Thursday, October 23, 2008

How Color Can Effect Your Mood...and Your Business!

I just read a great article on the use of color (in life and in business) and what impact it has on our decisions and moods. I've posted about this before, and this article is definitely another to be added to the archives!

As someone with synesthesia (I talk more about it here), color plays a huge role in how I associate many things. It's a big inspiration, as well as a guide for me. Probably a little weird, but fun!

Enjoy the article!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Trip to the Organic Market.

It seems like every couple of months I have to take at least a few hours out of my week to sort through the various newsletters and email lists I've acquired, unsubscribe from what I'm obviously not reading, and finally get my life back from the marketing clutter that's filling my inbox (and keeping me from what I really need to be reading).

Inevitably, I gradually sub to more lists ("sign up for a free video" or "get daily motivation" usually draws me in), and the cycle continues.

Shampoo. Rinse. Repeat. The Marketing Wheel keeps turning.

Truthfully, though most of these people are really successful marketers, no doubt hitting that critical percentage that makes up their lifetime customers and guarantees them residual monthly income, it all looks alike to me.

When the Marketing Wheel spins in this hypnotic "Marketing Kaleidoscope" fashion, I become blind to anything that makes any of them different from the last one.

In fact, I cringe a little each time I realize I've fallen for another one, gotten sucked onto a list that will cost me precious seconds at least once a day (and they almost seem to be getting more frequent), and have to now deal with sorting through them all once again!

My biggest fear is that, in my own marketing, I'll become one of these people.

And THAT's a conundrum, isn't it? Because we know that at least some of them are successful, so we should at least analyze what they're doing right. But at the same time, is it worth the risk of turning off real people, who are looking for more than just the 'right' words? They want to know who we really are, what we're offering, and most importantly, what benefit it is for them, without being sold to like victims at a used car lot.

Good news! You can be an Organic Marketer. An Organic Marketer is someone who speaks authentically, all naturally, and without all of the harsh crap that your readers, customers, clients, or community don't want spoiling the precious seconds they're giving your words.

Maybe androids want some magical text that's going to lure them into throwing down cash without trust or proof that it's worth their while, but human beings (the ones behind those computer screens) don't. In a world that's ever increasingly contrived, if you've got something real to offer, you owe it to your product, service, prospect, and YOURSELF to be real in how you market it.

Here in Kansas, trees are brimming with delicious harvests of the fall. It's a constant reminder to me that the sweet, uncorrupted fruits of communication are the most appealing. Organic Marketing is the only way.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Meatball Sundae is just what you need.

Marketing genius Seth Godin has once again hit it out of the marketing ballpark with Meatball Sundae: Is Your Marketing Out of Sync?. Colorfully and succinctly, Godin lays out what you might not want to hear: that the "Old Marketing" of television interrupts and mass marketing average products, is losing ground to the "New Marketing" in the Web 2.0 world, and you've got to pick a team.

With fourteen clearly defined considerations of New Marketing in his toolbox, along with enough case studies (from companies you not only already know of, but have probably worked with) to prove his points, Godin makes a great case for not only utilizing these new tools, but also for adapting your entire business structure to work with them.

What could be so compelling that a seasoned company would restructure into a fresh startup just to take advantage? The consumer. In today's online market, the customer is not only king, he's also the boss, the critic, and sounding board from which all new ideas come.

It's never been a better time to be a consumer, an entrepreneur, or a creative. With Meatball Sundae Seth Godin makes us all feel new again!

Check out this book as well as many other great business resources at the Serious Vanity Learning and Productivity Center.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Are you "Joe the Plumber"?

It's an understatement to say people have been discussing "Joe the Plumber" this week in regards to United States politics, but it's not so much the tax plan references that have caught my interest.

What has surprised me most about "Joe" is that it seems a lot of people discussing him aren't aware of what small business people are capable of. And that needs to change!

(Note: whether the real Joe is actually named Joe, is a licensed plumber, or has an extra toe on each foot may be relevant in the candidate arena, but for changing perceptions about entrepreneurs, it's not our issue! My goal today isn't to sway a vote to either side, but to look at our own businesses in a positive light.)

For the sake of my point today, let's look at "Joe" as an archetype for people who may be looking to buy the business they currently work in, or start a business of their own.

I've seen people reference that $250K US is far more than what a plumber can make in a year. Is it?

If a plumber (or the owner of a plumbing company, who may have a background in business, finance, or underwater basket weaving for all we know) runs a staff of five working plumbers, and each perform two $500 jobs per day, five days a week, they generate $25K in revenue. Multiply that by the year's 52 weeks, and we have $1.3M. Remove from that the cost of goods, taxes (income and property), upkeep, vehicles, licensing, wages, and healthcare, and, just by my rough estimates (plumbing is clearly not my field!), the business could easily generate $250K+.

This also means that the worth of the business, if purchasing it, would be far greater than that! There's a lot that goes into valuation, as pointed out by this article, and you should either know what you're basing your numbers on, or be prepared to hire or barter with a professional who does.

My main point is that, as small business owners (whether plumber, voice artist, CPA, mechanic, or chef), we shouldn't let ourselves be marginalized in the minds of our public! Ask yourself, "How can I educate people as to the potential that lies within the American Dream (which isn't just for America--this is a shout out to all business owners in the global marketplace!)?". Inpsiring the children of today will create the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, and I'm glad that at least "Joe the Plumber" is an opportunity to raise awareness to that fact!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Recession-Proof Your Mind, Recession-Proof Your Business

“Our worst fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves,’who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God; you playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. You were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some of us, it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

--Nelson Mandela

One of the biggest hurdles in the current Western economy is in conquering the doomsday machines. We're besieged with negative speak from the media and our peers every day about how we're all going to spiral downward.

It's hard to argue with: there have been huge drops in the stock market, here in the U.S. we now have a fat cat "rescue" plan in place that will cost us tax payers $700 billion, with little guarantee of effectiveness (Certainly, that money invested back into our education system would guarantee far more long term success! But that's another blog post...). People are losing their jobs, their homes, and their hope.

It all spells difficulty in keeping the end in mind (aka your Clear Vision) when pursuing your business and life goals. How can we say that we're certain of our year-end results, when we don't know what the market's going to do this afternoon? Even if we're not directly effected, if that fear is in the heart of our client, they'll be less likely to want to spend right now--causing the agony to 'trickle down' on us.

So what can we do? Luckily, lots of things!

Every challenge presents us with the opportunity to learn, grow, and dig deep to find those solutions that will not only move us forward individually, but as a collective, too! Just like Nelson Mandela said above, "...As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” So we MUST push onward!

Step One: Revisit that Clear Vision, hone it, and own it!

Without the end in mind, we lose our True North. That internal compass point is going to help us plot our path to what we want our businesses (and our lives) to be!

It may be that we need to approach our visions in a new way. There are many methods in laying one out, not limited to:

  • lists
  • storytelling
  • scripts
  • mind movies
  • audio (recorded messages or even song mixes or playlists!)
  • vision boards (My mentor, John Assaraf, is actually releasing his new The Complete Vision Board Kit tomorrow!)
  • questionaires or worksheets

If you've laid your Clear Vision out as a story in the past, maybe developing a vision board for it will help you to refocus on what you want. A movie-like script, outlining the story of your dreams may be just the injection of excitement your current mind map needs to get you pumped up again, and take your mind off of all the gloom-and-doom you're hearing on the nightly news.

According to "Creating a Clear, Compelling Vision" by Marilyn Schwader, there are four components your vision should have:

  • 1. Your Values
  • 2. Your Dream
  • 3. Your Purpose
  • 4. Your Mission Objectives

I'll be visiting these all in more detail in the coming weeks. Until then, get on that vision, and start step one in Recession-Proofing Your Mind!