Top Twelve Blog Posts on Hub Marketing

Screen Shot 2014 08 24 at 5.20.35 PM Top Twelve Blog Posts on Hub MarketingA few weeks ago, I wrote you with a collection of over 77 pages of carefully curated blog posts around the topic of how to identify your platform (what you’re known for). If you missed that, you can read it here
 

I’m really excited to write today’s post because it’s about one of my favourite topics in marketing: hubs.
 
What are hubs?
 
A hub is a place you’d find your ideal clients. 
 
This image of the old wagon wheel has a lot to teach us about marketing because the ‘hub’ in the center of it is where all of the spokes connect. This is a good model for how we can set up our marketing. 
 
I’ve written a lot about this topic on my blog and plan on creating a product on just this topic later this winter. When I do, I’ll be taking down some of these posts but, for now, these Top Twelve Blog Posts on Hub Marketing are free and available for you to check out. 
 
Blog Post #1: The Most Important Shift in Marketing in the Last 100 Years: Over the past 15 years, marketing has gone through a huge change. Not in its essence but in the way it’s done and the tools that are used. Understanding this shift is vital to your success. You can read about that here.
 
Blog Post #2: The Three Levels of Your Marketing Strategy: The basic idea here is that most people work too hard in their marketing because everything they do ends up being ‘cold marketing’. They’re approaching every potential client as a stranger. That’s hard. However, there is also a warm (where you identify hubs who could help you grow your business) and a hot level of marketing (where you become a hub) which are much easier and more effective. You can read about that here
 
Blog Post #3: The Seven Kinds of Hubs: When people first hear the idea of hubs, they usually get very excited. Until they try to think about what those hubs would be for them. I’ve found it’s helpful to know what the seven main categories of hubs might be so that you can tackle them one at a time. You can read about that here.
 
 
Blog Post #5: Nine Qualities of a Good Hub: Once people get this idea that identifying hubs is important, they can quickly become overwhelmed when they realize how many hubs there are. Here are nine pieces of criteria I encourage you to have in the back of your mind as you go about connecting with them. You can read more about that here
 
Blog Post #6: Finding Hubs: So, you get that finding hubs is important. You get a sense of who they could be and how to sort the good fits from the bad. But where do you find them? This brilliant post from Callan Rush shares one of the simplest approaches to this of which I know. You can read that here
 
Blog Post #8: How to Approach Hubs: At this point you know who your hubs are. You’ve got a list. But how specifically do you approach them? This epic and sprawling blog post is packed with real life examples of how to approach a hub and how not to (in a way that feels totally organic, comfortable and natural). You can read more about that here
 
Blog Post #9: How to Get Hubs to Promote You: So, you have now approached them and started a conversation, but how can you make it most appealing to them to promote you? My colleagues Jesse and Sharla share three brilliant ideas. You can read more about that here
 
Blog Post #10: How to Not Engage Hubs: In this post, my colleague Jaime Almond spells out a common tactic that people use which completely turn off their potential hubs: hijacking. You can read more about that here
 
Blog Post #11: Eight Key Benefits of Becoming a Hub: The hot level of marketing is all about you becoming a hub. Most people hear this idea and it makes good sense to them but I don’t think they really get the full implications of what this could mean to their business. I lay out my logic in this post. You can read more about that here
 
Blog Post #12: The Five Biggest Mistakes That Will Stop You From Being Seen As a Hub: Once people get how important this orientation is, they want to act. But, before you do, I urge you to read this post about the common blunders to which too many entrepreneurs fall prey on their way to becoming a trusted advisor in their community. You can read more about that here
 
Still wanting more help? Well you can watch some free videos on my site about how to identify your hubs and one on how to use parties and events to become a hub
 

Robin Williams, Suicide and The Stone of Loss

robin williams 300x168 Robin Williams, Suicide and The Stone of LossThere is an audio-cassette I remember listening to over and over. 

By the time I’d outgrown it or lost it I knew much of it by heart. My brother as well.

It was Robin Williams Live at the Met. 

My brother and I must have watched every single episode of Live at the Improv (a stand up comedy showcase). In the end, I went into improv semi-professionally and my brother Toby went into stand-up comedy. 

Mork and Mindy was one of my favourite shows growing up. And Good Will Hunting, The Fisher King and Dead Poets are three of my favourite movies of all time. 

In short, I was a big fan of Robin Williams. And somehow, yesterday, it seems that after decades of struggling with depression and addiction, he took his life. 

It’s heartbreaking. 

And heartbreaking how common suicide is becoming. 

And of course, there are ways we could easily connect the increase of suicide very directly with marketing.

Much marketing is predicated on creating a feeling of inadequacy (often obliquely, elegantly and subtly) and then selling the thing that (they tell you) will fill that hole (which didn’t exist until they created it). We receive thousands of marketing messages every day. Many of them designed to create this feeling that we’re missing something. And so it is not surprising that many of us grow up feeling inadequate and unworthy. Much of marketing ties into the story of scarcity we tell ourselves while simultaneously crafting the story that we should have no limits at all and that limits are a bad thing. Marketing is all too often the charming ambassador of the worst aspects of capitalism and the modern world.

At a deeper level, it’s not just the ads and TV commercials. It’s the TV shows themselves that market a certain lifestyle. When television is introduced into traditional communities, they often quickly fall apart. Not usually because the ads make them want to buy but because the shows themselves often portray a lifestyle different than theirs and gives them the implied message that what they see on Friends is normal. They think to themselves, ‘my apartment doesn’t look that nice…’, ‘ my wife isn’t that attractive…’, ‘ my husband is so muscular and successful…’ 

I could further make the connection that marketing is connected to suicide in pointing out that if all of the 10,000 or so people on this email list (healers, life coaches and permaculture practitioners alike) were to have robust, sustainable businesses that there would be a more beautiful world and less suicide. And if we extended that to everyone in the world who is up to good things being successful (the missing component of which is often marketing) that we would see healthier and happier communities and less people choosing to take their own lives. 

But, of course, while there is truth in that, it’s a cheap and oversimplified approach that doesn’t honour the depth of what challenges lie before us.

So, this is not a post about marketing.

Marketing all too often is in collusion with all of the forces that can make us feel terrible about ourselves (often, tragically, by giving us the message that we shouldn’t ever feel terrible).

I was first touched by suicide with the loss of one of my dearest friends, Tooker Gomberg who took his life just over 10 years ago and whose birthday was yesterday. Like Robin Williams, he was one of the most powerful forces of creativity I’ve ever met. And in the past few years, so many dear ones have gone the same way – Kylen Groeneveld, Logan Symington, Alex Thomas Haug, Desiree, Louise. They all made this world so much brighter and they are all gone now. As Robin Williams put it, ‘You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” But so many do. And when they do, we all do. 

And then, on March 11th on this year, I was witness to a dear man, Mark Carlson, who, after four minutes of conversation on the High Level Bridge, let go and fell as I watched helplessly. Caitlin Klingbeil wrote a very thoughtful article about the experience and the epidemic of suicide here

Many of us have been touched by friends and family making attempts at their lives. 

And we are all left with a wondering of what we can do to make things different in the future. Certainly, there is much we can do to be more gracious and kind to each other. And there is much we need to do move beyond a focus of self care into community care. There are things we can learn about how to be with someone who has just attempted. And we can learn what the warning signs are and the basics of what to say and do if we suspect a friend might be considering taking their life or hurting themselves.

This past year has been the most intense and trying year or my life where much was almost lost as a result of decisions I made. It’s been a year of growing up for me that has left me deeply depleted, suffering occasional anxiety attacks and with a body more full of stress than I had thought. I feel, most often in the evenings when I am tired, the deep effects of the trauma of this past year sitting deep in my bones and feel daunted by the amount of work I know it will take to bring meaningful healing to it. I am exhausted. This year took me to a point where I felt I would truly break and where, for the first time, suicide or hurting myself became, briefly, a possibility. And going there terrified me but also filled me with a deep sense of, ‘I get it now.’ Sometimes the emotional or physical pain is just too much. 

So, of course, this is a much larger conversation that just ‘marketing’. There are so many larger things that need to be changed to make any meaningful difference in the rates of suicide. And I’m not just talking about suicide prevention programs, netting and barriers on bridges, addiction treatment programs or peer support programs in schools. Those are all vital but what is fundamentally needed, and is becoming increasingly clear to many, is the tearing down of a culture and economy that makes suicide the likely, if not inevitable, for so many and the rebuilding of a society that feeds the deepest recesses of the human soul and honours our need to die to our old, smaller selves and be born again as adults who can contribute meaningfully to the community. And we need guidance in understanding how our deepest wounds might actually be the most certain doorway into understanding our truest role in the community. 

We live in a culture where the soil of the Earth is depleted and so is the soil of our culture. The monoculture of our crops, languages and actual cultures is leaving us more poor. Instead of real sources of strength and nurturance, we are left with toxic mimics: refined sugar, refined salt and processed food instead of real food, pornography instead of a meaningful expression of the erotic impulse, working for the man instead of meaningful work and right livelihood, box stores instead of locally owned businesses. With only the most cursory of examinations, we discover that our lives are full of these toxic mimics. And we see that a culture devoid of myths and genuine heroes will, inevitably, create Hollywood and celebrities. 

It is easy to have compassion for the poor, but the rich are just as trapped as anyone by this. Any form of activism that doesn’t also work to redeem the oppressor is ultimately, in my mind, doomed to fail and simply replace them with a dictator of slightly different political stripes – less and opposite and more an opposame. Caroline Casey speaks of this more beautifully than anyone I know. 

Yes. we need to move towards a green economy where our marketing makes green things seem normal rather than making normal things ‘seem’ green… but then beyond it

We so desperately need to move away from empire and back towards the village. We need elders giving medicine, not olders on drugs. We need rituals and markers of initiation from childhood into adulthood. We need places that can hold and encourage the deep levels of grieving that are called for in these times. In short, we need a much different, deeper and more resilient cosmology than the one we currently have. One that tells more accurate and life affirming stories about society and life and one that encourages a deeper collaboration. What is clear is that the distractions and entertainments of our modern day media circus are not making us happy and that something deeper and more sacred would. 

 

“The truth is there are losses you never get over. They break you to pieces and you can never go back to the original shape you once were, and so you will grieve your own death with that of your beloved lost. Your grief is your love, turned inside-out. That is why it is so deep. That is why it is so consuming. When your sadness seems bottomless, it is because your love knows no bounds. Grief teaches us about who we are, and any attempt to crush it, to bury it with the body is an act of vengeance against your own nature. If everyone felt, honoured, respected and trusted their true feelings, this world would be a different place. Instead of reacting, we would respond. Instead of judging, we would see ourselves in everyone. Instead of consuming, we would notice that we cannot fill the gaping wounds inside of us with trinkets.” – Alison Nappi

 

We need to acknowledge the role that marketing often plays in the propping up of a dying culture and the crippling of our self esteem and yet also become the most eloquent, persuasive and effective storytellers of a different way of living. We need to become as inspiring as Mr. Keating was to his students to urge everyone to give their gifts now. Instead of a marketing based on creating shame, we need a marketing that feeds people the messages that let them know they aren’t alone. We need a marketing based on empathy not exploitation of people’s hot buttons and pain points. 

 

 

In Edmonton, I have been working to foster as much conscious community as I can by hosting potlucks and with the creation of The Local Good, Indigo Drinks, The Good Hundred Experiment and, in January, The Social Yogi. There is a deep need for spaces where good people can come together. Bill McKibben, in his book Deep Community, points to the studies done that show that ten times more conversations happen at a Farmer’s Market than at a Safeway. Conversations, community and connections are not luxuries, they’re what keep us human. As Alistair MacLeod said, ‘We’re all better when we’re loved.’

I find myself diving deeper into understanding what it means to move back towards the village idea and diving into the work of Stephen Jenkinson and attending The Art of Mentoring in a few weeks in Ontario. I find myself drawn to reading mythology and old stories for food for my own soul and in hopes that I might find food and medicine worthy of sharing with others (and the ways to share it).

 

“When the end seems near, ancient and lasting things are also close and waiting to be discovered… What we find at the end are both last things and things that last.” – Michael Meade, Why The World Doesn’t End 

 

Robin Williams death, and every other death, reminds us that life is so incredibly short and yet so many of us die with regrets. Many of us live our lives vacilating between the collapsing of self pity or the over-confident posturing of self importance and so seldom find any real comfort in our own skin. And, for some, that discomfort of being alive becomes far too much and they feel a sort of pain that many of us will never know and the most we will be able to do is believe them when they say it hurts and respect it. Life will break all of us even if we choose not to take our lives. Not everything is going to be okay. But maybe being heartbroken is the only real way to live. Maybe being heartbroken is a blessing. Maybe the only mistake we make is to try to fill the crack in our hearts rather than letting medicine sorely needed for others to flow out of it. 

Maybe what is most needed is to come to trust ourselves again. I think this society fosters so much secret self loathing where we are ashamed of everything that is real about us – our bodies, our gender, our sexual orientation, our feelings, our needs and our desires. And I think there are other ways we can look at life that are more real and life affirming.

And perhaps, by speaking of our own struggles, we can make it more normal to do so and thus help people feel less alone. 

Perhaps what is most needed is some deep compassion for ourselves and how flawed even our best efforts inevitably are

Of all the things that feel true about the world today (and many of our personal lives) is that we, our communities and our planet are being pushed right to the edge and watching, helplessly, as so much comes apart and to an end. In his remarkable book Why the World Doesn’t End: Tales of Renewal for Times of Loss, Michael Meade speaks eloquently to the importance of the these intense times where it feels like everything is falling apart and ending in our lives, 

 

‘The meaning of the word “end” might seem obvious and conclusive; yet root meanings reveal “tailings” and “remnants” and “that which is left over”… [it] carries the sense that the current state cannot continue and that it is too late for things to simply be repaired. In order for things to change in a meaningful way, many things must come to and end. As archetype of radical change, [it] presents a pattern in which a shattering of forms occurs before the world as we know it can be reconstituted. In the cosmic turn around if enough endings can be found, things can begin again… When the end seems near, ancient and lasting things are also close and waiting to be discovered… What we find at the end are both last things and things that last… Chaos not only describes the way that things fall apart at the end, but also the original state from which all creation continually arises… In the end, all we can offer the world is the life we came here to live and the gifts our soul would have us give. When the end seems near, genuine security can only be found in taking the kind of risks that lead to a greater sense of life and a more encompassing way of being in the world… Great crises and impossible demands often provoke hidden resources and reveal hints of the hidden wholeness and unity of life. The threat of collapse and utter loss can provoke a deeper sense of wholeness where nothing but total involvement and whole-heartedness will work… this capacity for great vision and imagination tends to awaken only after other approaches have failed.”

  

 What follows is a piece I wrote on suicide a few months ago.

 

The Shattered Stone of Loss & The Terrible Gift of Suicide

 Our community has experienced so many suicides recently. 

And, like most people, I find myself at a complete loss of what to do about it but with a desire to talk about it. 
 
These are the thoughts that have come to me over the past week. I hope they are of use to you.
 
When people commit suicide it is, in an important way, a terrible gift to the community. 
 
The trouble is, I think, that we don’t know what to do with it. 
 
But, to understand suicide as a gift, I think we need to have a very different lens on not only suicide but struggle and illness of all kinds. 
 
In her book, Entering the Ghost River, Deena Metzer contrasts indigenous and western perspectives of healing. 
 
In a Western view, if someone gets cancer, it’s an isolated, biological event.
 
From a holistic point of view, if someone gets cancer, it’s an isolated mind, body and spirit event. 
 
From an Indigenous point of view, if someone gets cancer, it is more likely to be seen as a symptom not only of what’s going on in the mind, body and spirit of the one with the disease, but a deeper issue in the community.  
 
What if cancer wasn’t just seen as something going on for the person in the hospital but that the whole community had cancer? What if we considered the way that environmental toxins, a polluted food chain and the stresses of our modern lifestyle contributed to it? What if we looked, metaphorically, at cancer and considered how the way it operates in the body might be exactly how our society has become (e.g. over consumptive, greedy etc.) What if cancer was a sort of spirit that had entered the community and manifests itself through the most vulnerable link in community? That the cancer is everywhere but it just happens to be showing up through certain people?
 
And what if this was true about suicide too?
 
What if the trouble is not only that we are losing so many beautiful, bright and young ones to suicide but that our whole culture is infected with this spirit of suicide. What if our culture is a suicidal one? It doesn’t take much digging to see where this might be true. What does it say of a culture that it is actively destroying its landbase, the oceans and constantly increasing its speed? David Korten calls our current economy ‘the Suicide Economy’ for a reason. It’s not the quick suicide of an overdose or a jump from a bridge… but what if our culture was in the midst of a slow suicide – following some poorly understood pull towards death?
 
What if reckless behaviour was a sign that we were no longer valuing life? And this is, perhaps, a critical point. Not just that we don’t seem to value our own lives as deeply as we could but that we don’t value Life itself. And what if this lack of valuing life was at the heart of the suicidal pull?
 
How do we not value our lives?
 
We eat food we know is terrible for us, drink too much, do too many drugs, work in jobs we hate, stay in relationships where we know we’re settling, we let others walk over us (or we walk all over others). We make pleasing our boss, family of friends more important than following our heart and being true to ourselves. Most of us, if we’re really honest, don’t value ourselves. We don’t make time to take care of ourselves or others in the ways we feel we should. 
 
How do we not value Life?
 
Look at our economy. As a culture, we clearly value economic growth over everything. Money matters so much more to us than Life. 
 
And this brings us to the terrible gift of suicide – it is the reminder of how little we, as a culture, value life. And it is expressing itself through these poor people – the canaries in the mineshaft of our culture – the first to be killed by the effluence of our toxic culture.
 
This is the gift – the wake up call meant not just for the family and closest friends – but for all of us.
 
When someone chooses to kill themselves, they give us this terrible gift.
 
But it’s not a very good gift. It is terrible in a few ways. The first way it’s terrible is the most obvious – we have lost someone we deeply care about and our hearts are broken wide open. The second way it’s terrible is not as obvious. 

When people suffer, it is like a stone in their heart. And, over time, this stone grows and grows. Every kind word, from themselves or others, washes some of it away. And every unkind word, from themselves or others, makes it grow. By the time people take their lives, the stone has become so impossibly heavy that they can’t carry it anymore. This is the stone of their unexpressed grief.

And this is  culture that has no real idea of how to deal with the inevitable, unstoppable and overwhelming force of grief.

 

“You will lose everything. Your money, your power, your fame, your success, perhaps even your memories. Your looks will go. Loved ones will die. Your body will fall apart. Everything that seems permanent is impermanent and will be smashed. Experience will gradually, or not so gradually, strip away everything that it can strip away. Waking up means facing this reality with open eyes and no longer turning away. But right now, we stand on sacred and holy ground, for that which will be lost has not yet been lost, and realizing this is the key to unspeakable joy. Whoever or whatever is in your life right now has not yet been taken away from you. This may sound trivial, obvious, like nothing, but really it is the key to everything, the why and how and wherefore of existence. Impermanence has already rendered everything and everyone around you so deeply holy and significant and worthy of your heartbreaking gratitude. Loss has already transfigured your life into an altar.” – Jeff Foster

 

The following video, the first part of an audio recording of Martin Prechtel’s speech on Grief & Praise can be watched below. You can also watch Part 2 and Part 3
 

 
When someone kills themselves, it is as if their spirit takes this stone of their unexpressed grief and breaks it into pieces. One piece for everyone it has known. The more love there was between them, the bigger the piece of that stone. And then, it carries all of those stones to those people. 
 
And these stones are heavy. Where there was the most love, there is the most weight. 
 
And this weight is what we are all left with. And, when you are given a big stone like this, you start to realize how many others are also carrying around these stones too. You learn empathy for people. And that’s part of the gift of any tragedy. 
 
But this weight can drag us down and exhaust us as we carry this stone throughout the rest of our life. And for some, if they are given too much weight, break. They simply can’t bear the weight of too many stones or even one stone that is too heavy. 
 
This is why it is such a terrible gift to leave behind to others. When someone chooses to kill themselves they aren’t, of course, thinking of this. They don’t know what their spirit is about to do to the ones they love most. They think, mistakenly, that they are the burden on their loved ones. But the real burden is the one their spirits are going to deposit in the hearts of their loved ones when they die. 
 
And there are two very important things here.
 
The first is to know that, if you are thinking of taking your life, there is another alternative. You think removing yourself from the world so you are no longer a burden to others (and, sometimes we are burdens to others, lets be real) is the best gift we can give. But there is a better gift. A much greater and more beautiful gift. And the gift is to collect all of those stones, the stones that represent our struggles and pain that are so heavy to carry, and to build something beautiful with them. Instead of jumping off of a bridge, you could use the stones of your own struggle to build a bridge with your life so that, when you die a good death later on, the bridge will be left behind and allow others to cross over some treacherous part of the river of life. That is a good gift. Instead of killing yourself with pills because life feels so pointless, you could build a beautiful temple to something you find beautiful that will be left behind for the community when you go.  That is a good gift. 
 
When you die, these stones will be what is left behind in your community. Your gift will either be a terrible or a wonderful one. 
 
But here is the second important thing.
 
That we are left to carry this heavy stone when someone kills themselves is obvious. 
 
What is not so obvious is that we have no idea what to do with them as a culture. And the lack of knowledge about how to deal with this is another expression of how far gone our culture has become. That we don’t know what to do with it is deeply connected to the high prevalence of it in the first place. If we were a culture who knew how to grieve well (and thus were full of the praise of Life), we would not see the rates of suicide we have today. 
 
The call of loss and grief is to become more eloquent, outspoken and passionate in our praise of life. To praise what we have not yet lost. To grieve well what we have lost. The soil of death giving birth to life. The grief of loss gives birth to a greater capacity to celebrate what’s alive. The cradle of our appreciation of our lives and they lives of others is the knowledge that they will end one day too. 
 
We don’t know what to do with these stones. 
 
Or rather, we think we do, but we are mistaken.
 
We think we are supposed to carry them alone for the rest of our lives. And this is a part of the sickness of our culture. The same individualism that has us think we need to carry them ourselves in some stoic, quiet, long suffering way is the very same individualism that has us see illness as an isolated event. 
 
What we’re meant to do is to come together again as a community to build something beautiful in the praise of life with these stones of our loss. The heaviest stones are the foundation. They are the corner stones and hold the place of most honour. We are supposed to come together to build something so beautiful that others see it and the love of life is sparked in them again. We are not supposed to carry them around by ourselves for the rest of our lives. No one is strong enough for that.

And what we so profoundly lack as a culture are rituals and understandings of how to do that. 

This is the healing. The tragedy borne of isolation and our silo’d off lives is the terrible gift we are given that is supposed to prompt us to reweave our community together and to weave it in more closely with the larger community of life. These stones are not there to drive us deeper into our caves but to bring us together to build something that not only honours who has been lost but Life itself. 
 
If you are able to build something beautiful with the stones of your suffering with your life, it is a gift to the community.
 
If we are able to build something beautiful with the stones of the loss of others, it is a gift to the community. And a gift to our Ancestors. I think that when we build something beautiful from the stones of the loss of them, we give them a home they can inhabit. I think they still need us very much for their own healing. Their ghosts don’t linger to haunt us, but to be healed by us. They don’t linger to pull us down but to urge us to come together to build something beautiful that can help heal the collective illness that afflicted them.
 
So many of us talk about the need to create a new culture. And what do we build it from? These stones of grief and loss. They are the same stones with which we can build good things full of the praise of life. Their spirit brings us these pieces to build something new out of them. 
 
Their inability to resolve their pain before death is not them turning on the future . . . but , rather, turning to the future in search of what they could not find on their own. They pass on their most burdensome scars of pain to the future not to cause harm, but to bring about the healing that they could not accomplish themselves. We heal it in our own hearts and by coming together as a community. 
 
Suicide is a terrible gift. But it is still a gift. My prayer is that, as a culture, we learn to understand the call of it. May all of our lives build something of lasting beauty, may all of our words be full of the praise of Life, may everything we do pour honey into the hearts of others.
 
“There will be much celebration, in the coming weeks and months, of Robin Williams’ life and career. But perhaps the best tribute to him would be if we all reached out to the troubled people in our lives and let them know that we are here for them. Because Robin Williams was there for us.” – Paul F. Tompkins

 

 
 

Top Ten Blog Posts on Figuring Our Your Platform (77 pages worth!)

TopTen Top Ten Blog Posts on Figuring Our Your Platform (77 pages worth!) Over the past decade, I’ve written a lot of blog posts. Over 500. 
 
But there are ten of them that most get to the heart of really figuring out what I would call your platform (what you want to be known for). My guess is that you’ve only seen one or two of them. 
 
Figuring out your platform is the most critical thing you can do in your marketing. Without a clear platform, your marketing will feel clunky and awkward. Without a clear platform (or you could say brand, identity or reputation) success in business becomes extremely difficult.
 
I introduced the idea of the platform in my blog post The Three Foundations of a Thriving Business. It spoke to what your platform is and where it fits in your overall marketing strategy. This is one of the core pieces of my marketing workshop. 
 
So, to help you figure out your platform, here are my Top Ten Blog Posts (which, if you printed them off in size 12, Goudy Old Style (the best font)) would total 77 pages. 
 
 
Blog Post #1: The Three Roles of Marketing: This blog post sets the stage for the importance of having a clear platform as it attacks, head on, the central assumption that ends up making marketing and sales feel bad for all involved. What is that central assumption? It’s the idea that marketing has only one role. What is that role? To get people to say ‘yes’ to buying your products and services. I think that is wrong. I think there are three roles in marketing. And none of them, provocatively, have anything to do with getting anyone to say ‘yes’. You can read that post here
 
Blog Post #2: We Might Be a Fit If: What if one of the three roles of marketing was all about establishing if you and the potential client were a fit for each other (rather than assuming that everyone needs what we have to offer)? I want to submit that your clarity around this issue of ‘who is a fit?’ is the most central question you can answer and that 90% of the marketing struggles I see come down to a lack of clarity around this issue. This post is chock full of specific questions you can ask yourself to get clear on who is and isn’t a fit for you. You can read that post here
Blog Post #3: Polarize: This blog post builds on this idea and takes it further by suggesting that the reason most people’s marketing doesn’t succeed is because it’s acting as a seduction rather than a filtering process. What if the role of our marketing wasn’t just to attract the people for him it was a fit but to actively turn off and repel the people for whom it wasn’t a fit? You can read the post here
 
Blog Post #4: Your Platform in a Page: This is likely the post I’ve sent out to the most clients I’ve worked with as a first step. When people want to work with me, this is the post I send to them as homework to get grounded and ready for our session. Their answers to this help me laser in on where they are clear and where they aren’t. It’s divided into six areas of your platform with the best three questions I could come up with for each. You can read that post here
 
Blog Post #5: Island A – The Painful Symptom: This is the most important thing you can figure out in your marketing platform. Island A represents that problem people are having to which your product or service would be a solution. 90% of clients I work with do not have this figured out. This is simultaneously the simplest and yet most difficult of issues to figure out. But, once you’ve got this nailed, your marketing becomes ten times easier (without exaggeration). This is one of the longest posts I’ve ever written. It’s crammed with examples, case studies, criteria and specific questions to guide you in figuring this out for your situation. It’s one of the most practical posts I’ve ever written. You can read that post here
 
Blog Post #6: Island B – The Results They Crave: This post is the other side of the Island A post. If Island A is about the problems with which they’re struggling, Island B represents that results they are craving the most. Again, this post is deep and extensive. You can read that post here
 
Blog Post #7: Island C – The Unimagined Possibility: Sometimes you’re offering something that’s so new that they didn’t even know it existed or was possible for their lives. If that’s the case then you need to market what you’re doing in a different way. If your work is cutting edge and is usually new to most people who hear it or if you’re offering a result that’s so much better than what most people assume is possible this post is a must read. You can read that post here
 
Blog Post #8: Island Z – The Unspoken Fears: This is a piece I almost never speak about at my workshops, but, if you want to have a clear platform and understand the people you’re trying to reach, it’s essential. Island Z represents the very real fears people have of what might happen if they don’t handle their problems now. These fears are often secret, unspoken but ever present in their lives. Your ability to really understand and empathize with these issues is huge in your ability to build trust. You can read that post here.
 
Blog Post #9: How to Identify Your Own Message: Years ago, I heard one of my colleagues say, ‘Don’t market yourself. Market your message.’ and I sat with that for a long time considering what it meant. Your message is a core part of your platform and it’s something that most businesses haven’t figured out. You can read that post here
 
Blog Post #10: How to Figure Out Your Why: Simon Sinek wrote the brilliant book called Start With Why which lifted up the message ‘people don’t just buy what you do, they buy why you do it’. I was powerfully struck with the truth of this message and, since then, helping people figure out the deeper purpose behind their business has been a core part of the platform work. You can read that post here
 
I hope you find these useful and I’d love to hear your comments in the comment section of the blogs themselves. 
 
 
 

The Meantime: Three Steps to Getting Out of Financial Crisis

Brick Wall1 The Meantime: Three Steps to Getting Out of Financial CrisisI’m in the midst of creating a new product and program that I’m really excited to share with you.

It could be for our if you find yourself in a very tight spot financially where you need money urgently and have no idea how to make that happen.

But let me back up.

There’s a certain time that all of us, at some point or another in our business lives, come to experience. I call it The Meantime.

It’s a moment where you feel like you’re headed directly for a brick wall.

And, as I heard Brian Tracey say once, ‘Life is full of problems. In life you’re either recovering from a problem, in the midst of one now, or one is coming. But, every once in a while, life gives you a reprieve from your problems. It’s called a crisis.’

And this is The Meantime. The time of crisis.

In business, I define The Meantime as that time when you are in a financial crisis where you need money urgently and, even though you have faith in things to work out in the long term, even though you believe in the strategies and business plan you’ve put together to be sustainable in the future, you aren’t there yet and you ask yourself, ‘What do I do in the meantime?’

But I call it The Meantime for another reason too.

It feels mean and vicious when you’re in the midst of it. It is an unforgiving time where you seem to have to hustle harder than you ever have before. There often seems to be no way to bring in the kind of money you need as quickly as you need it. It can be a time in incredible stress and anxiety. The Meantime is like finding yourself in the midst of a deep winter without enough supplies to make it through and a sense of dread creeps over you, ‘What am I going to do?’

And, from time to time over the years, people who have been deep in the midst of The Meantime have come to me desperate for help. They are desperate for some magic bullet that is going to make everything okay.

They have a workshop that only two people have signed up for and it’s happening in two weeks. ‘How do I fill it?’ they ask, insistent that there must be an answer.

They have quit their job to start the life coaching business of their dreams but now rent is due, they’re deep in debt and, if things don’t turn around quickly they’re going to have to go back to a job they hate. 

Or they come to me in a panic and ask me to help them figure out their niche right away. I used to dive in and try to help them out. But, niching requires space. There’s something about being trapped in the fear of not getting what we want or losing what we have that seems to shut down the process of niching.

What’s not helpful in The Meantime is theory. What is required is anything actionable that you can do right away.

So my response these days is that there are three steps to dealing with a cash crunch like this. And that they must be gone through in order if you are to survive.

Three Steps of Getting Out of The Meantime

Step One: Create Space

The absolutely most important thing you can do is to figure out how you can create more space in their life so that it’s not such an urgent issue. 

And that space does just happen.

That feeling of no extra money or space? This is The Meantime.

For years, I found myself unsure of what to say because, of course, there are no real magic bullets in The Meantime. Building a thriving and sustainable business takes a lot of thought and care and the one thing that we feel an absolute lack on in The Meantime which is… time. 

To make matters worse, one can get into a spiral of crisis if one handles The Meantime poorly. People start having sales, offering things for free, creating new products every month which eventually exhaust both their bank accounts and their energies.

The real solution to making it through The Meantime is to do whatever it takes to create more space in your life while building a more solid foundation in the future. As the old saying goes, ‘Dig your well before you’re thirsty.’ But, in The Meantime, it is too late for this. We are parched and the ground is unbroken.

This means: tidy your home, get organized, get out of every commitment you can possibly get out of. All those social engagements you’re not 100% jazzed about? Gone. Can you reduce your expenses? Do it. Go for a long walk with a friend to let yourself vent about how stressed you are so you can get it off your chest. 

This takes massive action to clear the decks. But, once you have, you may be amazed at the incredible wave of blessed relief you feel. 

The mistake is to, while feeling totally disorganized, cluttered, and overwhelmed, try to jump into money making tactics directly. This will only add to your overwhelm and usually ends badly.

Step Two: The Short Term Fix

When clients came to me in the midst of their crisis, what they didn’t want to hear were my inspiring thoughts on slow marketing and how ‘these things just take time’. Even if it’s true that strategy is more powerful than tactics, it doesn’t matter when you’re in the midst of needing to make a lot of money fast. Then you need the fast marketing approach.

Thankfully, while they aren’t long term magic bullets and they still require work, there are many fast marketing business tactics that are virtually guaranteed to bring in income and clients quickly. They aren’t the long term fix but in The Meantime, they are just what the doctor ordered. 

If you over rely on them and never really hone your platform, develop a strong sales funnel or marketing strategy you can end up in a perpetual state of crisis (which I’ve seen many times).

Again, do Step One before working on these.

What are these tactics? There are more than we can go into in this blog in depth, but they are things like: offering existing products to your list, doing talks and offering a free consultation to people who might be a fit (and offering those who take you up on the consultation a higher end coaching package), hosting what are known as VIP days for your clients, running a pay what you can workshop, offering people 30 minutes of massage for free (and then offering them an affordable upgrade to 60 or 90 minutes when they call to book). There’s identifying the core risks people perceive in doing business with you and working out ways to eliminate them (this can massively boost the response to your offers). There are many more. But they all work.

Step Three: The Long Term Fix

In step three, once things are in motion to bring in some income, you want to start thinking more strategically about your business and investing some time and money there. In Step Three we want to look at how we even got to be in The Meantime in the first place and make sure we never have to go back there (though, realistically, it won’t be the time you are visited by it). 

The secret here is to use the space and momentum afforded to you by steps one and two to investing more deeply here. Investing in the short term fix gets you maybe ten units of reward for every unit of effort. In the beginning, but then the returns rapidly begin to diminish. However, investing in the long term fix is the opposite. At first you put in ten units of effort and get only one unit of reward but, in time, it flips and your one unit of effort yields ten units of reward. This is the importance and beauty of a good strategy.

If you’re deep in the midst of The Meantime, there’s no shame. If anything, it’s a badge of honour and a moment of initiation into the exciting and, sometimes, terrifying life of being an entrepreneur. To paraphrase the old TV show Fame, ‘You want freedom? Well, freedom costs. And right here is where you start paying.’

I’ll be launching a new product called The Meantime and a 30 Day Challenge (four calls over a month) to help you work through these three steps. If you resonate with what you’ve read and you’d like to be amongst the first to know when it launches, just click on the button below and enter your email.

 

Guest Post: What Your Business Isn’t Telling You – The Eightfold Path of Tracking

by Tim Emerson of KwanYinHealing.com

gI 135471 tim emerson Guest Post: What Your Business Isn’t Telling You – The Eightfold Path of TrackingA few months back, Tad asked me, along with other Niching for Hippies alumni, for feedback on “The Niching Spiral,” and what other suggestions we might have.

I shared that I liked the spiral imagery. 

In my experience at least, a niche isn’t a one time decision, but rather, a process of continually self-discovery and how that relates to your Big Circle (assuming you’ve given up trying to help absolutely everyone as an unworkable fantasy). Part of this journey is uncovering who shows up—for Tad, this was holistic practitioners in his workshops and then, later, permaculture practitioners;  for me, it was recognizing that alternative/socially-conscious entrepreneurs were my primary clients, even though I’m not a business coach (and don’t want to be).  Part of this was trying things to see how they worked—my early “Healing for Healers” program was met with great enthusiasm . . . and little investment.  It’s why we “date” niches instead of asking them to marry us immediately.   Some relationship we repair and heal.  Some we end, moving on.

Along these lines, I suggested Tad include tracking as a niching tool.  Tad is always curious and searchingly pointed about new ideas, and after an interesting conversation, asked me to share.   So here I am, but beyond niching, I’m here to make this key point:


If you aren’t tracking, you don’t know your own business. 

 

And this is true of even the smallest businesses, the ones where of course you know. 

I get that this reads like a bold statement.  Let me share my experience. 

Kwan Yin Healing is a boutique business.   I work with spiritually-conscious people, open to the idea of energy healing, who are struggling with healing needs in a broad context, from physical pain to life path confusion, and who are ready to move forward on a comprehensive map to peace.   For me, that means programs that really delve into working together to successfully resolve problems.  And that means higher end offers with fewer clients than a high-volume/low-cost model.   So in my first few years in business, that added up to a few hundred clients from half a dozen countries.   Not too difficult to keep straight in my head, right?

Still . . . the tax man likes to see numbers, and prefers these numbers based on reality.   So, I sat down to list my clients, what they bought, who was coming back for additional programs, who was referring people, and what everybody spent (including the free sessions I gave away), just to see (since I had to do it to get an accurate income figure anyway).  And, I thought maybe I could see going into the future something helpful in regard to the 80/20 rule.   Just being proactive, I thought. 

What I learned is that I had been clueless.   And I wish I’d known what I learned months earlier.  It really would have helped. 

1) I had no idea who my real clients were.

Turns out, the 80/20 rule was a joke.  Try 95/5.  Yup—95% of my income (vs. my business time) came from just 5% of my clients.   Those 5% were also 100% of my referral sources.    Nearly 100% of my repeat business too. And incidentally, these 5% continually showed up on my free teleseminars, called in when I did radio interviews, participated in surveys and on social media.  

These people are my Tribe.   They like me.  They follow me.  They talk about me to friends.  But all my marketing and outreach efforts were geared to the 95% that was showing me little love.  No wonder building my business was so excruciatingly slow!

I kicked myself.  Then changed course immediately. 

2) I didn’t know what my real work was.

Very early in my business, I went after this idea that “some people get healing, some don’t.”  The standard “maybe they weren’t ready” wasn’t enough for me—it begs the question.  WHY aren’t they ready?  What would they need to get ready?  Why don’t they have it now?

Tracking brought the first answers.  I looked at the many rows of free sessions—and I didn’t mind doing those sessions, and had no high expectations they would lead anywhere.  But I noticed something interesting – these people weren’t getting the results other clients were getting.   I was intrigued by this because other clients were sometimes getting spectacular results from the first session—one client who had been seeing a chiropractor weekly for a year after an auto accident was told that he didn’t know why, but her C1 vertebrae had moved back into place, that her high blood pressure had dropped to normal, and she didn’t need to come anymore.   I noticed, though, that these first session successes were almost all from clients who had signed on for a longer commitment (working through other issues beyond physical symptoms). 

Another client found relief from his tortured back and from the nerve damage in his foot—and went on to deeper work, and had significant realizations about where he was in life and why.  Yet he never followed up and made changes . . . and after a time, the pain returned.   Meanwhile another client, who kept going to the chiropractor for tightness in his back that kept him from practicing martial arts, felt it tightening again on his way home after each visit, until we worked together and brought lasting relief.  

It was following through with each client’s commitment that I discovered the Four Pillars of healing:  Clarity, Connection, Coherence, and Change.  With all four, clients got results.  If one or more was missing, results suffered or vanished.    I never would have seen this (or would have taken much longer to uncover it) had I not been tracking.  These Four Pillars are now the cornerstone of all my work.

3) I got an unquestionable lesson on the quality of my systems.

If you’ve never read Sam Carpenter’s book, “Work the System,” you should. Systems are the difference between struggling and succeeding, between the feast or famine cycle and sustainability.  

Fortunately, evaluating my systems didn’t take long at all—my tracking experience revealed that I clearly didn’t have any.  I only thought I did. 

So how would I track my systems?  First I’d have to decide what I needed to measure, and then, I’d have to set up the systems for achieve those things reliably. 

In short, I realized just what a mess my business model really was.  And how to fix it.

4) I had no idea I was so fiscally irresponsible.

I’ve always held some criticism for those “bean counters” in organizations looking at the bottom line, those perceived as myopic, heartless, soul-less vision-killers.   And now I openly apologize to them, and recommend every organization run out and get some.

The second year, I had promised myself not to let tracking go so long again.  And—once again, found myself doing it the week before my accountant needed the information (see #3 regarding no systems—those systems were clearly going to need some system for accountability). 

Well, I knew my clients and their situations better now.  What I didn’t realize was how much money I had made.  I stared in amazement, and reran the figures, thinking I must have made a mistake.   Then I wondered—if I made that much, what did I do with it???

Then I ran expenses.  I knew I had spent more than I’d have liked, and had hung on too long with a campaign.   But when I had the figures in front of me, I wished I’d had them months earlier, because I would have pulled the plug 2/3 sooner than I did.   And there were a number of categories that totaled much more than I would have guessed.

Just as the bean counters warned – you can increase your profits just by paying attention to income and expenses.   I wish I had started doing this sooner.

5) I didn’t even know what I knew.

My most successful marketing to date has been teleseminars.  They always have generated new clients, and they’ve generated nearly all of my high end clients.  

I promoted these primarily through Facebook (a third of my email list found me there).  But Facebook keeps changing the rules of the game, and a series of these changes turned a lucrative strategy into a worthless one.  Now what?

Enter tracking.   My teleseminar strategy isn’t necessarily dead—only one part of it.  I have good data on how many people will sign up, how many of those will be on the call, how many of those will convert.  I can go back and add the missing data—how many people did I need to reach to get those sign ups.   Since the rest of this is solid, all that’s missing are new paths to the teleseminar sign-up.    The rest I already know—and know well—from tracking.

6) I didn’t know which were the weak links in my marketing.

Once I finally got the message that tracking was important, I started to pay attention to other things as well.  

A lot of activities and options sound cool, but are they helping the bottom line (See my new-found kinship with the bean counters?  I’m already learning the lingo)?

I have a press release package – do clients find me that way?  Do they click over from social media?  Do they click the links from guest blog posts?  

Not that the bottom line has to rule everything – but now I can make the choice.  Am I investing wisely in paid marketing?   What’s the return?  Are my activities worth the time and trouble (and if I just flat out enjoy them, that counts too)?  To what degree? 

Point is, I don’t have to guess.  I *know* what’s working and what’s not, and can move to deciding what to fix, what to adjust, and what to abandon.

7) I didn’t have any way to know how to make my business sustainable.

Without tracking, I had no way to plan.   That left me with no strategies for getting there.

But once I know here’s the financial goal, here’s how many clients that would take under different options, here’s what I have to do to meet that many clients, here’s how many people I need to engage to meet that many clients, here’s how I’ll need to do that, here’s what those activities would take in terms of planning and time, and suddenly, I have a calendar and business plan. 

Just like that.  And I can track it to see how it’s working.

8) I didn’t realize I was mistaken about my niche—or why. 

Tracking keeps me honest about who I think I help.  Because if I’m going to track this, I need something to track.

Remember my Big Circle?  I help spiritually-conscious people who are nonetheless struggling with life path or health.   They’ve taken the yoga and T’ai Chi classes, they mediate, they attend the right seminars, read the right books, eat the right granola – and yet things are coming together for them.  

Great!  So where do these people hang out?  And to address what particular need?

Hmmm…see the problem?  This is too vague to name—and hence track.  But I *can* start naming sub-sets within that Big Circle.  All of these are possible Little Circles, and potential niches, complete with people looking for that help, places to find them:

  • people who suffer chronic pain, are open to energy healing, and want to find relief 
  • small business owners who want to authentically walk with their divine selves in daily life
  • people making the transition from corporate jobs to more spiritual entrepreneurship
  • people working through emotional challenges—stress, overwhelm, trauma, divorce…
  • people in an awkward time in their lives, not really knowing what they want to do 
  • people looking to deepen their connection to and awareness of their spiritual selves 

Now, what’s trackable here?   Notice some of these are clearer than others.   And to find hubs, clarity will be essential.

The clearest of these is the first one – suffering chronic pain, looking for relief.  It’s simple, it’s straight-forward, it’s something people actually say about themselves and actually seek. 

So let’s test it (Wow!  Now I have an R&D department, all from tracking!).   

Do you (or someone you know) suffer from chronic pain?  How would you describe that pain, on a scale of 1-10, ten being unbearable, 1 being barely noticeable?  See how we’re going to track that progress?

If you’re open to the idea of energy healing, and are ready to find relief without medication, then visit to http://kwanyinhealing.com , drop me a note, and we’ll set up a free phone consult to discuss it.   In this consult, you’ll (1) gain clarity about your health and what’s possible for you, (2) identify key milestones and key obstacles to a pain-free life, and (3) leave the session feeling renewed, inspired, and re-energized.   

I’ll be tracking the results.

Tim Emerson
Kwan Yin Healing