your platform: six things you can be known for (and one other)

If you want to succeed in your business – you need to become ‘known’ for something.

How do businesses ultimately succeed?

By word of mouth. People telling people because they want it to thrive. Because they love it. Because they know it will be useful to a friend.

In short, the business is known for being good at something.

And that ‘something’ should be clear from the first moment people meet you. That something is your brand.

It should be something that’s so clear that people can express it to their friends.

It doesn’t need to be something you can sum up in a slogan (but bonus points if you can) but it should be something people can feel and ‘get’.

And, of course, this can all feel a bit daunting.

So, let’s break it down.

I would submit that there are six things your business can be known for.

That your platform isn’t just one thing. It’s not some pithy sound bite or elevator speech or a single Unique Selling Proposition. It’s a weaving together of six things. At least.

And, I’d submit that most businesses settle for being known for only one of these things (almost always the same one – which also happens to be the least inspiring and the one most likely to have you relegated to commodity status where people compare you only on price).

Before I give you the six (plus the one other). I need to tell you a story – to give you an image in your mind.

Imagine a young man on an island (which we’ll call Island A). It’s not that great a place to be. But, it’s all he knows, so he goes about his days. Then he starts hearing that his is not the only island in the world. That there are other islands. At first he doesn’t believe it, but the more he visits the docks and meets these visitors the clearer it becomes. It’s true. And then, one day, he hears about a particular island (which we’ll call Island B). And his heart leaps. He wants to go there.

Of course, he needs to get a boat to go there.

But there are so many boats to hire! Which one to choose?

Your business is a boat. It helps people like this young man get from Island A where they’re struggling with some problem (i.e. set of symptoms they don’t like) to Island B where they have the result they want (i.e. something they’re craving).

So, in this image we have six elements I want to lift up for your consideration. Each of them is something you can become known for.

  1. The Captain: you.
  2. Boat: what you do. Your irresistible offering.
  3. The Journey: the problem you solve and result you offer for a particular group
  4. The Sea: your particular point of view and map on that journey.
  5. The Sky: the overarching reason and cause that all of your work is an expression of.
  6. The Unimagined Possibility: beyond the place they can imagine going, there might be something even more wonderful.
  7. The Deepest Fear: if they do nothing – what are they secretly afraid might happen? (this is the ‘other one’ because it’s not something you can really be known for but it plays a role).

If you’ve been following my work for any time at all, you know that a core theme of mine is about identifying the ‘journey’ that people are on.

Metaphorically, it’s like people are on Island A where they’re struggling with some problem (i.e. set of symptoms they don’t like) and they want to be on Island B where they have the result they want (i.e. something they’re craving).

And your business is like a boat that takes them on the journey from Island A to B.

The truth is that some people will just want to buy from you because they like you, the captain, so much. Some people have such a great vibe that people spend money with them because they just want to support them and be around their vibe. This is the heart of any kind of holistic work because the implied message in holistic healing is, ‘do what I say and you’ll end up like me’.

And when practitioners have a bad vibe – all the marketing tactics in the world won’t help them.

But, the best vibe in the world isn’t something you can build a business on. You can have such an amazing vibe and still be broke unless people are clear about the other four pieces.

And, in your marketing, you want to make sure that you’re speaking to their journey, not just talking about your boat and how great it is. The homepage on your website should be about the journey, not about the boat. The first words in any presentation you do should be about the journey – not about the boat.

But most marketing is just people talking about the features and benefits of their boat. But when people see you as a boat, sometimes it can be hard to tell you apart from all the other boats. And so you’re a commodity. They have lots of options and ‘let’s see who’s cheapest’ becomes the mantra.

So, getting clear about the nature of the journey is vital.

On the outside edges of that journey are two other islands. Behind to the left of Island A you can imagine Island Z. That’s where they’re secretly scared they’re going to end up if they do nothing. These are fears like, ‘if i don’t handle my dating life I’m going to end up old and alone’, or ‘if I don’t keep my mind sharp I’m going to end up with alzheimers like my great grandparents.’ These fears are rarely talked about, but they’re deeply real for people. These fears aren’t things you can be ‘known’ for but understanding them gives you an incredible empathy and sensitivity which will allow you to engage the other three more deeply and safely.

The key here is that Island Z is not real. It’s a mirage. A nightmare fantasy. The worst case scenario. That’s why it’s not part of your platform. It’s a part of their internal world.

To the right of Island B, we have Island C. If Island A is the pain they’re in now and Island B is where they want to get to, then Island C is what we know is possible for them that’s even beyond Island B. As I wrote a few days ago,

Island A: I’m lonely. Island B: I want to date someone. Island C: we fall in love and say, ‘I never knew I could feel this way.’

Island A: I’m sick. Island B: I want to be healthy. Island C: we cleanse, do yoga, start juicing and say, ‘I never knew I could feel this way.’

Island A: I’m broke. Island B: I want to to be able to pay my bills on time and have money left over. Island C: we do the work needed to handle our money and say, ‘I never imagined I could feel so at peace and proud in my relationship to money.’

Island A: I’m full of angst and depression. Island B: I want to feel good again. Island C: we get deep into our personal healing work and one day wake up saying, ‘I feel so beautiful and light. I feel so at peace.’

Island C is what might be possible in the life of ONE person that they hadn’t previously considered. This i different than the bigger cause we imagine which is what we envision for our whole community or the world (though they are likely connected).

There’s the pain they feel. There’s the thing they’re craving, but the thing they’re craving only goes to the limits of their imagination. Our cravings take us to the end of what we know but no farther.

And then you have a certain map or route that you’d recommend for how folks can get from Island A to Island B. You have a certain Point of View about the journey. You can think of that as everything that’s under the water connecting these two islands. It’s your diagnosis about the underlying, root causes of why it’s so difficult for folks to make this journey. I’ve written a lot about that lately.

But there’s something more that’s been becoming clear to me recently.

It’s not enough to be clear about WHAT the journey and the boat are or HOW you take them on the journey – they need to know WHY you’re so passionate about that journey and what the bigger picture is for you. They need to know what this is about beyond the money. Why does your work matter to you and to the world?

Your why is the bigger cause you stand for.

It’s the journey you see that the world or your community is on (e.g. Martin Luther King Jr.’s articulation of the journey from a deeply racist USA to ‘the beloved community’).

Simon Sinek talks about this in depth in his brilliant book, Start With Why:

People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.

WHAT: Every single company and organization on the planet knows WHAT they do. This is true no matter how big or small, no matter what industry. Everyone is easily able to describe the producs or services a company sells or the job function they have within that system. WHATs are easy to identify.

HOW: Some companies and people know HOW they do WHAT they do. Whether you call them a “differentiating value proposition”, “proprietary process” or “unique selling proposition”, HOWs are often given to explain how something is different or better. Not as obvious as WHATs, many think these are the differentiating or motivating factors in a decision. It would be false to assume that’s all that is required.

There is one missing detail . . .

WHY: Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do what they do. When I say WHY, I don’t mean to make money – that is a result. By WHY I mean what is your purpose, cause or belief? WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?

When most organizations or people think, act or communicate they do so from the outside in, from WHAT to WHY. And for good reason – they go from clearest thing to fuzziest thing. We say WHAT we do, we sometimes say HOW we do it, but we rarely say WHY we do WHAT we do.

But not the inspired companies. Not the inspired leaders. Every single one of them, regardless of their size or their industry, thinks acts and communicates from the inside out.”

A strong ‘why’ or cause doesn’t marginalize anyone – it’s different that a position. Your point of view is a position. Your point of view says, ‘I’m for this and I’m against this.’ People will often disagree with your point of view. But a reason why you do something is less likely to get disagreement. Usually they’re the kinds of things that anyone can relate to and empathize with – even if they might choose a different approach. Your cause is a stand for something bigger and deeper. Your cause says, ‘as a world we need to get to island B’ your point of view says, ‘and here’s my belief about the best way to get there’.

Your why is what you want, not what you don’t want. It’s the core of what you’re for – not a list of things you’re fighting. It’s often inarguable. Once you land on it, it’s like, ‘who could be against this?’

You might picture the ‘why’ as the golden sun shining above the islands and the boat – holding them all. The umbrella of the sky.

What’s interesting about all of this is that when the journey, point of view and larger ‘why’ are clarified – the boat often changes.

You will, in the end, be known for your boat – but make sure that your boat is an expression of you not just a cookie cutter, copy cat boat. Make everything about your boat an expression of the cause. If your business is about fun and celebration then make it a fun boat with wonderful colours and amusements around every corner. If you’re in love with elegance and beauty – then make your boat the most elegant boat the world has ever seen with lanterns and candles and beautiful dinners. If you’re passionate about adventure – then let your boat be rough and the rooms people sleep in be spartan.

And, of course, the boat must be a boat that you want to be on. It must fit the kind of lifestyle you want to have. As you figure out your ideal lifestyle, that will do more to help you design your boat than just about anything I know. And, if you need help with that, there’s only one person I can commend speaking with on that.

Every plank of your boat should ‘fit’. It should make sense. It should all communicate a clear message. They should be able to look at the boat and quickly get a feel for it what kind of journey it can take them on, what your point of view is and what you’re about at the core.  And then, when they get on the boat their initial impressions should be deepened and confirmed.

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Want Help? If you’d like some more direct guidance and hand holding on figuring out your niche then go and check out my Niching for Hippies coaching program http://marketingforhippies.com/niching-for-hippies/

 

If you’d like get cool posts like this in your inbox every few days CLICK HERE to subscribe to my blog and you’ll also get a free copy of my fancy new ebook “Marketing for Hippies” when it’s done.

case study: panty by post

Natalie Grunberg (pictured below) had an idea for a business.

Mail women pretty panties. Once a month.

This business is a brilliant example of some many things: niche marketing (panties are for women), having a point of view (it’s about confidence), having a simple, well crafted offer (a pretty panty. mailed monthly), doing something provocative that gets people talking (panties!).

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What is the name of your project?

PantyByPost.com!

What’s the story of how this came about? What was the need you saw in the community that it emerged from?

PantyByPost.com is an online business that sends a pretty panty every month in the mail to your loved one, or maybe to you (you deserve it)!

I thought of the idea on a trip to Paris some years ago and the plan was to spread the confidence of those enchanting and stylish French women. That’s exactly what we’ve done, one panty at a time (wink).

I saw a need, to spread French style all over the world. Even if your daily uniform is a Lululemon pant, you can wear a panty by post panty and feel better. Self confidence may just start with the panty you choose to wear. My company helps to make women’s panty drawers sexier, more colourful and playful.

 

 

Can you share a few examples of how your project works?

We always support local charities and we are collecting panties right now to donate to the Vancouver Downtown Eastside Women’s Center. Some of our customers have even donated a month of their subscription to the Center, which is very cool. We are currently supporting a local theater group in Victoria BC by outfitting their set with panties (it’s called NANA’S NAUGHTY KNICKERS).

To order a subscription you click on the shop button and select the line, Signature or Bridal and then proceed through to check out. It’s very easy! We ship worldwide now, so there…your whole Christmas list is done!

Who do you find it’s working best for?

Women made up our biggest supporters when we launched. Now the men are starting to hear the good news! Men like to gossip too, so our customers are a pretty even split of men and women.

What are the top three most effective ways you’ve found to market this?

Online marketing for an online business is the best approach. Magazine and newspaper advertising doesn’t work. PR is the most important fuel for customer acquisition but after you have enough customers and you prove you have an incredible service and product, they will talk. My customer to customer referrals and referral perks (one free panty for every customer you refer) are how I gain more traction.

What are the three biggest lessons you’ve learned along the way?

  1. Don’t risk more then you have.
  2. Trust your gut, listen to others and then make the choice that is right for you. Always do the honest and right thing. Never let money ruin relationships.
  3. Nurture relationships authentically. Be real.

What does that mean for you? “Nurture relationships authentically”

Many business people share that relationships are what matter. I added the nurture and the authentically component mostly as a response to some of my early experiences. Be real and be yourself. I really don’t like it when people are just trying to get something from me. I’m not a big fan of business mixers or networking. I find it to be a huge effort, it’s unnatural to be so self serving.

It’s icky.

By all means, get out there and make connections but for me I like to keep it small and keep it humble.

What’s been most effective for you in the online marketing arena?

CPC, cost per click advertising has been effective. We use Adroll to help remind customers who have visited our site, which is a good marketing tool. Bloggers from all over the world help spread the word about PBP and they do it very authentically because they get a panty by post to try.

What’s the next level for your project? What are you most excited about that’s coming up?

We are going international BIG TIME! We have our first international office in Moscow and our next operation opens in Paris this November. How exciting! We will continue to create relationships in other languages and in other countries. This is the jet setting (and carbon offsetting) that I dream of doing!

At its heart – what is this project really about for you?

At the heart of PBP there are two old fashioned ideas: customer service is key and self confidence comes from within.

We have been told we go above and beyond the call of duty for customers, but we don’t see it that way. Doing a job well and promptly makes us feel good. As the owner of the company, I set the tone. I’m an absolute perfectionist because having a top notch consumer experience is rare these days. When PBP staff delivers incredible service, every day, we make customers happy and they return.

This seems so basic but I can’t tell you the last time I had a quality “old fashioned” consumer experience. It’s our edge in a competitive online shopping environment.

The other pillar of the company is about confidence. I was inspired by the women in France and they continue to remind me (lucky me I go to France each summer) that looking beautiful is about self respect. French women put effort into their appearance and so do the men for that matter.

It’s a different ethic and for me, I think it represents their commitment to finding beauty and style everywhere, spreading that style and also enjoying the pleasures of life. Everywhere you look in France people have put effort into beautifying their environment. The least I can do is run a company that makes getting a French style panty easier.

Now those of us non-Frenchies have no excuse.

What has the response been this this project?

Each year PBP builds and grows. I put very little money into advertising because our product and excellent service does the work of spreading the word of PBP. Men especially seem to appreciate the gift giving service. We basically are the answer to all their gift giving issues.

Why do you think your customers love you so much?

Our customers love us because of our high quality of service but really our product is very unique and totally fabulous The panties are very special, colourful and sexy. Once you start wearing our panties, it’s shocking that you once settled for plain Jockeys or Victoria Secret. Our panties are accessibly priced (about $16 per panty), durable but mostly they are adorable

You’ve got such a unique idea that I imagine a lot of PR came from that – but what are the three biggest tips you could give people to be ready for it, get it and take advantage of it?

  1. Get a communication coach. We had Maria LeRose coach us at the very beginning and throughout our launch. Having a profession coach like Maria will help you get clear on your company goals and will make your media interviews really stand out. She videotaped us and we reviewed the way we looked and the way we delivered our story. This kind of practice is key.
  2. Hire a professional PR person to work with you on your media pitches. We had a coach for 3 months to support us to improve our media writing and understand what the media is looking for.
  3. Start local and aim national. There is no such thing as a small enough media outlet.

If people want to find out more about your project, support it or get involved – what should they do?

Email us,

Anything else you’d like to add?

If you think panties don’t matter, try a panty by post and I beg to differ. We have something special here! Oh yah, right now I’m wearing a Raven Beauty hipster in noir. It has buttons all down the derriere and when I wear them I feel like a Paris runway model (note: I’m 5’2″, so clearly the panties give me super powers).

 

If you’d like get cool posts like this in your inbox every few days CLICK HERE to subscribe to my blog and you’ll also get a free copy of my fancy new ebook “Marketing for Hippies” when it’s done.

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Want Help? If you’d like some more direct guidance and hand holding on figuring out your niche then go and check out my Niching for Hippies coaching program http://marketingforhippies.com/niching-for-hippies/

Are you Marketing in a Box?

In my email recently, I got a newsletter from Maggie Ostara who’s work I’ve just started following. And I think she really nails this whole conversation about niche and the ways that entrepreneurs seem to just fall into ‘the way it’s always been done’. Below is her article . . .

 

I have a new client who calls himself a personal trainer.

Now the thing is, what this guy does is SOOO much more and so much more cool and important than whatever I think of when I hear the words “personal trainer.”

Okay, yeah, so that’s what he was officially trained in–that’s the box he was given by the people who certified him. But get this–he does not like the gym! In fact, he is against people going to the gym. He thinks people hurt themselves at the gym.

But when people call him, because he’s a personal trainer, they ask him where his gym is.

Get the contradiction?

Do you see how that label, that box, does not suit him, and in fact is probably hurting his sales and marketing?

Not only this, but if he markets to people who are looking for fitness, he’s got an upstream flow to battle.

What I mean by that is that people who are looking for fitness are expecting certain things. They expect a gym. They expect to work out, to lose weight, to get stronger. There’s nothing wrong with all that. Except that the main stream ways of doing those things actually hurt your body a lot.

So my client actually helps people relate to their bodies, and learn to move, in entirely new ways that build flexibility, mobility, inner strength and stability. And as a consequence, they gain confidence, they look better, they have more vitality, stamina, a broad perspective, more drive.

Can you see how what he’s offering, positioned differently, outside the box, could make his business entirely different?

See, I know all of you out there spend too much time at your computers and on the phone, sitting. Sitting, sitting, sitting. You and everyone else these days. And as busy entrepreneurs, could you use a simple practice that would help you look better, feel more vitality, give you more confidence, ease your body aches and bring you more stamina? Well hell yeah, as my coach would say.

What if my client were to get more in touch with what you are really looking for–you want to look good when you’re on stage or for your photos and network meetings (or those snapshots that keep showing up on Facebook), right?

You want to feel good without having to go to the gym. I know I do–I hate the gym. I would never go look for a personal trainer–yuck. But what this guy does, so man, yes I want that.

But in his box, if he weren’t my client, I would never find him, and he wouldn’t find me because he’s not marketing to me. He’s in the box he was certified into.

Can you see that?

As soon as he steps outside that box, and starts really looking at all of the people who need what he offers, and gets in touch with what they want, wow a whole new world opens up.

Where are you in a box in your marketing? Are you just thinking of people to market to who are like you? I see healers only market to each other–it’s crazy! Do you know how many people out there need the services of healers, coaches, and yes, leading edge personal trainers? Millions and I am not kidding.

But if all you ever do is to talk to other healers, coaches and personal trainers you are living inside a box.

This is a comfort zone issue, isn’t it? Because you know people who are in the box with you. You speak the same language. You have agreements about what is important. But let me ask you, how big a contribution are you really making if you are just talking with people like yourself, if you just use your specialized language. Do you want your village to be monolingual or multi-lingual? I may only know English, baby, but I am multi-lingual English! And it’s more fun that way. Reach out, find out what people outside your box want and need? Listen. Communicate.

And you know what, when you do that, you can make WAY more money, too.

Way more.

Because you create specialized solutions for people in a different industry where they need and want what you’ve got but they don’t entirely know it yet–and you can show them how you are the solution to the problem that is making them miserable, or stressed, or sick, or broke–you have got an out-of-the-box breakthrough happening. And that means more money for you. Give it a try–and make sure you hit reply and tell me how it goes!

Maggie Ostara, PhD is a Soul Healer and Strategic Marketing Expert. She draws on her many years as a successful business owner to support healers, teachers, and coaches to get their work out to the world, and make their contribution to the New World Age now emerging.

She combines a strong intellectual background with intuition and body wisdom for a grounded, powerful, expansive, nurturing and insightful way of facilitating your business and spiritual growth. Her credentials include being a multiple-published author,Certified Clarity Breathwork trainer and practitioner, a qualified Awakening Your Light Body teacher, former Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Columbia University in New York.

Do you love what you do, but hates marketing and sales?  Learn an entirely new way of marketing called “Creating Money by Creating Community” with Maggie’s free teleseminar available at www.soulsignaturemarketing.com

 

If you’d like get cool posts like this in your inbox every few days CLICK HERE to subscribe to my blog and you’ll also get a free copy of my fancy new ebook “Marketing for Hippies” when it’s done.

 

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Want Help? If you’d like some more direct guidance and hand holding on figuring out your niche then go and check out my Niching for Hippies coaching program http://marketingforhippies.com/niching-for-hippies/

 

 

patch adams on community

In this 16 minute video, Patch Adams shares his provocative views on the business of health care.

 

If you’d like get cool posts like this in your inbox every few days CLICK HERE to subscribe to my blog and you’ll also get a free copy of my fancy new ebook “Marketing for Hippies” when it’s done.

 

winnipeg, taxis, pricing and the $2000 bowl of soup

Today I want to talk about word of mouth marketing, pricing, one of Canada’s coolest restaurants and a bowl of soup that cost a restaurant $2000 to serve (because they served it twice . . . don’t worry. I’ll explain).

I woke up today in a strangers apartment.

I told the story of how this happened in my blog post yesterday.

It’s a good life. I travel around the country trying to help good people and then good people are really helpful to me. Community feels good. Especially when it’s this odd community of strangers. All of us knowing we’re in it together and doing our best to reach out our hands to help other people who are up to good things.

Lesson #1: People go the extra mile to support good things. It strikes me how important this is for word of mouth and client loyalty. . . what a pleasure it is to spread the word about people and businesses that aren’t just in it for the bottom line but for the community.

Right now, it’s 3:59pm and I’m enjoying a Dragon Bowl at Winnipeg’s Mondragon Cafe. It’s a good example of this dynamic.

Mondragon is a political bookstore and vegan restaurant located in Winnipeg’s historic exchange district. The word Mondragon comes from the Euskadi (Basque) town of the same name meaning “Dragon Mountain” in English. Located in Northern Spain, Mondragon or Arrasate in the Basque language, is known for its extensive network of workers’ cooperatives, and has been the subject of numerous books and articles.

Inspired by this and many other examples of alternative economics and workplace democracy, our bookstore and coffeehouse is organized as a workers collective. We have no manager, and all worker members, regardless of starting skill or seniority, earn the same rate of pay. We call ours a “participatory” workplace, after the participatory economic model developed by co-authors Robin Hahnel and Michael Albert, and we feel that this structure is consistent with libertarian socialist principles.

It’s such a good business. They’re not trying to build an empire. They’re just trying to do something good. It’s noble. And it inspires people. And it makes people feel good about talking about it.

And feels good to support.

I’ll never forget my friend Jaime Coughlin taking me to Truro, Nova Scotia to lead a workshop for some local farmers. It was the only local/organic restaurant in town. And the owner told me that recently one of the people eating there had pulled her aside and said, “Say . . . I noticed you were short staffed and I was wondering if I could volunteer and help out a bit. You know, come and serve once a week for a few hours.” This is what happens when people not only love what you’re doing and how you’re doing it . . . but why you’re doing it.

When your business is really truly based in doing good things – people are waaaaay for lenient with mistakes you might make and far more likely to lend a hand to help make your business thrive.

Lesson #2: Experiment with your pricing.

Earlier, someone made my day by sending me these words:

“Last night, I read through the page about your upcoming live events, and it got me thinking about how I might make my group program even more affordable.  I had a follow-up call scheduled with a woman who really wanted to do my program but felt that she couldn’t afford it.  I asked if her if paying for it in 6 installments instead of 4 would help her, and she said that would make a huge difference.  So I set it up that way and she’s in!  That’s nearly $800 and a lovely client that I would have missed out on if I hadn’t considered more payment structures.  So I wanted to thank you and let you know.”

(Note: If you have someone you’re following who you admire. Send them some appreciation. You might be amazed at how seldom they get it and how much it might mean to them. An author you love? Let them know. People are more accessible that you think. Be specific. Share how it impacted you.)

The biggest shift in my business was when I started to do most of my workshops on a Pay What You Can basis. It’s being extremely profitable for me.

Could you do that? Could you let people pay over time? Could you take some trade? Get curious about this. Sometimes a simple change in the payment structure can result in a major increase in business.

Lesson #3: When you lose a client you lose all their future business.

This seems obvious.

Earlier today I called United Cab in Winnipeg to order a cab. They were having a hard time hearing me (frustrating for them I’m sure). But they got the address and when i gave them my phone number (my cell from Alberta) the lady I was speaking with (whose tone had been kind of rude and impatient to my ears) said, “you don’t have a local number??

No,” I said. “I’m staying at someone’s apartment. I don’t know the local number.”

I could hear her let out an exasperated breath. I was getting annoyed.

Should I call another cab company?” I said.

Fine.” Click. She hung up.

So I called Duffy’s cab. And entered their number into my phone. They get my business from now on.

But imagine if the woman had said, “Sir. I’m having a hard time hearing you but don’t you worry! We’ll figure this out and get you a cab. I’m sure you’re in a rush.” And she’d spent an extra minute or two. I would have felt so great. And told everyone that day about the nice cab lady.

But her hang up has likely cost that company a few hundred dollars. Had a friend who used to eat at a local vegan restaurant in Edmonton on Whyte Ave. He ordered a bowl of soup. The soup was terrible. He asked the server if he could exchange it for another soup. The server took it to the kitchen, only to have the same bowl of soup carried back to him by the manager. It was placed back firmly on the table in front of him with the words, “You’ll finish this bowl.”

Amazing.

He was pissed. He wrote them a letter telling them, “I have been a regular to your restaurant for the past few years. I come ___ times per week. I spend $____ on average per meal there. I bring friend with my _____% of the time. And, because of your rudeness, I will be boycotting your restaurant for the next six months. This decision has cost you $600.”

In the end he boycotted it for a year and a half. And shared his story with a lot of people. Including myself. And I noticed I wasn’t going as often. So, let’s easily assume that this one decision cost them $2000.

Hardly worth a bowl of soup is it?

 

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are your clients saying the right things about you?

A colleague of mine recently told me that she had been talking about me a lot with people in her life – spreading the word about my marketing work.

But . . . she wasn’t sure she was saying the right things. And this is an important piece of word of mouth marketing – not just that people are talking about you – but that they’re saying the right things. So, I thought that these questions and answers might be useful to share with you. Maybe it will get you thinking about how your clients see you and help you get to know me a bit better too.

1. You’re becoming a mainstay on a large number of people’s Facebook pages and e-mail inboxes.  What do you hope is the first thing folks think when they see your image/your name?

Ooooh! He’s handsome!

I think I just want to be a source of good things in people’s lives.

Like when they see a note, a post or an event invite they think, “I wonder what cool thing Tad has for me today.”  Some people tell me they log onto facebook just to see what I’ve posted. That feels really great.

I think of my facebook page as a channel – like a tv or radio channel. And I want to make sure the programming is always top notch. Something worth watching.


2. I saw a Facebook post by someone just beneath your recent Winnipeg ad for your seminar asking you why you’re always in Winnipeg when their improv crew goes on tour.  Do you see Marketing for Hippies ever becoming so big that you lose the freedom to be involved in your creative endeavours?  How do you feel about that?

Hrmm. Over the past year, interest in what I do has really exploded – and I feel like it’s still just the tip of the iceberg for what’s coming. I still don’t have any real products I’m selling (coming soon!). And . . . no. I won’t let it get that big. I’m really not trying to build an empire. Just a village. In fact . . . I don’t even feel like I’m trying to build anything in a way.

There’s just this community of amazing people doing inspiring things – and I’m a member of that community – contributing to it in the best ways I know how. The idea of being on the road all the time feels appalling to me. I may add staff at some point beyond my current part time personal assistant. But, for me, quality of life is primary.

I love some travel – but too much feels draining.

3.  In considering the answer to #2, divide Tad into his key components – what percentage is the innovator (the author/creator), the marketer, the presenter, the researcher, the entertainer, the private individual?

Hrmm. Interesting question. This is my initial crack . . .

innovator (the author/creator): 20%

the marketer: 20%

the presenter:20%

the researcher: 5%

the entertainer: 5%

the private individual: 50%

4. How big do you want Marketing for Hippies to become?  Do you want it to remain something that you are always in sole control of?  Do you wish to see it grow into something that you franchise?  Do you hope to see your concepts in print with CD/DVD/ publishing house backed speaking tours as part of the program?

I really don’t know. At this moment, I’m just following my curiousity.When people call for me – I try to respond. I don’t think I ever want to franchise it at all. If someone expresses interest in learning from what I do – and wanting to be a teacher of my stuff – I’d be open to exploring that – but I’d probably just encourage them to start their own thing vs. working for me.

I’ve got three books I want to write:

Marketing for Hippies: an exploration of the principles of conscious vs. gross marketing

Hub Marketing: this is my favorourite topic in the world in marketing. Hubs!

Pay What You Can: I do almost all my workshops on a pay what you can basis. And I see a number of other businesses using this or experimenting. I’d like to write a book documenting this whole thing.

And I’ve got a tonne of products I want to create. Some on Niche. Some on leading workshops. etc. I kind of like the model of Seth Godin or Chris Guillbeault. Being a thought leader. Leading the laptop lifestyle. Doing the occassional workshop. Doing lots on the phone or via my blog.

Lately, I’ve felt really drawn to critiquing marketing (especially in the workshop industry). I’m a curmudgeon.

Things seem to be growing really nicely. I feel like my next stage is not so much about focusing on growing my list (which keeps happening without me) but rather deepening my business. Getting more products created. Better systems. Creating a stronger container to hold it.

5. If ‘they’ make a movie about you in 10 years’ time, what would it be called, and what result of your efforts would be the inspiration for the movie?

Oh lord. I don’t even know where to begin answering this. Ten or fifteen years ago, I would have wanted this. Desperately. I wanted to be a Tony Robbins for Teens. I wanted to be super famous. I wanted everyone to know who I am. And  . . . I’m just so not there anymore. I wouldn’t  shun it, but I’m not courting it anymore.

So, that’s for starters.

I think it would be called ‘Marketing for Hippies’ and it would be a documentary where I interview my favourite marketing coaches and we pick apart capitalism and marketing. Or if it HAD to be about me – it would be interviews of people talking about my work? Man. I don’t know how to answer this.

I think it’s because I enjoy that a lot of my work is sort of behind the scenes. Organizing events that bring cool people together to meet. They meet and seeds get planted and they may never remember that this cool project they collaborated on came about because I introduced them – and that’s just fine.

Plus – the marketing is only one thread of my life. I also feel really called to explore work around authentic masculinity, authentic communication, I’m loving Byron Katie’s stuff, I feel an ever present and subtle draw to explore traditional Scottish Gaelic wisdom, there’s the work with www.e-sage.ca and the improv comedy I do.

And, this year, self care has been so big for me.

And my most satisfying moments always happen one on one with friends. Just sitting together and exploring life. Being there to support and listen to people as they wrestle through their struggles is so incredibly, deeply satisfying to me.

I don’t think my answer has been particularly useful . . .

6. I call you a ‘phenomenon’, followed by a brief explanation of an innovative young man who is thoughtfully bringing practical marketing advice and marketing confidence to people (read ‘women’) in holistic arts through seminars, insightful blogging and social networking, and personal coaching.  Would you wish to have anything added, or subtracted from this description?

Heavens. Phenomenon. Uhm. Gah.

The only thing I’d ammend is that it’s not only holistic types – though that’s been primary lately. When people ask me what I do – this is what I say, “You know how there are a lot of conscious, green, holistic, community minded business types who are struggling to make their business grow? Well, what I help them do is figure out strategies to attract more of the kinds of clients they’re looking for – without spending a fortune or doing things that seem gross. These days, that’s meant working with a lot of holistic practitioners, crafters, permaculture teachers, people who make green products and other ‘green service provider types’. And I mostly do that through workshops I run across Canada on a pay what you can basis.”

But I like what you say too.

So, those are my answers.

And it lifts up a few things for me.

Your clients are probably more curious about who you are than you think. They want to know what makes you tick. Where you’re heading and why. How they can help.

We often assume that people ‘get’ what we do and can articulate it. There are a number of things you can do to make sure they do.

  1. A simple and to the point URL: Having a website name that kind of ‘says it’ is great. Marketingforhippies.com works great. Or www.soldoutseminars.com – perfect. You know exactly what it’s about. Or www.cubiclenation.com – which speaks to the masses working in corporate cubicle jobs.
  2. A solid tagline: I’m usually not a fan of spending ages figuring out a tagline. But if you can sum up what you do in a way that’s funny, memorable, to the point – this can be a huge help. “Visibly clearer skin in three days. Guaranteed!” or “Overnight delivery” or “Hot, fresh pizza to your door in 30 minutes. Guaranteed.” Think about what your biggest promise to your clients is. Boil it down into six or seven words.
  3. A clear target market: This will go a very long way to helping people articulate what you do clearly.
  4. A clear ‘journey’: Related to all of the above is the principle of getting crystal clear on the particular journey you take people on.

For more thoughts on word of mouth marketing just CLICK HERE.

 

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Love Letter Marketing Lessons

A few months back I met a lady named Chris Kay Fraser. She was working on a project that I thought was pretty amazing and I blogged about it (click here to read it). Once it was done, I asked her some questions about the contest from the business and marketing side.

What she did is a brilliant example of word of mouth marketing (she created something remarkable and ‘talkable’. And it’s a great example of the beginnings of ‘becoming a hub‘. Seriously – watch out for this project in the future. Big things coming. And it’s just a great example of an inspiring business.

Here’s what she had to say.

Thanks for inviting me back to your blog to answer some more questions about the “Love Letters Aren’t Just For Lovers” campaign. It’s nice to be back!

For those who didn’t read my original post, there’s background on my website here, but in a nutshell, I recently got really inspired by the idea of love letters.

I decided to launch a Love Letters Aren’t Just For Lovers campaign, as an extension of my business Firefly Creative Writing. I ran a series of free love letter writing workshops, hosted a large love letter contest,  and created a love letter reading event for some of the participants, and then, last week, I launched the final stage – a love letter e-class. It’s been a beautiful whirlwind of love!

Here’s a little about what I learned…

1) What was the response to the contest?

Oh my goodness Tad, it was unbelievable!

I received a constant stream of letters through the fall, from all over Canada, as well as India, New Zealand and the UK. I received letters to babies and grandparents, sisters and mentors, tennis partners, old friends. One woman write to her childhood horse. One wrote to the colony of raccoons that had lived outside her window when she was a girl, who made her feel less alone. One wrote to her breasts, the morning that she was going in for breast-reduction surgery.

The volume, and the depth, of the words of love that rolled into my mailbox was astounding.

Mainly, word traveled through word-of-mouth and facebook posts. I also bought some facebook ad’s and some google ad’s to carry the message further.

2) I noticed you added a jury prize vs. just the top three – why was that?

Well, this was interesting… On the night that the jury met, we had no idea how we’d judge the letters. To be honest, we all felt it was incredibly counter-intuitive to choose favorites. The jury members are all veterans of my writing workshops, were writing is never judged, but rather deeply appreciated, so these jurors had all built their abilities to deeply hear and love writing, rather than approaching it with a sense of competition or critique. Suddenly we had to pick favorites, and we were all a little thrown.

I could feel the nervousness rising in my living room as they settled in. After a little warming up and some red wine, I had them each write down their favourite three letters, and then they took turns telling (and often passionately defending) what was on their list.

Two things became immediately clear. First, they all had different tastes. Many letters were discussed. Second, there were three letters which rose quickly to the top as unanimous favorites.

The top three – Letter To Baby, Dear J and To My First Love – were on almost every list. Statistically, there was no question – these were the jury’s choices.

However, no one would have walked home satisfied with only three letters to honor. So, I had each of the juror’s choose their own special favorite.

In the end, it was a beautiful and very natural process. We hated to leave anyone out, but I was mostly pleased with the decisions that were made.

Also, I was able to honor more of the letters in the public reading I hosted on February 13th here in Toronto, and more still in the letters I bought the rights to use as examples in the Love Letters Aren’t Just For Lovers e-class.

3) how, if at all, do you think this contest will help you make more money and grow your business?

It’s funny, Tad, I feel a real resistance to answering this question! Hunh! I think it’s because the project was born out of a moment of innocence and inspiration; I kinda hate to cast it in the light of gain and capital. But, capital is the currency we live within, and this is a marketing website, so let me see…

1. Fundamentally, the campaign carved out safe space for me to connect to people’s tenderness. This is what my work is based on – connecting to tenderness. Of course, people tend to feel a lot of resistance to that! I hear from people all the time that the reason they didn’t sign up sooner for a workshop or correspondence class with me was fear. And yet, they almost always wish they’d conquered that fear earlier.

Through the one-off workshops and the contest, and even the reading, I allowed people to step past their fear, into that tender space, in small, not-too-threatening ways. Although I didn’t plan it, I’d imagine that the “foot in the door” phenomenon was happening – I made tiny, positive connections with people who might later take the next step, and sign up for a workshop or correspondence class, or one-on-one coaching.

2. It also gave me a hip, grippy way of explaining what I do. Take you, for example. I met you in October at one of your networking events. You asked what I do, and I, typically shy to talk about myself, mumbled, “I teach creative writing” Hello: boring! You glanced over my shoulder to where appetizers were being passes out. I almost lost you. Somehow, though, the conversation wound around to the love letters, and your eyes lit up. “I am running a love letter contest”… That’s worth listening to. You were back.

3. Finally, I did turn this into a product. I distilled all of what I learned through the fall into my first purely on-line class, a seven week self-guided journey in writing love letters, available through my website. In the e-class I’m aiming to translate some of the warmth and safety I created in the love letter workshops to an on-line environment. The contest,  workshops and reading were all free-of-cost, but the e-class is $40. I’m proud and excited to share it.

4) favourite part of the process for you?

To answer this question I need to get personal.

I’m a dweller of the deeps. I feel things in passionate and sometimes-devastating ways. I have a hard time, often, living in a world of small talk. I’m always trying to get under the surface.

This contest gave me the opportunity to feel deeply,  every day,  and to connect to others from that place. From the empathy and sadness I felt when I first read “Letter to Baby”, which tells the story of the author’s journey into first-tine conception and miscarriage, to the joyful nostalgia of first love that bubbled up in “Dear J” and “To The One Who Got Away” (all of these are available to read here) – I was swimming in a deep sea of joy, angst and truth-telling. I love it down there.

5) biggest lessons?

Ah, just this:

Do what you love.

Do what you love.

Do what you love.

This project was an incredible amount of work, mental, financial, emotional. I spent hours replying to letters, answering questions, figuring out new html code, acquiring contest prizes, organizing the jury… Oh, the list is endless. And yet here I am, on the other side of it, and I wouldn’t trade one minute.

It may not have been practical in a purely financial field (yet… The e-class is available to anyone in the English-speaking world with an internet connection…) but it let me be myself, no compromises, doing what I do best. This, to me, is the epitome of self-employment.

Thanks again, Tad! Your interest and enthusiasm was one of the strong winds that helped move this project forward, into the right hands and hearts. You are an amazing weaver of community and I’m grateful for it.

Ever warmly,

Chris

www.fireflycreativewriting.com

 

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I spread your ideas because . . .

Seth Godin tells the truth about word of mouth marketing and why we share ideas and products and services we come across.

Ideas spread when people to choose to spread them. Here are some reasons why:

  1. I spread your idea because it makes me feel generous.
  2. …because I feel smart alerting others to what I discovered.
  3. …because I care about the outcome and want you (the creator of the idea) to succeed.
  4. …because I have no choice. Every time I use your product, I spread the idea (Hotmail, iPad, a tattoo).
  5. …because there’s a financial benefit directly to me (Amazon affiliates, mlm).
  6. …because it’s funny and laughing alone is no fun.
  7. …because I’m lonely and sharing an idea solves that problem, at least for a while.
  8. …because I’m angry and I want to enlist others in my outrage (or in shutting you down).
  9. …because both my friend and I will benefit if I share the idea (Groupon).
  10. …because you asked me to, and it’s hard to say no to you.
  11. …because I can use the idea to introduce people to one another, and making a match is both fun in the short run and community-building.
  12. …because your service works better if all my friends use it (email, Facebook).
  13. …because if everyone knew this idea, I’d be happier.
  14. …because your idea says something that I have trouble saying directly (AA, a blog post, a book).
  15. …because I care about someone and this idea will make them happier or healthier.
  16. …because it’s fun to make another teen snicker about prurient stuff we’re not supposed to see.
  17. …because the tribe needs to know about this if we’re going to avoid an external threat.
  18. …because the tribe needs to know about this if we’re going to maintain internal order.
  19. …because it’s my job.
  20. …because I’m in awe of your art and the only way I can repay you is to share that art with others.

 

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Marcel the Shell (with shoes on)

Quirk is important in marketing.

The world is full of sterile, boring marketing with no personality. It’s full of corporate branding and flashy ads. But it’s not full of unique personality. And personality matters.

An example: nobody goes to Houston as a tourist. Why? It’s full of box stores. There’s not much local, distinct culture there. Where do people go in Texas? Austin. It’s got a thriving tourist business. Why? They have a slogan, ‘keep Austin weird’. It’s got quirk. And a quirk it embraces.

Thomas Leonard points out that even our weaknesses can be part of what makes us unique and stand out. Your particular pecadilos and things that make you a bit freaky are actually the very things that make you attractive. Don’t ‘tone yourself down’.

I used to wear a utilikilt all the time. And then I’d wear it at my workshops. I didn’t ‘suit up’ when I went to my workshops.

Increasingly, the marketplace doesn’t want gurus – they want real people. They want the common person. Someone just like them, who’s maybe a few steps ahead of them.

Make sure that you write a bio that captures your quirk. Make sure it’s in your photo.

Don’t be sterile. Don’t be ‘professional’. Be you.

Just like Marcel the Shell in this video.

WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW OR CLICK ON THIS LINK:

 

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Yoga for Round Bodies

Tiina Veer is a client of mine who’s an amazing example of the power of proper niching in action. Instead of trying to make her yoga class appeal to everyone – she chose a very particular niche.

People who don’t look like Barbie Dolls.

There’s a whole community of people with ’round bodies’ who might feel intimidated to go to a typical yoga class. But, with Tiina, they find an incredibly safe and supportive space.

I love this.

Yoga for Round Bodies

CLASSES & RETREATS

These yoga classes and retreats are offered specifically with the round body in mind. In these classes and retreats, not only will you have the opportunity to explore yoga in a way that suits your constitution/anatomy best, you will also be able to practice and explore in a comfortable, non-competitive environment in small groups, in pleasant surroundings. Classes will include restoration (deep relaxation) practices, gentle yoga and mindful movement.

Absolute beginners welcome along with any other “level.” Any size is welcome. This exploration is not about how big or not big, nor how advanced or not advanced, how flexible, nor how strong. Nor is it about weight loss. It is an opportunity to come and begin from where you are, to move your body and quiet your mind in a comfortable, supportive environment.

NO YOGA EXPERIENCE IS NECESSARY, yes really!
And your teacher is round, too!

These offerings are intended for beginners and do not include vigorous practices, however, if you have done yoga, they include a significant amount of restorative practice–of benefit to anyone–and foundational principles that can be applied to any level of practice.  Class size is small enough to accommodate modifications and individual attention.  And because stress is a significant challenge faced by most of us, ample time is given to explore relaxation/restoration practices so you can also learn useful tools to counterpoise everyday stress and its effects.

I did a quick interview with Tiina about this and here’s what she had to say,

What gave you the idea to start this?

“After practicing massage therapy for a number of years, I realized I needed to do something to counterbalance the physical stresses of my work, and thought Yoga would be perfect.  Though I quickly fell in love with yoga, I found myself frustrated and discouraged over and over, as it was difficult to find teachers who were able to work with my very round body.  When I discovered yoga using props, I found some liberation in the practice, but when I found a class called “Full-Bodied Yoga” and tried it, by the third class I found myself saying, “Oh my God, I have to become a yoga teacher so I can teach classes like this.”  That is where the seed was planted, and I’ve manifested a thought into reality.  Feels great!”

How has the response been?

“The response has been incredible.  Even people who aren’t in the “round camp” think it’s a great idea, that it makes so much sense.  And it does.  A lot of round women feel judged, or like the third wheel, in “regular” yoga classes.  It makes sense to create a safe, non-judgmental space for us to practice together, with a teacher who knows how to modify poses to the unique needs of a rounder body.  As women discover these classes, workshops and retreats, I get this comment a lot:  “It’s so great there’s a class JUST FOR ME out there!””

A lot of people would say, ‘by narrowing in your niche so much, you’re limiting who comes! aren’t you afraid of losing clients?’

“Hogwash.  My niche came very naturally to me, but if I had to choose to-niche or not-to-niche, I would definitely niche.  By having a niche, it allows me to utilize and develop my skills, knowledge and expertise in a very focused way.  In the end, it also makes marketing EASIER… the niche guides where I spend my very limited budget of money and time.  E.g., if I’m just promoting a regular yoga class, aside from the usual suspects, like online yoga directories, etc., where would I advertise?  If you’re advertising to EVERYBODY, like in a major city’s newspaper for example, your message is going to be totally watered down, unnoticed.  If I take a targeted message/product/service with to a specific group with a deliverable promise specific to them, it will capture attention because they want what I have to offer them specifically.  It’s impossible to “market to everybody.”  You have to find out who is interested in what you have, or tailor what you have to specific groups.  “Marketing to everyone” is kind of like being Waldo.”

 

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Want Help? If you’d like some more direct guidance and hand holding on figuring out your niche then go and check out my Niching for Hippies coaching program http://marketingforhippies.com/niching-for-hippies/