One way is to start with your own idea, build a business plan around it, and shout, shout, shout with hopes people hear you, switch from competitors to you, and give their attention. To be successful with this, you have to change the way people think, act, and feel.
Damn difficult to do.
Another way is to start by searching for a niche, an area that’s been untouched, perhaps listening to more than a million complaints of people until you come up with a solution. The method: you find a small problem and you provide a small solution.*
To be successful with this, you gather a tribe of like-minded people who have the same complaint, the same problem and you give your solution to them. Instead of changing the way people think, act, and feel, you’re listening, understanding and reacting to how people think, act, and feel.
You can shout, advertise and sell or you can connect, gather, and give.
Two ways to start a business. I think you know which way is better.
Stay Positive & Either Way, Have Fun With It
*All big problems have been solved with big solutions. Times have really changed. Think the taxi industry. Big solution for big problem. Then think of Uber and Lyft. Small problem. Small solution. Huge success.
Spending hours on Pinterest or skipping lunch to continue working on your business plan is exhausting. To be an expert in social media, undo, marketing, guitar, writing greeting cards, anything, it takes tons of time.
Over and over I’ve watched others burn out from spending hours upon hours on something.
I’ve seen friends spend days learning cool Twitter marketing skills just to burn out and scrap their campaign idea. Others have exhausted themselves from writing for 4 hours straight or playing a video game for 8 hours non-stop. (Ask anyone in my family or my close friends, I’m quite notorious for burning myself out too, and it’s taken a number of years to write this post with pure confidence.)
The best way I’ve learned to not burn myself out is to do a little bit of everything. To be a social media expert, don’t spend all your hours trying to leverage Twitter. Do something with Twitter once a day and move on to doing something with all the other social media outlets. Instead of going all in, go in on all.
It’s not about knowing a little bit about everything anymore. Now it’s about learning a little bit about everything continuously over a period of time until you’re an expert on a lot of things.
This also means to go out and run in the rain, to cook yourself a damn good meal, to email a family member you haven’t spoken to in a while. Everything in moderation.
This is a longer post than I usually write. You could easily skip it and respond to the notification awaiting you on your phone. Alas, I hope you find this as practical, if not more.
We’re All Marketers
I’ve never understood PR folk talking about “outreach” in their own community. To me, that’s inreach, as in, easily in reach; as in, if your business is remarkable enough, the success of it will have enough momentum to touch all those in reach. A great business has inreach built in. Steven P. Dennis calls the hometown diehard fans of a business the obsessive core. Marketers, therefore, are for reaching out beyond the core.
Business plan = inreach.
Marketing = outreach.
Clear? Now let’s tackle the outreach by going over a few tools every marketer needs to understand to reach the market outside their zone, their base, their marked territory.
Not Your Average Advertising
As complicated as Facebook advertising is to understand, it’s quite easy to use to target consumers outside common ground.
Say you’re marketing MobCraft Beer to a state other than Wisconsin where they are based and a current Wisconsin resident follows Mobcraft’s FB page. This follower also has a few out-of-state friends she regularly interacts with. Facebook’s advertising algorithm will pick them up and advertise directly, noting to them there Wisconsin resident friend has liked MobCraft Beer’s FB page and they should too.
All social network advertising, not just social media networks are taking into consideration the value of connections, of handshakes, of conversations over the value of eyeballs. You don’t want the mass, anyway. You want those who matter. Right? Advertising isn’t what it used to be. (That’s a good thing for us marketers.)
Working Email and Mailing Address Lists
There’s no reason not to be A/B testing.
A/B testing in its most simplified definition is trying two different things and seeing which works better. Does a zen-like website page get more click-throughs than a collage-designed page? Will a handwritten card with a great photo on the front work better than a brochure? Will emailing small-time bloggers be more effective than a press release to those in authority? It’s time to find out.
Test and measure, test and measure.
And remember: Don’t get on the scale unless you’re willing to change your diet and exercise routine and don’t change your diet and exercise routine unless you will regularly step on the scale. Test and measure.
Surfing the Internet
If I’m not doing some grunt work, I know I’m not doing the best marketing I can. No matter what client I’m working with, I search on multiple search engines to find forums, blogs, and other places where the tribes have gathered. (And, yes, I go into the depths of Google, far beyond the first, second and third pages of results.) The long tail matters. Every small tribe matters.
A smart place to start is Reddit. A fellow PR daily contributor, Mickie Kennedy wrote a short bit on how to use Reddit for PR.
Through surfing the Internet, you’ll realize very quickly (if you haven’t already) how critical being human is. Most online tribes are skeptical; they will downvote blatant advertising and seek clarification of credibility before they upvote, make a purchase or share what you offer.
You’ll also learn (if you haven’t already) those who are the most loyal to brands are the most likely to turn their shoulder to a brand if they feel the outreach is robotic, if they believe the email they received is the same email everyone else on the list received, if they think you’re just in it for the money or job security or because it’s what your boss told you to do.
Moreover, Outreach has Changed/Improved/Realligned
When I get a pitch that tells me I am part of a company’s ‘blogger outreach program,’ it feels condescending to me. My inclination is to get bristly with the person doing the pitching. Other social journalists feel the same way.” – Shel Israel
Now, I wouldn’t be the first to say you have permission to market to everyone, but why would you need 10,000 strangers when you can make 10 friends, 10 people who trust you, 10 acquaintances who respect you, 10 passionate folk who need you.
Permission is one thing, participation is another. Participation is what matters. Find the 10 avid bloggers who need your product or service and connect with them. Find 10 die-hard craft beer drinkers and get on a Google Hangout together. Successful outreach rarely comes from a single click of “send;” it comes from continuous care, effort, and conversation. There’s another obsessive core out there. Reach out to them.
Successful outreach has improved since the days of mass advertising. It’s not about eye balls anymore; it’s about eye contact.
Now is your chance to build your tribe, to establish connections that matter. As for my last PR/marketing tip: never refer to people you are reaching out to as your target market, as part of your outreach program, as part of your market. They are not a special case because they are outside your hometown, your normal campaign realm, your regular target market. They are all strangers at first, then friends, then customers, no matter what geographical market they are in.
Stay Positive & Only Reach Out If You Plan To Truly Lift Someone Up
There are two situations for any club, event, outing, etc,.
1) You pay to get in and then you pay for things inside.
2) You don’t pay to get in and then you pay for things inside.
In both circumstances, you pay for things inside, but there is a large mental processing gap when it comes to how much you’re willing to spend inside.
See, the situations you pay to get in, you’re lead to believe everything inside will be cheaper. It’s not. Then you begin to rationalize your purchases, typically beginning with, “Well, it was already $15 to get in…”
On top of that, you may rebut with an example of an all-inclusive package. Supposedly, you pay for the all-inclusive package and everything “inside” is free. Thing is, it’s never free. When you’re inside, you then have to pay for an upgrade or to get the special drink that’s not included in the package or to get into VIP.
Taking a look at the other side
Everyone loves free. In fact, I’d argue they love getting into something free more than having everything inside be free. When you make an exchange with money, the value of the item (perceptional value) increases. That is, people who, say, buy a brat at a brat fest think the brat tastes better than someone who pays to get into the event and then gets the brat for free.
What does this mean for you and me?
It means to let your customers, clients, friends, strangers into your business for free and then charge them for what’s valuable inside. Consider all the business models that incorporate the situation where customers must pay to get in, then everything inside is free. Newspaper subscriptions. Water parks. Strip clubs. Movies.
Having clientele pay for what’s inside and not pay to get inside is not a flawless model (think Netflix), but it’s one worth considering when developing your business plan. One worth arguing about. Perhaps, one worth rebutting (or supporting) in the comments section below.
Stay Positive & Never Underestimate The Power Of In For Free
I am all about designating a theme for each year. In 2010 it was “my” year, simple as that. 2011 was “our” year because during “my” year I found a girlfriend. In 2011, her and I traveled to Canada and took other road trips together and moved in together. Now 2012, we have made it the year of career advancement. I had started to truly pour my passion into my website, I also got another ghost writing job and a huge promotion at work (making almost twice as much as I made before the promotion). She will be getting a promotion at Starbucks and has recently gotten a personal training job at Anytime Fitness. And we are only four months into the year! If you are not one to write new years goals, or like so many others, have relinquished your 2012 goals from your mind, it’s not too late to declare this year yours!
If you can even remember where you put your new years resolutions, if you even wrote them down, toss’em. Many don’t really stuck to them anyway. Even me, as a big goal achiever, I sometimes stray away from some goals that I made at the beginning of the year. Maybe your goals have changed and some goals no longer seem reasonable to keep. Maybe you didn’t’ even make any. That’s okay, you don’t have to. This isn’t a post about making goals for this year, its bout taking the 12 tips I am going to give you to still make this “your” year. You don’t need determining goals to make it your year. While I had goals (over 250 currently), I never had specific goals that would make 2010 my year, or specific goals for 2011 or 2012, yet I accomplished so much and my life improved drastically. I learned that to live the life you want, you just have to evaluate how you live now and begin implementing the following 12 tips to make this “your” year.
1. Beginning now and at the start of each month for 30 days in a row, commit to doing something new that you have thought about doing, but have not done.
If you wait until the first of the next month or the first of the week or if you wait until you finish something else before you do something new, you will never get anything done.
I suggest reading Zig Ziglar’s affirmation sheet or make your own. Wake up each morning and create the habit of complimenting yourself and reminding yourself of all your strengths. What I have learned about doing this is that it is not necessarily the affirmations that changes your world (though they play a large part), it is the development of a habit. It is the feeling that “hey, I did it today.” It makes each day complete. It makes you feel like you can stick to your word. It creates the image of reliability and persistence. Anyone can say they are improving every day in every way, but very few have the skill and talent to do it everyday.
Pick a habit to develop each month, whatever you like, just pick and follow through.
2. Write emails/letters to three people in life to let them know what they mean to me.
Sure gratitude is great (we will get to that) but no type of gratitude is stronger than “thanks” being given to people who have touched your life. This may require you to think back and check who has affected your life. Try to find all the people who have and simply thank them; send them a friendly message or write a paragraph to them explaining your thanks. Since snail mail is nearly obsolete, I encourage you to either send emails or Facebook comments (not messages, you want other people to see how grateful you are and that the person your commenting on means a lot to you). You can even send a random txt message, just make sure you make it personal, meaningful and from your heart. Who knows, you may even get one back!
3. Start a business plan regardless if you have a business idea
It doesn’t matter what it is. Some ideas are dumb… think back to my post about my two business ideas. First, you never know. As you work on the business plan ideas might be created to improve your original concept or you may think of one entirely different. Either way, get in the habit of creating and making a plan to follow through. A small plan or a big plan, a plan is a plan. If you don’t have any business ideas, that doesn’t mean you get to skip this tip. Get creative and think of one, what product or service could you do or create to serve others and make people happy? By all means, have fun with this.
4. Schedule family time
I’m human. I’m guilty of not doing this, but when I do, my world changes: stress is relieved and the weights I carry feel lighter. Not only that, but when I talk to family members, I often talk about things that I normally wouldn’t have thought of. It takes you out of the moment and brings you to a place you can feel comfortable. As you know, making a year YOUR year really means you have to step out of your comfort zone and shake and move your brain. Always schedule family time to center yourself and make sure those who know you best see that you are on the right path. Tell those who matter most about your goals and aspirations because they will be able to hold you accountable and by saying it with confidence, you are one very large step closer to achieving your success. Warning: The trouble with family time is deciding what to listen to and what not to since they want to put all their evaluations on what you are doing. Some family members may not support your ideas and may talk you down. Take it as a challenge. Prove them wrong. Take what they say and find a way to prove them wrong. By doing so you are not only showing them you know what you are doing, but you are creating a way around any future skepticism.
5. Record what I say
Every day is a constant flow of information. You receive input and provide output constantly through reading, listening, speaking and thinking. Begin recording your thoughts and what you say to evaluate the language you are using. By doing so, you can find where you need to begin making improvements. Are you thinking negatively about work each day? Do you look into a mirror unable to see your beauty? Do you speak before you think to your friends and family? You need to start recording what you say and think and feel so that you have a better understanding of what effects you negatively and what you are negatively affecting. No improvements and changes can be made until you know what needs to be improved and changed.
After gaining a deeper insight into what you output, begin evaluating what is input through your daily routine. Are you reading the news (95% negative information) every morning or do you view blogs such as mine or others to keep learning new information on the topic of your interest? Do you surround yourself by negative people? Or worse, do you enable them? Pay close attention to what is taken in throughout the day and begin to set aside and walk past those things in which are detrimental to your daily positive attitude.
6. Find a mentor
I know how difficult it is to get a mentor that you really want. I understand the difficulty to capture the attention of great and widely known people and have them act as a mentor toward you. That does not mean you cannot connect with them and learn what they have to teach through the information they provide whether it is in books, blogs or audio presentations. Think of what you really want this year and begin following those who are most well known for teaching that. In doing so, you will discover under-noticed and under-deserving people who know just as much and are more willing to assist you. In essence, begin connecting with those that you have related interests with. It is also key to note that mentors come and go. Accept this transitional flow and keep seeking authoritative figures that you can learn from.
In addition, I need to add that becoming a mentor is far greater than having one. If you go out searching for friends, you will find very few. If you go out searching to be a friend, you will find a countless number of takers. As you learn from mentors and begin changing the information you digest each day, share it with others. Rather than complaining that Seth Godin won’t take you up as an apprentice (guilty), become like that idol and turn into a mentor for others who want the same as you.
7. Discover the 20% of work
You may know about an app for the Droid phone called “task killer” that kills processes that are running but are not being used and are depleting the energy (battery life) of the phone in order to maximize performance for what you are using. The first step to discovering the 20% of work is to kill the 80% of apps that are consuming your brain and your life but are not priorities. This also includes cutting out any of the negativity in your life. Begin un-friending people who complain and spam your social networking profiles. Begin cutting out the bad eating habits. Begin cutting out the people you meet each day that upon seeing them, bring you down. A person doesn’t need to be holding a thousand balloons to float, they only need to stop the gravity that is holding them down.
Once everything that is holding you back is let go, you don’t even have to search for the 20% of work, it finds you. Your thinking and focusing abilities will be 10x stronger which will produce 10x better results. You will be able to manage your time better to complete a task further than its potential in 20% of the time. By eliminating the 80% of “apps” holding you back from your potential, it will allow you to have 10x more success because you have discovered the 20% of energy needed to succeed in each task. In simple terms, devote yourself to something completely by getting rid of everything else that is not worthy of your attention and you will be able to create miracles.
Start a gratitude journal. It doesn’t matter if you write one thing in a book or you list things throughout the day on your phone or on sticky notes. Personally, I type 5 things I am grateful for in a notes app on my phone each night before sleep. By writing in a gratitude journal of everything you are thankful for, you are putting power in the present which sets the stage for the future. It keeps you consistently happy, gives you peace of mind and allows you to go to sleep with a smile on your face. There are absolutely zero negative side effects to being thankful.
But don’t stop there. Also aim to be the one other people are grateful for. How did you help someone today? How did you serve? Did you give everyone you saw today a smile? Maybe you were the jokester at work and made everyone laugh? Constantly work to be what others are grateful for. Not only will it make their day, and you’re name will go on their gratitude list, but you are giving yourself a distinguished type of respect seldom held. In addition to positively impacting the people you meet each day, find an organization to volunteer at. My current volunteering consists of running races where the funds go towards a specific charity. I am also looking into Habitat for Humanity and Big Brothers Big Sisters to continue my volunteerism. The general rule of volunteering is at least two hours a week. The benefits of volunteering are so incredible that they deserve a blog post to themselves. Look at all the benefits by giving it a Google if you’re interested.
Come to think of it, it may not be a bad idea to also list the contributions and volunteering you’ve done along side your list of things you are grateful for each day.
9. Plan a trip for 4 months from now.
Figure out where you want to go and start looking into it now. Whenever you seem to have some free time, begin searching on the internet for things you can do at the destination you chose and start planning for it. Think how you are going to save for the next four months or how you will use the money you already have to take the trip. It does not have to be anything huge but don’t let it be too little either. Having something major to look forward to as it is necessary to maintain a continuous positive attitude and outlook. If anything goes wrong through the week, just remember that you are taking a trip soon and will be able to get away from everything and enjoy yourself. The point of this is to stop putting celebration off, enjoy life, YOLO and always have something big to look forward to in the long run.
10. Say yes
Simple. Start saying yes to everything (with thorough judgement of course). Take every opportunity and option and work with it, create something productive and positive with every choice you make. In essence, try new things. Begin to experiment and experience everything you can. Heck, go sky diving. If you see a flier for a free event, go to it. If someone asks you to join them for an activity, do it. If the Botanical gardens or some other place is free on Wednesday, give it a visit. Saying yes is about you agreeing to living your life to its fullest potential by exposing yourself to all the world offers.
11. Schedule a date night
With yourself, with your life partner or with the girl/guy you met because you said “Yes” to an invitation to an event. Adding the previous 10 tips to your life on top of all your responsibilities and duties already, you deserve a night of pure enjoyment. Use this time to do everything, do nothing, or only do what you want to. She and I have Origami nights and other nights we stay in and play Farkle and Scrabble. (I’m unbeatable at Scrabble). Other times we go out to dinner and a movie. The options are endless but the point is purely to enjoy yourself. Relax, meditate, reminisce on the highlights of the past week, think about all you have to look forward to and practice living in the moment. Forget all tasks, all obstacles and all affairs that are up in the air. Schedule a date night where you stop time and live.
12. Complete the following: Stay ________
Just do it. If you are only going to do one tip to make this “your” year, let this be it. Get optimistic, improve your attitude, change the outcomes and Stay Positive. Nothing will make “your” year greater than if you Stay Positive. The reason I end every post with this reminder is because it is the most important trait to living the successful life you want. Staying Positive is the basis of everything that has made you happy, everything that is making you happy and everything that will make you happy. By all means, devote all you have into Staying Positive.
In this age of abnormal business ideas, if followed through correctly can attract the most attention (and revenue). Recently I have had a couple wild ideas for both a hotel business and a restaurant business. I would love to get your feedback. Let’s jump right into it.
Business Idea Number 1: Creating a new string of Hotels that will beat all competitors within 5 years
There are quite a few areas of business that are nearly impossible to create a start-up in because the competition is too completely monopolized. The hotel industry being one of them. As far back as I can recall, there are only about 5 different hotels that completely dominate. Now tell me if this idea will not raise that number to 6.
To begin, open up a few hotels whose prices would nearly consider them to be non-profit while providing the best service. While other hotels succeed by incorporating one of the three factors of a successful business: lowest price, best quality, best service, these hotels would incorporate the two easiest, cheapest and most significant of the factors. After all, you can’t complain about quality if the service is the greatest you have ever experienced in an inexpensive hotel business.
Back on subject, with the two factors of low cost and best service being incorporated from the beginning, the hotels would quickly gain attention and a reputation which leads to increased revenue. Also from the start of the business, every customer would be told to keep their key cards which they can show at any other hotel and pay the same price that they originally paid for. Every year, a new key card would be given as the price increases. This is sending the message that there will be expansion and improvements in the near future that will lead to increased prices. The focus is to hit the 3rd factor of business success – quality. As you know, quality costs more money.By notifying customers that the price will go up within a year, it motivates them to visit and pay the minimum amount while they can. This instant increase in customers would provide the money to increase the quality and price for the next year.
Imagine a single room originally cost $45 a night. By the 3rd year of business, it has now increased to $75 dollars. Those who stayed a night at the hotel during the first year of business and kept their card would still only pay $45 dollars a night. All the while, the new customers who have to pay $75 a night will be able to redeem their card next time they stay for the same price. By the fifth year of business, we could be charging the average hotel amount, if not more, for a one night stay.
The difference in revenue with other hotels would be that they have a constant value they can calculate. At this particular hotel, the profit could be within a $100 dollar range. Regardless, I guarantee by using this technique the year-end profit would be much more than a competing hotel.
What do you think?
The Second Business Idea: The Take Home Restaurant
I am sure you can connect with my hatred for taking home food from restaurants. It is never good warmed up. It either tastes different, doesn’t warm up properly or get’s all soggy by the time you warm it up. The majority of take home meals just get thrown away. So what if there was a restaurant that was specialized and based solely on providing food that when taken home can be reheated and taste just the same.
But it doesn’t just stop there.
We all know buying in bulk is cheaper. At this restaurant, any plate you order, I would guarantee you could not finish. Of course, the meal would be free if you could. Being able to buy in bulk would mean that the food could be sold cheaper to the customer as well.
What do you think of this simple restaurant idea that would only serve food that could be taken home, reheated and taste great?