4 Myths and Mistakes in Marketing During a Crisis

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First, we wish everyone health and safety during through this COVID crisis.

I will outline 4 myths and mistakes in marketing during a crisis. And stick around until the end, I’ll share 3 takeaways you could implement right away.

Given our new paradigm, I’ll put a positive spin on the 4 myths and mistakes in marketing that i’ve seen. 

Not all businesses are suffering financially, but all businesses have changed in some way whether it’s a process or protocol of doing business to ensure safety. People are looking for new ways to connect including efficient ways to do conduct their business.

It’s more important than ever to stay in touch with people whether it’s email, a text or direct messenger in a social media platform.

The number one priority is reaching out to all of your clients to see how they are doing and a polite nudge to remind them that you’re available if they have any questions about anything during this overwhelming time.

We can call it marketing or we can call it staying connected in a meaningful, purposeful way. 

If you are looking to do more than just survive in your business, it’s more important now than ever to either level up your marketing or at the very least, START marketing if you’ve been putting it off or getting by with minimal efforts. 

If people don’t hear from you now when they need you the most, they will find another resource they feel can rely on. I’ve heard more than a few times, “I don’t hear from you all year and now you show up. It’s too late.

The best part is that because we’re in the digital age, the currency is time. You don’t need to invest in big advertising budgets like the Mad Men days. No magazines print ads, no billboards, no Super Bowl ads. 

Here are four myths and mistakes people make when it comes to marketing.

Myth #1 – I don’t know what to say.

There’s more to what you do every day than you realize that people would be interested to know. You know a lot more than someone who isn’t in your business but doesn’t business with you. Delivering value of what you can offer someone will help to show that you’re present in your business and available when they need you.

For people to know, like & trust you, it’s ok to show your personal side. I like to work in my yard so i’ll post projects in and around the house. It helps to show that you’re human. It will also help to show how people can relate to you.

YOU are a brand whether you own a business or work for a business. You do not need to sell your product or service every time you’re marketing. 

Myth #2 – I don’t have time.

Some people may not think they have the time because they may not have seen results worthy of scheduling the time for this task. If you carved out 10-30 minutes every day or every other day dedicated to intentional and meaningful engagement, you would see results in how people pay attention to you. 

The more you spend engaging on a platform, the more you get noticed even if you don’t think the metrics are displaying a lot views. 

Business is about relationships. People have to know how to relate to you but if you don’t exist online, then they won’t know how to find you or know how you can help them.

Myth #3 – I don’t have an audience.

If you didn’t have an audience you wouldn’t be in business. You have people all around you, but perhaps you didn’t think of them as an audience. With the INFLUENCER movement, if you don’t have a million followers or get a million views on a post, people think they’re doing it wrong or that it’s a waste of time because they’re not getting those results.

The flaw in this mentality is that we have to appreciate that for any number of views we get online is less time we have to be in our car driving to a meeting with just one person.

Don’t look at the views or the metrics if you’re just starting out. Focus on the practice of developing a new habit of scheduling time to devote to marketing. If you aren’t creating content, then curate quality content that you trust and that you find relevant to your business.

Myth #4 –There are too many platforms.

Who doesn’t like having choices? To be able to pick from Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Pinterest, YouTube or any other platform you are familiar with means you get to enjoy however you feel most comfortable when delivering your content.

  • Maybe you want to practice with video so you may utilize Facebook Live because you’ve been on that platform longer or you save your videos to your Youtube playlist.
  • Maybe you want to be more business-like while extolling the virtues of your products and services, so you go to Linkedin. 
  • Maybe you like snapping photos and want to include a meaningful, inspiring message, so you go to Instagram or Pinterest.
  • Or the newest darling, maybe you want to bust a move or deliver a message with curated music in the background, you go to TikTok.

There are so many tools these days to help develop content. It’s a matter of EXECUTING.

And that is where people fail. Even if it means that you are going to pick one goal, but you’re not sure how to go about it, the RESEARCH is a form of execution. 

Research is learning and learning gives us more confidence with something new.

I think a formula for success can be described as follows:

Schedule + Research = (a higher probability of) Execution.

Here are 3 takeaways to ponder:

1. Cultivate your email list. it’s the only digital asset you own. The platforms own your content once you publish it on their site.

2. Do video. If you’re shy or you hate how you look on video, I will tell you from experience, no one is analyzing you the way you think they are. Video is so valuable and helps to deliver your message in such a powerful way. The statistics of how people connect with you is undeniable. Practice with one minute videos. It’s a great, safe start.

3. Repurpose your content. What do I mean by that? If you write a blog, do a one minute video on the topic of the blog you recently published. If you did a video about something important about your business, write a blog even if it’s only 200 words. Then, put the video on your website with the blog. Then grab a section of the blog and draft a post to Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, etc. about your blog and video.

Check out our Be GRAM-Tastic Instagram course.

If you want to find out more about it, Schedule a call with us by clicking on our online calendar here.

6 Podcast Episodes That Stopped Me in My Tracks


With COVID 19 hanging around longer than what anyone expected with no eradication in sight, it’s a mistake to think you should stop marketing for your business. I know how difficult it is to market a product or service that you may not or cannot offer right now.

My business is (was) a commercial financing brokerage. Banks aren’t lending right now due to the “all hands on deck” disaster relief financing efforts to help small businesses survive. Given our resources in lending, we pivoted quickly to stay connected to know how the banks and lenders were receiving (or not receiving) guidance from the Small Business Administration (SBA).

This gave us an opportunity to share information and insight. This provided an opportunity to create and share content. One of the ways to grab people’s attention is to share what you know. How you share that information and insight is through the various platforms available to you. There are different ways to broadcast your message:

  1. Written word such as emails and blogs
  2. Audio such as podcasts
  3. Video such as long-form, short-form or live video.

On March 15th of this year, the tough and undeniable realization was that we were going to have to dramatically pivot how we do business in order to earn an income.

Based on my background in insurance, marketing and financing and my partner’s experience with mortgage banking, financing and marketing, we began strategizing the avenues we could possibly earn income.

One thing we have in common is our love and success with marketing. Ultimately, marketing is the way we can get our brand and our business out to the world.

About a year ago, I stumbled upon a popular podcast hosted by Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner. it’s called Social Media Marketing. As I worked in the yard (almost every day), I would get my exercise in, stress out and learn a few lessons along the way.

I put together a list of the six Social Media Marketing podcast episodes in 2019 that stopped me in my tracks. They prompted me to put into immediate action various tips and techniques to make marketing not only more effective but more fun.

There are so many more episodes that this podcast offers depending on your hot button with what you enjoy (or don’t enjoy) with marketing. Maybe it’s advertising strategies on a specific platform. It’s there. Maybe it’s online traffic vs. foot traffic. It’s there.

The six I chose happen to be evergreen so you can hear their stories and apply their suggestions even during a pandemic. Stelzner has over 400 episodes in the Social Media Examiner library. I encourage you to check out the library of episodes to see what catches your eye and rings your ear.

Six of my favorite episodes are;

Narrative Storytelling: How to Weave Stories Into Your Marketing – Ep. 336 with Melissa Cassera of https://melissacassera.com

I listened to this one twice. Everyone loves stories, but some of us may not be good storytellers when it comes to creating content. You will increase the attention of your reader, viewer, listener if you employ solid story structure.

Find the episode here: https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/narrative-storytelling-how-to-weave-stories-marketing-melissa-cassera/

Phrases That Sell: 8 Copywriting Tips – Ep. 337 with Ray Edwards of https://rayedwards.com

This was the first episode I heard Stelzner use the term “solid gold” when it came to preparing us for what would be included in this episode. Ray Edwards has done copywriting for some of the top influencers in the marketplace. You can find this impressive list on his website.

Find the episode here: https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/phrases-sell-8-copywriting-tips-ray-edwards/

How to Create Long-Form Videos That Sell – Ep. 342 with Daniel Harmon of https://harmonbrothers.com/home

This was fascinating to hear the success of these two brothers in creating videos for companies that no one heard of but had incredible, almost unicorn success with the content they created for their clients.

It’s inspiring to think of the ways you can create video content, if this is a format you feel comfortable engaging. Video is inarguably the most valuable platforms to leverage your “top of mind” factor.

Find the episode here: https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-create-long-form-videos-sell-daniel-harmon/

Instagram Stories for Business: How to Create Engaging Stories – Ep. 369 with Alex Beadon of https://www.alexbeadon.com

This episode caused me to break out in a sweat because it was something completely new and I was already overwhelmed with all the new ways I could make marketing more effective.

It was compelling to switch how I was looking at Instagram stories as a viable platform. I hadn’t embraced snapchat or live video person so I didn’t think this platform or method would work for me. Instagram has been soaring in its popularity and effectiveness to build fan and brand loyalty.

Alex made me realize the important of consistency when it comes to showing up for your clients, colleagues and future clients.

Find the episode here: https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/instagram-stories-for-business-how-to-create-engaging-stories-alex-beadon/

How to Create Content That Attracts Customers – Ep. 356 with Melanie Deziel of https://www.storyfuel.co

Melanie used to be a journalist and her experience included training her fellow journalists how to create a framework for content. This was fascinating to learn how far you can stretch and repurpose content from one platform. For example, with one podcast episode, you can then create a blog. From the blog, you can extract “snackables” for social media posts.

Melanie’s book Content Fuel will help ease the pain of what to create (“focus”) and where to publish (“format”).

Find the episode here: https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-create-content-that-attracts-customers-melanie-deziel/

Magical Words That Sell: How to Build Trust in Your Marketing – Episode 391 with Marcus Sheridan of https://marcussheridan.com

Now, this one was a little extra special for me because I met Marcus Sheridan in Cleveland at an insurance seminar and literally stopped him in HIS TRACKS to take a picture. I didn’t know Marcus then, but it wasn’t the last time I would hear of him and learn from him.

His magical words will help you generate your own magical words for your magical marketing message. He focuses on how your website is likely not appealing to the visitors in the way you think it is.

Find the episode here:

Those are the six that helped me prepare for the biggest pivot of all: The coronavirus lockdown.

As I mentioned, there are over 400 episodes. Please do not mistake my choosing only six episodes as means to dilute the library of informative content that will help you too and keep your readers, viewers and listeners coming back from more.

You can find our musings and madness here:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Linkedin

Youtube

Stay safe, stay well.

Don’t Get Burned by Your Business Partner

Here’s a Valentine’s Day business tip for all the business partnerships out there, especially if you LOVE your business!

An entrepreneurial relationship can go sideways FAST if one partner begins to scrutinize another’s activity in their respective roles. It happens believe it or not. People change, goals and dreams change and how one approaches their profession, their job, their business can change due to a myriad of reasons such as:

1. An entrepreneur may feel they have “arrived” and they want to slow down a bit.
2. One learns and knows how to effectively delegate in order to scale the business.
3. They want to transition in order to finally honor their passion, their “calling”.

Contributions to the venture can be overlooked by a partner(s) when resentment sets in by another. If reasonable, kind, compassionate communication fails, resentment can creep in faster and most insidiously.

Hiring an outside consultant could be beneficial. VET that consultant vigorously. Check their background and their experience with managing businesses and business partnerships. You do not want to find out too late that they have no idea how to navigate a difficult situation.

Equally and most importantly, the following must be considered. You will want to consult with your business attorney on this.

1. Draft an operating agreement that specifically outlines duties of each partner.
2. Review the role and duties of each partner at least once per year.
3. Document the file with minutes of the meeting.

When an agreement / document is referenced on a regular basis, issues can be addressed before they get unruly and people get ornery. Memories fade and/or get distorted to match a current perspective.

In this age, where narcissism and borderline personality are a true epidemic (and perhaps incurable), victims can stay stuck in bad habits out of fear and confusion of bad behavior. This is no way to live a happy life. We all deserve to be happy and to seek a way to be happy when something feels off.

You don’t have to be an “Outsource Junkie” like myself, but research on how you can continually improve how your partnership can soar to the heights of what you envisioned when you got into business with your partner(s) in the first place.

Kick Overwhelm To The Curb

Do you ever have to prompt your kids to eat something, wear something, do something or go somewhere?

They resist; you persist because you want the best for them.

You’re selling, but you’re able to do that because ultimately you believe it’s best for them because you love them. You are delivering value by showing something that’s good for them.

Your kids are like the general public at large and your business is the parent that is trying to show them something of value.

I’ve been marketing since about the mid 1980’s. But I didn’t know I was marketing. 

My favorite course in college was marketing. We reviewed businesses that excelled because they applied business fundamentals that introduced their products and services to consumers.

Then when I joined my father’s insurance agency.
My first thought was “I don’t want him to be the best kept secret.”
My other thought was “this could take a while. People need to get to know me.”
My mantra became “there’s no immediate gratification in a long term strategy.”

I networked and joined business organizations to meet other business owners. I created events to engage the community.
I grew revenue 800%. He was able to retire when I bought him out and then I sold my shares to my sister six years later.

It was all from marketing. 

This was inspired by a conversation with a few of the Board members of an IDS Chapter in CT who brought me in to do a presentation. I asked, “what do you want me to talk about?” 

I wanted to do something different from what may be expected.
I didn’t want to beat a dead horse with the obvious platitudes about marketing. 

Nor debate about which is better:
Facebook vs. Linkedin
Posting in the morning or afternoon
Writing a Blog or recording a Vlog.

You don’t need me to tell you to post on social media.
It’s been trending for the past decade or more. Being an early adopter has left the station.

They said, We’re overwhelmed. Many of us are Solopreneurs and doing everything ourselves.”

FEELING OVERWHELMED

Do you ever feel overwhelmed with marketing? I have good news and bad news.

I believe being overwhelmed is an opportunity to learn how to grow in some capacity.
Your business could be at the precipice of growing to the next level.

Being overwhelmed, to me, is the difference between doing the things we want to do and doing the things we think we should be doing. It’s an internal conflict. It’s why we procrastinate and make excuses instead of delegating.

A side effect of being overwhelmed is complacency.

I don’t want to steal my therapist’s thunder, but most of the time, many of us, in general, have the same doubts and fears. 

People aren’t paying attention to us as much as we think they are. They’re too worried about their own stuff.

I’ve listened to hours of marketing podcasts where professionals share how they got started and invariably it begins with some fear and doubt as they stumble to figure things out.

Is there anyone here that DOESN’T want to grow to the next level?

Anything I share with you today is nothing i’ve not been through already.
I’ve worried. I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’ve doubted. And I’ve succeeded.

Marketing is not an event. It’s a process.
And when it comes to process, we don’t seek perfection, we strive for progress.

Who has a purpose they are trying to accomplish?

Marketing is about understanding our purpose and the goals we set to achieve the fulfillment of our purpose along with the good we want to put out into the world.

Sometimes it feels like marketing it’s not always practical or executable.
It’s too much, we’re too busy. We can always find an excuse. I know I do.

If we’re following our purpose, it’s practical.
If we’ve not achieved all of our goals yet, we must make it executable.

i can talk to you about tactics and techniques, but it’s boring, and you know it already.
You can google everything and anything for FREE.  You know more than you know.

It’s the motivation, inspiration and creativity that we seek sometimes.

I’ve been saying for years:
You have to start somewhere in order to celebrate progress.
It’s basic benchmarking.

Rachel Hollis said it better,
“You can’t get to great if you aren’t putting “good enough” out in the world.”

Rachel Hollis also wrote a book about the lies she told herself and how she overcame them. 

I’m going to share the lies I told myself when I started social media in 2009:

  1. I have nothing to say.
  2. No one is listening to me.
  3. I don’t have an audience.
  4. There is so much noise, no one is finding my stuff.

This is ego hijacking our brains. 

Because the truth is:

  1. I was most talkative in high school. So, Duh!
  2. I’ve been hired so people are listening.
  3. I’ve built an audience.
  4. I started with my inner circle & circle of influences to let them know what I’m doing out here in the world.

CONNECTION
Remember when we discussed purpose? There’s a reason I didn’t say passion or profit first.

Who doesn’t love financial gain? With profit, sometimes we let our money junk get in the way. Sometimes we charge too little or too much or we procrastinate because we don’t know what to charge or how to charge.

With passion, we keep ourselves mired in minutia because it’s an art or it’s too important and it has to be perfect and we don’t let go.

Purpose allows us to dig deep within ourselves to reveal and share our values. And values have impact.
Impact will tempt people to pause and perhaps notice you. And the more they notice you, the more likely they will remember you. When they remember you, they will buy from you when they need your products and/or services.

Your marketing strategy should include your story. People don’t want to feel alone. They want to connect.
We’re biologically wired to connect as humans.

Sharing your story, your struggle to make it in this business causes connection. People can relate.

No one cares what you post unless they know that you care. Thank you Theodore Roosevelt.

Let’s talk about the “Judgey Judge Judys” in the world. If anyone judges your content and proclaims it as a failure, thank them. It’s a gift. It’s called feedback. Feedback directs us on how to improve.  It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress.

Y’all still with me?

CONTENT
Content is king; consistency is key.
It doesn’t have to be all business all the time. The best marketing is when people don’t pontificate all the time with all that they know.

No matter your industry, build in visuals. I don’t want to invite you to my pity party, but I used to post about insurance.
Now, with my new business, I post about Business Credit Financing. It’s not very exciting content.

Find the emotion. You’re bringing your product or service to life.

Here are some things you can do to stockpile content for your business.

  1. Photographically document your process, parts of the process, pieces of the process.
  2. Train your clients to know you’ll be wanting their feedback along the process. Ask how they are feeling and why they are feeling that way. Bring them into the process.

Why is this beneficial?

You want to know what they are feeling at all times because this provides relatable events with what other people are feeling. This provides direction on your how your content will reach people who may need you in the future.

Document and/or develop “case studies” to capture a keyword library for you to enrich your content though your clients’ experience.

  • What is their Pain
  • What are their Problems
  • What are your Solutions
  • What is their Satisfaction

Lewis Howes, renowned podcaster of the School of Greatness said “Create what you would want to listen to if you were stuck, starting out or striving.”

People are paying you for your perspective. They have a problem. You have a solution.
Your job is to find more problems so you can help them solve it.

You are doing a disservice by not sharing your solutions and your creativity.

In my previous business, I amassed 13,000 Twitter followers. When I first started using Twitter, I politely stalked my competition & strategic alliances to see what they were posting and how their content was relevant to a similar audience I was trying to develop. 

Let’s go back to feeling and/or being overwhelmed.

Who feels that sometimes, somedays maybe they squander 30 minutes here and there?

Maybe you’re binge watching Netflix.
Maybe you’re aimlessly scrolling Facebook or Instagram.

Did you know that 30 minutes per day is 182.5 hours which is almost 23 days lost which is more than 3 weeks potentially squandered vs. being productive. 

How will you start taking that time back?

The Dirt on Marketing, Like Literally

When I was younger, I loved city life. The hustle and bustle of people scurrying and vehicles hurrying was alluring and alive.

As I got older, I became more attracted to the quiet countryside. Ah…the fresh air, the sounds of birds chirping, the smell of grass … hold the “flower”, I mean phone. (Yes, i’ll be cultivating these deciduous puns.)

The smell of grass? Yes! It’s a refreshing reminder of spring and summer. So glorious, right?

WRONG! You know how you get the smell of grass? You have to cut it. It’s called landscaping.

There are two kinds of people:
* People that do it on their own
* People who hire someone to do it

But wait, there’s more! There is the third type of person. Those that outsource a portion of the work and do some themselves.

Sound familiar? Yup. That’s how marketing works too.

When I decided to move to the country, I bought a house in Roxbury, Connecticut. It’s a wonderful place. Many people, even Connecticut residents have never heard of it.

Think Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe, William Styron, Walter Matthau, Richard Widmark, Alexander Calder.

Ok, enough of this stardom, let’s get back to “grass roots”. 

When you’ve never owned 2.6 acres of land before, and now you have it, you have to decide how to approach this monumental groundskeeping mission.

The first thing I did was to hire a full service lawn maintenance and estate management company to handle every aspect of the property. That got to be too expensive. I then decided to manage some of the yard work myself. I paired working in the yard with the idea of working out in the yard to get some exercise.

I reviewed what equipment I needed, what I had and what outside services I could ”prune” away.

While I was planting shrubs and laying mulch, I got to thinking about how landscaping and marketing are very similar. Let’s take a “broad-leaf” look at how the two compare. 

Curb Appeal vs. Brand

First, you survey the property on how to maintain or improve your curb appeal. That takes an eye towards design.

In marketing, your curb appeal is your brand. It takes strategy to consider how to project your brand.

Equipment vs. Tools

Then you prepare your landscaping project by organizing your equipment needed for mowing, planting, pruning, weeding, etc.

In marketing, you have tools necessary to exercise and broadcast your brand such as your website, social media channels, direct mail, podcasts, etc. 

Maintenance

This is where the two meet and thatch”, I mean match:
* Landscaping is not an event, it’s maintenance.
* Marketing is not an event, it’s a process.

If you’re looking to “till” through the marketing madness and cover more ground, email us at Curious@AuroraConsulting.biz or call 860-759-9910. 

Prospecting Avoidance

Professional salespeople know when they wake in the morning they have to do the one thing that is sure to guarantee an income:

Prospect for new business.

In a way, salespeople begin everyday looking for a new “job”, don’t they? Because without a new client to purchase what they’re selling, how is there any any hope of a paycheck in the future? Even if that salesperson is a salaried professional, without showing results for their employer, there’s no guarantee the employer will continue to employ that salesperson.

I think therefore, we can agree that a professional salesperson, whether commissioned or salaried, knows that prospecting for new business is the number one priority for their days, each and every day.

That’s not to say they all follow through on the actions necessary to prospect. “Prospecting avoidance” is a commonly understood malady in the sales profession. Sales Managers everywhere constantly harangue their sales teams to hit the pavements, ring the doorbells, make the calls, set the appointments, to fulfill the promise of prospecting.

Avoidance of prospecting comes out of the simple psychological fear of rejection. We all have it. Besides, as simple as prospecting can often turn out to be when you actually do it, it can also be as difficult to initiate.

It’s no wonder then that business owners who are NOT professional salespeople may suffer from this very disease of prospecting avoidance. The creative excuses people come up with to avoid having to make prospecting calls are legendary. Yet, as the owner of your business, unless you have a professional salesperson or sales team working for you, you must must, must, Prospect for new business.
The only way to overcome your avoidance of your emotional pain about Prospecting is to simply attach a level of importance to this task.

We hear so often from Business Owners of being distracted with other important tasks: making payroll; attending to a malfunctioning machine on the shop floor; taking a call from the accountant/attorney/spouse/pesky customer/excellent customer/number one account/printer/fleet mechanic and on and on and on.

The Business Owner has attached a level of importance to each and every one of these tasks. Attach that same level of importance to Prospecting. You must. Absolutely must. Your business health, wealth and survival depends on you doing so.

Once you make Prospecting as important an activity as any other in running your business, all those other avoidance afflictions melt away into nothing. Fear of rejection disappears. Procrastination towards your Prospecting Plan converts to an optimistic sense of urgency.

And, yes, you may even like Prospecting.

The Right Conversation

Too often, business owners have preconceived notions about financing their businesses, whether it’s for a commercial mortgage or credit financing. These ideas arise out of common perceptions about how traditional lenders make credit financing decisions.

And then they speak with their banker. We’ve already discussed the idea that your banker is very often a “gatekeeper” with the “keys to the vault.”  For a business owner, gaining access to the money in the vault can be a daunting process, and that initial conversation with the banker proves out this theory, especially with reinforcing those preconceived notions.

The truth is this: having a conversation, the right conversation, with someone who has your business’ best interests at heart can lead to a different result. That result can be financing the business owner needs to move forward and continue to build their business.

The right conversation with a broker who is working for you and not working for the lender will very quickly wipe away those preconceived notions.

Credit is one of those conversations. The concept that credit must be a very high score with impeccable payment histories is an idea that can be changed with the right conversation. Because there are lenders out there, non-traditional lenders, who have a more forgiving attitude towards credit blemishes.

Same with income tax returns and the dreaded “bottom line” income. Traditional lenders use a decidedly more rigid approach to income-qualifying. That rigid approach can lead to a denial of your loan request.

The right conversation with a broker who has the ability and who works with both traditional and non-traditional lenders will simply assist to “translate” the true income-producing potential of your business that will lead to a positive result.

Call us to have the right conversation.

Our Comfort Zone is Unsafe

I’ve been skydiving, twice. Yes, it was terrifying, both times. I imagined all the worst case scenarios…and they all resulted in death. When you jump out of an airplane at 13,000 feet, there’s that first feeling of free falling. Queue Tom Petty, please.

This is not butterflies; this is sheer terror. For many split seconds, I wondered: “how did I get up here, jumping into this big blue sky that’s so high?” But I did it. I got out of my comfort zone. And I lived to tell this tale.

Doesn’t it make you nervous to get out of your comfort zone? It makes me nervous. For instance, I didn’t want to write this blog for fear of having to take my own advice.

I’ve gotten out of my comfort zone in my business, too. I had no choice. I had a deliberate plan to build my business to a certain level. The only way to get to that level was to get out of my comfort zone, jump out of the metaphorical airplane and do things that were uncomfortable but necessary.

Why would you get out of your comfort zone if  you know something works? Getting out of your comfort zone implies pain. Who wants pain?

There’s a reason we do things that scare us. When we do something scary, we put ourselves in a situation and/or surround ourselves with circumstances that we wouldn’t otherwise experience. But, the real problem with staying in our comfort zone is missing out on opportunities.

Skydiving and/or public speaking provide opportunities to learn about ourselves by getting out of our comfort zone and trying something new, and potentially scary. I survived both skydiving jumps and I managed to leverage the two experiences into successful marketing campaigns for my business. This opened up opportunities to win clients. The bonus was also being featured in a book, Make What You Say Pay, by Anne Miller, Sales and Presentation Coach.

Sometimes, doing what we know feels productive. When we want something done, we do it ourselves. Like marketing. Or fixing a leaky faucet. We’re in our comfort zone; we believe we know what to do, and we believe it’ll get done faster. But sometimes getting it done faster isn’t the most efficient use of our time. And sometimes, we actually fail. Sometimes, that leaky faucet repair we tried to fix ourselves turns out to be a disaster.

How do you move from being set in your ways to getting out of your comfort zone?

First, if you have a doubt or fear about doing something you’ve never done before, realize that could be a trigger that there’s experience and growth waiting for you. The fear of jumping out of the airplane is replaced by positive anticipation of the experience. Sheer joy is so much better than sheer terror.

How else can you execute on this trigger?

Decide how you want to grow. Is it personally or professionally? Or both?

  • Do you want to grow your business to the next level?
  • Do you want to have more adventure in your life?
  • Do you want to date more suitable companions?

Be specific in setting your goal so you can know how to proceed with the following task which is to research activities necessary to perform the fearful task. Taking on small challenges will lead to the ultimate goal if you break it down into mini deadlines.

Speaking of public speaking, if you fear public speaking, join a Toastmasters Club. This practice will hone your skills while in
front of a group. This will begin to build good habits around this activity.

As part of achieving my previous business goals, I wanted to get over my fear of public speaking. Not only did I join a Toastmasters Club, I also enrolled in an Improv Acting class. This practice of being in front of people diminished the feeling of embarrassment while performing “think on your feet” acts.

You can discuss with a friend or colleague how to bring life to your thought. Then make the bold move and announce it to the world. To assist with staying accountable to the task, calendar each progression so you know how far out of your comfort zone you’ve come.

All of these activities assist you to imagine your outcome of success. Trish Tagle is an expert in leadership training and troubleshooting organization efficiency in order to evolve businesses. Trish is famous for saying, “imagine the outcome.

Here’s a great example of a business owner who challenged her team to get out of their comfort zone.

My friend and colleague, Kelly Piro, owner of  Agency Performance Partners invited me to judge a “Sales Showdown” for her company. Twice a year, the APP consultants undergo role-playing exercises in order to practice how they interact with prospects. The objective is to convert prospects to clients faster.

ROLE-PLAYING? Yes!

The APP team had various scenarios such as being at a trade show, being on a sales call or in an initial sales meeting. There were several of us observing while the team role-played their scenarios. By critiquing their performance, the judges and the fellow team members pushed everyone out of their comfort zones. It was easy to do in the role-playing scenarios because it was practice, it was imaginary, and no one actually jumped out of an airplane.

Outsourcing important tasks is another way to get out of your comfort zone. Like hiring a plumber to fix that faucet. Cost tends to be the primary impediment before people make the call to the plumber. It’s “comfortable” to think we can save money by doing it ourselves. But we have other things to do with our time and we’re not actually plumbers, are we?

It could be argued that watching a couple of YouTube videos on plumbing and doing the work ourselves is also getting out of our comfort zone. True. But that’s not the point of my blog! Because I want to be your plumber! Except, I do marketing, not plumbing!  I’m expert at it and you should get out of your comfort zone and let me work for you in mine!

I promise it will not feel as terrifying as jumping out of an airplane at 13,000 feet.

It’s a Goal to Set a Goal

Let’s face it, it’s a goal to set a goal; and 2019 is almost here!

It’s work. We know it’s daunting to track goals and stick to a plan.

We also know, and this is very important, having a goal and not meeting it could generate feelings of failure and/or rejection. This could set us back and cause resistance to maintain momentum. 

If you think about it…what’s the resistance in setting a goal?

Goals present opportunities, and creating opportunities could mean income to your business. That is….IF building your business is a GOAL!?

Goals are INSPIRING.

There are many different activities that make up your role in your business. There are things you love to do and things that are for the greater good of the business that may not be your favorite part of your day/week/month/year. 

Schedule tasks, make a contest with yourself or team members, reward yourself when finished with a task. Something, anything that will motivate you to want to work on those tasks/activity that will help accomplish the goal.

Let’s embrace what we do and not be afraid of it.

Goals build CONFIDENCE.

Now that we’re motivated and working on tasks that inspire us, this will build confidence. 

When we’re inspired, we FOCUS on the task at hand. And this will help us work smarter to achieve a goal. 

Confidence propels us to be the best that we can be…and maybe even have a little fun while doing it.

Goals are CHALLENGING.

This is where it gets fun. We’re inspired and that builds confidence. 

How about building in a little challenge. We call this getting out of our comfort zone. Competition builds character.

Think of a triathlete. They track their activity and their time to know how they can train to be faster and stronger.

Goals keep us ACCOUNTABLE.

The movie A FEW GOOD MEN includes one of the most memorable movies lines in movie history.

Jack Nicholson’s character Colonel Jessup, when pressed for the truth, bellows: “You can’t handle the truth!” 

I say that you can handle the truth. Tracking your activity will cause reason to celebrate when you achieve the goal. That, or help to pivot and/or redirect our focus so we’re working to our strengths. 

Have you considered an accountability partner? Some people, and I am one of them, need external forces to stay on track. Whether it’s a weekly call or you’re checking in on a private Facebook page, knowing you have to divulge your activity or divulge the lack of activity, this may motivate you to have something awesome to report.

Set those goals; you can handle it!

Procrastination: Friend or Foe

It took me almost 6 months to write this. Then, a month to edit…
So, I get it about procrastination, and time, and getting to it.

Don’t you love irony?

However, I think procrastination gets a bad rap considering the benefits it can have. Did she say “benefits”?

Yes, I did. Wait, how is procrastination a benefit?

Let’s not wait a moment longer. Let’s begin with definitions. First, there are a few definitions that could lead us to believe in the negative aspects of procrastination.

Merriam-Webster has a definition that definitely made me feel guilty:

to put off intentionally and habitually; to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done

But then, Oxford and Cambridge made me feel a little better. According to their definitions, a delay doesn’t mean “game over”.

the action of delaying or postponing something, and
– to delay doing something

Let’s start with an obvious example of bold procrastination, one with which I’m all too familiar. 

As a business-owner, a website is something most of us consider in order to drive traffic and more business our way. But the size of the project can be overwhelming, and so, we delay. You know, a delay in a bad way that validates that procrastination has a negative connotation. 

What could be the cost of delaying this website project? The cost of procrastination is the lost opportunity for not being found on the internet. I may be crazy, but I also think that the worst kind of statistic is the unquantifiable amount of how much business is lost by not being found on the internet.

When you consider the potential cost of lost opportunity, you return to the idea of getting it done. But it’s still an overwhelming idea and a potentially huge project. But there is a way to deal with the overwhelming part, AKA the thing that leads us to work against our own best interest.  

You don’t have to habitually put off this project according to the first definition above. Instead, you can choose the more positive second definition: delay, postpone. Delaying the project doesn’t mean it will never get done. And, in that delay, you can search for the solution you need to get this project done. 

What’s one reason that makes this project overwhelming? The idea that you have to go it alone!  All those tasks, all that responsibility, it’s a whirlwind of anxiety that builds up a wall of resistance to get it done, just like in the first definition.

But you don’t have to go it alone. You have control over the delay, you have the power over postponement.

What are the some of the solutions we have control over? We could hire a website expert to help. A professional has the skills necessary to take your vision and to organize and prioritize the project.  All of a sudden, that thing you’ve been avoiding is moving along, albeit maybe slowly.

With the help of an expert, you can then address key tasks such as robust call-to-action methods and search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to attract a target market. The tasks of developing a vital products and services summary and blogs will demonstrate expertise and credibility. Feels like control, feels like something’s getting it done.

What happens if you can’t afford to hire someone? It’s a catch 22, isn’t it? We have to build our business to make money to reinvest back into our business, but we have to implement marketing strategies to build our business to make the money to reinvest.

We could be too busy, too busy making excuses. And those excuses bring us back to the negative, inappropriate definition of procrastination. We were doing so well! Excuses don’t affect anyone but us, but let’s be careful about complaining. No one likes a complainer when it’s something within our control of accomplishment. 

Now, what you’ve been waiting for. Let’s get excited why procrastination can work in your favor. It’s not a coincidence that it’s easier and shorter to explain.

One of my mantras has always been “Procrastination is a time management strategy.” What do I mean? 

Let’s imagine we have to prepare for a very important meeting or project, it’s a week away. We know what we have to do; we know the date and time of the meeting. Time is of the essence. If you were to leave it until the last day, then yes, we are guilty of procrastination. Or are we? 

Procrastination can be about planning, preparing and prioritizing. The key word is PRIORITIZING. Just because you’re putting off something, doesn’t mean you’re procrastinating. 

One thing I have found is that when I attack a task, sometimes I need a break to let the creative juices flow, to present another perspective. This gives time to create and edit along the way. It’s called PROGRESS. Have you ever gotten the advice to “sleep on it” when you’re pondering something or unsure about how to deal with an issue? 

This is no different, except we can call that Positive Procrastination!

Rushing to finish is stressful, not to mention overwhelming. And we already know where that can lead. But, if you start in phases it gives you time to review and edit and triple check your work. Starting doesn’t always mean finishing.

Starting means planning on how to have the best finished product. 

Procrastinate away as long as you know how to manage your time and the deadline.

Reflections through the Drive-Thru Car Wash

SPRING is finally here, sort of! This past week marked my regularly-scheduled, yet overdue, visit to the car wash to rinse the winter grit and grime from my car, especially since the four recent and overwhelming Nor’easters delayed a much needed bath.

I drove to the drive-thru car wash, although a more thorough cleaning was necessary; this was a decent option in he meantime given how my visit was grossly overdue.

I put the car in neutral and onto the rails we went. i had a few minutes of quiet time to myself as we floated into the tunnel. This is where I decided that marketing could be a bit like a drive-thru car wash due to the different stations and variety of wash methods Sally and I were about to go through.

On average, a typical car wash facility has multiple stations:
• Pre-soak
• Mitter curtain
• Rinse arch
• Foam applicator
• Scrubbers
• High-pressure washer
• Undercarriage wash applicator
• Rinse arch
• Wax applicator
• Mitter curtain
• Scrubbers
• Rinse arch
• Dryer

As you can see, a couple of the stations repeat themselves. This isn’t surprising is it? This is no different for marketing.

There are various marketing activities that help with your efforts to achieve fruitful business development results depending on your budget, time and tools. Yes, it can be overwhelming, but you know there is light at the end of the “tunnel”. Let’s take a look at my quick journey through the wash tunnel and how it relates to marketing.

Car Wash:
First, a couple of guys doused Sally’s exterior with a power wash blast to prepare for the pre-soak phase. While the bay and various machines were about to swallow Sally whole, there were still humans tending to Sally’s curves and contours to ensure stubborn debris would be managed.

Marketing:
This is similar to initially hiring a marketing consultant who prepares you and your business with a “down and dirty” approach to produce a polished marketing strategy that suits the goals of your business.

Car Wash:
Then, you enter the mitter curtain. These sud-soaked fettuccine strips jounced the front hood and windshield with a head-on lather. The lengthy sponges slowly made it’s way to the top of the car and proceeded it’s rhythmic cleansing towards the back of the car.

Marketing:
This reminded me of the strategy soaked discussions a business-owner would entertain with an overall review of the myriad of marketing techniques and tactics available.

What are these myriad of marketing efforts?
• Referrals
• Existing clients – cross-selling, up-selling, account rounding
• Cold calling – yup, everyone hates it, but it’s on the list because it works.
• Strategic alliances – who compliments your business that needs your services for their clients?
• In-person Networking
• Social media
• Email Marketing
• Content marketing (webinars, podcasts, press releases)
• Internet marketing (Search engine Optimization – SEO)
• Community service (Volunteering, Boards of Directors)
• Direct mail
• Advertising

Back to the Car Wash:
Next, the scrubbers. These tall, rotating brushes glossed over the sides of Sally to remove loose debris and film from the power washing.

Marketing:
This is where you scrub what activities you think work best for you and for your business. You also want consider what activities you should handle and what could you delegate to another member of the team.

Car Wash:
The rinse arch followed. The spraying showers washed away the soapy suds.

Marketing:
It’s a time to “come clean” with focusing on what works and more importantly what doesn’t. This is your moment of reflection to understand what marketing activities you could be doing and perhaps have fun while doing it.
Finally, I enjoyed the high-powered heating vents that finished the cleaning process by blow drying Sally to remove blotches from soapy residue and streaks from spraying water.

This is the time to celebrate. Who doesn’t enjoy the refreshing feel of success when recommendations have been considered from a trusted marketing consultant. While this car wash journey was a mere five minutes of my time, it’s a start and a little bit of motivation to remember how she shines in the sun.

Cleaning any vehicle is a process and requires maintenance. So does marketing.

Start the process, embrace the progress. You know you need to do it, and you know a positive outcome is likely.

Your business is an adventure. Enjoy the ride…even if it’s for a five minutes of quiet through the car wash.