference to do that for their clients and over 800 people attended. It was awesome. That is the inspiration for us creating Hasseman U. We also spent some time creating a FREE 5 Day Marketing Course for anyone that wants to take it. The idea is to provide value for your clients in a new way. When you do that during this time, you have the chance to build real trust with customers and prospects, and come out stronger on the other side.
Those are just 5 ways that I see companies successfully marketing in 2020. I hope this gets your wheels turning! While these are not necessarily prescriptive for your business, what I will say is, now is not the time for business as usual. It’s a great time to really consider how you want to tell your story moving forward.
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It’s becoming a bit overwhelming, isn’t it? Studies have said that 89% of what you see in the world is negative, and right now that seems really low. Between COVID-19, Racial injustice, arguments online, and an Election Year, the level of negativity is off the charts. As a culture, we seem to be drowning in it. It makes giving out joy even more important than ever before.
Why Joy Is More Important Than Ever
In my book “The Give First Economy” I pointed out that the strategy of giving out joy was solid because it helped you stand out. If nearly 90% of what you (and your customers) see in the world is negative, then you can stand out by pushing out good vibes. This is still a powerful marketing strategy, in my opinion. In today’s world, however, it’s not enough. There is just so much heaviness, and anxiety, and worry, and hate surrounding us, pushing out joy can become more than that.
3 ways to become a Beacon of Joy.
Much like sailors lost in a rough sea, many of our friends and customers are struggling. They are fighting to keep their lives and their mental health on track. It can seem overwhelming. We need something to help keep us on track. We can act as that lighthouse in the storm for the people in our life. Here are 3 ways to be that Beacon of Joy for others.
Seek Out Joy
As I mentioned, our culture is drowning in the negative. While there are still stories of hope, you have be intentional to look for them. Make it a habit to look for joyful messages to start your day. Meditate on things you are grateful for. Spend time each day actively looking for the good in your life. The fact is, you will not be able to push out anything joyful if your brain is full of anger. You need to take care of yourself first. Spend some time each day to find something that brings you joy in the world. It’s there. But sometimes, you really do have to seek out joy.
Point Out Joy
When you see something, say something! There are people in every community doing good. Unfortunately, these people are often not lauded for their efforts. Be one of the people that shines a light on those joyful souls. Spend a moment (and sometimes that is all it takes) to say “thank you” to those that are working to create joy. In addition, be their cheerleader. Point out the good they are doing…even when it has nothing to do with you. Help them spread their message of good by pointing out the joy you see in the world.
Give Out Joy
If the world needs to see more joy, it’s time for you to be the light. Each of us has the opportunity to be a reason someone smiles today. Most, unfortunately, are not willing to do the work. You can be the beacon by looking for ways to breathe joy into people’s lives. You might do this be simply being kind. Or you might create videos or a podcast that meets people where they are. Despited the challenges facing the world today, there are so many tools that allow us to push out our message…if we choose to do it.
Today…choose to do it. Be a beacon of joy today. The world needs it.
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I got this great question on Linkedin this week…and it occurred to me that it’s a question on many organizations mind. So I decided to post the question and my ultimate response to “What do I post now?”
Hey Kirby! Quick question for you – with all this protest stuff going in, my boss is suggesting we stop posting anything to social media as it seems like it will fall on deaf ears. We feel like “hey look what we have to say about tutorials & screenshots while all this other stuff is going on.” I personally feel like we need to move forward as i’ve been consistent & been building up our presence and don’t want to lose the momentum. I’ve been working for so long to build it! Curious what your thoughts & perspective is on this.
As I mentioned, I love this question. It’s thoughtful and self-aware. And I think your boss has a point about being mindful of the world around you as you go to market. You never want to come off as tone deaf when challenging times are around us. And if they mean you should take the day off, then I understand and could get on board. But overall I think it’s okay to continue to tell your story in a mindful and intentional way.
Serving Versus Selling
The question I always ask myself is whether or not I am going to market with a servant’s heart. If you are just “sell, sell, sell,” then your boss is right. You don’t want to look like a thoughtless jerk on 3am infomercials. But if you are being mindful of the times, then you can probably create content that serves people where they are…right now. For your offering, online training might be seen as more important than ever. In addition, there are some people that will be hungry for something else to see or think about. You could be providing a positive alternative.
What Are We Doing?
I always tell people that you can tell what I really think about Branded Merchandise by what I put my logo on. If I am willing to spend my money on it, I really like it. The same idea is true with content strategy. The most honest answer comes from the fact that we are continuing to create content. We are trying to create content and offerings that are appropriate for the time…but we are moving forward. We have even pivoted to create some Free Marketing Training because that feels right at this point.
The best content strategy, in my opinion, starts with Giving First. My hope is it will provide value to customers in a way that is meaningful.
In the meantime I am going to work hard to listen to my community to make sure I am not way off base.
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With some extra time on your hands during the pandemic, many people have decided to create content for their business and personal brand. I am excited to see the increase in activity in video, podcasts and blogs all over the business world. I think it’s a great use of time, and a great way to use this time to create long term business value. But as you start on your content journey (or if you are just considering it now), it’s important to not just “run and gun” your content. Here are a few questions to consider to make your content marketing pop.
Does This Answer a Question Or Concern of My Customers?
When I speak to business leaders, marketers and entrepreneurs about creating content, one of their concerns is where to start. What topic should I cover? What should I write about? The easiest place to start is to make a list of questions that your customers and prospects ask all of the time about your product or service. You probably already have the answers, because you handle them all of the time. If you can write a blog or create a video that answers that question you probably have a good piece of content.
But I think it’s important that this is not just a sales video. It’s not an ad. So many people create videos that say they are answering a question, but it’s really a full blown marketing pitch that only sells their own product. The idea is that you create value by answering a real question and add value to the customer. Once you have created value in the customer’s mind, and built trust, that is a great time to offer your product or service as a potential solution to the customer’s problem.
Does This Have a Point of View?
The famous Sports Talk Radio Host Jim Rome has a mantra he says to his callers. “Have a take…and don’t suck.” That might be good advice if you are calling a radio show, but these are great words of wisdom if you are creating content. Have an opinion. The idea of content marketing, in many ways, is to establish you or your brand as the expert. We go to experts for their opinion on matters. These experts have earned the right. That’s you. You have put in the work to be the expert in your area. So if you are going to take my time with a piece of content, have a point of view. Have a take. And don’t suck.
Is This Created With My Customers in Mind?
Many marketers and entrepreneurs have a “Toby Keith” problem with their marketing. They “wanna talk about me” all of the time. When we focus all of our marketing or our content on our own company, we lose sight of what is important…meeting the needs of our customer. The best content is created wit the customer in mind. It answers a question they need. It educates them to help them do their job better or make their lives easier.
Donald Miller talks about this in his great book Building Your StoryBrand. Many companies make themselves the hero of their story. It’s a mistake. As Miller says, in your marketing (and your content) you should position the customer as the hero of the story and your company should be the guide. So your customer is Luke Skywalker and your company is Obi Wan.
These are just a few questions to consider when creating a piece of content…and you want to make it pop. I think questions can be very powerful to lead us the right direction (I talk about more good questions here). If you have more questions about Content Marketing, check out Joe Pulizzi’s great book Content Inc on the subject here.
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