10 Alternatives To Thinking Outside The Box

I am sick and tired of people saying that it is time to think outside the damn box. So, instead of fussing about it, I came up with ten alternatives. Here they are:

1. Step on the box. And move to a higher level. Use the box to get to where you really want to go…

2. Paint the box. Give it a new look. Sometimes the box just needs a fresh, new feel. Nothing has really changed internally, but doesn’t a freshly-painted house look brand new?

3. Poke the box. [h/t Seth] Just read the book. Right now.

4. Crush the box. Flatten the old, tired way. Start fresh. A flat box serves a purpose too. Plus, you can probably rebuild it if you wanted – or needed to.

5. Shred the box. Sometimes you’ve just got to begin again. And complete destruction is the only course. Damn the torpedos. (But don’t worry, if all else fails, someone will construct another box.

6. Hack the box. Sometimes boxes can be used for something other than storing stuff. Repurpose. Retool. Innovate. Open your mind to new possibilities. Come on, don’t be afraid. The people you are worried about aren’t really paying attention. Do it.

7. Rewire the box. Sometimes the box works quite well, and just needs to be rewired. This brings things (ideas) up to code, gives you a fresh start, and gives you confidence to move forward.

8. Deliver the box. Sometimes, you need different opinions, a different viewpoint, and fresh look. Give the box to someone else. Maybe they will do something that matters with it.

9. Bury the box. Sometimes, you just need to let it go. Put it away. Forget about it. Bury it. Move on. Because someday, someone will unbury it, and find wonder in the box.

10. Kick the box. When I was a kid, I loved taking boxes and simply destroying them. Kicking them, crushing them, clubbing them with sticks. I guess it was therapeutic to vent some energy. Sometimes, we just need to do this to begin again, to feel better, and feel alive. So go. Kick it, now. In the end, it is still a box. But you are different.

What are your other ideas? Please share!

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[cartoon by hugh macleod]

j j j

Don’t Prepare. Begin.

Are you doing the work?

Just recently finished Steven Pressfield’s book Do The Work.

This book, coupled with Seth Godin’s Poke The Box, will inspire you more than you can possibly imagine. And I’d encourage you to read both. ASAP. I mean, ASAP.

I started, and launched, a new project as a result of reading Pressfield’s book. But first, some background.

Some of you may know that I have been in politics since I graduated university in 1991. I have served as Political Director and Executive Director for three state Republican parties, run multiple gubernatorial campaigns, and served as a political strategist for many years…

So, that said, I have been putting the finishing touches on my campaign services marketing strategy for 2011-12. I will continue to consult, construct web and social media political strategies, as well as design, produce, and execute campaign video/media projects.

How will I go-to-market? Well, I will soon be interviewing elected officials, candidates, and operatives on Intrepid Radio, publishing an e-book on how political campaigns can implement a content-marketing and social media strategy for their campaigns, and launching a FREE, one-year online course on how to conduct a winning political campaign.

So what does Do The Work have to do with the political side of my business?

I mentioned my FREE online course on how to wage a winning political campaign. This will be a one-year course. One full year. After signing-up (for FREE), you will receive one email per day, for 365 days straight!

These emails will be short, simple, actionable easy-to-implement ideas.

The problem? I have to write 365 emails.

Have I completed all of them? Hardly.

I have written about two months worth. But the point is, if I waited until I had 365 perfect emails in the queue – this project would never launch. And that’s where Steve Pressfield comes in.

I want to do this project. It is important to me. It will be good for my marketing strategy. And it will help a lot of good people running, or considering running for office.

So, I planned on making a lot more progress on all the writing I have to do before launching the program.

After reading Do The Work, I decided to get cranking and get it started. Before finishing!

This scares me to death. I am NOT finished. And honestly, I worry that I will actually be able to produce 365 separate nuggets of valuable information for people interested in this content. Can I do it? Will I be able to do it? I don’t know.

And that’s the point. Now my fires are lit. I have to finish. I have to complete the work. And frankly, a project as cumbersome as 365 separate pieces is a big deal, and a ton of work. And a project easily pushed aside until it is perfect.

I think when it is said and done, this project (when complete) will blow people away. And be a great service to good people willing to serve their community. And will have a big impact on my business.

So. The big question is obviously this: WHAT ARE YOU WAITING TO LAUNCH? What big hairy, audacious goal is collecting dust in your life? You’ve got the idea. The dream. The ambition. But for some reason, you haven’t started the creative process.

One thing to say…

To quote Do The Work: Don’t prepare. Begin.

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Buy Steve Pressfield’s book, Do The Work (affiliate link):

Buy Seth Godin’s book, Poke The Box (affiliate link):

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j j j

49 Random Observations On How To Be A Player In Social Media

1. Use your head shot as your avatar, not a logo..or a Mad Men cartoon likeness (even though Don Draper is hot)…

2. Comment on at least five blogs a day. And don’t you dare only say “Great post! Thanks for sharing!”

3. If you automate anything, you deserve a slow and painful death.

4. If you ever say “Nice to meet you, let’s be friends on Facebook too!” – I will kick your shins when I actually meet you…

5. Don’t say you are a “social media guru.” Just don’t.

6. In fact, the word “expert” ought not appear anywhere in your profiles.

7. I could give a damn if you are the “Mayor” of your own home…

8. Don’t retweet yourself.

9. Don’t stream your Twitter feed into LinkedIn.

10. #thereallylonghashtagsontwitteraresomewhatannoying.

11. Adding #fail to any tweet, is just, well, a total #fail.

12. Just because your DM message begins with “This is an automated message, but I really care about knowing you!” doesn’t mean I am going to like you.

13. I don’t take you seriously when your Twitter location is “Earth.” Although I kinda dig it when people put their flight’s seat number…

14. How in the bloody hell do you have time for Farmville and Mafia Wars?

15. I. Don’t. Have. A. Problem. Using. Periods. For. Exclamation. But. Others. Do.

16. When you share the work of others, be sure you cite the author. It’s kinda skuzzy to tweet a link to an article, only to find it belongs to someone else…

17. I really want to stab my eyes with pencils every damn time I see another quote from Einstein or Mark Twain…

17.5. …Instead, come up with your own words of wisdom to promote.

18. I am cool with mentioning political stuff…but don’t get all fussy when someone from the other side gives you lip and fights back.

19. It is nails on a chalkboard when you put “PLS RT” at the end of a tweet. At least it is for me. And maybe a couple of million other people…

19.5. And certainly don’t ask me to retweet a 137-character tweet… [this is why I don't own a weapon]

20. And don’t DM me and ask me to comment on your post. If I find it worthy, I will comment, RT, and sing your praises…

21. I’ve said this before, but any Tweet mentioning “Trump” is probably going to elicit a negative reaction…

22. Transparency is what makes this stuff great folks. Get with the program…

23. U don’t need 2 abbrv8 ur entire twt.

24, If I don’t “like” your Facebook page on Monday…it probably means I won’t “like” your damn page on Tuesday… Stop asking me…

25. I appreciate every #FollowFriday I get, but stacking a tweet with eight twitter handles doesn’t really move people to follow… #justsaying

26. I think #justsaying is overused…

27. I mean, really. Don’t ask me to recommend you on LinkedIn when we’ve never actually worked together…

28. Don’t broadcast your latest blog post over 39 different LinkedIn groups. This action may result in gunfire…

29. Hey, it is way cool to mention your latest post on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn…but if that’s ALL you do? You are doing it wrong.

30. Stop bitching about Facebook security protocols. When they start charging for access, then it is allowed.

31. Twitter Search, if done right, can change your life. Or at least your business.

32. I love how some A-listers are approachable, friendly, and helpful. And how some people, with 47 followers, act like prima donnas.

33. You don’t need to have a presence on EVERY social network. Engage where you have impact. Engage where your market is.

34. Friending you on Facebook is NOT permission to be added to your email database…

35. Don’t automate tweet distribution. When you tweet something, and I respond, and you get back to me three days later? That’s uncool.

36. When you send me a tweet, and I don’t know you, and you have 2 followers, and you ask me to click on a link? I will ignore you, with malice.

37. When people say they don’t care what you had for breakfast? They are lying. Secretly, they love knowing what their friends are up to…but they will NEVER admit it.

38. If you don’t know how to use Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn to strike up conversations, you need to begin again.

39. If you invite me to be your connection on LinkedIn with the standard “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” — you are missing a huge opportunity…

40. If you are whining that you don’t have enough time to read blogs, you aren’t using your RSS feed correctly…

41. If you have a blog, and have turned off commenting? What’s the point? [this applies to everyone, except Seth...]

42. If you allow commenting, but aren’t responding to the comments you are getting? What’s the point?

43. Make it easy to share your content. If it is hard to share, I won’t share it.

44. Just because a celebrity friends you on Facebook, doesn’t mean they are your BFF…

45. If your PR agency has an intern doing your tweeting, disclose that.

46. A large number of Twitter followers, Facebook friends, or LinkedIn connections doesn’t make you better. It does allow you to shine a brighter light on others, but sadly, most don’t do that…

47. But yet, most people still battle “follower envy” and devote their time to building numbers instead of building connection.

48. Spend your time connecting with real people, get to know them. And spend time sharing the work of others. That’s what makes you a player in social media. #thatisall

49. …and I think #thatisall is overused too.

[with regards to the bad stuff here? i am guilty of some of them. this post is as much for me as it is for you. i promise to work on it!]

Any other observations to share? What did I miss?

[cartoon by @gapingvoid]

j j j

Thank You And…This Opened My Eyes

linchpinI recently finished Seth Godin’s Linchpin. It was a great read. It changed my thinking. Made me look at things differently. All the usual stuff people say after reading Seth’s material.

But there was one section on page 171 called “Thank You and…” that I believe to be the most profound part for me. It is from the chapter where Seth talks about the power of giving gifts:

From the book:

If you appreciate a gift, consider saying, “thank you and…”
Thank you and I dog-eared forty of the pages.
Thank you and I told your boss what a wonderful thing you did.
Thank you and here’s a record my band and I recorded last week.
Thank you and you made me cry.
Thank you and I just blogged about what you did.
Thank you and here’s a twenty-dollar tip; I know it’s not much, but it’s all I can afford right now.
Thank you and how can I help you spread the word?
Thank you and can you teach me how to do that?
Thank you and you changed me, forever.

Now, what does this mean to you and me?

When I published THIS POST about the 99 ways people are intrepid marketers, I offered number 26, which simply stated “they engage with others.”

Now, by this, I meant that intrepid marketers don’t stand in front of an audience and yell, rather, they want people seated in a circle so that all can participate in the conversation. And what Seth talks about above is a very powerful way to engage with people that not only expresses gratitude for some type of gift, but also communicates the profound meaning the action meant.

By saying “thank you and…” you are saying this changed me, this action had a meaningful impact on how I do things.

But what it also means is the giver is made keenly aware of the impact of their gift, in a way that will motivate them to continue giving, to continue contributing, to continue striving to have a measurable impact on the community around them.

And that is a good thing.

It is a good thing because it benefits both of you (giver and acknowledger). Both become people of influence, both become sought after, both become leaders in their respective space.

So, thank you Seth, and know your words opened my eyes and inspired me to share this idea with others.

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j j j

Minimalist Marketing

quietudeI recently stumbled upon Leo Babauta’s Mnmlist blog, a blog about minimalism and simplifying your life. It has been a profound find, as I am in the process of trying to simplify things in my cluttered life (and I simply LOVE the blog’s design).

But as I was spending time thinking about these things in the context of my life, I got to wondering if there is anything to applying the same concepts to our marketing efforts. Just as it seems to be the case with my crazy life, I oftentimes wonder if most entrepreneurs have a marketing program that is far too complex.

So, here are some minimalist ideas to think about and some important questions to ask yourself:

  1. Is your message too complicated? Make it easy for people to remember why you are special.
  2. Is your website too cluttered? When people visit your website, make it easy to learn what you do and easier to contact you to do it.
  3. Is your strategy on the social web too complex? Your simple online mission is to engage and serve others. That’s it.
  4. Is your target audience too scatter shot? Be laser focused on a niche. Don’t try to help everybody.
  5. Are you focused on simple storytelling? Do NOT try to communicate one thousand different ideas/messages/concepts/fixes…
  6. Can your prospects look at your marketing collateral and easily understand the call to action?
  7. Is your diet of new learning focused on the things you need to improve? Don’t read thought leadership on shiny objects (as Seth says) that don’t really advance the goal.
  8. Do you have BOATLOADS of pointless busywork? Instead, be laser focused on the important work.
  9. Do you experiment with all kinds of new tactical options on a whim? Instead, execute only on new ideas that fall into the scope of your crystal clear marketing plan.
  10. Wait, do you even have a marketing plan? Oftentimes, the lack of a road map leads to confusion, complexity and disarray.
  11. Are you worried about too many details? Such as inventory, blogging, twitter, facebook, sales, promotions, employees, sick days, cubicles, vacations, graphic design, vendors, invoices, accounts receivable, etc? Instead, focus only on the customer. All the rest will fall into place…

So, minimalist marketing isn’t about cutting back on your marketing, or reducing your marketing budget, or even cutting the time spent on marketing. What I am talking about here is simplifying things so that your program is uncluttered – and can do it’s job.

What do you think? Agree or disagree with this concept? Got anything to add or subtract? Let me know if you have additional ideas to simplify your marketing…

[photo by marmota]

j j j

Intrepid Ways to Rock Your Brand in 2010!

Is Your Brand Experience Memorable?

Is Your Brand Experience Memorable?

Ok, so Seth Godin defines a brand this way: 

A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.

So I used to think brands were created by hiring some fancy schmancy consultant to come in, retool the message, and redesign the letterhead.

No.

In fact, what I’ve learned is that YOU have all the power you need to create this brand experience that Godin talks about. So, in this final post for 2009, I wanted to share some simple, actionable ideas that ANONE can do to rock your brand – and begin to build up this brand value that Seth Godin talks about above.

So here are some ideas. Good luck, and let’s kick some butt in 2010!

1. Publish an eBook/book – Yeah, sure. Everyone is publishing books these days. Well. Not really. But it is easier than ever to publish a book. And it really does help you stand out in the crowd. And modern marketing tools make it easy to build a community around the book’s concepts – and build interest in both you and your book!

2. Host a radio show/publish a podcast – These days, it is so easy to produce a podcast or host a radio show. Having a content engine that excites and educates your community is where marketing is going.

3. Commit to blogging at least twice a week – To rock your brand, you must blog on a regular basis. It not only serves your audience, but it does amazing things for your search engine results. Can you get away with blogging less? Sure. But I have evidence to show that blogging several times a week does wonders for your online presence. If you have something valuable to say, say it. Get your thought leadership out there.

4. Engage in conversation – You simply have got to have DISCIPLINE yourself to engage in real, honest-to-goodness conversation with people. Every day. I had a simple conversation on Twitter over the last week that may prove to not only be a fun project to be associated with – but potentially a lucrative one as well. How did it happen? Two dudes said hello on Twitter…

5. Do something to connect like-minded people. This is something I learned, in a big way, in 2009. Connecting people is a way cool way to build your personal brand. I had a ball hosting multiple TweetUps and events over the past year. The most amazing thing about it? Observing people connecting and making cool stuff happen – right in front of your eyes – is a most amazing experience.

6. Take a hobby – and build community around it. People love knowing what you do to pass the time. This notion that we really don’t care what you had for breakfast, is a bunch of hooey. We do. We love knowing what people we care about are up to. We just might not admit it. So, embrace that. Tell the story of how you are writing a book. Learning how to play the piano. Or training for a half-marathon… People want to know, and it makes your personal story and brand that much stronger…

7. Shift your thinking to mixing personal and work. Ok, this notion of keeping Facebook for friends, LinkedIn for business, and Twitter for someone else is total bunk. Your life is you. Don’t tell me you don’t talk about your kids or your hobbies at the office. We are ALL connected now. Life is an open book. Embrace it!

8. Be yourself. Not someone else. These days, you need to be you. Not some fake person that doesn’t really exist. You have to be you. There is nobody else like you. Take advantage of that, and let the world know you are there. And what you stand for!

9. Update all your social network profiles. I was looking at my LinkedIn profile the other day. It needs to be updated. I will tackle that task soon. You should review all your social network profiles, and be sure they are all current and up-to-speed. The world is moving fast. You need to keep up and keep your story current!

These are just a few ideas. Have any others?

Have a happy and prosperous New Year!!

[photo credit: Anita363]

j j j

Intrepid Video Series – Seth Godin on Marketing

Welcome to the weekend’s Intrepid video series. We present Seth Godin speaking at TED a few years back. Included are the Seth gems: purple cows, ideas that spread win, be remarkable, and marketing to early adaptors. I promise that after investing 17 to 18 minutes, your view of marketing will change…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBIVlM435Zg&hl=en&fs=1]

Be Intrepid.

j j j

Mona Lisa Might Have Been An Innovative Marketer

fuegomundo-logo-revision-38The key to a successful marketing campaign is one that changes the status quo – changes customer behavior – and stands out in the marketplace. Or in other words, innovative.

I have a client that is opening a new restaurant. I am on the team in a marketing capacity – helping them put together a program to reach, interact, and build community with our targeted customer profile. It’s going to be a lot of fun. And an exciting challenge!

Today I wanted to share an innovative marketing idea by my client. I think it rocks. And it is up to me to help make something happen with it! I am calling it our Marketing by Mona Lisa strategy.

They are about to begin construction on the place – and from what I’ve seen of the initial interior design plans – it is going to be a cool & hip environment to have a memorable meal.

But here is where my client is being clever. To add to the uniqueness of the interior design – she is dedicating an entire wall in the establishment to hang artwork by locals artists. And she plans to rotate a new artist and new art once a month.

I think this is really cool – innovative – and full of possibilities.

Why? Well, not for the reason that might immediately come to mind. Yeah, it will be neat to have unique artwork hanging in the place – not the “typical” stuff you might see in a restaurant like this – but artwork from some unique and engaging personalities – whose art will undoubtedly add style and pop to the look and feel.

But this is where I think it is brilliant and innovative:

These artists will want to promote this. They will promote the showing on their Facebook page, MySpace page, Twitter, etc. They will blog about it. They will inform their friends and fans – they will ask their friends, fans, and family to visit the place. This will bring a whole new community of patrons to the place – without really costing us. These artists will become an adjunct marketing team.

And here is what we will do in return:

1. On opening night of the new artist’s exhibit, we will comp a table for the artist to invite their friends & family to have dinner on us. Give the artist a chance to celebrate the new showing with their closest friends [and newest customers of the restaurant!]

1.5 As part of the unique style and design of the place, there will be a large community table that will seat at least 12. This is the table we will comp to the artist and their crew…

2. We will also promote this with our social media tools, such as here.

3. We will write posts about it on our restaurant blog – that will ultimately be found here.

4. We will use the opportunities in a coordinated PR strategy – with the local food section – the people section – the art & style section – whatever “section” of the local paper that might be interested.

5. We might even incorporate this into a precisely targeted direct response campaign.

This strategy should bring in new customers – and once they enjoy the customer experience of the environment AND good food at a good value – they will keep coming back.

I applaud my client for having the foresight to conceive and implement this innovative concept. It is up to me – as their marketing consultant – to take full advantage of the opportunity.

The lesson for you is to be different with your marketing. Think outside-the-box. Think innovative. But then execute. Apply the lessons here to your business. As Seth Godin says, the ideas are in you. Let them come out!

What unique edge can you give yourself to help your business stand out from others?

Be Intrepid.

j j j

Purple Cow: Remarkable!

purplecowI know the book Purple Cow, by Seth Godin, was first published in 2003, but I just read it for the first time this past week. And wow. Remarkable. Although a short, fun, easy read – it is no less a profound read that will change the way you view your marketing – and certainly how you approach your marketing.

Are you obsessed or just making a living?

The quote above is one of the lines that rung in my ears, and is part of the driving message behind this book. That to create a marketing message that is so extraordinary, so different, and so powerful, YOU have to be obsessed, passionate, a true believer.

Seth Godin makes it quite clear there are no easy answers. And there are no guarantees. You might fail, and fail big. But when you hit on that purple cow, that magical marketing phenomenon that changes how markets and customers behave, it only happened because you believed – and gloriously took the risk!

Enjoy the book!

You can find it here!

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