Tom Jacobs on IntrepidTV!

A pleasure to welcome Tom Jacobs to IntrepidTV. Tom is the president of the marketing and branding shop The Jacobs Agency, based in Chicago, IL.

The Jacobs Agency just recently completed a rebranding process for themselves, including evolving to a new agency philosophy. On today’s show, Tom and I talk about that entire process: what worked, what doesn’t, how long will it take, how to keep momentum, and how to cement the new philosophy and brand into the organizational culture.

If you are considering a rebranding process for yourself, you will get great benefit from our conversation.

Tom and I also discuss:

1. The changing communications paradigm.
2. The advent of social and mobile marketing, and how that impacts brands.
3. A holistic approach to serving your market.

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Nametag Scott Ginsberg on Intrepid Radio!

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Scott Ginsberg

Gosh, I cannot remember exactly when I first stumbled onto Scott Ginsberg’s blog, Hello My Name is Scott, but I’ve been a fan of his writing and style ever since…

You might know him as the Name Tag guy, the fellow who, as of this writing, has worn a name tag for 3,949 straight days…

We talk about why he does that on the show…

Scott is an entertaining fellow, and smart as heck. We talk about the power of personal branding and how to create unique personal brand, and Scott shares his best advice for entrepreneurs.

Sanity is highly overrated. | Scott Ginsberg

We also talk about creativity, and how “volume” and “being pervasive” are what matters in publishing and generating content. Scott shares his strategy behind how he comes up with the ideas for all his content.

You should check out his brandtag identity collages, which he talks about on the show…

Check out Scott’s latest book (affiliate link):

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Taja Dockendorf on Intrepid Radio!

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A pleasure to be joined by Taja Dockendorf, principal of Pulp + Wire, a strategic, creative, web and branding firm based in Portland Maine.

The main theme of the show was branding strategy for entrepreneurs, starting off by clarifying what the definition of branding actually is (too many get it wrong). Taja shared what she believes is the critical first step in establishing your brand, as well as what she considers the most important branding mistake entrepreneurs make.

Taja and I talked about how entrepreneurs can maximize their marketing spend, and once they engage a professional agency and consultancy, how to be a better client to achieve the best results.

Lastly, we discussed two critical reasons why entrepreneurs and small businesses should engage on the social web, as well as important decisions when considering your online presence.

You can learn more about Taja and her company by clicking here, and find them on Twitter here.

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Do You “Feel Like Home?” Why That Isn’t A Good Thing For You Or Your Brand

Within the past year, I moved across town. After I moved, my new environs felt strange, different and uncomfortable. Which, to be honest, was just what my life needed at the time – a jolt to get me out of my rut.

But with time, my new community now feels like home. Comfortable and familiar.

I needed both feelings exactly when I needed them. It worked for me. This new place, which once felt foreign, now feels like home. You know the feeling I am talking about…

But how do these feelings of “being like home” impact your brand? Thinking on it, I think “feeling like home” is bad if you are an entrepreneur, business owner and brand.

I cannot remember where I heard or read it, and I am sorry that I cannot give proper credit, but someone recently said that when you are comfortable, you aren’t pushing yourself. You aren’t innovating. And you aren’t learning.

And when you are running a business and trying to serve customers, this is a very dangerous place to be.

Honestly, you should always be uncomfortable when in business. You should never be satisfied. And if you are striving to be comfortable, two things will result:

Boredom. And failure.

And by failure, I don’t necessarily mean going out of business. But becoming ordinary. Irrelevant. Boring. Just one of many on the shelf.

The more you’re able to tolerate ambiguity and lean into the unknown, the more likely you’ll be to dance with it long enough to come up with better solutions, ideas and creations. | Jonathan Fields

Ask the recording industry, or bricks and mortar book stores, if they wished they hadn’t remained comfortable.

No, honestly, many businesses make good profits when they “feel like home” to their new customers. “Ah, a great new product that works for me,” you think to yourself. And you become loyal to that new brand, for a while anyway. And it is probably good to make your customers feel like they’re home.

But you know what happens.

Over time, as a long-time user of a product or service, you get that itch. There’s a new thing. There’s a new idea. There’s a new way. And you almost can’t help yourself in being curious to check it out. Just because it is fresh.

I think that’s human nature. And I think it’s natural.

So, as a business person, you HAVE TO ACCOUNT for this phenomenon, and make it a part of your long-term strategy. You have to expect – and prepare – for it.

Never be comfortable. Never settle. Always learn more. Always seek to question basic assumptions. Always ask your customer how to improve, how to do better, how to remain meaningful.

Because not only is effecting change important to keeping things fresh for your customers, quite honestly, they can invigorate you too.

How many businesses and brands are negatively impacted by the owner who has lost interest, lost the passion, and frankly, no longer cares?

No, the lesson in my life? I will never allow myself to remain comfortable again. I won’t wait to make changes, adjustments that will keep me thinking and innovating. I admit that I used to seek being comfortable. But looking back, most of life hasn’t been. And for the most part, that’s been ok. I’ve learned a lot, and achieved a lot.

Now I accept it as my full-time paradigm. And I think healthy brands should seek that out too…

What do you think?

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[pic by jasonwhat]

Just Focus On What Is Important, Please? A Branding Lesson

Two quick observations from Super Bowl Sunday…

1. Lay off Christina Aguilera. I’d sooner have a large pipe inserted up my fanny than sing the Star-Spangled Banner a capella in front of 11 BILLION people. The only people more courageous are America’s fighting men and women…

But that said, just sing the damn song. Don’t fancy it up so much that you lose sight of the message behind what the song stands for. More attention was paid to the style and delivery than what the words mean, and it doesn’t surprise me an error was made…

2. I dig the Black Eyed Peas. They make me happy. They make me feel good about life. And thus, I will long be a fan…

But that halftime show was simply silly. I mean really silly.

There was so much going on that I lost sight of what I was supposed, to, um, the what, who, the what, I mean, what was going on? Did I just see Slash? I had more beer than I thought, but I just had Usher show up in my dreams about the Super Bowl halftime show.

And all that was missing was lighted outfits that glowed in the dark. Oh wait…

But at least the sound quality was superior. Oh wait…

Anyway, my point is there was too much happening. Too much going on. It took away from what should have been a fun, memorable show featuring some great entertainers…

And that’s my message with this post.

Just focus on what you do…best.

Just showcase who you are, what you do, and how you matter. Don’t add so much to your “song” that you forget the actual message. And don’t add so much fancy schmancy glitz and pop and buzz that you forget who you are, and what joy you can bring to your audience.

Sometimes, I think we try to add so many bells and whistles that the true magic is lost.

Stop doing that. Just focus on what is important please….

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The Best Blog Post Ever!

Sorry.

But I have a hard time when people tell me they are the best this, and the best that. Or that they host the best networking event in town. Or that they have the best appetizers in town…

“I can sell bubblegum in the lockjaw ward,” some tell me. With a straight face.

I say hooey.

Do this instead. Just be the best this, and the best that. Go ahead and host the best networking event in town. Make the best damn appetizers.

But don’t boast that. I seems fake. It seems hokey. It seems cheap. And “cheap and hokey” isn’t good marketing. People mock you on Twitter. They make spoof videos and pop them on YouTube.

The market will decide. And your cash register will be full of the evidence. Then let others say you are the best. People don’t make fun of that on social media…

I wrote a while back about people boasting of their influence and power on the social web. And I think this is as equally grievous.

Am I alone in this? Agree? Disagree?

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[cartoon by @gapingvoid]

Bucket List Personal Branding Strategy!

Running the NYC Marathon is on my Bucket List

To be honest, I have not seen the film The Bucket List.

But I trust you know what I mean by a “bucket list…” Things/experiences you want to accomplish in your life before you kick the bucket… There is even a Squidoo page on the subject…

I’ve read countless posts and articles about the power and motivational spirit generated by creating your very own “bucket list.”

So, I decided to not only write out my own “bucket list,” but also to make it public!

Knowing my bucket list may interest you… Or it may not…

But in thinking more on this subject, and going through a list of a dozen or so of my closest friends, I would actually LOVE to know what their bucket list would look like…

1. This enables me to really get to know someone I care about…

2. Perhaps, just perhaps, I can help them achieve one of their dreams…

3. The kind of person who would publish this list publicly? Is a kind of person I want to know!

4. I know they have courage. And perhaps, a little pizzaz…

5. If a sales prospect I am interacting with made present their bucket list? Wow! That gives me some cool insights on ways to further develop a relationship with them, and perhaps build up more trust to do some business…

6. What a cool way to add some color and texture to your personal brand! Knowing your dreams and goals can really impact the shape and context with which someone views you and your personal brand…

I’d encourage you to write about – publicly – your dreams, aspirations, goals, and your bucket list. This makes you more human, approachable, knowable, and trustworthy. Even if you don’t make it public, you are a fool to NOT commit your dreams to paper. Writing them down makes them real. And, quite frankly, more attainable…

So what do you think? Are “bucket lists” things people should publish on their online presence? Does it strengthen their person brand? What do you think?

Live Intrepid!

[photo my martineric from flickr]

What Has Social Media Meant To Me, Or, How You Can Do This Too!

I still run across people who do not see value in investing time into social media. They say things like:

“I just don’t see any value in it.”

“It is not worth my time.”

“I started a blog yesterday. But I haven’t gotten any business yet. It clearly doesn’t work.”

“I need to focus on REAL marketing.”

“I don’t have time for fads.”

“My market doesn’t spend time in that space, so I don’t need to…”

In fact, the percentage of sales and small business folks NOT using social media is still pretty staggering. And I will continue to do my part to help educate these good folks on the possibilities. Before I continue that mission, here are a few things that have happened to me, ONLY because of my participation in blogging and the social web:

1. I’ve been approached about writing a book.

2. I’ve been asked to contribute bits to other’s books.

3. I’ve had my blog posts picked up by other blogs, exposing me and my writing to thousands of new readers.

4. I’ve met some amazing people, people I would not have met otherwise.

5. I’ve learned so much. Each day, I get exposed to new blogs, opening up a whole new world and opportunity for learning.

6. I have reconnected with old friends, people that I had thought were lost forever.

7. It enabled me to co-host a TweetUp that had 200 people in attendance, including people from five states and Canada! I’ve always been a connector – social media scaled it big time.

8. It has allowed me to connect with someone like Tom Peters.

9. I have been asked to guest blog. Often.

10. I have been able to strengthen my personal brand. Because in addition to my business writing, it has also given me an outlet to write about things I am passionate about, such at this and this.

11. And most importantly, from a business perspective, I have found and engaged new clients.

Key takeaway from this post: If I can do this, ANYONE can do this.

Seriously. Here is how it happened for me:

> I am not a particularly good writer, but I have been a pretty steady blogger since 2008. As a result, I do think my writing has improved.

> I make a real effort to share the work of others. And I plan to get better at this.

> I make an effort, by monitoring blogs I care about on my RSS reader, to comment on the published posts of others. I can do better at this too. And not a day passes where someone doesn’t express sincere gratitude for this, which, I don’t have to tell you, deepens the relationship…

> I am not worried about the raw numbers of followers. I used to worry about this, but I have forced myself to focus on the actual relationships. The impact of this change in thinking has been powerful.

> I am NO guru. Or expert. Or Jedi Master. I am still learning. Every day. And realize, every day, that I have MUCH more to learn.

> I have become a much better listener.

> I have been able to help A LOT more people.

> My sphere of influence is small compared to many others. But, the point is, I have a sphere of influence.

> This whole world of the social web is evolving. Constantly. The sooner you recognize this, the faster you will evolve with it. What works today, probably won’t work tomorrow.

> But that said, the importance of building relationships will NEVER change. Just the means of doing so. As soon as you understand this? I mean, really understand this? Social media will make sense to you.

I am just a guy, working from home, with a manageable book of clients, running a small little business. If someone like me can see real results from this investment, anyone can!

Agree? Disagree? Let me know…

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[cartoon by @gapingvoid]

Fix bayonets…And charge!

Chamberlain

I was chatting with a colleague the other day, and we were talking about wrapping up a key phase of a joint project. As we discussed the launch of the next phase, in my exuberance, I said what I always say when I am motivating myself:

“Fix bayonets. And charge!”

The phrase comes from one of my favorite films, Gettysburg. After mentioning it to my colleague, I had a hankering to see it again.

The scene is from Day 2 of the Battle of Gettysburg. The extreme left flank of the Union Army is exposed. The Confederates are trying to outflank and come in from behind to destroy the entire Union Army. It is left to a small regiment, the 20th Maine commanded my Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, to hold the line and keep the left flank from collapsing. (This is a true story, btw…)

Anyways, they have repelled multiple Confederate surges, but are now out of ammunition, exhausted, and suffering from casualties for over half their number. Left with no other options, and no ammunition, Chamberlain orders his regiment to fix their bayonets, and charge down the hill of Little Round Top in one last desperate attempt to hold the flank. Here is the scene:

I don’t mind admitting the scene makes me emotional, and it inspires me every time I see it. When I need a charge or a little boost to lift my spirits, I think of this story about the 20th Maine. It works every time.

So, inspiration in hand, I present you with “Marketing + Life Lessons From Col. Chamberlain:”

1. When you face desperate odds, a little innovation can help you make a last stand. And live to fight another day.
2. Courage – with conviction – will always serve you well.
3. The element of surprise will catch your competition unprepared almost every time. They won’t be prepared for your bold action.
4. When leading a bold action, you must lead the way. As General Longstreet says in the same film, “You can’t lead from behind.”
5. Be sure your team understands what they are supposed to do. Clarity of purpose improves odds of success.
6. Do your duty. When you are charged with a task, fulfill it to best of your ability. Leave no doubt as to your commitment.
7. Keep the task simple. When you think of it, Col. Chamberlain’s order was simple. What made it amazing with the courage it took, but in reality, the task was a simple one. Napoleon said that most generals fail because their plans are too complex.
8. Even in victory, you should be honorable.

Col. Chamberlain went to great heroism during the rest of the Civil War, winning the Medal of Honor, and he went on to serve four terms as Governor of Maine.

Think about how you can pull inspiration from this story, and apply these lessons to both your life and business. And what other lessons can be taken from this scene?

So fix bayonets…and charge!

B2B And The Social Web – So What’s Your Excuse?

[UPDATE: This post was picked up by Social Media Today]

So I had yet another conversation with a gentleman about how the social web (blogging, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) just isn’t appropriate for B2B sales.

To which I replied with my standard professional, classy response to such a statement:

“Hooey.”

Let’s begin with one key assumption. I am not necessarily talking about companies like Dell that have sold seven figures worth of computers through Twitter.

I am talking about selling services, high-end consultative services, and high-price ticket orders such as manufacturing equipment and installation.

If I had a dollar for every sales guy who said “I will make no sales on Twitter,” I could retire and spend 24 hours a day blasting such characters…on Twitter.

Funny thing is, they are sort of right. And that’s WHERE they stop. And that’s WHY they stop. And that’s exactly why they WON’T ever sell anything on Twitter. Or anywhere on the social web for that matter…

Mail me one penny for every time you’ve heard this line: “The kind of people I sell to aren’t on social media.”

I hear this all the time. And while I want to get angry at these souls for feeling this way, I don’t. Because I know that they just don’t see it, just don’t believe it. Or, in many instances, aren’t willing to do the work necessary.

Many are looking for the easy way to make sales and generate revenue for the business. I hear people all the time who say they only get business from face-to-face networking or from word of mouth. But I ask, if you are legitimately getting business via these tactics, you’ve invested lots of love and care into building that referral network, yes?

It is no different on the social web. In fact, you do it to accomplish the same goals:

1. Establish trust.
2. Build relationships.
3. Demonstrate competence.
4. Educate.
5. Teach.
6. Learn.
7. Make friends.
8. Find alliance partners.
9. Find support partners.

So how do you start? How do you begin the process of building relationships?

1. Engage people on Twitter, start conversations. Here are some ways to start.
2. Use geolocation platforms such as Foursquare and Gowalla to start conversations.
3. Comment on relevant industry blog posts.
4. Listen and comment to relevant industry podcasts.
5. Monitor prospects and what they are doing/saying on Facebook. And engage.
6. Monitor prospects and see what groups they are participating in on LinkedIn. And engage.
7. Find meaningful conversations, and identify people you want to know, through strategic queries on Twitter Search.
8. Share other’s work. On whatever tool you want. By whatever means works for you.
9. Blog about your passion, your hobby (here’s mine). You will meet new people. These people could be prospects. Or know people who should be prospects.

These are just a few ideas. There are more. In fact, if you have other ideas, please share in the comments. And here’s the important piece of advice: don’t sell them.

Get to know them. Talk about music with them. Talk about sports. Where they had dinner. What books are they reading.

Talk about anything that matters to them – that isn’t BUSINESS related.

What’s going to happen?

They will learn to trust you. They will inquire about you. They will look you up online to find out more about you. You will meet up at an event somewhere and it will feel like you’ve known them for a long time. You will agree to have coffee. You will then learn ways to help them in some way perhaps. They will become, at the end of the day, your friend.

And don’t people like to do business with their friends? I’ve read that somewhere…

Before you go, remember these 7 keys to success:

1. Be consistent.
2. Be patient.
3. Be disciplined.
4. Remember that this process takes time.
5. Understand it won’t happen overnight. Or in a week. Or in a month. Probably longer.
6. Finally, recognize your competitors aren’t willing to put in that time. They spend their time making up excuses as to why this won’t work.
7. And when you win? Don’t gloat. Instead, teach others how it worked.

That’s when the book deal and speaking gigs come! ;-)

What do you think?

P.S. Important thing to remember (for those who read this far): Notice how this wasn’t a blog post about how to sell your high-end consulting services? This was a post about how to use the social web to make new friends and strengthen relationships. Once you do that, the selling is the easy part…

[photo from marfis75 on flickr]