In my last blog post we looked at the first three marketing questions you should always be asking. Here are the remaining two.
#4. How will we use the media to build and promote our business?
Local media outlets are constantly looking for one key thing: content for their audience. Three simple ways to increase the odds of getting local media coverage are to submit media releases to your local chamber of commerce (assuming you’re a member), write an op-ed piece, or tie in with a local charity you believe in. In the second Mind Capture book I dedicated an entire chapter titled, The Cause, to this topic and included several media releases to review and guide you. Let’s take a quick look at each.
Media Release: Model a simple one-page formula of the ‘5 W’s’: who, what, when, where and why. The release needs a compelling headline that tells a story and is not a sales pitch for your business. To get your idea machine rolling and assist you, do a simple Google search of media releases related to your business or industry. By looking at other releases you’ll discover great ideas and save time versus starting from scratch.
Op-ed Piece. In the good old days this was simply called a letter to the Editor. In the age of email, this is easier than ever to send to your local business and daily newspaper and online media outlets. If you have a special event coming up, or an opinion on a popular local topic, voice it in print. In addition, the easiest way to get media coverage is to take a position being discussed that you disagree with and voice your counter opinion. This is a nation built on free speech and a diversity of opinions. Let your business voice be heard.
Tie in with a local charity. Being a good corporate citizen is not only smart, but becoming more of a price of admission to do business with in the minds of many consumers who want to know that you or your company are about the ‘Big Picture’ and giving back. My best advice here is to find a cause you truly believe in and make it your mission to help spread the word.
For example, we have a local charity in my hometown called LOVE Inc. that is constantly getting free publicity in our local newspaper. I’ve often thought in the back of my mind, Ok, who at the Grand Haven Tribune is related to their Executive Director? These guys are always being featured. I’m baffled as to why more non-profits, their boards and businesses affiliated and supporting them aren’t hustling and submitting media releases on a regular basis like LOVE Inc. is obviously doing to garner valuable media coverage.
#5. How will we incorporate proven direct marketing strategies into our current marketing plans?
Direct marketing is far different than branding. Too many people think this is a huge mystery and I’ll weigh in right now: direct marketing looks for results, measurement and accountability with the goal being to generate leads and convert them into sales. Branding is concerned with image and name recognition first, with little concern for tracking and results. No hate email here, just a strong opinion based on 20 years of studying and working in the trenches of both industries.
Direct marketing is vital for one central reason: Unless you’re a huge, established company with more money than brains, you simply cannot afford to use marketing tactics that aren’t producing leads that translate into new customers, and repeat business. Marketing is the oxygen that keeps every organization either alive and growing, or short of breath and one economic downturn from facing possible death or serious economic illness. Again, each month in the pages of this newsletter and via the audio guest interviews we share a plethora of ways to get proven direct marketing techniques implemented into any business or organization.
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I recently took a stroll down memory lane by reviewing the first Mind Capture book which was written almost nine-years ago. As I flipped through several of the chapter’s several “aha moments” appeared in my mind. I was particularly struck by the last chapter in the book titled: 10 Serious Marketing Questions You Should Always be Asking. As I read each question, it dawned on me that the questions were not only still relevant, but warranted being shared again with some updated thoughts as to why they can and should serve as a guide to better marketing for anyone seeking to influence more people and build greater profits.
Instead of listing all 10 questions from the book, I narrowed down it down to my ‘Top 5’ favorites. Grab a pen or highlighter and let’s begin by sharing the first three questions. In my next blog post I'll reveal the other two.
#1. What marketing mix will we employ to build Mind Capture?
It still amazes me how many business still do not have a written marketing plan. I’m assuming most readers of this newsletter don’t fall into this category, but here’s why this question should be thought about often: the marketplace changes and competition is not static either. A marketing plan containing the details of your tactics is a non-negotiable. “Hoping business gets better” like far too many small and mid-sized businesses still do is why so few of them statistically make it beyond the 5-year mark in business.
Here’s a new equation I’ve come up with that separates growing versus declining businesses:
Strong marketing + Strong mindset = Strong growth potential
The temptation is to create a marketing plan, look at it once or twice and then forget about it. After countless discussions with prospective clients, audiences, and readers of my online and offline articles, I can say without doubt that this happens a LOT! Creating a marketing plan does not insure success. It’s a huge, positive step, however, it requires consistent action and monitoring to insure that things are getting implemented and tracked for results.
#2. Where do we visualize our business to be one, three, and five years down the road?
It’s amazing that what we focus our attention upon often shows up – good or bad. If a business is worrying constantly about day-to-day issues and rarely if ever looks ahead to see what the main mission and vision is, it’s difficult to stay not only motivated but on track to keep marketing initiatives going. The temptation many businesses face, especially small, is to lose track of the bigger goals when it seems there may not be enough time to step back and do a progress report.
'Winging it’ in the areas of marketing is a recipe for disaster and it helps explain, among other various reasons, why many businesses struggle. To treat the marketing function of a company as ‘something we’ll do when we have free time’ is dangerous and foolish.
#3. What creative ways and systems will we use to stay in contact with customers and prospects?
We spend a lot of time within my monthly Captured Wisdom expert audio interviews discussing why marketing systems are extremely important to the health and well being of every organization. Customer neglect is rampant in many businesses and each of us can easily rattle off stories of poor service or lack of follow up from people/firms we currently do business with and those we have sought ought to help us.
One of the best books that hammers home the power contained in the use of systems is Michael Gerber’s business classic The EMyth. This is THE book to read, if you only read one book on the topic of systems. Without clearly defined and monitored systems a company will eventually run into growth challenges based on tracking and follow up issues.
In the marketing component having well defined and monitored systems help to alleviate an area that few people take into consideration: human error. This is not a slam on people, but a genuine observation that a lot of people do little if any follow up with prospects after one or two initial contacts. Follow up is atrocious and many a well intentioned business owner or salesperson, unless they have tracking systems in place, often let a fortune slip through the cracks because follow up to both prospects and current customers is almost non-existent.
Remember this simple, yet highly profitable statement: The Fortune is in the Follow Up!
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When you ask anyone closely linked to the success and personal development industry what book influenced them most you’ll often hear one book’s title come up over and over again. That book is Napoleon Hill’s 1937 ground-breaking release titled, Think and Grow Rich. The book’s genesis was planted 20-years before its release when a young Hill was offered an opportunity by US Steel magnate, Andrew Carnegie, to interview and chronicle many of the top business leaders at the time.
Released at the height of the Great Depression, the book took off and has to date sold over 80- million copies and still counting 75-years after its original release date. The book is broken down into what Hill describes as the Thirteen Steps to Riches, which include:
1. Thoughts are Things
5. Specialized Knowledge
7. Organized Planning
10. Power of the Mastermind
11. The Mystery of Sex Transmutation
12. The Subconscious Mind
13. The Sixth Sense
Having read Think & Grow Rich many times, as well as many of his other books, I’d like to share with you in this month’s lead article three key reasons why this book is still so important and relevant 75-years after its original release.
#1. This type of knowledge is still not taught in K-12 grades or at the University level.
It’s an atrocity to me that our school systems continue to make memorization and logic the primary source of their teaching focus. We are churning out a very ‘play-it-safe’ set of students and future leaders who’ll need much more than memorization and case study exercises and theory to either win well paying jobs, a rewarding career, or take the road of starting a new business venture.
The economy does not take place in a classroom with defined procedures and logic. The ability to master people skills and deal with the many outside forces competing for time and attention, is of high importance in today’s web-driven economy. To skip over and often ignore many of the key success components contained within a book like Think & Grow Rich is mind-boggling.
In addition, with many right brained, creativity based programs such as the arts and music either being eliminated or offered up as electives, we are jeopardizing the power of innovation by teaching many outdated theories and text book driven approaches to commerce and life that most major employers can tell you are outdated and a complete waste of time to be teaching the next wave of thought leaders.
In the web based, K-12th grade school structures and our university systems rarely discuss, teach or offer up any classes on creativity, persistence, and goal-setting. It’s no mystery to me why the Hill’s book has stood up well through the passage of time. Its detailed steps, stories and wisdom dispensed are timeless regardless of what the latest management fads, global market conditions, politicians, the media, and other innovations come along to make us believe otherwise.
#2. Hill’s 10th Step to Riches –The Power of the Mastermind- is what ALL high achievers understand and utilize to get and stay ahead.
The old adage, “It’s often not what you know, but who you know,” is actually much truer than most people would either like to believe. Yes, the people you associate with is of extreme importance to sustained success in any field. The people you associate with are either bringing you up to get better, keeping you at their same level, or attempting to bring you down based on their habits, behaviors and outlook on life.
It’s stunning to me how much advice is given these days often times by people who have little if any clue or expertise to be dispensing it. In the age of Google, people have fallen into the trap of thinking that they can become a quasi-expert on any topic after noodling around on Google for 30-45 minutes and reading a few blog posts. I hate to break this to most people, but a specific skill set will often take a world-class expert years of study and direct application to get good at and eventually achieve mastery. It is rarely mastered in a few minutes or hours. Once again, in an instant gratification world, people seek the shortcut and it often costs them dearly.
In the speaking and writing industry where I spend the majority of my time, I learned early on that getting around and studying from the very best in my field was a non-negotiable. Yes, I’ve paid thousands and thousands dollars above and beyond what I spent to earn a four-year college degree but I can say that without hesitation it’s been a bargain. The chance to network at key industry events, exchange ideas, and bounce best practices off of other super successful people in my industry has been invaluable to not only my own career, but more importantly to my clients who seek me out and count on me to be playing and more importantly associating with the best and brightest minds in the world.
#3. He takes a look at ‘The Six Ghosts of Fear’ and how to address and deal with them.
I agree with Hill near the end of the book when he mentions that the combination of indecision and doubt often blend together to form what we call fear. The ‘Six Ghosts of Fear’ are:
*The fear of poverty
*The fear of criticism
*The fear of ill health
*The fear of loss of love of someone
*The fear of old age
*The fear of death
We have a massive media and government complex that peddles fear and doubt on a constant, minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, and daily basis. Risk is marketed as being dangerous and falling in lock-step with the status quo is seen as the right thing to do. Innovation is often initially feared, demonized, and criticized mercilessly by those who dislike or don’t understand that change is the only constant in this world. History doesn’t lie.
Look at the great minds in any field and you’ll often find that they were often misunderstood but they didn’t let fear or others negative opinions stop them. They didn’t stop inventing or creating because they were worried about “job security” or what others –often times even family members- said about them. Instead, they pressed onward with bull-headed intensity and laser like focus to advance the human condition with their gifts and talents. I’m very concerned that we’re becoming a nation of security seekers at a time when this is the exact opposite of what’s needed in a time of great economic change globally.
In addition, in the age of instant communication we have become what I call a ‘gotcha’ society. There are entire industries within the media (particularly the entertainment industry) seeking out the latest ‘breaking news’ to capture something wrong, a misquote, a blunder, something shocking so they can talk about it, tweet it, and amplify it on the web and through other channels. I call these people the ‘Merchants of Doubt’ and they are very good at stirring up emotions, fears, jealousy and envy all under the cleverly disguised name of ‘entertainment.’ Let’s call it what it is: gossip!
Now that I’m off my soap box, let’s bring it back to center as to why Hill was such a profound thinker. He identifies the many challenges we face and then offers up multiple ways to confront and manage these Six Ghosts of Fear. He does something very rarely seen which is offering up multiple solutions based on his own observation and the thousands of people he met, interviewed and learned from while he was an up close student of both success and failure. They are both interconnected and instructive.
So there you have it. Three key reasons why Think & Grow Rich is still important and relevant 75-years later after the book was originally released.
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I'm a huge fan of marketing wizard Dan Kennedy. Recently I was reflecting and thinking back on the many ways his work, teachings, and advice have not only positively impacted countless business owners, but my own career as an author, speaker, consultant and newsletter publisher in such a massive way since the day I met him 15-years ago.
Creating this “Top 3” list was not easy as I’m reminded daily via my own habits, words, and actions, as to just how much his wisdom has positively shaped my entire business career. I know many of you reading this blog or my eletters are also big fans of Dan’s work so here we go.
#1 Favorite Tip from Dan: “The #1 sin in marketing is to be boring.”
While this statement may seem simple at first, so few businesses subscribe to or consistently pull it off. One of the quickest and easiest ways to get ‘Mind Capture’ or attention in today’s noisy and distracted marketplace is to avoid this sin.
In an age of massive choice, the Internet, and instant communication, people’s attention spans are not only small, but when you actually engage them you must work extremely hard to hold it. Using timely events in the news, popular movies, and combining them with humor is often a potent 1-2 marketing punch.
#2 Favorite Tip from Dan: “Build and feed the herd.”
Again, a quick explanation is in order as to the term ‘herd’ as Dan sees it is much different and not how a cattle rancher would. The term ‘herd’ on planet Dan is simply another name for a customer. While some may shake their head at first, what I love about this term is that he doesn’t see customers as livestock, but as a captive audience that must be nurtured, defended and fed often.
The key point from the last sentence is ‘fed often.’ What Dan’s driving at and I completely agree with him on, is that once you have a customer you must continually work to earn and win more business from them. The business landscape is littered with stories of customer neglect due to one primary reason: little or no follow up after the initial sale has been made. Getting new customers is not an easy proposition in most industries so once you’ve earned the right to serve a new customer it should be your primary mission to stay in touch with them and on a very consistent basis.
The statistics on customer retention are sobering: For each month that goes by without some form of communication with a client, 10% of TOMA (Top of Mind Awareness) goes out the door. If a business goes 8, 10, 12-months or even more without staying in touch with a customer, the odds increase significantly that the customer will go elsewhere and that they’ll also spend additional dollars with your competition on products/services you currently have that they are unaware of.
#3 Favorite Tip from Dan: “Defend yourself against time vampires.”
While the first two favorite tips we’ve covered are marketing related, this third tip is different and extremely important for one central reason: it’s great to employ world-class marketing strategies when you have the time to actually create and get them implemented. If people are always around you or have the ability to interrupt you, getting anything done is often frustrating and done haphazardly.
One of my favorite quotes from the late, great direct marketing legend Gary Halbert is, “Motion beats meditation.” It’s simply amazing how many people let others completely run their day by being too accessible. Yes, we live in the age of instant communication, but it’s supposed to make our lives easier, not stress us out and distract us constantly. There’s a huge difference between being busy and being productive.
Again, let me be clear and direct. One of the single most valuable things in any business is the marketing function. It is the oxygen that keeps the business body up and running. Without it, the organization risks ill health, decreased sales and eventually if it’s not treated or fixed, the threat of dying and/or going out of business! Yes, a strong visual, but it’s worth remembering. To be able to achieve consistent follow up and marketing, time must be made and given high priority to defend against the marketing function being put off, interrupted, or put on the back burner when other supposed ‘important issues’ come up usually from the mouths of time vampires.
One of my favorite ways I’ll now share to avoid time vampires is what I call ‘going dark’ throughout the day. I’m asked daily: How do you keep up with all of your writing deadlines, travel and other commitments? It’s simple, not sexy, but it works. I schedule writing time and shut off my cell phone, email, and focus on the task at hand. If I make myself too accessible or get caught up checking emails, Facebook, or doing research online, it can suck up an enormous amount of time and throw off my schedule and waste time. Yes, the temptation is always there, but when I ‘go dark’ I get a TON of productive writing done to keep the marketing engine primed.
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As I reflected back last night on my last day as a man in his thirties one word kept coming up again and again: Gratitude. We all have ups and downs in life and I can say that being blessed to have made it to the Big 4-0 makes me smile.
I'm often asked what drives me? Travel, writing, a constant 'go-go' schedule that most people find curious, odd, and maybe a bit "weird." As I thought about today, July 24th, 2012 and it being the'official passage' from my thirties to my forties in chronological age, the words I first penned a couple of years ago jumped out in my mind.
What I'm about to share is a partial excerpt from Chapter 10 in my third book titled, "The Power of Lists." The message seemed appropriate for today.
I hope you find the story and exercise as something to inspire you, not bring you down, and to also help push you to take a closer look at your own life and see it in a whole new dimension.
I’ve seen many people in my own life, including my own father; turn the initial death sentence of six months or a year left to live, into a live life to the fullest sentence. I’ll explain. They treated these remaining days like gold, without inhibition and the key phrase: without fear! What if we all lived this way? What a very different world it would be. I sense that many people would treat each day with a passion and intensity that would marvel and inspire themselves and those around them.
Father time is strange indeed. When we’re children life moves at a crawl, and when we’re adults it begins to pick up speed like a snowball rolling downhill. We cannot go back in time and rewrite or live in the past. Nor should we allow the two thieves known as regret and guilt to haunt and steal our valuable time known as the present. An untrained, negative, and beaten down mind filled with regret and fear is much more dangerous to success than most people realize or can even imagine.
The Honor List
The names and dates are unfamiliar to most people, but to me they are pivotal markers and turning points in my destiny and journey.
Stan Rubleski 1984 Age: 46
Robert Austin 1985 Age: 19
Dan Hutchinson 1993 Age: 21
Craig Shriver 1995 Age: 22
Four names, four years in time, four major people who left an impression on my soul and present state of how I look at motivation and action. Like a bright, burning, orange flare in a pitch black forest, each one of them grabbed my soul and uniquely changed my destiny in ways that no one could imagine or possibly link together.
Frozen In Time, But Never Forgotten
The years and ages of Stan, Robert, Dan, and Craig represent the year they exited the game of physical life. Their life clocks here on Earth burned out quickly and far too soon. Two of them passed from cancer and two of them were involved in freak accidents.
While many people these days obsessively worry about retirement and multiple “what-if” scenarios as to what they’ll be doing when they turn 50, 60 or 70 years of age, this was not an option for the four people I’ve listed. Unfortunately, they never had the chance to fill their minds with such trivia, for their life force was snuffed out at relatively young ages. It’s ok and healthy to dream and think of the future, but sadly, most people obsess and worry relentlessly about a future date or marker in time that may burn out before they even get there. Each day thousands of people are notified that their life will end soon, while others get no warning at all.
The List of Four Exercise
I’m a big believer in creating and using lists to get things done quicker and with less stress. Yes, for men it’s wired into our DNA. This next exercise is designed to make you appreciate the life and talents you might be taking for granted at this moment in time. I’m going to have you create a very different type of list that you may have never thought about making, and move it from your head into the physical realm via pen and paper. Be prepared, this will also conjure up many strong emotions from your past.
If we sat down over a cup of coffee and I said to you, “Write up your own list of four people who’ve passed on and how they positively impacted your life?” What names and reasons would you put on the list and why?
I want you to do this right now. Take a few minutes and write their names on a piece of paper or the spaces provided here.
The ages and dates of the names on my own list of four serve as a stiff reminder to me that death is a part of our existence, and can come in the prime of life with some advance warning and often when we least expect it. The goal here of creating your own list of names is to remind you to deeply think about your own life, appreciate it, and look at each day as a gift to be celebrated and lived fully even during the hourly ups and downs.
If you made up The List of Four for yourself, welcome to the club. I now urge you to honor these people in your life by going after your dreams and passions with a renewed sense of urgency.
A second question: Is your current life honoring them or would they wonder why you’re squandering it? This isn’t an easy question to ask, yet alone think about. However, it’s essential for you to dig deep within your own life story and answer this question. Again, the goal is to allow these people who were in your life to inspire you to rise up and cultivate your inner genius.
Look, every human who’s ever lived, past or present has made trade-offs. I believe true life balance is one of the biggest myths still being packaged and sold across the radio and TV talk show circuit to society. It’s sexy to talk about “work and life balance,” but achieving it is not easy. Many times when we’re in flow or actively pursuing a big goal, creative chaos will take over and mess with balance. It will happen, trust me. It’s important to continually gain perspective and work towards recognizing that a short term imbalance is required to help us in the long-term to see our dreams take shape.
Finally, let me ask you a third question that few people, especially those in business, rarely if ever stop and slow down to ask themselves: What really drives and inspires you to play the game? Each of us gives up most of our waking hours and valuable life force to work for someone else or to build and pursue our own enterprise. There are no timeouts in life, so let me ask once again, what really drives you to play the game?
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