Our Successes All Look Different: How to Recognize Yours

The other day, I was scrolling through a friend’s wall on Facebook looking for a post. I noticed that, in fact, most of the posts weren’t from her but were other people posting on her wall celebrating this or sharing that. I thought, “Wow, all those wall posts are signs of just how influential she is. Maybe I need to work harder so that I be that influential too.”

See what happened there? I allowed a positive metric of one person’s success tell me I’m not as successful as I’d like to be (or as successful as she is).

I had a similar conversation with a couple clients recently, too. They were concerned that their communities didn’t act the same way a competitor’s community acted and worried that was affecting the performance of their businesses.

When we see disparities like this, our natural inclination is to find fault with ourselves. Self-judgement is the reflex.

What if, instead, you saw this as a result of your personal strategic decisions? What if you decided to express your own results as Key Performance Indicators of your core strategy and then seek additional ways to manifest those results?

For my business, effusive posts on my Facebook wall might be fun but they don’t really reflect the way the awesome people who read my blog or work with me would naturally respond to my work because of conscious choices I’ve made in my strategy. Instead, they write emails, Tweet me, or invest 3 days time to watch me on CreativeLive. For the clients I mentioned above, their own awesome people respond to their work by making taking serious action toward their goals and sharing much more privately.

We all have different ways to “move the needle” on our businesses and each of those methods has different corresponding effects. One person’s strategic decisions create different outward effects than another person’s. What’s more, those strategic decisions (her Quiet Power) are unique to that individual and her business. What works for me won’t work for you. What works for Marie Forleo won’t work for me. What works for Facebook won’t work for Marie Forleo. And as a result, our successes all look different.

Plenty of people will try to sell you one-size-fits-all tactics and give you can’t-lose metrics to follow, but the truth is that there is no correct solution save the one that is most effective for you and your business.

Your business strategy should be dictated by What You Want to Create and How You Want to Connect. The decisions you make in those two areas dictate Who Your Business Attracts and How They Respond. Understanding the interplay between these areas helps you stay out of the weeds and out in front of your business. Instead of making reactive decisions or action plans, you make proactive ones because you’re guided by metrics and indicators that are actually relevant to your own personal strategy.

You should choose who you’re going to pursue and how you’re going to measure their response based on what’s actually going to create results for you.

Look at the unique people your business attracts and how they respond to your business:

  • What strategic decisions have you made that attract those people to your business and influence how they respond to it?
  • What indicators of success can you extract from how your people respond?
  • What reactions would show you that you’re on the right path?
  • What responses or methods of response could you use to track your effectiveness?

You might find that Facebook shares fit both your strategic decisions and the direction you want to take next year. Or you might decide that email subscriptions are where it’s at and you want to do everything you can to have your people respond by subscribing. You might choose purchases as an indicator of effectiveness and work to understand how your strategy influences the way your awesome people choose to buy.

As you look to the coming year, choose one indicator to monitor closely. Experiment with your marketing and sales efforts to see how you can affect that indicator. Then pay special attention to how you can use that indicator to reach your business goals.

How Wedge15 Used The Living Room Strategy to Make an Impact and Make Money Fast, Too

Your goal is simple: take your big idea to market.

But do you ever feel overwhelmed with the idea of putting your ideas, your aesthetics, even a career’s worth of expertise into a product or service offering? For many, it can be paralyzing. Instead of figuring out how to make money fast, you’re stuck on a mental hamster wheel that may or may not pay any kind of dividend down the road.

Couple that with the images of content marketers, startup founders, and idea people crushing it with big launches, fancy websites, and [potentially] crazy price tags; it only makes it worse. You want to do your ideas justice. You want to pay your bills. And, if you’re anything like me, you feel your competitive spirit starting to morph from helpful to harmful.

How to Use the Living Room Strategy to Make Money Fast

The good news is that big ideas don’t start big. They start small. Their creators tap into the essence of the idea—the very reason people need it to begin with—and create the minimum.

Creating the bare minimum is a great way to make money fast in a way that’s sustainable, honest, and strategic.

Businesses you know and love started this way. Think Facebook, Dropbox, Google, DailyWorth, Mailchimp … the list could go on and on. They turned the a simple “make money fast” strategy into big impact and long-term revenue growth.

Yet, time and again, we try to do better and go big right out of the gate.

During my last CreativeLive workshop, I introduced the idea of the Living Room Strategy. In other words, you don’t need to fill a stadium full of customers with your new idea for it to be a success, for it to impact all the right people. You can start by filling a Living Room.

Even better, filling a Living Room first can give you the experience, feedback, and stories you need to fill that stadium when you’re ready. The Living Room Strategy is the process by which you make the first set of invitations to your idea, host your intimate dinner party of an idea, and then gather feedback on how to make it better next time.

After my CreativeLive workshop, Gloria Roheim McRae put the idea to the test. Gloria had a decade-long global career but left her last position in 2010 to launch her entrepreneurial journey in digital strategy. In 2013, she and her husband merged their businesses to become Wedge15 Inc. and enjoyed great success. They’ve served hundreds of clients individually, self-published a best-selling book, and been featured throughout the media.

But they still faced familiar dilemmas when it came to taking their ideas to scale:

  • When do you create the content?
  • How do you ensure it sells?
  • How much time and energy do you need to put into marketing it?
  • How do you push your next big thing to live up to the reputation of your tried and true big thing?

Inspired by what she saw on CreativeLive and with fellow Living Room Strategy user Marie Poulin, Gloria constructed a plan. She says, “we created a landing page, a wait list and mentioned we would launch in October 2014. Our intention was to sell out the BETA program at half price to help us pilot the full priced program with customer feedback and reviews in 2015.” She acted fast and with focus. Gloria and her husband Ricardo honed in on what values would shape the program (“intimate and interactive”) and decided to do things very differently than they’d done them in the past.

Here’s a sample of what they did:

  • Didn’t wait to be done creating the program but instead let the program grow around the participants. Gloria says, “You made it look easy and fun, and it was.”
  • Focused on personalizing the launch to a small wait list instead of generalizing their marketing to their full list.
  • Invited prospects to a free in-person private dinner event to find out what their pains were, in their own words.
  • Tailored the program to exactly meet their pain points where they were instead of trying to push them 10 steps ahead.
  • Wrote their sales copy using customer-centered pain points instead of expert-centered ideas of what’s going wrong and what they need to fix.
  • Highlighted their own expert’s perspective to formulate a clear statement of value (their hypothesis).
  • Delivered great content that gave their wait list a taste of their offer but didn’t try to sell it.
  • Opened applications at the end of their series of content.
  • Reviewed applicants and only those that we thought would be an ideal fit were sent the registration link to pay and secure their spots.
  • Followed-up individually with successful candidates to keep the momentum going and confirm the sale.
  • Maintained the energy of the initial invitation period through a variety of content marketing and posted until the very last minute.

In the end, Wedge15 had a $7200 Beta launch that sold out their Branding School program. They were able to welcome a small group of the perfect customers into their “living room” for an intimate and interactive experience of great material, tailor made for them.

Maybe this example applies directly to you in your business right now. Or maybe you’re considering a new service offering and wondering how you can get the first 5 clients to try it out before you unleash the offer to all of your prospects. Or maybe you’re thinking about a new collection of home goods for your textile business and wondering how you can ensure the first 10 wholesale orders to recoup the initial expense of production.

The same concepts apply. Start small with the very essence of the idea and the core values that influence how you want to deliver it. Know who you want to invite to purchase, who you want to create for. Devise a way for those people to find out about the offer—personal invitations work great—and then create a way for them to RSVP with a yes.

She says that without this approach, “I would have let the process defeat me and delayed launching again until things ‘felt perfect.’” Instead, Gloria’s customers are enjoying the benefit of her knowledge, experience, and brilliant ideas. And now Gloria is primed for a much bigger launch the next time around—if she wants to make it bigger.

Have you been letting the process defeat you? Have you delayed taking your idea to market because of a fear of everything you have to do to “crush it?” Do you fear that making money fast now could hurt your chances of making good money down the road?

It doesn’t have to be this way. Follow Gloria’s example. Or, join me in Kick Start Labs where you can find the official Living Room Strategy training & workbook, plus plenty of other training for maximizing your business with minimal effort.

Kick Start Labs is where creative entrepreneurs go for training, support, and a good kick in the business pants. Click here to learn more.

 

 

Why You Should Put Your Product In Exactly the Right Hands

Lately, I’ve found myself using a phrase I haven’t used in years: hand selling. Back in my days at America’s former second largest bookseller, hand selling was my favorite thing.

In bookselling, hand selling is making a recommendation to a customer based on her description of what she’s looking for. Literary vampire fiction? Funny but informative non-fiction by a journalist? Gothic books about books and the people who love them? I had you covered.

I read Publisher’s Weekly religiously. I poured over displays. I read advance copies. I did everything I could to have an answer when a customer asked me for a book. And if I didn’t know the right book for her, I would know the team member who would.

Why? Because there was no greater joy than connecting the right person with the right book.

How Hand Selling Can Improve Your Online Business

That’s it: knowing that what I put into that person’s hands was exactly what they needed for their next reading fix.

It would make my day.

Now, why am I thinking about hand selling again after so long?

There’s a misconception in the online space that customers will (or need to) come to you. Yes, inbound marketing is a beautiful thing but it’s not the only thing. Especially with markets and conversations as crowded—and loud—as they are.

Sometimes, you need to put your solution in the hands of the right people. That can not only make your goals, but make their days.

When is hand selling the right solution for your business?

  • When you’re offering a “beta” or Minimum Viable Product version of an offer
  • When you’re branching into new territory either with your offerings or your market
  • When you’re feeling sure of your value but unsure of your drawing in your right prospects
  • When your network is a goldmine of potential clients

The truth is that it’s not always feasible to expect that your existing audience will supply the necessary numbers to make your product idea work. You might have to look elsewhere. And that will probably require making individual offers, supplying personalized insights, and looking for specific problems your new offer can solve.

Put your product in the hands of the people who need it most. Make their day. And feel good about it—even if that means selling your work one book at a time.

Why More Offers Don’t Equal More Revenue

Need to make more money? Generate some revenue? It’s as easy as creating a new offer, right?

Not so fast. True, being an entrepreneur means that, even if money doesn’t grow on trees, it’s not so hard to find something to sell when you need a few extra dollars.

But creating a new product, program, or offer every time you want to generate revenue isn’t a good plan. In fact, it’s not a plan at all. It’s a reaction to a need.

When you’re just starting out, most of what you do is react. And that’s okay. But you’re really ready for something a little more proactive now, aren’t you?

My story starts no differently than yours. I “got” the entrepreneurial money mindset—that you can create revenue whenever you need it—well before I “got” planning for steady, predictable revenue growth. When I wanted to make some money, I’d make something new. I’d write a book, create a program, make a new coaching offer.

Of course, launching all the time, creating products all the time (even when you’re an idea person like me!), and selling all the time is exhausting.

Beyond that, it’s not building a legacy for your business. It doesn’t give your prospects something to remember your business for.

But most importantly, always creating new offers doesn’t set you up for making more money in the long run.

Every time you launch a new product or program, you’re only tapping into a very small segment of your potential customer base (the Early Adopters). If you stop there, other customers might trickle in over time but most people won’t even know you have that offer available.

That just puts your business back in the position of needing to generate revenue with another new product. It’s a vicious cycle.

Instead of a vicious cycle, your business needs a system for marketing, launching, and selling your best offers over & over again. And when that system also includes products that work together to create more value for your customers and your business than they could alone, it’s a Business Model.

When your business has that kind of system in place, revenue becomes predictable and more consistent. At the very least, you know when it’s coming. Best of all, you’ll find that your offers start to generate more and more revenue each time you enter a sales cycle because your customers are expecting them, planning for them, and eager to buy them.

It’s so much easier to sell to a prospect who is already aware of your product. It’s even easier when your prospect knows people who have purchased and loved your product already. That’s easy to accomplish when your business has regular sales cycles for your best offers.

My business now has two main offers: Kick Start Labs and 10ThousandFeet. And with just those two offers, my business is on track to do $100,000 more in revenue than it did last year—and possibly much more. Instead of generating new offers over the last 2 years, I’ve focused on making those offers better and better, more predictable, and more familiar.

To get really specific, that means that my interest list for an offer like 10ThousandFeet has gone from 20 to 50 to 150 to 250 to many, many more without much promotion. When I enter a sales cycle with that group, they’re there because they’re truly eager to find out more about the program. They’ve probably heard about it from a past client and they want to get similar results.

Each time I launch the program, it’s easier and easier to sell and I’m more confident about its ability to sell out.

That’s how a blockbuster product is born.

It doesn’t happen all it once. It builds over time. When you design your whole business model that way, you’ve got the makings of a blockbuster business.

This is a great time of year to step back and examine the offers your business currently has, how they’re working together (or not), and how you could plan a system for revenue growth based on those existing offers. Your Next Big Thing might be something you’re already selling.

Have questions about how that works? Ask them in the comments and I’ll address it in a future post.

4 Mistakes You Make While Marketing, Launching, and Selling Your New Product

This is a time of year when many business owners are thinking about what’s next in their businesses. And for you, that might be your “Next Big Thing.” It’s a product, program, or service that you’re incredibly excited about. Something you think might represent your business for years to come. Something that might finally put you over the top of your revenue goal or revolutionize your business model.

A Next Big Thing could be exactly what your business needs to do all those things. Unfortunately, if you’re an idea person like me—and I reckon you probably are, it’s likely that you’ll get carried away with the idea itself and forget to engage some of the strategies that can help you realize the true potential of your idea.

After all, you’d like people to be hungry to buy your new idea, right?

Here are 4 mistakes you’re likely to make in the process of marketing, launching, and selling your new product—and how to avoid them:

1) You take it to market too slowly.

Yes, too slowly. The faster you can bring a product to market the better. My highest grossing, most respected and well-known products have gone from idea to sales in the shortest periods of time. And that’s no fluke.

When you take a product to market as quickly as possible, you get “proof of concept.” The proof, of course, is whether people are willing to buy it or not.

To get that proof, you need to ask yourself, “What’s the least amount of work I can do on this for people to be willing to buy it?Perfectionists, please stay with me. I’m a Virgo, I get it.

Challenge yourself to think small.

The answer to that question is the design of your Minimum Viable Product. Often for service or information businesses, the answer is nothing more than an offer, a sales page, or even just a conversation. For product businesses, it might be a photoshop mockup or a sketch.

If you don’t have at least some people willing to buy this kind of product, your Next Big Thing isn’t going to be that big the way you’ve conceived it. The great part of going to market fast is that you can make changes, adjust your idea—possibly several times—so that when it comes time to really investing your time, money, or energy into your idea, you know it’s going to work.

2) You don’t take into account who’s ready to buy.

Now, not everyone buys a Minimum Viable Product. Who does? Early Adopters. They’re often your business’s biggest fans and most loyal customers. They love trying out new stuff and are just tickled when they get to try out something before everyone else.

But what about when you move past of the MVP stage? Every stage of product iteration and marketing development should take into consideration the segment of the market you’re ready to reach—and who’s ready to be sold to.

For example, you might develop an internal launch of your new product that is designed specifically for customers who wouldn’t have been comfortable buying a prototype but are nonetheless excited about a new idea. They’re focused on what they’re trying to achieve, how they want to feel, and how they could be doing things better.

Later in the game, you might turn an active product into a more passive product or evergreen offering and put it on autopilot. The kind of customer who is going to buy that product wants to have everything figured out for them. They’re likely more focused on fixing a problem or alleviating some pain.

Each of these stages deserves a fresh marketing message that appeals to that customer segment’s specific needs.

3) You focus on feel-good ideas instead of urgent needs.

Speaking of needs, let’s talk about that. I know you, you hate to be “salesy.” And you just love this idea that business “starts with why” because it feels good, feels safe, feels altruistic.

Here’s the thing, business starts with why but transactions don’t end with it.

Instead, the real reason people Buy Now is because they’re actually looking for something to buy. People love to buy! And when you tap into the natural reasons they’re already in the market with their wallets out, you’re much more likely to get the sale.

And the really beautiful part of that is that you still don’t have to be salesy. You just have to match your sales copy to the reasons people are looking to buy, whether that’s because they’re looking for a great necklace for date night, they’re frustrated by their website, or they’re finally ready to stop visiting the refrigerator every night at 8pm.

Don’t just get people excited, give them a reason to buy.

4) You don’t start marketing and selling soon enough.

Finally, the number one mistake I see with marketing, launching, and selling a new product is that business owners don’t start the marketing and sales process soon enough. Clients ask me all the time, “How early is too early to start marketing my new product?” The answer is never.

It is never too early.

It doesn’t have to be polished, it doesn’t have to be strategic. It does’t need to use the latest trend in online marketing.

First, marketing starts the minute you start product development. Because marketing is so much more than promotion, as soon as you start thinking about who your product is for, why they need it now, and how you’re going to best fill those needs with your product, you’ve started marketing.

Second, promotion can begin with a whisper. A small wave of a mention that you’re working on something for your people that does x, y, or z can lead to a tsunami at launch time.

Finally, I don’t let any of my clients start building a product if they haven’t figured out their sales message. If you don’t have confidence your product is going to sell, you’re not ready to realize your idea yet. Start there.

If you can avoid these 4 mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to creating and selling your next blockbuster product.

The good news is that my next creativeLIVE workshop is on this very topic. I’ll be outlining the 7 essential steps you need to market, launch, and sell your Next Big Thing.

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And on top of that, you’ll also receive 3 free training videos on how to develop your Next Big Thing in the weeks leading up to the workshop. This is content I haven’t shared outside of my high-end coaching programs and it’s worth thousands of dollars. But it’s all yours FREE when you enroll.

Click here to enroll in my next creativeLIVE workshop, FREE.

You Can Choose Less Stress

In a recent post, I remarked that everything in business is a choice. From how you price your offerings to the brand you create to the marketplace you sell in, everything can be determined by you.

Of course, we’re often less than intentional about these choices and that leaves us feeling backed into the nether-corners of business.

The same is true of our health. And entrepreneurship can be a heavy burden to bear on our overall well-being.

I spoke with Dr. Samantha Brody, a Portland-based naturopathic physician (and a client of mine!), about handling stress as an entrepreneur.

The two big takeaways I had from this chat were:

  1. I can be more in control of my own health when I better understand all the things that are stressing my body.
  2. I can choose to remove stress factors, even in little ways, to have a big impact on my overall health.

Watch this short interview above, or click here to view it in Vimeo.

Learn more about Dr. Samantha, Stress 2.0, and how to take control of your health: click here.