Put an End to the Overwhelm

I hear it all the time. Authors, speakers, entrepreneurs, designers, photographers, small business owners, Realtors, plumbers, job seekers… They are all facing the same problem.

Marketing is time-consuming! Especially when you’re trying to figure it out as you go.

Actually, the whole thing can become simply overwhelming. Since they don’t know where to start, they often don’t get started or they make slower progress than they want and need to.

That’s one of the reasons that I write this blog.

I enjoy helping people find the tools and techniques that really work.

I like to take a specific issue and figure out the best way of fixing it, so that I can then pass it along to my clients and readers.

Whenever possible, I prefer to test things out for my own needs before recommending them to anyone else. But sometimes the best I can do is research it, knowing the needs of my clients, and let you know which I would choose if I were going to be using it.

Know what you want to accomplish

That exact situation came up recently. I was in conversation with a friend on Facebook who was looking for a magazine designer.

Since there are many different approaches that can be taken to designing a magazine, I asked her some leading questions.

  • Did she want her magazine to be online, in print or both?
  • Did she want to design her magazine online or upload a PDF that was displayed in an online reader?
  • Did she want flexibility in her design (for enhanced creativity) or did she want a template she could work from (for ease of use)?
  • Did she want just text and images in her magazine or other types of content like video, MP3 and ecommerce options?

These were just a few of the questions we discussed.

Find the right tools

In this particular context, my friend was looking at potentially using LucidPress to generate her magazine. I’d also found FlipSnack and suggested she compare the two, along with Issuu, which is a popular online document viewer.

She narrowed down her choices to LucidPress and FlipSnack and asked what I thought of them. So, I took a few minutes to look at the features and functionality of both, and to research a few comparison articles to see what existing users thought of them.

What I found was that selecting the right tool was contingent on knowing how you wanted to use it and what you wanted to get out of it. (Isn’t that always the case!)

A wrench is not just a wrench

A field of nuts with one selectedAs an author, speaker or entrepreneur, it’s important to know, first, what your objective is and then, second, what your preferred operating method is, before making a choice about the tools and platforms you want to integrate into your business.

If the tool makes things harder for you, it’s not the right one.

If it limits your ability to achieve your objective, it’s still not the right one.

Look for tools that are the right fit for you.

Don’t just assume that because everyone else is using it, you should too. Everyone else is not you!

I was commenting to my son recently about the wide selection of socket wrench handles hanging on a hardware store wall. You might think that a wrench is a wrench is a wrench. But that’s simply not true.

There are different size wrenches (1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″, 3/4″, 1″, 1-1/2″, 2-1/2″ and 3-1/2″ to start with), ratcheting and non-ratcheting, fixed socket or interchangeable, metric, standard and Torx sockets, and so on.

Even if you settle on the specific tool you want, you’ll find that one manufacturer’s handle has a different grip than another’s. And while both may be perfectly usable, one fits your hand better than another.

Use the tools that are right for you

The same is true as you build your business. There are plenty of tools out there to work with. But you need to know what job you want to use the tool for (to make sure it has the right functionality to accomplish the task), as well as which one suits you best.

You could have the best tool in the world, but if it’s not something you’re comfortable with, you’re simply not going to use it!

That’s a frequent conversation that I have with my authors.

Which social media platform should I be on?

What is the absolute best method of marketing my book without a budget?

What’s the one thing I should do every day to reach my audience?

There is no “one size fits all” answer to that. It’s unique because you are you and your ideal reader is your ideal reader. You aren’t everyone else.

That’s why it’s critical to develop a marketing strategy that has you, your offering and your market in mind.

It’s also how consulting a marketing strategist can help you create an optimized plan that ensures that your budget is being applied to the activities that will work best for your specific product, goals and audience.

Fitting the pieces together

Connecting the pieces

So, if you are feeling stuck or if your book marketing simply isn’t getting the results you want, I encourage you to book a strategy call with me and get unstuck! I can help you connect the pieces so that you feel confident about your next steps.

Oh, and if you were interested in the outcome of the LucidPress vs. FlipSnack review, check back next week and I’ll share those results.

 

The Key to Pursuing a Dream

What’s your dream? Do you even know what it is? One of the things that has always amazed me about my daughter, Eliza, is that she has heldunwaveringlyto one dream since she was four-years-old. She wants to be a performing artist.

She knows that to achieve her dream, it takes hard work and lots of time and effort. She’s never anticipated that anyone would simply “make it happen” for her. She’s studied hard, pushed her body, broadened her horizons, studied with high-caliber teachers who are stars in their own rights, and continually strives to improve her skills.

Her talents are many. However, that wasn’t always the case… I enrolled her in a pre-ballet class at the age of four because she was the biggest klutz I’d ever seen. She’d become enamored of Angelina Ballerina, and I thought perhaps a little ballet would help her overcome thatpredilection. Contrary child! She loved it right away.

Over the years, she added tap, jazz, modern, acrobatics, contemporary, vocal performance, musical theatre and acting to her resume. In addition to attending a performing arts school for these classes, where she frequently studies 20 or more hours per week, she has sought performing opportunities outside of her school.

She became a member of the teen ensemble in Bye, Bye Birdie (her first auditioned role), was the youngest singer to join the Candlewood Children’s Choir, and dreams of being on stage on Broadway someday.

My daughter recognizes that to achieve her dreams, she has to be purposeful in what she does. So, at the age of 12, she mapped out the activities and pursuits that she believed would best position herself to accomplish those dreams. Now, at 14, she continues to follow that plan with the same passion and insight with which she created it in the first place.

Let me be clear here… I’m not one of those stage Moms always seeking the next role for her child. If you asked Eliza, she’d probably tell you I’ve been a ball-and-chain in this process, encouraging her to enjoy the journey along the way instead of dashing headlong so focused on the destination that she misses the scenery along the way.

So, I ask you again… What’s your dream? Have you ever thought about what it would take to accomplish it? Do you have a plan? Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as Jiminy Cricket would have us believe. You can’t just wish upon a star and have your dreams come true… It makes no difference who you are. Dreams take work, commitment and perseverance. But when you apply those elements, you too can become a star. As I mentioned a year ago in a post about a lesson my son taught me, when you start with the end in mind, defining your path to get there is so much easier.

On a parting note, just so you don’t think this blog post is the ramblings of a biased mother, enjoy this cover of a John Mayer song, “Daughters,” performed by my daughter, Eliza.

And, while you’re listening, let me know what dream you’re pursuing in the comments below. I’d love to support and encourage you.


Forging Into the Future — 2012

2012

When I outlined at the beginning of last year how I was going to meet my goals for the year, this is what I wrote:

…accomplished by focusing for the next few months on the specific areas of sales (pricing, fulfillment, etc.), product development (for residuals), and website upgrades (for greater visibility, lead capture and establishment of my expertise). These will then serve as part of the launch of my (paid) speaking career.

To put it a bit more concisely, my aim was to shift my focus to speaking more. The necessary ingredients I saw for this were a product to sell, a platform for visibility (namely, my website), and a mailing list to work with.

This required migrating my website from one platform to another in order to make the changes I felt were necessary. Check! That’s done.

It also required creating a product that could be sold. Although a bit late, since it was finished January 5th this year, check! That’s done too. The first of many to come…

I felt (and still feel) that “selling” is a skill that I just don’t have. But I did engage with some great sales mentors to learn what I could, and I’m happy to report that you can teach an old dog new tricks. It’s just going to take some time and patience.

So far as building a mailing list goes? Well, I’m working on that right now, participating in the Self Improvement Gift Giveaway! But I don’t want just any old mailing list. After some introspection, I realized that I am, and always have been, a wordsmith. I love writing and speaking, working with writers and speakers, and many of my clients are one or the other, even though I wasn’t targeting that specific demographic. So, moving forward, the list I am building is for writers and speakers, and the solutions I am offering are intentionally meant for them.

To be able to complete this transition into a niche market, my focus is necessarily becoming more myopic. My goals for 2012 take me deeper into this niche of dealing with authors and speakers, with a micro-niche of working in the Christian community. Product development and building my mailing list are both huge components of that. But I’m also spending time on developing a coaching program, as well as expanding my speaking platform.

So, here are my priorities for 2012:

  • Increase my client base, moving more and more into the niche I want to establish myself in. Speaking engagements and product development will shift more and more into this market to establish my expertise. Increasing my client base in those areas will also require me to increase my connections with others serving that same market. So, I anticipate expanding my network by 5 new contacts a week to increase my client base by 2-3 new clients a month.
  • Work smarter, not harder! I’m still living in a world where I’m the Chief Cook and Bottle Washer at the same time as being the CEO and Janitor. It’s hard to flourish in any of those roles when I’m trying to do them all at once. So, the plan here is to recognize the responsibilities of each role, and set aside a minimum or 2 hours dedicated time every week to function in each of the necessary capacities, while getting rid of those things that I, specifically, do not need to do through elimination or outsourcing. It also means offering more group services (coaching, masterminds, speeches, etc.) and on-demand products.
  • Develop more products! Ensure that I have a residual income that supplements what I receive from speaking and client work. This means developing a library of recorded webinars, eBooks, books, recorded teleseminars, etc. that clients can browse and order from. Ideally, I want to offer at least one new product every other month this year. It may also entail doing more affiliate marketing than I have done in the past, and it certainly means more actively promoting the materials I already have.
  • Speak more and get paid for it! This is the ultimate goal. While I use the other steps above to create a wider platform that establishes my expertise, this is that I ultimately love doing the most. Through speaking, webinars and teleseminars, I plan to reach an audience of at least 1,500 new people this year.

As you’ve been planning the year ahead, what are your priorities for 2012? What do you need to do to make them reality? Share your thoughts below, but make sure they’re measurable and in line with your goals!

Learning From the Past — 2011

2011A recent blog post by David Risley caught my attention. He shared “5 Failures and Take-Aways From 2011 [A Retrospective].” It got me thinking about what lessons I had learned from 2011.

It’s always nice to think “Oh, there were no failures. Everything went perfectly according to plan!” But that’s only for some dream world, not the everyday, real world of business.

Thankfully, at this time last year, I was part of a mastermind group, so had the accountability of stating my goals for the year in clear, concise and measurable terms. After all, isn’t that what goal-setting is all about? If we don’t know whether we met them or not, what’s the point of setting them in the first place?

My main “radical goal” — that goal that was a stretch, but not impossible — was a monetary goal that I fell short of by 32%. Ouch!

But that monetary goal was to be the direct result of “doing the things I am passionate about; teaching, strategizing, training, speaking and connecting.”

So, how did I do with those things? Well, I participated in two failed collaborations, each of which would have created a broader teaching platform; but one collaboration lacked vision, and the other didn’t receive enough time and attention. At the same time, a third collaboration among 21 writers resulted in a book that’s being published in March 2012. So, that was a huge success in my mind.

I spent much more time this year watching trends, and being at the forefront of bloggers writing about them, which was great for building my readership. So, I count that as a success. However, when I analyze what content my readers consumed most, it was my book reviews and not trending topics that interested them the most. So, that’s something I’ll need to take into account in setting my editorial calendar for 2012.

I did take on more clients, which created a broader training platform. But I didn’t leverage my time well, since it was primarily one-on-one training classes that I ended up doing. The lesson there? I’ll always be limited in how many people I can help until I offer group-training opportunities. So, to take Aleweb to the next level, I’ll be offering group coaching starting in 2012!

While I spoke fewer times in 2011 than I had in 2010, the size of my audience was the same since I spoke at larger conferences than I had the year before; more people, less work, greater exposure. Seems like a step in the right direction!

One significant lack that I noted early in 2011 though was that I was missing out on a huge opportunity by not having a product for sale at the conferences. That’s an issue I have already addressed in the first week of 2012, so that I won’t repeat that same mistake this year.

The connections I made in the course of 2011 were deeper and more significant than the year before. The unanticipated side effect of that was that when I experienced a personal tragedy in the latter half of the year, my online community provided support and assistance that I had no right to expect or even anticipate! That was a huge blessing to me personally.

While my main “radical goal” for 2011 wasn’t met at all, the foundation needed to accomplish it has been well-laid. So, the successes desired for last year may have fallen short, but I’m well on my way to meeting them this year! And I still have some neat feathers for my cap from 2011 too, despite the failures, which I choose to view as “learning experiences…”

As you look back on 2011 yourself, did you reach your business goals? If not, do you know what’s yet needed to make them reality? Share your thoughts below, but be sure to note your successes as well as your failures!