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Sometimes I feel a stab in the heart.

Thursday, January 28th, 2016 | Business Life, Marketing with 9 Comments

Imagine you’re going through life, doing your own thing, with a dream of creating a business that honors your passions, values and allows you to create the change you wish to see in the world.  You love your business, have big ideas of how you want it to look and are working toward making that happen.  You know you’re doing great work in the world and you look forward to continuing it.

knife-smallThis is me, most of the time.  I say most of the time, because I have moments (some days, many moments) where it’s not all fine and dandy like that. Moments like when my mastermind partner, Kristi, says “If you don’t have a succession plan for your business, then your business is a hobby.”   I don’t have a succession plan and don’t plan to create a business that has one.  In that moment I felt like I had been stabbed in the heart.  I was flooded with the feelings of shame and guilt for not living up to what a business is supposed to be.  Why?  Because the voices in my head (created by much of what I’ve learned in marketing) translated that statement into:

“You aren’t running a legitimate business.”

“Your business is less than.”

“Think of a better way to run your business or you’ll never be taken seriously.”

While I know Kristi didn’t mean it that way (see her response here), these are the kind of messages that run rampant in the online world and especially when marketing to coaches.  We’re challenged every day to step up our game and think BIG.  What exactly does BIG mean?  Generally, the definition of BIG that I see/hear from so many marketers is 6 or 7 figures, jet setting around the world, charging $10,000/month for coaching and making sure we change the lives of the masses.

We ALL, individually, have our own unique definitions of BIG.

Um, I have a very different definition of BIG.  My version is making $50,000/year, mostly staying in the Southwest Ohio area with maybe one or two trips a year that I get paid to make, charging $475/mo for ongoing coaching and changing the lives of 5 ongoing clients at a time, 5-10 others on an introductory basis and maybe one or two group programs a year with a few products.  My version of BIG  is allowing a long lead time due to having a deep connection beforehand.  My referral partners are very close friends with lots of love and sharing between us.  My business is designed around connection and building deep relationships with clients over time.  Speaking of time, I only work in and on my business 20-25 hours/wk (including calls and networking), because my life outside my business is a high priority for me.  I haven’t reached all my goals yet and for some I have no idea what it looks like yet. Every year, though, I get little pieces of my BIG business in place.  It will come.

Ask the voices in my head and they will tell you my whole plan is doomed to fail, because this is not the way to run a business.  On one hand, I could care less!  I like going against the grain and doing things my way much better.  On the other hand, when I see all these messages telling me I should be doing the opposite, it’s a little hard to swallow.  Am I insane?  Maybe.  Do I care?  Not really.  I’m pretty good at getting the voices in my head back in check, but it’s getting harder as these definitions of BIG seem to be more prevalent every day.  Or are they?  Maybe I’m just seeing them more because I’m in a place where my teenager is totally rebelling against the 6 figure track.

I wonder how many others are feeling stabbed in the heart too. There must be a better way to promote BIG to the coaching industry.  I mean, we’re coaches.  We promote individuality, owning who we are and choosing the life we want.  If every coach built the same kind of BIG business, what would that do to the coaching industry?  We need a variety of different kinds of businesses at all levels to be able to reach the masses as a whole.  I propose that we change the marketing message from “Go BIG or go home.” to “What’s going BIG mean to you?”  Who’s with me?

Shiny Object Syndrome Always Gets Me Down

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015 | Marketing, Marketing Balance, Marketing Strategies, Uncategorized with No Comments »

questionfacebookadYou know the lyric “Rainy days and mondays always get me down.”  While those two things rarely get me down, what DOES get me down is Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS).  You’ve probably heard of this syndrome, but do you really know what it means?

Have you ever had a colleague who was working on a marketing project and added something new to it?  Their language may be something like “I just heard of this really great new way to boost my results, so I’m adding it into my upcoming campaign.”   This is the first symptom of SOS.

When I was doing Virtual Assistant work, a lot of my clients were going through website updates.  As the person who was in charge of implementing the changes, I was happy to do whatever my clients asked.  So, I’d get started.  A week into the project, I’d get an e-mail about some website they found with information on how to make their website more effective and they would ask me to add that in.  Another week into the project, they’d hear from a marketing guru that we need to change the orientation of a picture and I needed to change it.  Then two weeks later, there would be a rewrite on the text, because a new concept about how to write copy came out.  And this would happen throughout a project.

Here’s another example that seems extreme, but I see it frequently.  A coach is in the first year of their business and they want to learn everything they can about marketing.  They read some books, take some teleclasses, talk to some people who have been there and hire someone to help them get everything done.

All of this sounds smart doesn’t it?  Yes, it’s smart to research and add in things that will be more effective.  However, there’s a piece all these people missed that puts them in the Shiny Object Syndrome category.   WHY?  When I asked for a reason to make changes or why they hired someone to help them, the answer was “Because they said so.”

Shiny Object Syndrome is when you end up spending more time, energy and money because you kept looking for the next shiny object.

Each change I made as a VA cost my client money, because it meant more time on the project.  If you try several different new things in a marketing campaign, you won’t know which one worked.  If you’re constantly spending energy looking for something new, you’re not spending as much energy on the things that are already in place (and possibly working for you).

What drives me most crazy is that so many people are adding tons of things to their to-do list that might not even be something THEY, specifically, need to do.  If you are walking around looking for the next great shiny thing to do in your marketing, that is the first symptom.  Don’t let it get out of hand.  Ask why YOU should do it?  Make sure it’s a fit for you, your vision, your values and your focus before you commit to anything.

Vulnerability in Marketing

Friday, August 28th, 2015 | Trust Marketing with 2 Comments

Currently, I’m in rehearsal for a musical where I have a very emotional character.  I go through most of the stages of grief as my character.  I LOVE this kind of role because I get to practice being acutely present to the moment, feel and make the audience feel too.  It’s exhilarating for me!

There’s another big piece to this role, in particular, that is really coming to the forefront for me; vulnerability. I’ve never done such an emotional role and had no idea how far I could go with it (still don’t! We’re just getting into the thick of rehearsals).  While I know the Musical Director well, I don’t know anyone else involved in the show.  As with most shows I’ve done, I have no idea what’s expected of me early on in the process.

For this show, I really wanted to get to the emotion early, so I’d have time to explore where it needs to go by performance time.  The first time I did my solo in front of the group, I wanted to have some emotion.  So, I prepared and let it happen.  Of course, I wondered if people were going to think I was getting there too early, if they’d be talking about it later and making fun of me…I had no idea what their reaction would be and I was scared…but I did it anyway.  Gotta love theatre!  Always feeling the fear and doing it anyway.  I had tears well up and allowed that to just be.  I allowed myself to feel what I felt in that moment.  Thankfully, everyone in the room understood what I was doing and responded as if it was nothing.  *whew* That’s when I knew, I could safely feel without judgement.

Now, you might be wondering what this has to do with marketing.  Have you ever had that moment where you wrote a marketing piece that made you nervous?  Where you weren’t quite sure if you wanted to put it out there, because you had no idea whether the rest of the world would accept it or not?  When you work in your passion, you end up putting yourself out into the world in big ways, which can be very scary or down right paralyzing.  It can also have a huge payoff by attracting the right clients and deterring the wrong ones.

How vulnerable do we have to be in marketing?  You do need to share who you are to build trust.  When people can relate to you, they will trust you.  They can’t relate if they don’t know who you are.  So, you need to be vulnerable enough to share what YOU think, feel and believe about your topic.  Extreme vulnerability can lead to sharing things that people really don’t need to know and things that turn the right people off.  Very little vulnerability can make you seem closed off and unapproachable.  It’s your job to find the happy medium.  If you’re feeling nervous about putting something out there, here are some ways to find that happy medium.  Make sure:

  1. It relates to what you do in your business.
  2. There’s a purpose in putting it out there (something for people to learn, use etc…).
  3. You don’t skim the surface.  If you’re gonna go there, share your experience, feelings etc… Dig in.
  4. You’re talking about yourself and not blaming, ranting or going on about how someone else is wrong.

Integrity comes from within

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015 | Differentiation with No Comments »

If I pay attention to my competitors and try to play in marketing like they do, I’d have to make promises like “make 6 figures” and “get the blueprint to end all marketing blueprints”  etc…

Hundred Bill Corners

Out of integrity, I can’t say those things in my marketing.  I don’t believe I can make you a 6 figure coach or give you the plan that’s going to skyrocket your business to success.  Don’t take that the wrong way!  I DO believe in my talents, skills and abilities, they just aren’t put together to take you from zero to $100,000 overnight.  It’s not what I do and I own that.

Are you owning who you are in your marketing?  Do you take people from zero to sixty in 3-6 months?  Or are you like me and believe that slow and steady wins the race?  Or are you somewhere else?  What can you promise and still be in integrity?

Don’t tromp on your own integrity because someone said you had to.

If you are learning marketing from someone and it feels icky, then you are tromping on your own integrity and your own values.

What DO you offer that’s of value and can help people?  What is your process?  What are you willing to promise up front?  Don’t write out your claims the way you were told to.  Write them out the way you want to.  Integrity comes from within you.  Don’t let anyone determine what’s in integrity for you.

I see my role, as a Marketing Coach & Consultant, as an opportunity to set up a strong marketing foundation that will grow with the business.  It’s my job to make sure my clients have the tools needed to make wise choices, keep their sanity and move forward in marketing with confidence.  While that’s not as showy as a six figure business, there are people who know they want what I have to offer.  They relate to my wording and they check me out because I’m different that the usual Marketing Coach/Consultant.

Be different. Be YOU.

Routine does not define successful marketing.

Friday, June 12th, 2015 | Marketing, Marketing Balance with No Comments »

schedule-book-womanFor about 10 years, I worked with Temp Agencies.  I had several long-term positions (3 months or more) in that time.  Usually, these were cubicle jobs with specific duties that I was expected to accomplish.  After about a week in any of these positions, I’d settle into a routine based on when things would come through and how I was supposed to handle them.  After about 3 months in any of these positions, I would get bored.  Then I found myself changing up processes and flipping things around in my routine.  I wouldn’t do things the same way twice.

I did the same thing as a Substitute Music Teacher before that.  My least favorite job was the one that lasted 9 months!  Ugh!!  I didn’t want to admit it to myself, but I was relieved when I wasn’t asked to return as the full-time Music Teacher the next year.  I just don’t do routine well…ok, I don’t do it well after 3 months.

One of the things I loved about being a Professional Singer/Actress on the east coast, was the unpredictability of my schedule and my days.  I think it’s a good thing that I never actually got to Broadway.  I’m not sure I could have handled 8 shows a week of the same show for 1-2 years.  Yikes!!!  I really LOVED doing a 15 show run (usually a one or two month run), but at the end I was always ready to move on to the next show.

When it comes to marketing in my business, I know a lot of people who have set routines where they queue up social media on one day, schedule their e-mails another day, make phone calls one day and spend time creating campaigns on another day.  Some have a morning routine of checking e-mails, making calls and reaching out to potential clients.  Ugh!  If I did that, I would’ve quit my business 3 months in…for sure.

I used to think that I HAD to have a set routine in order to be successful in my marketing.  I know consistency builds trust.  I struggled for a while trying to follow a marketing schedule.  I had a calendar, I marked what was going out when and I blocked off specific days (with objectives) to create my marketing.  Yeah, that didn’t last long…I don’t remember exactly how long it lasted, but I suspect it was probably only about 3 months.

At some point, I decided that I didn’t need to have a “routine”.  I just needed to be consistently marketing.  That’s when I gave myself a break.  While I have structured hours for business in a day, I stopped scheduling when I’d do marketing.  Instead I started creating Flex Days.  These are days where I can do whatever I want.  Sometimes that means marketing and I get way ahead. Sometimes it means that I get to read a book.  Sometimes it means learning a new song or organizing my office.  These are days that have no appointments and nothing I absolutely HAVE to do.  They are open time to do/be whatever I want to do/be.  I’m shocked at how much I get done on FlexDays.  I was afraid that I’d slack off, but my creativity comes on these days.  I’m open to whatever wants to flow and because of that, I consistently create marketing.

If you’re anything like me and routine is something you get bored with easily.  Give yourself a break.  Honor your non-routine nature and schedule in time to not have one!  See what happens.  Maybe FlexDays aren’t your thing.  Maybe there’s something else.  Open your heart to what will work best for you and stop trying to make your “round” self fit into a “square” peg.  Of course, if you need some help, I am great at helping people figure out what works for them.  I’d be happy to set up a consult.

What do you think about routines?  Must have or not so much?