The Biggest Mistake You're Making in Your Business… (and how to stop making it today.)

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“I don’t want to be too… ‘corporate’.”

I probably hear that 4-5 times a week. There is this negative association with corporations, as though doing anything that they do makes you somehow less noble, less helpful, almost evil. Like to be fully corporate, you would have to run your business with a board of advisers that meet in a shadowy back alley – outside the fringes of the law.

I’ve heard that a bit more than usual this week, and it was my call to say this to you:

Stop saying that.

Do you know why corporate marketing looks different from small business marketing? Is it because they’re evil, or manipulative, or distant and uncaring?

No, no, and no.

It looks different because it is. Corporations are marketing on a massive scale. They’re building brand associations, they’re creating a platform, they’re reaching hundreds of thousands, millions, and even billions of potential customers with their marketing.

They’re partnering with big name brands, getting major media attention every time they use the washroom or hire a new janitor, and just generally dominating their market.

Corporate marketing can feel impersonal because it can’t be one-on-one to hundreds of millions of people. How many personal emails or phone calls have you received from someone at Coca-Cola or Pepsi to get you to buy their products? That isn’t because they don’t care about their mission or their customers, it is simply that they’ve found more effective ways to reach you.

Many of you are probably saying “but I don’t want to be as big as Coke or Pepsi, so this doesn’t apply to me.” But, my friend, it absolutely does – and I know it does because I cause breakthroughs around this very challenge every week. For people just like you. (This is where you lean in and read intently…)

Being “corporate” isn’t what you’re afraid of.

In fact, being “corporate” just represents what you’re really afraid of. Something that scares the sh!t out of many of you, really.

Yes, there are some corporations that hurt people – no denying it. There are also people that hurt people, and with the negative focus of modern media, it is getting harder and harder to avoid hearing about them.

Microsoft has done some semi-evil things over the years (anti-trust lawsuit, anyone?) But did you know that they provide good paying jobs to over 100,000 people worldwide? That the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is working to solve world hunger with grants that also create dozens of jobs in developing countries?

But I forgot – you don’t want to be “corporate.” Why is that? Well, I think…

You’re avoiding playing a bigger game.

Because calling Sally over at Sally’s Health Spa to partner on a presentation to 10 of her best customers is easier than calling up Centrum and partnering with them to present your offerings to 10M people worldwide, right?

Because calling the local newspaper editor to share your story is easier than calling a journalist at People Magazine or TIME or The Wall Street Journal, right?

Because sitting there selling your own time and knowledge is easier than creating a product that can be replicated with or without you, right?

When you *are* the business, either you’re there and making money… Or you’re not there, and not making money. It is easier to do that than to scale, because your business getting bigger means you need to work a lot more – right?

Because staying small is easier than getting big, right?!?

But is it really?

A phone call to Sally and Centrum will take the same amount of time, and Sally is less familiar with promotional partnerships than Centrum is… She’ll probably take more convincing.

A call to the local newspaper editor won’t likely get you far, unless you’re in the local “clique” of important people… And because he is the only editor, it will probably take you weeks to chase him down. A quick email pitch to the editor at WSJ could be done in 5 minutes.

Selling your time and knowledge is easier at the beginning, when you don’t have a product to sell… But it is impossible to scale, and you end up owning your own job if you don’t evolve beyond that. “Well, if I want to make another $5k this year, I could work another 15 hours a week…” *shudder*

When you own a business and you grow enough to put someone else in charge, you sit around and help steer the vision of the company when you have time… All while getting a nice income from your creation.

Staying small isn’t easier than getting big.

Really, it isn’t. There are hundreds of thousands of companies out there trying to stay small. There are hundreds of companies calling Sally and John the Editor, hundreds of thousands selling their own time and knowledge.

The playing field opens up for the few who step up and play a bigger game. There’s just less competition the closer you get to the top.

So what are you really afraid of? Is it being corporate? Is it playing a bigger game? Is it working too many hours? Is it solving world hunger and creating 100k jobs?

No.

You’re afraid that you’re not good enough.

Who are you to call up Centrum, or WSJ? Who are you to create a product that sells millions of units per month, or to hire someone else to run your company? Who are you to build a company that helps millions, employs hundreds of thousands, generates billions in revenue, and doing it all while you’re enjoying your life?

Here is what I want you to understand: You don’t have to be good enough.

I mean, you already are, but you don’t have to be the best to have a huge impact and enjoy your life. You don’t have to create something amazing from scratch, or be the biggest innovator. Facebook is a publicly traded corporation worth billions, and they were a MySpace copycat. Apple is the same way, and they pay royalties on upwards of 100 patents for every single iPhone they sell.

You don’t need to be the best to have a huge impact, to change the world, to become a millionaire or a billionaire. In fact, to play a bigger game, you only need these:

brass-balls

They’re big, they’re brass, and they are the only difference between Bill Gates and that dude down the street who builds PCs in his basement. Mr. Gates had the “equipment” to walk into IBM’s office and strike a deal to put his operating system (one that he didn’t even create, he basically swiped it from Xerox) on every single PC they built, and pay him for it. That is what made Microsoft what it is today.

Now ask yourself, and be honest:

Do you want to help lots of people?

Do you want to be financially free?

Do you want to enjoy your life?

Do you want people to admire you for your accomplishments and your contribution to this world?

Then stop playing small.

You don’t have to sacrifice yourself and your priorities, you don’t have to be something you’re not, you don’t have to work like a dog or lie, cheat, and steal. You  just have to have the courage to step up, to put yourself out there, to align with people who are bigger than you are today, and to keep pushing until you make it.

Here is your challenge:

Do one thing, every day, that takes courage.

It could be that call to a big name magazine, or a partnership proposal to a Fortune 500 Company, or pitching a guest blog post to The Huffington Post, or sending one of your products to an A-List celebrity asking for their support.

Do one thing every day that pushes you into a bigger  game.

Even if you decide to stay small anyway, being small is a lot more fun when you’ve got big support.

– Cheryl

How to Actually Launch Your Business This Week (Part 1)

openforbusiness

This post is for those of us entrepreneurs with specific types of dreams. Not just dreams of success, but big dreams of what our businesses will be. Retail chains. Restaurants and cafes. Huge international media networks. Campgrounds. Bed & breakfasts. Online schools. Our own physical products and brands. Tech startups with major development requirements. Record labels and nightclubs, gyms and fitness studios…

You know, the expensive dreams.

The ones that require big amounts of cash, debt, or investment funds. The ones that feel forever out of reach.

Today, my friends, is the day that changes.

In the second part of this post, coming out next week, we’ll talk about the fastest way to launch your service based business. But if you want to launch your own clothing line or retail store or consumer products or tech startup, it is within your reach. You just have to focus on the right things.

Fact:

Businesses like that are expensive to start because they typically have higher overhead than service-oriented businesses.

Fact:

They’re slower to start than service oriented businesses, too. There are simply more things to source (products, supplies, lease space, manufacturing facilities, etc.)

Fact:

And the real kicker is that profit also comes slower. With higher overhead, more of the revenue from the business goes right back into filling those orders… Less of it can go into growing the business.

But there is a shortcut!

And if you do it right, you’ll be building your physical, product-based, high-startup-cost business along the way.

The shortcut is… Offer a service first!

Do you have a dream of starting up a campground, like my husband does? Manage one. Start a Facebook group for campers and write reviews of campgrounds. Create a social network of some sort for campers. Plan and organize group camping excursions. Do something that doesn’t require your own campground, but still creates the same experience for the people you want to help..

Is your dream a specialty retail store? Start a personal shopping service for those products. Write reviews and sell advertising. Even start an ecommerce store (a bit more pricey, but less overhead than a physical store.) Source the same products you want your retail store to carry, and cater to the same types of customers.

Find a way to offer a service to your target customers  that delivers the same experience as your dream business, without the upfront costs. There are several benefits to this…

  1. You’ll learn a LOT. You’ll learn about your target customers, your suppliers, the industry, the marketing methods that work best with your customers, and yourself. Most importantly, you’ll learn if this is the type of business you really want to be in.
  2. You will lower your risk. If you build a retail store and a factory, invest money in marketing, staff, and everything you need to launch your dream company, only to find out that your products don’t sell? You lose a lot. Realize 2 years into the business that you actually hate it? Well, there goes a few million dollars. Start with a service. Less to risk, and…
  3. There is more to gain. When you don’t have huge overhead, more of the money your business takes in can go back into growing the business. Even more, it can actually start going into your pockets fairly quickly. You don’t need to wait 4 years until you can draw a salary if you’re providing a service one-on-one.
  4. You’ll be building a customer base that you can tap into once you do launch your dream business. This will be incredibly valuable to give you a head start!
  5. You might be able to keep your job if you do it in a particular way. A lot of traditional high-overhead businesses are also expected to be open during normal hours. Think you can run a restaurant while holding down another job? Not for long – not if you want to keep either of them. You can operate your service business around your work hours, allowing you income stability as you grow.
  6. You can start faster. Right now, if you want. If your service is simple enough, email your friends and post on Facebook – you’ll probably get a few clients just from that. Other services that cost a bit more may take some more legwork, but you could get your first client this week if you hustle. Don’t wait 10 years for everything to come together for your dream business – start today with your service business, and use it to get there.

There are probably a million more benefits to doing this, but it all comes down to one simple point:

No matter what your dream business is, you can reach it by starting a service business.

In part deux of this post, we’ll talk about the fastest way to launch your service based business. Until then, if you’ve been waiting for a venture capitalist to make your dreams come true, brainstorm ways you can turn your dream company into a service – and then… Well, start something!

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

Cheryl Woodhouse is the Intuitive Marketing Mentor, helping entrepreneurs build wildly successful businesses with less frustration, overwhelm, and stress. Using her groundbreaking business modelling methods, she simplifies marketing, growth, and success into systems that any entrepreneur can implement while playing to the strengths of every individual. You can gain access to these innovative strategies for free by visiting her blog at CherylWoodhouse.com

The 5 Circles of Marketing (because "types" just sounds boring…)

marketingAre you a billionaire philanthropist playboy? Awesome! Richard Branson and Bill Gates, you have more important things to do today so I’ll send you on your way.

For the rest of you – since you’re not billionaire philanthropist playboys (or playgirls!) yet, my best guess is that you could use some “oomph” in your business. Bring in some new leads, new customers, new attention. You know, make more money and share more of your unique gifts, abilities, and products with the world.

I’ll also venture a guess that you probably don’t want to spend the next 10 years trying everything under the sun to make that happen, nor do you want to work 90+ hours a week on all the different marketing methods you’re using to drive that growth.

Here is what you need to know.

There are only 5 different types of marketing. Every method under the sun can be fit within one of these 5 types, or circles. The key to reaching your target market wherever they may be is to choose one method from each of these circles to focus on at any given time.

You can evolve and change as your business and the market evolve and change, but you should really only be putting focused energy into one method from each group at once. More than that, and you’ll likely end up overworked from too much on your plate – and you’ll have the bonus of very little to show for it, since you couldn’t put too much effort into any one thing.

And FYI, once you’ve seen these 5 types, you’ll see something else – most wildly successful companies do this without even realizing it. If you want to be wildly successful, you might want to give it a try.

Thus, I present to you The 5 Circles of Marketing!

1. Collaborative Marketing

This is the type of marketing many online experts preach about, though it is likely not the only method they use. Once you master collaborative marketing, however, watch out! You’ll have the midas touch. Collaborative marketing is all about mutually beneficial relationships. Yes, you get something from the relationship – but that is not the focus! The focus is in the give and take.

If you receive the benefit of someone’s promotion, you provide them with an equal or greater benefit like commissions, future promotions and partnership opportunities, content, etc.

It is important to note that JV’s are not the only methods for collaborative marketing! Ad swaps, referral agreements, strategic partnerships and co-promotions for complimentary services are all examples of collaborative marketing. Anything that involves two businesses working together to promote each other is a collaborative promotion. Examples include…

  • Ad swaps
  • Referral agreements
  • Strategic partnerships
  • Affiliate promotions
  • Co-promotions or cost-shared advertising and promotion
  • And of course, joint ventures.

2. Earned Media Marketing

Earned media marketing is essentially content marketing and publicity rolled in together. The focus is on spreading your message or the message of your company as an expert authority figure.

The key to earned media marketing is distribution. Even bad content, if it is distributed anywhere, can get you incredible results. Of course if the content was great, the results would be even better – so I still encourage you to create epic content. But if you create something epic and no one ever sees it, you’re wasting your time.

Earned Media Marketing is related to Collaborative Marketing in that it involves a give-and-take relationship, but it is usually with a person or a content source rather than a commercial entity or business. Some examples of Earned Media Marketing are…

  • Publicity
  • Guest blogging
  • Interviews as an expert
  • Traditional media coverage
  • Press release coverage
  • Organic product reviews (unpaid, non-affiliate reviews)

3. Broadcast Marketing

Ahh, Broadcast Marketing. This is what you see from 99% of “big brands” – it’s the visible face of these mammoth corporations. Of course, they also include a piece from every other circle in their mix, but this is what you think of when you think of traditional marketing.

Broadcast Marketing is “push” marketing – you are, in essence, paying to shout from the rooftops and hoping someone will listen. Largely untargeted and subjected to ad blindness, this is not the most effective tool in your marketing arsenal but still one you should be using if you can. The key is to get as targeted as possible – the publications your audience reads, the sites your audience visits, and if you’re a local business, even billboards that your customers drive by.

Broadcast Marketing is something that you’ll want to dedicate some serious time to – at least 20% of your marketing efforts. You want to constantly review, tweak, and improve your Broadcast Marketing to achieve a higher ROI and drop inefficient investments. Some examples of Broadcast Marketing include…

  • Magazine and newspaper ads
  • Radio and television ads
  • Digital ads (banners, etc.)
  • Pay per click ads
  • Paid press release distribution
  • Paid blog posts/guest posts
  • Sponsored content
  • Online video ads
  • Billboards
  • Flyers
  • Mass direct mail
  • Solo ads
  • And pretty much anything else where you pay directly, in advance, with no promise of results, for the exposure

4. Event Marketing

Can I just say – I *love* event marketing! If you want to create a big splash in the market place and have people saying “I see you everywhere!”, events are where it’s at.

You want to have a focused strategy for how you will get involved with events. Will you host? Will you piggyback off the efforts of others? Will you just attend the events for networking? What specifically related to events will you be doing?

My two personal favourites are hosting digital events like webinars, telesummits, teleseminars, etc. and sponsorships. I love sponsorships! But not just any sponsorship, I want sponsorships that give me a physical presence and a way to interact with people in person and get them engaged. No gift bags or logos for me, I want a booth or a stage! But again – I never try to do both at the same time. One or the other.

Events are a great place to start if you’re looking to get clients *fast*, fill your programs or launch your products, and get in front of a large amount of potential clients at once. Some examples of Event Marketing include…

  • Sponsorships
  • Physical events you host
  • Digital events like telesummits, webinars, and teleseminars
  • Conferences
  • Tradeshows
  • Conventions
  • Festivals
  • Summits
  • Networking group meetings (hello, MeetUp.com!)

5. Social Marketing

Let’s start this section with a disclaimer. Social Marketing, in all its forms, is primarily one-to-one – so it is slow. It is also one of the biggest possible time-sucks when you are first starting out!

If you don’t have 10k followers or fans to interact with and get to buy your stuff, you’ll spend a lot of your time following people, randomly sharing messages and hoping to get attention from bigger groups, interacting one-on-one with people, and ending up randomly surfing the web (while wondering how you got to the LOLcats again when you’re supposed to be working.)

Now that we have the disclaimer out of the way, Social Marketing can be effective if you use it as a tool for building relationships one-on-one that will be hugely beneficial, in the beginning, or as a way of interacting with a large number of people at once as you get bigger. The key is to stay focused, and know where you “fit” in the social world. Spending all day on Facebook or Twitter isn’t where you belong at the beginning, and spending all day on forums isn’t where you belong if you have a 6 figure business.

Another disclaimer – never, ever count on something going “viral”. Yes, there are experts who will tell you there is a formula for viral content. Yes, there are people who will say you can manufacture it. Those same experts also offer paid services called “seeding” – advertising your so-called viral content for a pretty penny, usually about $1/view for the first 30,000 or so views before it has any element of virality to it.

Just create things that are worth sharing, and put them out there. If people agree it is worth sharing, they will. If it is worth sharing *enough*, the timing is just right, trends are hitting on all of the right things, everything is perfect, and the stars and the universe align to deliver a hoard of interested super-advocates to your doorstep, it might go viral.

Creating something worth sharing socially is step one. Some examples of Social Marketing include…

  • Social media (obviously)
  • Networking meetings
  • Referral networks
  • Social sharing plugins, networks, etc
  • Viral marketing
  • “Guerilla” street teams
  • Forum participation
  • Mastermind groups

So there you have it.

Those are the 5 circles of marketing. Do one thing from each of these 5 circles, and put your heart and soul into each and every one. You’re certain to see results from a consistent, focused effort in each of these areas – and you’ll have the happy benefit of not being overwhelmed and unfocused, frustrated and confused as you do it.

What do you think? Have I missed any methods for these 5 circles? Do you do this already in your business? Share!

Shine bright,

– Cheryl

Canadian Leaders in High-Tech #UBB

Back in the day (well, you could pick any day pre-2008ish, really) Canadians were leaders in technology. We developed technology that would change the world, time and time again.

The original telephone? Canadian.

Decades later, the Blackberry – the first *real* smartphone – was developed by a Canadian company called Research In Motion.

On the list of Canadian technological inventions that changed the world are things like Penicillin, Bone Marrow Compatibility Testing, Anti-Gravity suits for pilots at high-altitudes, the electric stove, the REAL first light bulb (with a patent later sold to Thomas Edison. Really – look it up. It was originally patented by Henry Woodward in Canada), the pacemaker, television cameras, walkie talkies, and even the zipper.

For centuries, Canadians have been technological leaders.
Now, thanks to things like usage-based-billing, our country is taking a major step back.

The ridiculous expense of media devices and services in our country compared to that abroad, mixed with the over-regulation of the telecommunications and broadcast industries, will eventually lead to under-utilization (and eventually lack of innvoation) in our technology sector.

Where we once stood, triumphantly sharing our technolgical innovations with the world, we will now stand – data-disabled smartphone in hand – wondering what happened.

We, as Canadian business leaders, need to stand up and speak for what is right for our country.

All industry sectors will be hurt if technology is abandoned, as will international trade.

Everyone from small businesses who send large files via email to major corporations who use 100GB of bandwidth per day in one department will now be forced to pay even thousands of dollars for their internet connection.

The billions of dollars invested in high-tech marketing over the last decades will go to waste as Canadian consumers abandon the internet.

And why?

Because the head of the CRTC is attempting to find an economical way to “discipline use of the internet.”

And no, those quotes weren’t added for emphasis – he really said that.

Why is a man who believes consumers should be disciplined for utilizing technology in charge of our technology regulation? This is likely the same director who lead these landmark decisions, destroying consumer choice and competitive markets:

– Requiring NetFlix to meet Canadian Content regulations (which brick-and-mortar video stores do not have to abide by) thereby killing the service in Canada. No titles worth watching are even available.

– Permitting dozens of VOIP providers to move into Canada, but not Skype – (to this day, Skype In numbers (a service that allows you to receive calls from a landline on Skype) are available in DOZENS of countries – but not ours…)

– Over-regulating services like PayPal, Hulu, Skype, and others, not allowing them to provide services in Canada.

We do not need to find a way to discipline use of the internet. Disciplining Canadians for continuing the Canadian tradition of being at the forefront of technology is not only narrow-minded and unethical, it is downright unpatriotic.

We need to stand up and speak not only for the citizens of this great country, but the businesses as well.

And let’s stay on top of our technology – because at this point, it is a matter of national pride.

Henry Woodward

Yellow Page Advertising is DEAD…

… so please stop paying for it!

There is a rumor going around right now that spurred this post. A rumor in marketing circles, that AT&T – one of the biggest phone book providers in the US – is no longer going to publish a physical phone book.

While I can’t confirm the rumor, if this IS true I have two guesses as to why…

1) The number of people actually still paying to advertise in phonebooks is no longer justifying the cost of sending them out… OR

2) Google bought AT&T, and you can’t do Adwords in print. (This wouldn’t happen…)

I know which one I would put MY money on.

These days, the only real benefit to purchasing a listing in the yellow pages is getting an online listing. Unless of course your product ONLY serves techno-phobic senior citizens, in which case the yellow pages may in fact be the only way to reach them.

But I’m sure that even they have technologically savvy children and grandchildren who can look things up online for them.

What does this mean? The yellow pages are dying a slow and painful death. The phonebook will be no longer, very soon. In fact, I just received the 2011 phonebook – and it is *half* the thickness of the 2010 book.

Why? Because no one is advertising in it anymore.

They just aren’t getting the ROI that they used to. More and more businesses are just taking the free text listing that comes with their business phone line, and leaving it at that.

If your customers want more information, they can find it online – from places like Google Local, to your online Yellow Pages listings, and even your own website.

We almost lost newspapers. We almost lost television. We’re about to lose the phonebooks. Truly, the internet has changed the way we do business – the internet has changed the world.

Just something to consider next time that Yellow Pages sales rep sends you an email.