What to do when you're feeling uninspired…

How to get inspired and get back to work - fast.

10AM, every day. Not insanely early, in fact a late start by most accounts… But 10AM is the time I use to sit out on my front porch and admire the view down into the valley below my home. Just me, the warmth of my latte, and the view.

Parents return from their morning errands, with only the littlest children in tow. School is in. The eagles soar, the trees sway gently in the breeze, and the mighty glacier-fed river rushes below. It is a post-card perfect picture, something you could imagine Robert Bateman painting in his studio for display in a gallery. Breathtaking, serene, and humbling, the perfect accompaniment to my steamed milk and espresso.

Then you hear it.

Whir, whir, whir, whir…

The smallest of whispers, getting closer and closer. Louder and louder. Never deafening, so quiet that even a hushed conversation could mute the familiar sound.

Whir, whir, whir, whir…

The sound approaches, still out of sight but drawing me in with the familiarity of a thousand childhood summers.

Whir, whir, whir, whir…

And he appears. This same man, almost every day, just after 10am.

He is an elderly man, with at least 75 years of stories and wisdom behind him. He wears his jeans, his hiking boots, his coat. This must be his uniform, the way he dresses each day when he gets out of bed. There is a reflective safety vest draped over his delicate, weathered shoulders, likely at the insistence of his wife. I sit and watch, imagining her standing at their kitchen sink washing the dishes from breakfast – the same way she has for the last 50 years or more.

And he rides his old bicycle up the hill.

Whir, whir, whir, whir…

His frame, strong as ever is draped over the tubes of steel and rubber, bobbing and rocking as he makes his way to the top.

Whir, whir, whir, whir…

Suddenly, a car approaches in the opposite direction. A black Mercedes, likely a resident of the multi-million dollar homes resting on the crest of the hill behind me. A single driver, a man who appears to be in his mid-thirties, brings the car to a stop next to the man. The man on his bicycle stops, rests his feet on the ground, and lifts his head.

I perch on the edge of my seat, just close enough to hear their conversation yet far enough away not to intrude on their world.

“You’ve taken away all of my excuses,” the younger man says. “I stopped riding 10 years ago, thinking I was getting too old to keep doing it. But I see you here, every day, riding up to the top of the hill. You’ve taken away all of my excuses.”

The elderly man pauses, his face softening at the odd compliment. “When did you start riding?” he asks.

“I started in junior high. I loved the feeling of it, but when life got too busy to keep racing I just stopped. How about you?” the younger man prods.

“I started when I was 38 years old. My kids were growing up and I wanted to do something just for myself. I don’t always ride up this hill anymore, some days I have to stay in the valley, and some days I have to stay home. But whenever I can, I come here. Just look at the mountains, how could you not?” The elderly man shifts his weight and leans back, as if in awe of the beauty around him.

“I’m 38,” the younger man says. “You really have taken away every excuse I could think of. How do you keep doing it?”

“I’m 79 years old, and I’ve been doing this for over 40 years. I’ll do this until I can’t anymore. It isn’t a choice, this is just what I do.”

The young man pauses for a moment. You can see his expression change, even at a distance. “I’m going to start riding again. I’m just going to do it. You’ve inspired me. Thank you. What is your name?”

A truck comes up behind them, muting the sounds of their conversation. The younger man carries on down the hill, smiling and nodding at the elderly gentleman. The older man mounts back to his bike, just a few dozen feet from the crest of the hill, and pushes forward. And up he goes.

Whir, whir, whir, whir…

I never caught their names. I don’t know where either of them live. The elderly man is riding up less and less these days, but a curious sight caught my eye last week.

It was the younger man. Covered from head to toe in spandex, embroidered with a dozen logos from the Tour d’ France in black and yellow. And he was on his bike, speeding down the hill with the happiness of a little boy on his first two-wheeler. Smiling, riding, and taking in the view.

And so, my friend, I leave you with this today. When you’re feeling uninspired, when you think of quitting or taking a day off, when you can’t bring yourself to write that blog post or send that email or make that phone call, I want you to remember.

That fateful winter day, a 79 year old man was just doing the same thing he had done every morning for over 40 years. He got out of bed, mounted his bike, and rode. A simple thing.

But just the simple act of getting up and doing what he does – of not quitting, not taking a day off, not giving up despite his obvious and valid reasons to take a rest – inspired another man to get up weeks later, and rekindle his love of the sport.

Just by doing what he does, he took away all of the excuses for someone else.

His form isn’t perfect, he isn’t draped in medals, he doesn’t have the fanciest gear, and he has never been interviewed by the media for his accomplishments. And he taught me, that:

You don’t need to be “somebody” to be something to someone.
(^^Click to tweet^^)

If you’re struggling today, if you’re feeling uninspired, don’t rest on your laurels. Don’t wait for things to get better, or easier, or to “make it big” before you bother. Get out of bed, and do what you do. You just never know who you might inspire.

5 Circles: Should I be using social media marketing?

socialmedia

Alright friends – here we are for another post in the 5 Circles Series. This time, we’re going to be talking about social media.

You’re probably thinking one thing right now. This is a blog about marketing and business, in the digital age, primarily for bootstrappers and high-ROI seekers. Social media is probably high on the recommended marketing tactics list, right?

This post has a hard-hat on, because it is going to catch a lot of [email protected]

This isn’t about the conventional wisdom, or the same ideas being spewed out by every other blog out there. That seems to be a trend here on this blog, actually. The fact is, this might be a pretty big revelation in social media for those of you who have been trying to avoid playing the social media game (and those of you who have been forcing it, even though you don’t like it.)

Should you be using social media?

Marketing Circle: Social

Along with email marketing and networking, social media is the primary social medium that businesses use to share their messages. Many, many people get stuck in social media, spending hours each day “managing” their platforms, pages, and feeds, sending messages, sharing content, and more. The ROI they receive on this time is typically pretty dismal, but because it is conventional wisdom that you’re not a “real” business without a social media presence, they continue.

Best-Fit Archetype: Communicator

If you love the idea of networking, but can’t stomach face to face interaction, then social media may be for you. No in person interaction required, you can hide behind your screen (and no, you don’t have to get over this completely and take over the stage if you want to be successful), and you can still engage with people. Experts are prone to blast their messages out on social media, rather than engaging in conversations, and so the strategy recommended below is likely a better fit for anyone in the Expert archetype.

Secondary Archetype: Supporter/Facilitator

You love connecting people, so being helpful-by-association is one of the ways you use to build trust. Connecting people on social media is a fantastic way for you to show off this skill – just be careful that it doesn’t start consuming all of your time.

How does it work?

The conventional school of thought is that you must be on social media (actively) with your own branded pages and 16+ more things to manage, right? Just look at the expensive conferences and courses offering to show people how to build an entire business on something like Twitter. Twitter – to build your entire business. When you put it that way, it kind of sounds insane doesn’t it?

Guess what – you already are on social media. Your ideal prospects and customers are already sharing and discovering your content on Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. – whether you actively use them or not. Even if you don’t have any social media accounts or pages, even if you don’t have share buttons integrated into your website, you already are using social media.

Let’s introduce you to a new concept. One that social media experts (those selling their courses!) are going to hate, and you are going to love. 

It is very simple.

Instead of forcing yourself into being active on social media all day, every day, optimize your content for social sharing.

This means using “click to tweet” links in your posts, like the link above. It means creating “pinnable” images for your content. It means using widgets and other tools to allow readers to share your content on social platforms, providing short links, and uploading your video and audio content to social sharing sites like YouTube and SoundCloud.

It means writing epic headlines that will get clicks and providing all of the necessary tools to allow others to share your content on social media.

Then you can sit back, relax, focus on creating “epic content”, and check in on Facebook and Twitter when you feel like it. You no longer have to get lost in Facebook Groups and Twitter Feeds, spending hours every day answering questions on Quora and LinkedIn, or organizing your contacts into “Circles” on Google+.

Because social media platforms don’t make money off of small advertisers, or small businesses that just post content without paying to promote their posts. They make money when people stay on their site for longer – and they are masters at making sure that happens.

If you have a business to run, the last thing you want to do is actively choose to spend time doing something that is intended to suck you in and waste your time.

So there you have it.

That is it for today. No best practices, no real warnings, just a social media strategy that you can use in your business – even if you hate social media – to capitalize on the huge amounts of traffic those networks can send.

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

5 Circles: Should I be using email marketing?

emailmarketing

This is going to be fun! This week on the 5 Circles Series we’re going to be discussing email marketing. Email can be used both B2B and B2C, it can generate sales, create brand awareness, build relationships, share ideas, inspire people, and grow your business.

But should you be using it?

The short answer: yes.

The long answer: yyyyyyyeeeeeeeeessssssssss. (That was longer, wasn’t it?)

Seriously though, there is literally no reason not to use email marketing in your business. Every email you send is a form of marketing, if you’re smart enough to include business info in your signature! So let’s get down to it:

Should you use email marketing?

Marketing Circle: Social

You’ve heard about Twitter. You know about Facebook. The value of networking with people is unsurpassed. I have personally helped brands to grow their following using all of those mediums. But do you know which tool in the social arsenal worked the best – out of every possible method? Email. If you do nothing else from the social circle, make email your focus – you will *not* regret it.

Best-fit Archetype: Communicator

Do you love writing? Is creating new content one of your favourite parts of running your business? Have people told you that you have a knack for communicating your ideas in a way that reads, and flows, very well? Then you are likely a communicator – the archetype of most writers, bloggers, and media moguls. Sharing information (yours, or someone else’s) is your favourite past-time, and email marketing is an amazing way to share your information with your newest raving fans!

Secondary Archetype: Expert

If you love being the centre of attention, then email marketing might be the right fit for you. Experts are well suited to informative newsletters that position them as the source of must-read information on the topic at hand. Be sure to use other mediums (video, images, audio) in your email marketing if writing isn’t your forte!

How does it work?

Essentially, you create an “opt-in” or “landing” page – a place where people who are interested in your business can gain more information in exchange for their email address. Offering free, helpful information is a great way to get people to subscribe. If your brand is well-known and trusted, offering a discount can be effective as well.

Once they subscribe to your email list, you have the ability to send them information, special offers, new content, and anything else your heart desires. If you use ecommerce in any way, or have online response mechanisms (like appointment scheduling, for example) email marketing is likely to drive a high percentage of your sales.

Best Practices:

  1. Let people opt-in! I see so many companies, especially product companies in FMCG/CPG sectors (but some service-business owners, bloggers and online entrepreneurs as well) hiding their opt-in form. Put it in your header, put it in your sidebar, put it in your footer, include a link in your content, do a popup – make sure that if someone lands on your site and wants to be on your newsletter, they can. I’ve seen 4 blogs this week alone that expected you to follow them on Twitter for their latest posts. << Don’t do that.
  2. … But don’t force it. Yes, email marketing is likely to be one of the biggest drivers of your business moving forward if you utilize ecommerce or have an online response mechanism in place – but because the costs involved in email marketing services (I use Mailchimp) increase pretty much with every subscriber you have, you really want a responsive, engaged list of subscribers… Not a huge list of people who could care less about your existence. Engagement doesn’t only come from the content of your newsletter, it also comes from the sources of your subscribers. Make sure that everyone who subscribes to your list really wants to hear from you.
  3. Offer something of value in exchange for their info. Seriously, nobody wants your “newsletter” (or at least, they don’t know yet that they want your newsletter.) They want the answer to their prayers, the solution to their problems, the “more, better, faster” to their “less, worse, and slow”. Offer them something they can’t resist – something you would/should charge for – for free, in exchange for their information.
  4. Segment your lists. Don’t send the same offers to someone who is a loyal buyer of your products that a brand new, wet behind the ears subscriber gets! Your most loyal people get your best insights and info, and get the opportunity to move up to higher and higher levels of investment in your products and services. It’s called a sales funnel, and it works.
  5. Give a [email protected] That number, from 0 to infinity, staring back at you from inside your email marketing dashboard is not a magic machine that spits out more and more money the bigger it gets. That number is the number of people who have bothered to give you time and attention out of their valuable day. Maybe they’re reading your email instead of playing with their kids, doing their chores, finishing work for a client, I’ve even gotten responses from people who thanked me for my inspirational messages while attending a funeral (not kidding.)
    You don’t know what those 10, 300, 6,000, 250k people are doing today, but they’re not digits and email addresses – they are people. Write to them, share with them, and treat them and their time with respect. Earn their respect. That is how you generate money from email marketing – use it to build relationships with people whom you can help.
  6. Write epic sh!t. << Enough said.  (Thank you, Corbett.)

Warnings:

  1. Stop using Feedburner. I know, they’ve improved their features and you can now X, Y, and Z. That doesn’t matter. Stop using Feedburner/blitz/deliveryguy/razzledazzle/whatever today. Be professional, use branded email marketing that comes from your own email address with your own spiffy signup form and confirmation emails. Nobody is impressed by your Feedburner follower count more than they would be impressed by your newsletter subscriber count, and with the RSS-to-Email capabilities (Google it) that exist today, you’d be crazy to put all of your eggs in the soon-to-die Feedburner basket.
  2. Don’t beat your subscribers over the head with offers, unless that is what they signed up for (which is really only true if you’re Groupon. And you’re not Groupon [probably. If you are, hi Groupon!]) They signed up for value, deliver them value – and if you can add to that value with well-placed, timely offers of additional help and support (aka your products and services) then do so. Train your subscribers to expect regular content and offers, and lots of value. They’ll love you for it.
  3. Ignore everything on this list (except the Feedburner thing. Seriously guys…) Don’t do email marketing the way anyone says you “should”. Some people say to email daily, others say monthly. Some people say you should include 10+ images, others say none. Do it your way, test, track, monitor, and improve – and who knows, you might actually end up learning what your ideal clients and customers really want along the way!

So there you have it. Is email marketing right for you? If the sky is blue and bears are you-kn0w-what-ting in the woods, then yes. Do email marketing. Build a database of people who want to hear from you, who find you valuable, and want to learn more about what you can do for them. You will not regret it!

Want to use this article on your site? Go ahead! Just include this byline at the end:

An ex-corporate marketing maven gone rogue, Cheryl Woodhouse is a Business Growth Mentor and Certified Master Law of Attraction Practitioner who helps small business owners to use their business growth as a tool to design their ideal life – one that includes plenty of profit. She has the uncanny ability to pinpoint the perfect business model for your goals, using your unique skills and abilities as a guide to create a strong foundation for your success. She then uses her mad skills in marketing to eliminate the overwhelm and frustration in your business, guiding you to choose 5 highly profitable core activities, and ditching the rest. You can find out more about your ideal marketing methods on her blog at CherylWoodhouse.com

5 Circles: Should I run a telesummit?

should I run a telesummit? how to make a telesummit successful.

Have you ever wondered “Should I ___insert marketing method here___?”

Welcome to the 5 Circles Series – a special series of blog posts dedicated to answering that question. In each post, we’ll cover a marketing method commonly in use today. Everything from telesummits to webinars, celebrity affiliations to main-stream publicity will be analyzed in these posts. Finally, you’ll have a resource to help you determine not only whether or not you should proceed with a particular marketing method, but some tips, tricks, and pitfalls to avoid along the way.

All of the analysis done here will be based around the 5 Circles of Marketing – collaborative, earned, broadcast, event, and social.

These are the strategies I have used to build multi-million dollar brands. They are the same strategies I used to grow my coaching practice from scratch to 6 figures in less than 90 days. And now, they are yours to enjoy!

So, in honour of the Start Something Telesummit kick-off tomorrow – should you run a telesummit?

Marketing Circle: Collaborative/Event

Use this method of marketing if you are not currently using a collaborative or event based promotion strategy (see the 5 Circles post again if you’re not sure.) This will fill a gap in your marketing, and reach more of your potential clients and/or customers.

Best-fit Archetype: Supporter/Facilitator

Do you love organizing things? Does it bring a twinkle to your eye when you connect people to each other? Do you love sharing the work of others, helping people get value from others? Have you always been the “planner” in your group – the one who does committees, runs events, organizes clubs and groups, and runs the itinerary? If so, the telesummit method may be very well suited to your skills and your passions!

Secondary Archetype: Expert

If you love taking centre stage and sharing your ideas, if others consider you to have strong opinions, if appearing on mainstream television, giving keynote speeches, filling auditoriums and touring the country as a well-renown genius sounds appealing to you, you are probably an expert. Experts love the spotlight, they love talking and sharing about themselves and their ideas, and have minimal issues speaking to large groups. Experts are well suited to be guests on telesummits – being interviewed, rather than doing the interviewing.

How does it work?

Essentially a telesummit is a series of interviews or special presentations. Your role, as the host or organizer, is to collect a group of individuals who are all knowledgeable around the topic of the event, which you set around your desired target market’s needs. You request that they either give a presentation or record an interview with you on the topic. Then you broadcast these pre-recorded interviews out using streaming software or by sharing the MP3’s (similar to a podcast) to the registered audience.

It is common practice to request that the experts participating in the event help you share and promote. This is how the event builds your business and your database – you have a large number of experts congregating at once, all sharing the event, and everyone registering to hear the experts speak. This is, essentially, a database building strategy (not a customer acquisition one) – and it will add 100’s or even 1000’s of new people to your database.

Best Practices:

  1. Know your target market. If you understand your outcome (the result your business sells) and whom you provide it to (your target market), you need to think of a burning question or pressing problem that your target market faces. Common frustrations are time and money. Create a topic that will attract the right new people to your audience – those who are struggling with the problem you solve.
  2. Set aside a lot of time. Don’t try and launch a telesummit in a week… You’ll need at least 2-3 months to do this properly. Your very first step is to start reaching out to experts requesting an interview or presentation. Once you have reached out to at least 30 experts for your event, begin working on your landing page (the page people will use to sign up for the event.) Continue emailing experts, organizing and recording interviews, and promoting the event right up until the last day.
  3. Do not – please! – schedule your event in a way that no one could possibly get value from it. The point of a telesummit is to bring together experts and provide mountains of value to your new audience members. If you’re doing 1 hour presentations, and you schedule 6-8 of them a day for 2 weeks, how is anyone in your target market going to have time for that?!? Keep the commitment low and the value high – that will build you a big base of new, engaged subscribers (rather than a huge base of people who unsubscribe as soon as the event is over.)
  4. Get help. Seriously – do not try and run a telesummit and your regular business all on your own. I tried it… And if it hadn’t been for the grace of some amazing individuals taking part in the event, it all would have come crashing down. I eventually brought on help and everything smoothed back over. Get. Help. Hire a VA, get your sister to respond to emails, hire someone on Fiverr.com to edit the interviews, and anything else you might need. You’ll need the help.
  5. Chase after the big names – and the cool, obscure people. My telesummit included people who have been featured in places like MSNBC, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and Fast Company. It also featured a strategist and planner who still gets clients from Craigslist, a copywriter living in Costa Rica, and a former engineer turned coach and Law of Attraction expert. And as much as I loved interviewing the big, mainstream names, it also felt really, really good to help expose the work of these individuals who had smaller audiences to a new and excited group of people. Karma, bro!

Warnings:

There are two major pitfalls you want to avoid if you’re going to take this on yourself:

  1. Do *not* wait until the last minute to get your technology/streaming set up. Have backups for your backups and get your technology set up and ready at *least* one month in advance.
  2. Do not rely solely on the experts for marketing and promotion. Use one method from each of the other 4 circles to promote the event, and drive your own registrations. You get out of this what you put into it.

So that’s it – you now have a pretty good idea if you should run a telesummit, and some tips, tricks, and cautions to be aware of along the way. Watch for the next post in the series, and subscribe to updates if you haven’t already – the next post will get dropped in your inbox automatically.

Want to use this article on your site? Go ahead! Just include this byline at the end:

An ex-corporate marketing maven gone rogue, Cheryl Woodhouse is a Business Growth Mentor and Certified Master Law of Attraction Practitioner who helps small business owners to use their business growth as a tool to design their ideal life – one that includes plenty of profit. She has the uncanny ability to pinpoint the perfect business model for your goals, using your unique skills and abilities as a guide to create a strong foundation for your success. She then uses her mad skills in marketing to eliminate the overwhelm and frustration in your business, guiding you to choose 5 highly profitable core activities, and ditching the rest. You can find out more about your ideal marketing methods on her blog at CherylWoodhouse.com