Marketing in 2015… The More things change, the more… Really?
What has and what hasn’t changed about marketing in the digital age
The podcast of the Small Business Masterminds Foundation Webinar on Marketing in 2015. I am joined by Scott Forrest from Motive Marketing to help us get to the bottom of what we really need to know to market our businesses effectively in the days of Social media, SEO, Pay Per Click and Cost Per Lead.
I read a great article in Leaders in Heels, online the other day (read it here) about the reasons for taking on a business coach.
The article got me thinking about my profession, about what I do and why working with me and people like me can make such an enormous difference to your business growth and development, and hence why I firmly believe that taking on a coach from time to time is one of the best decisions you’ll ever make in your business.
There is one reason above all others, that you should know about and noone tells you about. And that is this… it’s not the brilliance of the coach, rather it is the commitment you make that makes the difference.
The conventional factors
The article by Ros Cardinal mentions a number of important benefits from taking on a coach, such as:
Time management and prioritisation, clarity, brainstorming and accountability. and those are absolutely great benefits you’ll gain from having a coach (a good one anyway) and there a bunch of others, depending on the coach and the relationship you and your coach may have.
But the biggest one is rarely mentioned, because it actually is not dependent on the qualities, knowledge and experience of your coach… It is the commitment made by you, the client. Obviously coaches don’t like to mention this too much, because they want you to think they are brilliant and that their singular brilliance is going to make you rich and successful… I’m no different really, I am similarly convinced of my genius… but in the depth of the night, when noone is listening, I know it hasn’t got anywhere near as much to do with my talents as I like to make out.
To take on a business coach costs significant time, energy and money. To sign a contract or shake hands with a business coach is not a decision to be taken lightly. It takes a lot of faith and trust and actually not going to make your life easier in the short term. I say to my clients that taking me on as their coach: “Is full-on, it’s intense, it’s made grown men cry… but it works”
And one of the reasons it works is that it is a big commitment, and once you make the big commitment it means you become highly invested to make it work for you by hook or by crook.
Once you make the commitment and I am up to the job of “holding the space” and being there for you every step of the way, the change becomes relentless and unavoidable.
It’s the reason I actually make it quite hard to engage with me (which doesn’t help my business model of course but then the dentists kids have holes in their teeth… maybe I need a new business coach!)
Next time you talk to a business coach who wants to make it easy to sign you up… go and find someone else… I promise you.
More about the various forms of business support, guidance and advice that are available to small business owners here
There’s a great scene in the first Matrix movie. Neo turns to Morpheus and says “I know Kung Fu” and Morpheus replies “Show me.” They are then transported (metaphorically speaking) to a virtual dojo where Morpheus goes on to explain to Neo “This is a sparring program, similar to the programmed reality of the Matrix. It has the same basic rules, rules like gravity. What you must learn is that these rules are no different than the rules of a computer system. Some of them can be bent. Others can be broken.”
Like Neo many in sales have learned there are rules that can be bent or even broken in order to achieve what may at first seem like success, but of course it isn’t. Although you may have succeeded in ‘making a sale’ you may have lost the relationship. It’s illusionary and those feelings of ‘success’ achieved at the expense of others are fleeting. However the stain on your reputation most certainly is not.
When you set out to build a sales career your single most important task is the building of reputation; and as Bob Burg and John David Mann write in Go-Givers Sell More “Reputation is a house that once burned down is very difficult to rebuild.”
However if you diligently construct your reputation on the foundation of what Bob calls ‘The Golden Rule’ of sales, of business of networking. You will cultivate a flourishing reputation and the influence it generates will reach way beyond the people you meet and touch the lives of people you have not yet met.
“All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.”
The golden rule goes like this: “All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.”
In sales your job really is to meet new people on an everyday, ongoing basis, in a way that’s comfortable both for you and for them and cultivate and develop relationships with these people to the point that they feel so good about you; they know you, they like you, they trust you, they want to see you succeed.
Why is “know, like and trust” so important; so vital to sales and business success?
Well, the know part is obvious. People have to know you, or at least know of you, or at least of your company, in order to do business with you. What about like. Do they have to like you? Here is where the disclaimer, “all things being equal comes into play.
If you’re the ONLY game in town; the only person in your field or your area that provides your product or service and that person, for whatever reason, feels they have to have it or can’t live without it, then no, they don’t have to like you. They’ll do business with you anyway. However, there are three challenges with that:
You’re not the only game in town. None of us are.
They will only do business with you until someone else comes along who provides what you provide, or at least close enough to it, and who they like.
You’re a good person, and you want to like those you serve, and you want them to like you.
Likeability is indeed very, very important. Check out Dr. Robert Cialdini’s landmark book, Influence: Science and Practice, for a more detailed exploration of this subject. In summary Dr Cialdini discusses the six main reasons why people will buy from someone, follow someone, join someone, etc. He talks about one of those six as being “likeability.” Plainly and simply, people will do things with and for people they like. As human beings, we put on pedestals the people we like even when it’s not deserved. People impute high character traits to people who perhaps don’t possess them because they like them.
Indeed, both know and like are important.
And, then there’s “trust.” I’ll leave this last one down to the way you answer this question. How many of you would agree with the following statement: “We currently live in what, could be called, a ‘low-trust society’?”
Bob has been asking this question at practically every program he has delivered over many years and whether the audience is 50 people, 500 people, 5000 people, or 15,000 people, the response is ALWAYS the same. Practically everyone in the audience raises their hands that we live in a low-trust society, and a couple of people feel we live in a high-trust society. It’s not a matter of being right or wrong, or even that people are any more or any less trustworthy than they ever were. What it does say is that the perception is that we absolutely do live in a low-trust society.
In a low-trust society, that person who can quickly and effectively communicate trust; their trustworthiness; their worthiness of being trusted, is nine steps ahead of the game in a ten-step game. Remember, it’s not enough just to be trustworthy; most people actually are. The key is to be able to communicate this trustworthiness.
So, there we have it, all things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.
Of course none of this can happen unless you’re able to shift your focus. It’s only when you can take your eyes off of yourself, your products or your services, and focus like a laser on adding value to your customers that you can begin to to elicit those know you, like you, trust you feelings toward you in others.
Ian J Lowe is the CEO of Go-Givers Australia a sales realignment, coaching and consulting organisation offering a unique culture-defining philosophy and framework that makes giving value the cornerstone of a refreshingly open and authentic approach to selling.
Download the first chapter of ‘The Go-Giver and Go-Givers sell More’ here.
I picked up a great book the other day, more or less by accident: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Never heard of the author or the book but the title grabbed me when I saw it lying around somewhere… Some of my most inspiring reads have come to me completely randomly… try it out, I highly recommend random reading, as well as this particular book.You can always tell how much I enjoy a book by the number of folded pages. The one has many)
But it’s been a struggle getting through it, not because the book is boring but because I seem to give myself less and less time and space to just read, and especially to read anything longer than a couple of paragraphs.
I’ve started to become so used to reading short bites all over the place that anything longer than a couple of hundred words makes me impatient.
The Guardian online
I’ve noticed this same phenomenon in all the reading I do. I subscribe to the Guardian online and it’s got lots of wonderful writing in it … and sometimes the articles are long… really long and I find myself reading articles I enjoy except that I start to skim read them… just because I am impatient.
People say, that it is the negative effect of the Internet, Facebook and Twitter that is causing this phenomenon. It is thought that our focus on bits of text that are short to very short (140 characters in the case of Twitter) means that we losing our ability to focus on one thing for any length of time. We don’t pick up books anymore to read like we used to, because we are reading Facebook and Twitter. I do think that that is true, but I don’t think it’s the shortness of the Facebook messages rather the avalanche of messages, and news and information and material of interest that come to us constantly in overwhelming volumes.
Every day, the Guardian Online has more words, more articles and more information in it than the big Saturday papers like the Melbourne Age of even 10 years ago. I’m sure of it. It would take a whole day of solid reading just to read the normal daily edition and then only the stuff you find interesting. But at the same time I also have access to the Melbourne Age (as well as the SMH) and the Washington Post and the Frankfurter Allgemaine and Aljazeera. And that’s just the newspapers. There’s also the posts and articles in various groups on linkedin, your twitter feed and an ever-growing stream of blogs and online publications (I produce one of those myself and you’re reading it right now of course)
The more I read, the less I know
The Internet, the smartphone and Facebook haven’t killed reading; quite the opposite, I read much more now than I have ever read in my life. But a lot of it is shallow reading. I do still read books, but often I get to page 50 and I notice myself starting to skim read. I just don’t have anywhere near as much patience to read deeply as I used to. I want to move on to the next thing… what else is going on… what else do I need to know now.
Because if I don’t move on, I’m missing out. I’m constantly alerted to interesting blogs and interesting developments. The gurus in my field all write blogs (Seth Godin writes one every day) If I don’t read those I am falling behind; so quick, quick; read the opening paragraphs… scroll down the bottom and go on to the next article.
Here’s the thing though, we can’t read everything and we can’t be perfectly informed and besides world news and world developments are becoming so depressing that you’d do yourself an injury trying to stay up-to-date with it all. The danger of reading more and more, and shallower and shallower is that our knowledge and understanding becomes shallower as well… I know less about more. There are more and more things I know a tiny little bit about. I noticed myself quoting some wisdom the other day that came from a post on Facebook. Did I actually know what was going on? Do I have any understanding of what is going on in the middle east beyond what I see on Facebook and in the headlines in the Guardian (no time to read the whole article of course)
So here is my resolution: I am going to become much more selective. I am looking to find a very select group of people around the world who, I think, have something really special to say. I want to find a small bunch of people who will challenge my thinking and stretch my boundaries and who have something truly interesting to say and I will follow them and read them.
So here is my question to you: give me a name, a recommendation… who do you read, all the time, who makes you think, or gives you food for thought (Good food… not McDonalds) … If there was only one person in the world you could read regularly…who would that be? Now don’t give me a whole list of people… I only want to end up with a short list of 5 to 10 people maximum.
(Currently my candidates are: Oliver Burkeman at the Guardian, Brene Brown from Texas and Graham Long from the Wayside Chapel in Sydney).
Besides my limited bunch of gurus, I’m going to make time again, dedicated time, for uninterrupted book reading. As it is, most of the books of the world are going to remain unread by me, and that’s sad enough. Reading books whether online, in audio format or in actual honest to goodness book form, is and will always be the most effective and enjoyable way to really deepen your insight into a certain topic… Truly.
So I started my resolution this morning I got up at 6, lit a couple of candles, made myself a cup of tea and picked up the happiness project, a good solid two hours of it and I kept my phone at the other end of the room… It was great
So, please, send me your favourite guru or columnist or blogger, someone I absolutely must no longer live without.
The Oxford dictionary defines Overwhelm as: “Bury or drown beneath a huge mass of something”.
This is my definition: When we are in a state of overwhelm, we have a sense of being ill-equipped to deal with the demands that are placed on us, in other words, we feel like there is too much to deal with right now.
Being in a state of overwhelm is no picnic. Overwhelm is a major cause of stress, anxiety and depression in our society, and small business owners experience overwhelm more than most.
Being a Builder
A long time ago when I still had my building company, there was one feeling I experienced more than anything on a day to day basis, and that feeling was overwhelm.
There were so many different business development priorities jostling for attention in my brain that I simply didn’t know which one to focus on. On a daily basis, there would be financial management, marketing, customers, systemisation, planning, quality assurance, sales, staff, contractor issues, etc etc.
Some days this sense of overwhelm became so great that I would become quite paralysed and waste the whole of the day surfing the internet (remember this was over 10 years ago, before Facebook came along to make life even more distracting) Other times, especially when I was still actively “on the tools”, I would spend days doing stuff I could have delegated to the labourers on my team, instead of wielding the shovel and hammer myself.
Overwhelm stymied the development of my business and I know that if I’d managed to find a way to manage myself better, the business would have developed further and sooner.
The paradox of choice
It is a well-established fact that too much choice leads to overwhelm and decision paralysis. Here is a quote from a 2009 TED talk called “The paradox of choice” by professor Barry Schwartz:
“A colleague of mine got access to investment records from a gigantic mutual fund company of about a million employees and about 2,000 different workplaces. And what she found is that for every 10 mutual funds the employer offered, the rate of participation went down two percent. You offer 50 funds — 10 percent fewer employees participate than if you only offer five. Why? Because with 50 funds to choose from, it’s so damn hard to decide which fund to choose that you’ll just put it off until tomorrow.”
100 colours white
And I’m sure we’ve all experienced how much harder it is to decide on the new paint colour for our living room when the average paint store has a choice of 100 or more different shades of white alone.
As small business owners we are not unique in experiencing overwhelm, stress and anxiety, but there are some aspects to running a small business that are unique:
We simply do not have the resources in time and money to be able to address all the business development priorities that are vying for our attention; they will always have to be culled ruthlessly.
But generally we don’t feel well enough equipped to be able to decide what to cull.
And besides that, even if we did, most of the pressing issues relate to aspects of business that are well outside our specific skill=set (The skill-set that is the foundation on which we started the business: carpentry, architecture, cooking, widget-making, etc.)
This is the reality of being a small business owner: more stuff to do than you can poke a stick at, all of it really important, but most of it out of your comfort zone.
No wonder we procrastinate.
My clients will often tell me that they are the world’s worst procrastinators and that they are lazier than anyone they’ve ever met.
But laziness has nothing to do with it, more often than not procrastination and “time wasting” comes from a lack of clarity about what the most important thing to do next is and feeling insecure that we’d know how to do it if we did know.
Besides procrastination, the other default response we have to this sense of overwhelm is to pick up our trusted hammer (scale rule, cook’s knife or widget machine) and do some more hammering instead.
Do you recognise any of that?
Do you spend more time than you should “hammering” and not enough time addressing the business development issues? And when you do put down the hammer, do you find yourself procrastinating and not getting as much done as you think you should?
Trust me, most of us do, all the time.
The way out
So what is the way out? Given that I don’t believe in easy answers and one-size-fits-all solutions, let me give you a 5-ingredient recipe to put on the stove and experiment with that will start to take the sting out of this challenge for you:
Step 1: Stop beating yourself up, you are not the world’s laziest business owner. (I am… obviously). Seriously, start by accepting that the challenge you have in this area is really common, we all face it every day, it’s normal.
Step 2: Write down what the major business development priorities are for you at a high level (marketing, cashflow, etc)
Step 3: Ask yourself this question: If there was one priority I could do something with today that would move my business forward one single step, what priority would that be? Lock in the first answer that comes to mind, trust your gut feeling on this.
Step 4: Ask yourself a second question: What specific action(s) can I take today in relation to that business development priority that will make a real difference in my business?
Step 5: Block out a specific time in your diary today to carry out that specific action(s)
What makes this recipe such a nice one to experiment with is this:
That there are a few skills you have achieved mastery in, “beating yourself up” is one of those, you don’t need to practice it anymore, it wastes precious creative energy and time, and makes you feel like crap.
Actually forcing yourself to make a choice between all the different priorities is challenging, but your gut feeling (the unconscious) will actually know the answer, and you can trust it.
Breaking the major priority area down into a small, specific action that you can block out a specific time in your diary for, can make it a lot easier to cut through the overwhelm and help you focus.
If you get yourself into a habit (and remember habits take 28 days of consecutive practice to cement) to go through this process every day, I promise you that your business and your life will never be the same again.
Cheers, Roland Hanekroot
Call me if you’d like to explore how I can help you have less Overwhelm and more FUN in your business and build a business that sustains you for years to come. A great first step is to come along to one of my monthly Small Business Masterminds workshops… follow this link