Why It Is Worth Giving Pinterest A Look

I promised myself that I wasn’t going to join the thousands of others writing their Pinterest blog post.

And I do not intend to spend this whole article trying to convince you. And yes, I did write an article not long ago about why I wasn’t going to join the Pinterest fray.

click to enlarge

But I’ve been on the network for about two weeks [you can find me here], as of this writing. And I merely wanted to share with you a few quick observations. And these, in my humble opinion, should inspire you to consider at least exploring Pinterest.

1. After two weeks, it is already driving traffic to my blog. Just four days ago, it ranked as the 23rd best referral source. This morning, it ranked 13th. And, again, this is after just two weeks.

2. More importantly, the bounce rate for visitors referred by Pinterest is MUCH lower than the site average.

3. And even more significant, in my opinion, the average time on site for visitors referred by Pinterest is ELEVEN MINUTES! This goes without saying, but this is WAY higher than the site average.

Three immediate comments:

1. With items 2 and 3, the point is, at least at this point, Pinterest is driving meaningful traffic to my site!

2. These same measurements NEVER occurred when I first joined Google+.

3. I do expect these numbers to normalize over time, but for now, it is very exciting to observe.

As I promised, this isn’t an article meant to teach you how to use Pinterest. But I thought these numbers were worth reporting…in case you had doubts about investing time here.

Full disclosure…I did finally join Pinterest because I had a client that I thought could benefit from the platform. And after two weeks of experimenting, I think this will become a meaningful tool for my client…and all small businesses.

Pinterest is proving to be a great platform to tell your story, and promote your brand promise.

That is, of course, if you use it correctly… ;-)


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Jason Falls on IntrepidTV – No Bullshit Social Media

Jason Falls

An honor to have Jason Falls join me on IntrepidTV. Jason blogs and works out of Social Media Explorer, and has just co-authored (with Erik Deckers) a new book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing.

In discussing the book, we had a frank discussion not only on the importance of conversation with social media, but how there must be alignment with business objectives. Jason made clear that the question about the ROI of social media is the WRONG question to ask, and he shares what the right questions are. We talked about the importance of true measurement of your social media program, as well as how to begin to think strategically about social media for your organization.

You can order the book below (affiliate link), and learn more about No Bullshit Social Media here:


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Taja Dockendorf on Intrepid Radio!

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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99 Ways To Be An Intrepid Marketer [2011 Edition]

I started my company, and write this blog, to help business people become intrepid marketers.

But what does an intrepid marketer actually look like? Here are 99 suggested ways:

  1. Intrepid marketers take decisive action.
  2. They are bold.
  3. They are fearless.
  4. They do not fear making important decisions.
  5. They create a serious marketing plan…
  6. …but aren’t afraid to make mid-course corrections on their plan.
  7. They read voraciously.
  8. They have a blog.
  9. Their web presence engages. It is NOT static.
  10. They embrace the social web.
  11. The celebrate transparency.
  12. They give back to their community.
  13. They serve others…
  14. …and they even serve their competition.
  15. They don’t hide behind traditional media.
  16. They teach.
  17. They tell stories.
  18. They listen.
  19. They embrace new technology…
  20. …but only new technology that advances their goals.
  21. They don’t tear down others…
  22. …but they learn lessons from the mistakes of others.
  23. They love joint venturing.
  24. They love collaborating.
  25. They love learning. And never stop learning.
  26. They engage with others…
  27. …even with people they disagree with.
  28. They focus only on the customer experience.
  29. They recognize that every employee is in the marketing department. From the CEO to the cleaning crew.
  30. They see every conceivable customer interaction as something that can and should be continuously improved.
  31. They know you can’t automate human interaction.
  32. They worry about communicating well.
  33. They welcome customer feedback…
  34. …especially negative customer feedback. It helps them improve.
  35. They thoughtfully comment on the blogs of others.
  36. They share. Freely.
  37. They only upsell if they are truly benefiting the customer.
  38. They ask a lot of questions…
  39. …but only to really hear and learn from the answers.
  40. They don’t gloat or show-off.
  41. They believe in quality over quantity.
  42. They admire courage.
  43. They know that marketing is a two-way conversation, not a one-way push.
  44. They sense that interruption marketing is evil, and should be mercilessly destroyed.
  45. They don’t compete on price…
  46. …and they won’t. Ever.
  47. They have no fear walking away from prospects who aren’t the right fit.
  48. They love what they do.
  49. They don’t “work.”
  50. They don’t take credit. For anything.
  51. They demonstrate value. With ease.
  52. They know you earn your brand. Not hire a consultant to “create” your brand.
  53. They test and measure. Everything.
  54. They are always improving. Everything.
  55. They understand the power of video, even if the medium isn’t right for them.
  56. They understand the power of podcasts, even if the medium isn’t right for them.
  57. They love networking…
  58. …by which I mean they love learning how to help others.
  59. The relish the chance to connect people.
  60. They know what they don’t know.
  61. They understand the power of images.
  62. They respect differing opinions.
  63. They push themselves, even when there are obstacles.
  64. They aren’t afraid of improvisation.
  65. They know there is no such thing as an overnight success.
  66. When they identify a problem, they fix it. They don’t wait and let it fester.
  67. They don’t spam.
  68. They are creative.
  69. They have patience…
  70. …but they don’t sit around and wait.
  71. They respect the A-listers…
  72. …but they help and push the little guys.
  73. They are innovative…
  74. …and actually know what innovation really means.
  75. They don’t have too many products or services. They focus only on what they do very well.
  76. They are continually trying to improve themselves in every way. Personal development never ends.
  77. They are good problem solvers.
  78. They are NOT afraid to adapt to an ever-changing environment.
  79. They don’t multi-task. They focus.
  80. They are in the moment.
  81. They are deep thinkers. And they make time to do serious thinking.
  82. They sweat the small stuff.
  83. …but spend time focusing on the big stuff.
  84. They know how to apply the 80/20 principle to their situation.
  85. They honor and celebrate referral partners.
  86. They are not conformists.
  87. They aren’t afraid of sharing what they know. They aren’t held back by this notion of “people need to pay me for my knowledge…”
  88. …but they charge a premium for their services.
  89. They embrace relationships.
  90. They live by “serving first, selling second.”
  91. They don’t “sell,” but rather, they co-create solutions by engaging in creative sessions with their prospects.
  92. They don’t have time management problems, because they are always focused on the important stuff.
  93. They have balance, and enjoy things outside of business that drive them.
  94. There is nothing fake about them. They are real. And authentic.
  95. They apologize when they need to. And work hard to fix the problem.
  96. And they are honest. Always.
  97. They love generating content. And know that meaningful content matters to the market.
  98. They have a keen understanding of business acumen, and know how their work moves the revenue needle.
  99. They embrace and welcome failure.

What would you add to this list?

[Note: I published my original list last year. And as time passes, the world changes. And this list will evolve with it.]


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[cartoons by hugh macleod]

j j j

Miriam Salpeter On Intrepid Radio!

Miriam Salpeter

A real pleasure to welcome a good friend to Intrepid Radio, author Miriam Salpeter. She is a social media strategist for job seekers, job search coach and resume writer.

Miriam, who consults out of Keppie Careers, has just published a new book, Social Networking For Career Success! And she joined me to discuss that new book on the show.

We discussed the reasons she decided to write the book, why creating a personal brand is so important for a job search, the importance of “being” your brand online, the future of resumes, why people should act like a “human,” the importance of blogging, and, of course, the most common mistakes job seekers make utilizing social media.

If you are seeking a new job, you better listen to this interview…

You can purchase the book here (affiliate link):


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The Blogging Vs. Doing My Job Conundrum | 10 Ways Around It

“Ack. I haven’t published in a few days and I need to get something up on the blog asap…

…but I am soooo busy with work and just can’t block off enough focused time to get my creative writing done. What to do?”

Yeah, that’s me. Right now. I am so jammed up with client work right now that my blogging feels like it has slagged off a bit. And I will admit to having anxiety about it. I mean, blogging shouldn’t be causing me stress, right?


But here is the deal. Don’t worry too much about it. As you will find, blogging goes in fits and stops. If you are a small business owner, or a solopreneur like me, this will be a common conundrum.

Just publish when you can. The world will keep turning and the sun will continue to come up in the morning.

Here are a few simple ideas on how to generate content quickly and simply – to help you keep publishing and shipping when you get busy with real world work:

1. When you have time, stockpile a few posts that you can publish during busy times. (I am trying to do more of this.)

2. Find an article that speaks to you and would be relevant to your audience. Mention the article, feature a link to it, and then explain in a few words why you think the article matters. Simple.

3. Do the same with a cool video. Or a commercial you see on TV and find on YouTube. Add a wee bit a commentary and publish.

I took this recently. So much to say about this shot...

4. Or snap a digital shot of something you see out in the world that you find interesting. A funny billboard (see left – a photo I took recently whilst on Atlanta roads). A clever restaurant menu. Quickly write about what you think about it, and ask for comments and thoughts.

5. Publish a survey. Ask for people’s opinions on a topic relevant to your space. Let your audience do the work.

6. Promote great e-books that might have meaning to your audience.

7. Publish a book review. Great way to publish content that has meaning to your audience, and does the author a favor (assuming of course, the review is favorable)…

8. Recommend new blogs to your audience. Again, great way to help and serve your market AND help out that blogger you are referencing. (Trust me, they will somehow return the favor).

9. Launch a podcast, and regularly publish your episodes. This is what I am doing with Intrepid Radio. And I am having a ball with it.

10. You can also publish video interviews of your customers.

So there are a few ideas for you to produce some blog content that still has meaning to your audience.

What do you think. Got any other ideas? Please share!


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j j j

Amber Naslund on Intrepid Radio! Co-author of The Now Revolution

Amber Naslund

When I joined Twitter in the fall of 2008, one of the first people I followed was @AmberCadabra. Don’t ask me why. Don’t ask me how. I just did. And I have been a fan ever since.

So when I heard that she was co-writing a book with Jay Baer, I was thrilled. That book has just been released: The Now Revolution: 7 Shifts To Make Your Business Faster, Smarter, And More Social. My review will come Friday…

Amber was gracious enough to spend some time with me recently to discuss her new book (which you can purchase below) and various other interesting subjects. It is worth the listen just to hear her answer the “social media ROI” question. (Trust me, I will be stealing/using her answer to use with my clients and prospects…)

I will be giving away a copy of her new book tomorrow to those who are members of my Intrepid mailing list – sign-up here – details emailed tomorrow (Wednesday)!

Buy the book here (affiliate link):

[Disclaimer: this podcast was recorded before the Packers whipped the Bears ass in the NFC Championship. Please excuse two Bears fans bonding....]

Look for my book review this coming Friday!


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Social Media: A View To A Lazy Business Culture?

We’ll stipulate that many organizations don’t understand how to integrate the social web into their marketing.

The reasons vary:

1. Some don’t see value (the infernal ROI question).
2. Some don’t want employees “wasting time” with it.
3. Some fear they have nothing to say.
4. They do not want to be openly vulnerable to criticism.
5. Some fear they are sharing insider secrets.
6. Some worry they may lose control. Of their people. Of the message…

I will be honest. In just a few short years, the paradigm through which I view organizations has shifted. Dramatically.

In the past, I viewed favorably organizations that had cool advertisements, whether on television or clever full-page ads in the magazines I cared about.

A cool, hip magazine ad was tangible, in that if the message and/or image moved me, I could cut it out and tape it to my dorm room or office wall. Not long ago, my office inhabited the underground space of my house – and the bare walls were literally covered with whiteboards and dozens of magazine ads taped to the walls…

But these days, my office is where ever my laptop sits: coffee shops, co-working spaces, client’s offices, dining room table or the sofa.

And with that change, so has my view of engaging organizations.

These days, in my mind, organizations have to be present on the social web. Blogging, engaging, using Facebook or Twitter. If they are not? I view them differently, almost don’t take them as serious.

I am not suggesting this is the correct viewpoint. It is my viewpoint. But I suspect the viewpoint of many.

To me, when an organization cites one of the reasons listed above as to why they are not engaging on the social web, my opinion of them turns dramatically. Naturally, upon further investigation, one discovers a business culture that does not permit/allow/encourage/understand the value and power of the social web.

Most assume I am suggesting a complete marketing overhaul and using ONLY social media instead of any existing programs. And to me, this suggests a lazy culture. Now, that may be harsh, and I think a big piece of that non-execution is simply not understanding.

But fear of empowering employees to tap into their broad networks for the long-term benefit of the company is lazy.
Fear of making the effort to learn more is lazy.
Fear of sharing your knowledge of your market space with a world who wants to learn, is lazy.
Fear of connecting with a public, especially your customers, in a meaningful, personal way is lazy.

Yeah, I get it. It stands to reason that Nike, Apple and Zappos have more opportunity to be cool and hip with social media than a company that manufactures water filtration units.

Maybe. I still think an organization can be viewed as an innovative, unorthodox and clever organization doing good things, having an impact on their community — even if their market space isn’t sexy.

I think a big part of how that is conveyed is by how they are perceived, and that story can easily be told/shared via the social web. And to not play in that sandbox is just lazy.

Look, at the end of the day, social media may not play a major part in your marketing, but in this day and age, you need to be present there. And to close that off with a “talk to the hand” attitude, is symbolic of an organization looking for the easy way.

What do you think?


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[cartoon by @gapingvoid]

j j j

My Social Media Paradox

There is a battle that rages in my head…

It is the conflict between these two realities:

The frustration I feel that more people (including some very close to me) simply don’t understand the social web (and all that that implies)…nor how to use it to build relationships with people, relationships that can lead to new business opportunities…

…versus the competitor in me secretly hoping that people (read: competition) won’t understand the social web, so that clients I am helping continue to hold a competitive advantage in their market.

Does this make me an evil man?

Am I really alone in this? Now obviously, if you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I do my best to share what I know with my audience. But…

I have to be honest, I sometimes worry that I am handing my client’s competition the very bullets to fire back at us…

But here’s the thing — I’ve learned that most small businesses who initially “embrace” the concept behind the social web don’t necessarily fully adapt it, wholeheartedly believe in it, and certainly most don’t execute on it…

And this certainly applies to my client’s competition…

Why does this lack of adoption happen? I think most don’t dive in fully for two simple reasons. It requires work (which they aren’t willing to do) and they don’t see immediate, overnight results (it takes time for the seeds to grow).

In fact, the battle with my clients and prospects isn’t necessarily to convince them the social web is worth adopting. Rather, my toughest challenge is getting them to execute once they agree with its merits.

And what I know is this: Most of the competition in my client’s varied markets are fighting the same demons. So…my victories come in helping my clients get over their commitment (belief and time) issues with the social web. And if we accomplish this, the social web can – WILL – directly and positively impact their business.

I was on a conference call with a client last week, a client who is launching a new company blog. Someone on the team asked if the “competition” is doing their own blogging. My reaction was that I hope not. That’s good for us if they are not. But I fear the question was asked in the context of “if they aren’t, then why are we?” I hope this isn’t the case…

There are tons of blogs out there, but still not a lot of wide adaptation of blogging into serious business and organizational marketing and business development strategies. Said another way, there are still a lot of trails to be blazed.

I will go on educating my audience because I believe a rising tide lifts all ships. I will go on helping my clients get committed to this process. And yes, I will secretly hope that my client’s competition continue to battle their adoption demons. For a long, long time…

What do you think? What about you? Do you battle this secret paradox too?


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[cartoon by @gapingvoid]

j j j

30 Questions To Ask Yourself When Drafting Your 2011 Marketing Plan

It is 2011. Do you know where your marketing plan is? Here are 30 questions to ask yourself as you mull over the process of drafting or modifying your marketing plan.

This isn’t one of those posts you can blast through in sixty seconds. This requires a cup of coffee (or a cocktail), a moleskine notebook, and a lot of careful, thorough deep thinking. Let’s get started:

1. What are you really selling? Can you articulate simply – and exactly – what you sell? Or do you offer too much stuff? Does your market know what you sell? Does your market need what you sell? Is it obvious to the people who might buy from you? I mean OBVIOUS? Don’t EVER assume that your market knows exactly what you do, and how you can help them. They don’t lay awake at night wondering how to buy from you…

2. Have you solved your prospecting problem? Who are you selling to? Do you really know? Or are you just casting a large net hoping to snag a few hopefuls?

Is your marketing effort making it easy to capture new prospects? Is it easy for them to take action to inform you they are interested? Or have you neglected to really think carefully about how you identify — and capture — your business prospects?

And are you finding enough prospects to ultimately meet your profit goals?

3. What is your market niche? Yesterday, I asked if you are getting enough prospects to run a profitable business. The more important question is “are you getting enough QUALIFIED prospects?” If you are not, you might need to narrow your market niche. (And yes, narrowing your niche will provide MORE prospects…)

Classic case of the auto mechanic asking for referrals from anyone you know who owns a car… This is too broad, there is no way to help this guy. But if he asks for names of Jaguar owners to reach out to, this request is much easier to handle, and you probably know a few of those…

4. Is Your Sales Process Nailed Down Tight? Hopefully you’re thinking through how to solve your prospecting problem, and can find enough qualified prospects. But can you close ‘em?

If your sales process sucks, it will just suck faster if you simply feed more prospects into it.

How do you track and monitor your prospects? How do you communicate value? How do you answer objections? How do you foster trust and grow the opportunity in your sales incubator? How do you move them to make the final buying decision?

5. What Is Your Marketing Story? So, what do you do? How do you help people? What makes you different? Why are you memorable? Is your story transferable…meaning is it easy for others to share your story with others?

And do you have one simple story/message? Instead of multiple, conflicting, confusing stories that result in the market place not really sure what it is that you do?

6. Do you have an actual strategy behind all your marketing tactics? We’ve talked about what you sell, how you sell, to whom you sell, and what story you tell when you are selling. Now, how do you deliver that message? What tactics are you employing to deliver that message? Social media? Direct mail? Email marketing? Networking? Advertising? Trade shows?

Do you chase the latest shiny “tactical” object? Or do you know what message delivery vehicle works? Is there an actual strategy behind what you do? Or do you throw the proverbial spaghetti against the wall?

7. Is Social Media Right For You? The answer is yes.

Problem is, most people don’t do it right.

They blast messaging one-way. They don’t engage. They don’t build relationships. They don’t educate. And most importantly, most don’t give the process time to take root, and give up before the time investment bears fruit.

Have you identified where your prospects/referral sources are spending time (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter)? Have you grasped the concept of using the tools to make meaningful connections? Are you helping others?

8. Is Blogging Right For You? I have yet to find an organization that couldn’t benefit from blogging. None. But I am becoming more careful in recommending it to people, because most people I know aren’t good bloggers.

Blogging is necessary because it educates your market, demonstrates skill and knowledge, strengthens SEO for your online presence, and is a great sales tool.

But most people fail because they struggle to generate meaningful content, and quit after not closing a big deal even though they published two whole posts… [sarcasm intended] In other words, they quit too soon.

9. Is Your Website Converting? You blog. You’ve invested in fancy schmancy design. You try to focus on keywords. You try your hand at – or invest in – search engine optimization…

And you don’t get many website conversations – which means people aren’t taking the action on the website you want (not signing up for newsletters, not buying products or your services, not subscribing to your RSS feeds…

Are you doing enough to focus on why? What can you change? Is it too hard for the visitor to do? Is your content not compelling? Do you plan to figure it out?

10. Is Your Collateral Working For You? You have tri-fold brochures. Various sell sheets on products and services. Rack cards. Company calendars. Business cards.

But is any of this stuff really working for you? I mean, can’t most business prospects get what they need from your website and/or social web presence? Do you really need to spend the money on this print stuff?

That’s what you need to find out. Maybe your target market NEEDS printed material. But you’ve got to know…

And how important is design? Are using Word templates and printing at home hurting your business?

11. What is your networking strategy? How significant a role does networking play in your prospecting efforts? Attend too many events? Attend too few events? Attend all the wrong events? Go to the same groups week after week, seeing the same people?

Are you going to events that are populated with your actual target market? And how effective is your follow-up strategy?

And how do you see social media playing a role in your online networking? Are you employing the same “networking” tactics on Twitter? Facebook? LinkedIn?

12. Will geolocation move the needle? Do geolocation applications like Foursquare and Gowalla make sense for your business? To be honest, if you are a retail establishment, and you are not experimenting with these apps, then you are potentially missing a big opportunity…sort of the modern day loyalty card. And an OBVIOUS way to more deeply connect with real customers…

But what about B2B sales? What about large organizations? What about selling consulting services? Does it make sense for you?

Foursquare just passed 5 million users. Now while that doesn’t compare to Twitter’s 160 million or Facebook’s 600 million, it is still worth reviewing.

13. Will QR codes matter? You might first ask, what the heck is a QR code?

Although these quick response codes have been around a while, they are only beginning to seep into daily conversation. You simply scan the code with some type of reader, usually on your smart phone. This present bits of information, which hopefully results in someone taking action.

How does this relate to you? You can place QR codes in magazine advertisements, on collateral, promotional items – the code could offer a specialized discount for the people who take the time to scan the code.

You’ve got to ask…is there a place for this unique message delivery method in my marketing?

14. Are hosting events worth your while? Is there marketing utility for you – or your company – to bring people together by hosting events? Should you create your own networking group? Should you organize large events around product launches or new service offerings? Can the effort increase your brand awareness?

Hosting an event gives you an easy excuse to reach out to people, provides content and story lines for your social web apps and website, and can give your PR a boost.

15. Is your bounce rate too high? Do you even know what the hell I am talking about?

A “bounce rate” is essentially the percentage of initial visitors to a site who “bounce” away to a different site, rather than continue on to other pages within the same site (Wikipedia).

In other words, you need to know what the bounce rate is for the common landing pages on your site. A landing page bounce rate over 50% is cause for concern. You want visitors to check out other pages.

E-commerce sites need LOW bounce rates. Blogs and other informational sites have higher bounce rates. You need to get a sense for what your industry standard is to measure and compare, so that you can make appropriate adjustments.

16. Is e-mail marketing working for you? If done right, e-mail marketing remains one of the most powerful ways to go to market…

Problem is, most of us are doing it wrong. Not a day passes that some organization sends me their e-newsletter…UNSOLICITED.

I wish people understood how poorly this reflects on their brand…

You really need to rethink how you build your lists. Don’t buy them…and just because you met someone at a function and they give you a business card doesn’t mean they want your newsletter.

And careful on your message. Make it unique – not just regurgitated blog posts. And it must provide value to people!

17. Is your SEO strategy working? Search engine optimization, the process of optimizing search results when people search certain keywords and phrases…in order that your content is more likely found on search engines like Google.

Is your strategy working? Do you have a strategy?

Are you optimizing your keywords? Do you know what your keywords are?

Is your SEO vendor producing results? Do you even need one?

Is your website properly optimized for search? Do you even know?

Are you tracking the numbers via Google Analytics? Do you know what those even mean?

Are you aware that this SEO “science” is constantly evolving?

18. Will cause marketing work for you? We admire people/organizations that go above and beyond to give back to the community.

I’ve always believed that “giving back” is good marketing. Our society allows us freedom to live the lives we want, to achieve the things we want. It certainly can strengthen your brand to align you and your company with causes and organizations doing good things for those in need, and making the community a better place.

Not to mention (selfishly), doing this will expose you and your brand to a whole new reach of people. Good networking!

What will you do?

19. Do you practice blazespotting? If you follow this blog, you’ve seen me write a lot about “shining a light.” I am now in the process of evolving my thinking on this concept – and taking it to the next level. I now call it “Blazespotting.”

I take it from trainspotting, which is defined as the hobby of watching trains and noting their serial numbers, usually for long periods of time. In our case, “Blaze” is defined as “flash of light.”

Blazespotting – the hobby and discipline of watching people + organizations and noting/broadcasting their good works, usually for long periods of time.

Proactively showcasing the good works/good deeds/thought leadership/innovation of others reflects strongly on your own brand, builds trust with you, and strengthens your position in the marketplace.

The social web makes this process even easier. But it all comes down to making a conscious decision to showcase others!

20. Are you focused on your customer experience? Running a business, we are tasked with a lot of day-to-day responsibilities, but I sometimes wonder, do we focus too much on all but the one thing that truly matters…how our customer interacts with our business??

I recently wrote a post called 33 Questions To Ask Customers. The purpose here was to help us ask the right questions to better understand if we are providing a meaningful experience for our customers…

Are you doing enough of that? Do you understand how EVERY employee in your organization interacts with customers? Do you study how your customers interface with every facet of your business…from the telephone, to the website, to your twitter handle?

21. Is Your Company Culture Fostering Success?

Do you foster a work environment where people can be creative?
Do you empower your people to creatively solve customer problems?
Do you reward your people for making mistakes?
Do you encourage innovative thinking?
Do you waste their time in pointless meetings?
Do you encourage continuous learning?
Do you seek employee input on all things?
Do you engage them in discussions about the company culture too?
Do you make it clear that ALL employees are a part of the marketing team?

And do you recognize that you never stop improving these elements in your business?

22. Are you providing enough value to your readers? And by value, I mean more than just distributing good, helpful content, I also mean engaging with them too…

If all you are doing is broadcasting one-way messaging about how good you and your products are via email, blogging, social media, and print…then you are wasting my time and your prospects time.

You need to not only put out educational and engaging content that provides solutions to your audience – you need to connect with that audience and engage in conversation about these topics too…

Is your content conversational and helpful? Or are you just broadcasting and telling?

23. Do you do the little things? Like NOT charging me for air at the gas station…

Like bringing me a FULL, LARGE coffee to-go cup when I get my check…

These little gems happened to me…just in the last 24 hours… And the real power in them? Not expecting them…

And that’s what you have to think about. Analyze all the little elements of how your customer interfaces with your business, and identify where you can implement little memorable gems.

Sometimes you just need to listen to your existing customers, because they will give you plenty of ideas if you let them…

And sometimes you need to empower your own employees to create their own little gems…let them create their own meaningful experiences… DON’T make them follow a strict script where little gems die in the ether…

24. Are you doing enough learning? Most people are not. And that is why they fail, or labor in a job they detest, or wonder why they have no creativity.

And it is your own fault.

Why aren’t you focused on learning all that you can? Why don’t you dedicate time to this process? Why aren’t you encouraging your employees to keep learning, or at least providing them with material they can learn from?

I believe continuing education is the most important thing you can do to become better…

Better at life, better at creativity, better at marketing, better at business, etc…

Why aren’t you living in bookstores, searching the internet, talking to mentors – to become better?

25. Does your workspace work? Is your working environment conducive to productive work? Creative work? Interruption-free work?

I am amazed at how many people are forced to work (or try to work) in places they HATE to be in. And you can imagine what that does for their work ethic, morale, and not to mention creativity!

You must create a workspace for yourself or your company that allows you – and your people – to be at their best. And the hard part? It is different for each employee.

Workspace design is something that is often overlooked, or designed in such a way to minimize office expenses, with NO consideration for the employees.

26. Is day-to-day admin dragging you down? If you are like me, you lose dramatic amounts of time fiddling with the day-to-day admin of your business. Invoicing, chasing down accounts receivable, inventory, paying bills, payroll, health insurance paperwork, etc.

Marketing, selling, and doing the creative work you are hired to do in the first place gets put aside because the “running the actual business” stuff gets in the way…

But yet, this is vital to the operation of the business, right?

Have you thought about adopting new processes? Thought about buying software that makes your life much easier? Or have you thought about biting the bullet and hiring professional help to get this work done?

It may be time to shake things up.

27. What are your revenue goals? Do you even know?


A lot of the small business people I speak with don’t really know. Which boggles my mind. To be honest, without this goal, you CANNOT create a marketing plan. And without a marketing plan, you are far more likely to not have a good year with your business.

What are your revenue goals? Do you even know what you made in 2010? 2009? Are you growing? Are you declining? Are you all over the place?

Until you determine what your revenue goal is for 2011, you can’t do a thing to draft a plan, or make proper strategic marketing and business decisions for the coming year…

28. Do you have cash flow? Unlike the last question (Day 27), you probably know the answer to this one. And yeah, you either have cash flow…or you do not.

You can’t operate a business without it. You just can’t. To put it simply, you need it to do stuff: Marketing. Prospecting. Equipment. Experimenting. Learning, etc.

Cash flow helps determine a company’s value, liquidity, risk factors, and can judge past or future prospects of the business. But yet, most small business people don’t think enough about it, or don’t have any cash flow (however you define it, whatever your context).

At the end of the day, your cash flow must remain net positive for your business to remain solvent!

29. Do you have a big enough marketing budget? I think the answer is no, since most people tell me “I am marketing on a shoestring” or “Business has been slow, so I cut my marketing” or “How much did you say?”

So how in the hell are you going to build your business? Or get new members? Or get people to vote for you? Or get people to support your cause?

Follow along here: You need to make enough sales to meet your revenue goals. You sell to your prospects. You have to have enough prospects to close enough deals, assuming you won’t close every opportunity. Thus, you need to spend enough on your marketing budget to talk to enough prospects.


I ask again: do you have a big enough marketing budget?

30. Have you created your seven-step marketing plan yet? So here we are on Day 30 of this marketing plan development post series. How is your progress coming along?

Your marketing plan should consist of basically seven components:

1. Understand market and competition – is there a need for what you sell?

2. Understand your customer – who are they, where are they, why will they buy, how do they buy?

3. Determine your precise target market / your niche. Where is your focus?

4. Develop your message. What’s your story?

5. How will you deliver the message? Networking? Direct mail? Paid advertising? Social media? Blogging? Others?

6. Goals – How many prospects do you need to touch? What is your close rate? How many sales do you need to meet your financial goals?

7. How will you pay for it? Setting your marketing budget high enough to reach enough viable prospects…

Pretty simple, yeah? Don’t over think your marketing plan. And the key to success? Process the plan in order from number one to seven. This is critical. One steps builds on the former…

What about you? Get started now.


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[cartoon by @gapingvoid]

Note: This article is based on a month long series of marketing plan posts that can be found here.

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