It’s time to address a very common misunderstanding in the world of small business and marketing!
When most people hear the word “Marketing” they think of a huge, annoying banner-ad stretching across their screen or a cheesy salesman in a baby-blue suit. This common misconception is severely hurting the small business industry. Business owners are spending tons of money on advertising but neglecting to focus on their marketing system as a whole. This eBook helps demystify the difference between MARKETING and ADVERTISING.
The companies that make such tasteless ads (such as the one on the very bottom of this post) are making it increasingly harder to appeal and reach our target demographics. Most small business owners get a call from an Ad Company and decide to blindly give it a try. This in itself is actually good for a business, as not advertising will inevitably lead to failure. The problem arises when the consumer becomes desensitized to the never-ending proliferation of ads and “specials”, thus reducing the Return on Investment (ROI). When the campaign is assessed the numbers are usually not what the business owner or manager had hoped for. This usually leaves a “bad taste” in the mouth of the owner and will typically deter them from using a marketing or advertising firm in the future. Well as we all know, if you decide to stop advertising and marketing you might as well stop competing in your market, pack up and call it quits. Unfortunately this is happening at an alarming rate in the United States. Join me in getting small business owners back on track.
Advertising is just one small piece of what makes a great marketing system. Trying to gain new customers and keep them coming back is proving to be harder than ever before. Consumers are now desensitized to most banner ads, sponsored search results and most generic forms of paid advertising, leaving small business owners, who don’t have an endless supply of cash, paying too much for their traffic. This is just the tip of the iceberg! Download my free ebook at http://www.DefiantMarketingSolutions.com and see what easy changes you can make to increase your return on marketing and advertising investments (ROI) without increasing spending.
“…conformity is the jailer of freedom and enemy of growth” – JFK
Do you make decisions based on compulsions of conformity? What I mean is do you make decisions based on your personal beliefs and convictions or are you so desperate to fit in that you make decisions because it is the popular choice? How long did it take you to decide on which phone to purchase? Did you do any research or did popular opinion make your decision for you? (Its ok to be honest, it’s just me and you)
Most people do not notice that the majority of their decisions are influenced by a deep rooted impulse to conform and fit in with their peers. Since our youth we have been trying to fit in. Human beings are highly skilled at mimicry. As young children, mimicking others is literally how we learn about the world around us and how to interact with it and other people. The examples are endless; parents who smoke in front of their child increase the chances that their child will eventually pick up the habit, the same goes for short-tempered role models. As we grow, this process becomes more and more embedded in our lives, even to the point that by the time most of us have reached adulthood we dress, act, talk, reason and argue similar to the others that have influenced us throughout our lives.
Have you ever stopped to think about the “hows” and “whys” behind your opinions? I noticed this when a friend of mine and I were on a short road trip. About half way to our destination, my buddy Kyle (sorry man, had to throw you out there) and I stop to get something to eat. We hit the drive-thru and are back on the road. When I finish my burger I, like I always have, crumble up my trash and put it in the paper bag it came in and place it on the floorboard. Kyle, on the other hand, shamelessly chucks his trash out the window onto the interstate. When he did that I began to think about where that trash was going to end up and how littering is a major problem. Now up until that moment I had never considered the consequences of littering. I’m being serious. I was taught all of the facts when I was younger and made it a point not to litter, but had never really paid any mind to the reality of the negative affects of pollution due to littering. This made me wonder why, if I had never really considered the consequences to be of much importance, I was not a “litter-bug” like my friend. The answer came when I pulled up to my mom’s house, the house I grew up in. I was instantly reminded of how well manicured and well kept the neighborhood was, with the exception of the house on the bottom of the hill. They always had scraps of trash in their yard and overgrown weeds dominated the landscape. Every time we drove by that house she would say “Those litter-bugs are the eyesore of the neighborhood!”
My lifetime commitment to being “litter free” was not based on a well informed, thorough, conscious decision to keep the earth free of litter. It was based on not wanting to be like the people who lived on at the bottom of the hill. My mom’s opinion, and the opinions of people like her, shaped my view of littering because I didn’t want to be judged like that. I say all this to show that although it is a good thing not to litter, I didn’t come to live that lifestyle through an independently developed conviction. Notice I said “lifestyle”, as these conformity opinions and decisions have a profound affect on the way you live your entire life, not just one small aspect of your life.
Too many people simply hear someone else’s opinion or idea and accept it as their own. Did you take the time to sit down and read your sample election ballot before the last time you voted? Do did you just side with whatever popular choices “your” political party said you should. If you’re too busy to form an opinion for yourself, do yourself a favor and don’t have an opinion. It will do you tons of good and help you reveal who YOU really are. When faced with the task of forming an opinion or making an opinionated decision, take the time to do some research on the subject.
You cannot please everyone, so don’t try. You will be exhausted and even more confused then when you began. But when you make the effort to put everyone else’s opinions to the side you will be more confident in your actions and being above reproach is a great place to be. I can honestly say that anyone could bash any of my opinions and I couldn’t care less because I know the “why” and “how” so I stand secure. This is a liberating and victorious way to live.
“The men and women who have the right ideals … are those who have the courage to strive for the happiness which comes only with labor and effort and self-sacrifice, and those whose joy in life springs in part from power of work and sense of duty.” – Theodore Roosevelt
As one becomes more familiar with the notion of self-improvement, he/she will notice one key component to self-improvement is actually to do good for others. This is almost an oxymoron. Spend yourself and effort on someone else in order to improve yourself? What does that mean?
We have all been given resources. They come in many forms but most can fall into a few well defined categories. Time, Talent, Treasure and Relationships. The way we choose to use these resources is what shapes our decision making processes and the consequential outcomes.
If one spends their time worrying only about themselves, they are usually consumed with and weighed down by their own problems. Lets take a second to look at this more closely. There is absolutely NOTHING to be gained through worry. No one can add a single second to their life or health to their bones by being consumed with worry and anxiety. I’m not saying pay no mind to your problems, I am simply stating that being constantly focused on your problems will not produce anything of benefit. The fact is there are certain things we have no control over and usually after about 6:00 pm those problems cannot even be dealt with. So why consume your time with those things that cannot be helped at that particular moment? I will not get into the studies, but take my word for it (or do your own research), there is vast amounts of evidence showing doing good for others produces a feeling of fulfillment and reduces stress. When we SACRIFICE our time to help others, we make the statement that “my problems do not control my use of the valuable resource called TIME!”
I am a proficient writer, skilled public speaker, have natural athletic abilities, and am an excellent communicator. The development of these TALENTS have given me much success in many areas both personally and professionally. But I pose the questions: to whom am I writing? to whom am I speaking? whom do I communicate with and what do I communicate to them? All of these talents are not useful when they are exclusively for my use. Teaching others actually helps improve skills and sharpens our understanding. For example, a teacher in high school noticed my knack for public speaking and asked if I would teach a few middle school students how to proficiently deliver a public address. Initially I had no idea what made me a good public speaker. I just did it. However, when faced with the task of teaching and sacrificing my own time and talent for the benefit of others, I was forced to evaluate my abilities and my own understanding of the material. This developed a much deeper comprehension of public speaking skills and eventually lead to growth in my personal speaking abilities. It is simple to see how others must be involved in the use and development of these skills and most others for that matter.
If you have any sense you must know that you wont be able to take any of your money with you to the grave. Contrary to popular belief, money was meant to be spent, not to hoard for ourselves. The first time I got a tax refund check I was elated! Mind you I was only 16 years old and had worked my first job as a courtesy clerk for Albertsons, so it was not a huge check by any means; less than $1000 for sure. Either way, being a lower-middle class teenager, that was the most money I had ever had. I got excited and imagined all the things I was going to buy with that and all my future paychecks. Needless to say, with more than a decade between then and now, I cannot even tell you what I spent that money on (ok an mp3 player was in there somewhere). The point is, the money you have now will not last. It will go to bills, food, replacing your broken phone, a set of DreBeats headphones, a glittery cover for your iphone, a juicer that you will never use again after the first week and so many other things. Some are valid expenditures and others are simply impulse buys. Using all your TREASURE for yourself just makes for a cluttered, yet unfulfilled life. Read any work of a proven successful person, they will stand by the principal of giving to others as a fundamental key to success and right living.
I do not like to be inconvenienced. I love meeting new people and forging new relationships. ONLY IF THEY DO NOT INCONVENIENCE ME! This leads to very selfish actions on my part. I am working on being out of my comfort zone when it comes to this area. Meaningful relationships produce meaningful IMPROVED living. They also take an investment of your time, talent and treasure. If you are not willing to SACRIFICE these resources, you will undoubtedly live a lonely life of solitude and obscurity. This is not the goal of SELF-IMPROVEMENT! Quite to the contrary.
In closing, I urge you to evaluate your use of your resources and examine the connection between their use and your personal fulfillment.
“While no one is expected to leap tall buildings in a single bound, our aspiring heroes will be tested on their courage, integrity, self-sacrifice, compassion and resourcefulness – the stuff of all true superheroes.” – Stan Lee
Learning for learning’s sake is now a huge movement. The quest to conquer all the knowledge of the universe has been within the hearts of men since the beginning. Interestingly enough, the amount of human knowledge doubles every year and by 2020 it will double every 72 days! This type of growth in human knowledge can be very overwhelming to those of us who are on a bloodhound quest to find knowledge and wisdom. The fact that there is more and more knowledge being produced/discovered daily means that every second I am not learning, I am “falling behind”. We all know what it feels like to miss a week of school and upon coming back, find that we are way behind and spend the next few days playing “catch-up”. Considering this against the vastness of the knowledge of humanity, it adds a sense of PARANOIA when one takes on the task of becoming “ENLIGHTENED”. It sparks the thought “I am never going to be able to catch up.”
There are 534,259 books published per year in the US & UK alone! That is 1,464 per day, 61 per hour, and 1 per minute! I don’t care how fast you can speed read, there is no way to read that much material. It is clearly impossible for any one person to attain all the knowledge of humanity in the span of one lifetime. I am not saying that because of this impossibility, we should just throw in the proverbial towel. By no means! I am simply stating that one must be selective about what he/she decides to fill their head with. Cooking recipes, celebrity trivia, historical facts, mathematical equations, statistics of human knowledge…etc. There is a (literally) never-ending avalanche of knowledge piled upon us daily. The person who spends all their day trying to be current on subjects that do not directly effect him/her is actually, and quite unknowingly, wasting time. It amazes me how much attention is paid to celebrities who have no real value to anyone, besides those making money directly from their exposure. This is an obvious example, but what about learning stuff like how to write code? or how to build a raised box garden? or how to replace a broken power steering belt? Even better, how to achieve spiritual enlightenment and find your purpose by some never ending scholastic effort.
The examples can go on and on. The point is there are people out there who will have you believe that the “pursuit of knowledge is an end in itself.” This presupposes that questions are NOT meant to be answered. Rather, they hold that questions produce even more questions and the pursuit of these questions is an answer itself. I am not sure if that just sounds ridiculous to me or if anyone else sees the problem with such statements. I am not going to beat around the bush. Did you know there are people who will write code for you, build fixtures, and maintenance your car?! The fact is, questions were made to be answered! And much to the dismay of many of these time-wasting fantasy chasers, much of the knowledge one hopes to attain is old news and has been discovered by someone else. If you are reading a book, guess what?…it’s old knowledge. So, unless the insight you gain will directly effect the way you live, it becomes worthless.
Finally, if you don’t believe me, do some research and take time to examine human fulfillment and success in others’ lives. Those who have found fulfillment and success are those who realize their limitations and allow others to “know for them”. Someone who is constantly chasing the next “mental high” through some sort of enlightenment will undoubtedly be sucked dry of any driving force by a never ending search. There will always be something “new” to learn. Word to the WISE (fools hear no threat), don’t make yourself worrisome and anxious with the pursuit of all of humanity’s knowledge. Get specialized knowledge that will actually produce the life you want, rather than generalized knowledge that leads only to more questions and confusion.
Keep on doing what you’re doing, and you’ll keep on getting what you got!
I urge you to take some time to really reflect on that statement. Go ahead … I’m waiting. It seems like a simple enough message, but when applied to achieving worthwhile goals it works as blatant evidence as to why they remain goals and never become achievements.
When I was growing up, I was an extremely competitive wrestler. I was part of a great program which won our league banner each year. My head coach once told me something that changed my perception of practice and work forever. He stated “Practice doesn’t make perfect, PERFECT practice makes perfect!” Expanding on this, he was letting me know that practicing something a million times will not produce perfection if I am not practicing with perfection. If I learned how to do a move (I wont get specific as I am sure no one cares too much about collegiate wrestling) but practiced it the wrong way, when it came time to perform, I would have performed it wrong as well. Luckily I caught onto this teaching early and had much success.
So what does all this have to do with you?
If you have any worthwhile goals in life, at work, in your relationships, sports … etc, you must be constantly learning and trying to improve yourself and your performance. The problem lies in the fact that most people keep working hard at something using the same techniques every time and blissfully hope for different results. If you go to the gas station and pay $20, guess what? You’ll get $20 worth of gas. The result won’t magically change because you wrote it on a piece of paper and posted in every room in your house and work space. Just merely hoping for things and “staying positive” will not produce physical results if there is no action taken. Even the Bible states that “faith without works is dead.” You can hope all day long that “this time it’s going to workout” but if you are using the same method in your approach to life and its opportunities you will ultimately get the same results time after time.
I wrote a blog a couple weeks ago regarding the benefits of learning from failure. This is pretty much a follow up to that article. What one must do after they have failed and decided that they will use that failure to motivate them. Go back to the “drawing” board (in my case it’s a cork board and white board) and start over with a NEW method. Take the time to apply a new thinking with regards to things which you may have previously come up short of your goal. Test new and different approaches and methods to the same opportunity (change the word “problem” into “opportunity”) and see if you produce the desired results. Chances are you wont hit a home run your first attempt but you will undoubtedly see measurable growth in the areas in which you apply this advice.
Try new things, get many advisers, read more, get out of your comfort zone and TEST TEST TEST.
There are approximately two billion children in the world today. Living in all parts of the world. How can Santa possibly manage to visit all the children in the world in one night?! The answer is right there in the most famous Santa song.
“He’s making a list, checking it twice. He’s gonna find who’s naughty or nice…”
Now I am sure by now we have long since given up hopes in a Santa, but bare with me. The thing that separates hyper-productive people from those who manage to have a million great ideas that go absolutely nowhere is LIST MAKING!
Like myself, I am sure you have great ideas throughout your day. While you are working out, listening to music, reading a book or whatever your day consists of, you get great ideas. Then when you get home you can’t remember the “brilliant” if your life depended on it. When discussing productivity and achieving worthwhile goals, we base our observations on how much time goes by between having an idea and taking action to see that idea become a reality. The goal is to go as quickly as possible from IDEA to ACTION. Action that would move you closer to the realization of the idea. This seems simple enough, in theory, to do without a standard process. However, without a process of making lists and taking action on items in the list, ideas, regardless of how “monumentally great” they may be, go undone.
I’ll sum up this short post with a few tips to make list making a sort of productivity super power. (1) I carry index cards (cut in half) and a pen wherever I go. When I get an idea I simply take out the piece of index card and write it down. This ensures I never let an idea slip away. (2) Then when I get home I take out all the ideas out of my pocket and pin them on my cork board in my home office. (3) Every evening, as I plan the following day, (4) I take the ideas off my cork board and see if I can make any of them an executable task. If I cannot make one directly into an action, I break it down and make it into a series of tasks that move me toward the realization of the main idea. The following day I go down my list of things to do and sure enough the “ideas” become actions that lead to making those ideas come to life.
This simple process has greatly decreased the amount of time a thought stays just an idea and becomes reality. Extremely successful people are hyper-productive, hyper-productive people seek methods to minimize the time between idea and action.
So make a list, check it twice, and get to work!
“A man always has two reasons for what he does–a good one, and the real one.”
― J.P. Morgan
Most business owners will tell you that they are very busy all of the time. We say things like “if only I had another hour in the day” and “if I wasn’t so busy I would have time to grow my business.” The truth of the matter is we are usually making excuses or “alibis”. We begin the workday with goals and an agenda, but somehow throughout the day we get “pulled” into other things that manage to waste so much of our time that we don’t get around to the things we had planned for the day.
Let’s take a closer look at how some of these things force themselves into our day. Notice in the previous paragraph I quoted the word “pulled” when talking about things that take us away from our priorities throughout the day. I quote that word because most business owners or managers would have you believe that they are helpless victims and are at the mercy of these situations. They say “if that wouldn’t have interrupted me, I could have done…” To be perfectly honest, that mentality disgusts me! As a business owner or manager we are in charge of what is going on in the business. However, taking the position of the “victim of circumstances” is admitting that we have no authority in our business and probably in life as well. I read somewhere that a man who waivers in confidence about what he wants does not deserve to get it.
The truth of the matter is that we have control over what we ALLOW to interrupt and distract us throughout our day. Those who ALLOW their day to be directed by things that “suddenly come up” are actually using those things as an ALIBI not to achieve the goals they set for the day.
Now if you don’t believe me, consider my last client. He is an electrician who decided to venture out on his own and acquired my services to help get his business off the ground. He was working full time with his old business and was getting his business off the ground with the time he had on the weekends. First, let me start by saying it is ridiculously hard to grow a business that only gets your attention on the weekend. I asked him why he only worked on it during the weekend and not after work daily and he let me know his wife was going to school at night and he had to watch the kids. This is an unfortunate but understandable reason for not being able to develop his business on weeknights. Anyway, as I began to work with him on the weekends, I realized he always had something to do early Saturday morning that would eventually use up his entire day. The “something” was always things like fixing something around the house; yard work; washing the work trucks…etc. Needless to say, every time we spoke he would give me a list of things that “suddenly came up” as opposed to actions he had taken to move his company in the right direction.
As the problem grew I noticed that the things he was doing on the weekends were actually just his attempt at giving me an alibi as to why he wasn’t achieving the goals we had set for his new business. Lets call a spade a spade and honestly evaluate this situation. He could have, like any successful business owner, had a neighborhood kid(s) do all of these things for him. I mean wash the cars, clean the yard, fix the fence (these are all real alibis he tried to give to me)! Each of them could have been done for $5 an hour by any kid on his block. I felt like smacking him every time he called to tell me he had yet another unproductive week. He is robbing himself of much needed time to grow his business and also robbing some neighborhood kid of some summertime spending money.
Achieving goals is hard work, just ask any successful athlete or writer. It is much easier to create an alibi than to achieve worthwhile goals. My FORMER client – yes I had to cut him loose – was not capable of taking responsibility for his own actions. He couldn’t separate what was priority and what could wait or be delegated to someone else. It is funny how the entrepreneur is such a hard worker that they will work themselves out of opportunity. Doing any and all tasks which make themselves available, regardless of what was supposed to be done during that time. In our last discussion, I (not “we” as he is probably still hiding in busy work to avoid responsibility) concluded that he was in fact not afraid of hard work, he was afraid of failure! He was okay with not succeeding so long as it wasn’t because he tried and failed. He was content with blaming the inactivity on everything besides himself. Therefore, when it goes undone he wont be the one to blame. Sounds like a child, but you can probably name a couple “adults” who act this same way. This mentality is as good as a terminal disease when a man or woman is trying to achieve something worthwhile like creating a new business. I have heard it called “Alibi-itis” and stand firmly against its spread and advocate true mentoring (sharing your goals and making yourself accountable to someone) as the cure. If not, we will just keep creating alibis to alleviate responsibility and assume the roles as “victims of circumstance.”
“It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to the house of feasting: for in that we are put in mind of the end of all, and the living thinketh what is to come.”
I came across this section in Ecclesiastes and took some time to consider it. The statement initially made no sense to my brutish mind. How could it possibly be better to go to a funeral where there is mourning than to a party where there is feasting? It goes against every urge in my body.
Consider for a moment who wrote this book of wisdom. King Solomon, a man who is considered by history (not just the Bible) as the wisest and wealthiest men in history. He was raised in a palace and received a fine education. When he wrote this book he was at the end of his life and had lived a life embracing everything that was “under the sun.” I read a lot of books from men who are successful and considered very wise and yet none have the historical credentials of this man. In other words, Solomon’s teachings are as valid, if not more, as any instructor, coach, mentor or ruler in history.
That being said, let me go back to the original statement. When further considered, Solomon is not saying that we should choose to mourn and walk around all depressed all the time. Nor should we despise times of joy and feasting. Rather, consider the circumstances in which we (usually) find ourselves in these places (house of mourning and house of feasting). One is at the death of someone and the other, in contrast, is at a birth. So again, why would we rather mourn someone’s death then celebrate someone’s life?!
The answer is found in the second part of the statement “for in that we are put in mind of the end of all, and the living thinketh what is to come.” It talks about the fact that when we are faced with death, our own or someone else’s, we begin to consider that the life is at an end and can think back on a life well lived (Now if you live life with regrets this would not be a time of grateful consideration, probably more a state of panic). On the flip side of this is a newborn baby. We always rejoice at the birth of a child, it would be cruel not to. However, when considering all that the child has yet to face and all the trials and uncertainty life brings, the joy is short-lived.
As a young man I was very wild, going out at all hours of the night; not coming home for days; never answered my mom’s phone calls; and so much more that definitely caused my parents much heartache. With that said, I venture to say that my mom would be much more satisfied and comforted knowing that I will lead an abundant, healthy, long life. BUT there is no way she could ever be assured of such a thing. The only way she could rest in that confidence is if she were to outlive me and bury me a man who lead an abundant, healthy, long life. Putting someone in the ground is the ONLY assurance we have that their life can no longer be subject to the chaos and struggles of life. So in closing, I leave you to make your own consideration with this quote in mind:
“It is better to look back on a life well-lived, than to look forward to a life yet to be lived.”
The grave is full of potential.
Wow, take some time and reflect on that statement. I’m sure there has been a time in your life where you had a genuinely brilliant idea. You know, that one thought that, if acted upon, would have revolutionized life as we know it. Okay maybe it wasn’t that brilliant but the point is clear. Those with an entrepreneurial mindset or character usually have great moments of inspiration leading to brilliant ideas.
All this being said, consider how many of the ideas you’ve had that have yet to come to life. Now add to that all the brilliant, life-changing ideas that have gone undone by those who have passed. If you alone have a few ideas that never formed, imagine how many are in the graveyard!
I have written about fear and its damaging effects in a previous blog. Fear of difficulty and failure are two of the major deterrents in taking something from the “idea” stage to the “realization” of that idea. Failure is painful and I have also written about the truth of growing through learning from failure. It truly builds character and perseverance. If being in great shape, having a six pack and eating healthy were easy everyone would look like the cover of Mens Fitness (or Womens Fitness). The same can be said about making ideas reality. If it were easy, we would all have “invented” something as “brilliant” as the PET ROCK and be millionaires sitting back in our giant mansions. But, as much as I wish it were, it just isn’t going to happen that easily.
Our culture has somehow convinced us that we should have a sense of entitlement by offering handouts to just about anyone with an excuse not to achieve meaningful, fruitful goals. This mentality can now be found deeply rooted in the psyche of the average American (I can only speak of the U.S. but I’m sure it’s true about any first world country). For some reason or another, the average American thinks everything should be given to us in exchange for minimal effort. When we meet resistance we complain and create civil unrest rather than strapping on our boots and “walking it out”. We would rather rally up some other complainers and start an entire movement against whatever we can manage to focus our (limited) attention on for the moment. The funniest part about all of this is that we will usually make a greater effort to fight, groan and complain than the effort it would take to step up and persevere through the hardship. People are prone to make themselves busy doing ANYTHING besides diligently working towards meaningful goals. Achieving goals is hard, just ask any Super Bowl or UFC champ. It is much easier to make excuses about why we cannot accomplish meaningful goals than it is to be self-disciplined and put in the work necessary to take those “dreams” and make them a reality.
Life is about reducing the amount of possible regrets. It is better to look back on a life well lived than to look ahead on a life yet to be lived. The world wouldn’t be the same if great men like Einstein, Martin Luther, Jim Rohn, Thomas Edison and Benjamin Franklin had not acted on their potential and rather had taken it with them to the grave. Don’t go to the grave selfishly taking all the greatness that was within you.
“What plans would you have on your drawing board if you knew you could not fail?” – Rev. Robert Schuller