Quitters, Linchpins and Swamp Family Members
The making of a word will come with some funny looks. It will come with some that think something better could have been created or that it never should have been mentioned at all. That’s exactly what we want when we’re dealing with art that matters though.
Art that matters isn’t for everyone. It’s not for the masses or even for the many. It’s for the few that want to be part of a small army and take a new word into their vocabulary. Here’s a few you may or may not know that have tribes:
You probably know of more that I don’t. The small tribe you’re a part of most likely also has some lingo specific to “your people.” That’s what niches are all about these days and that’s who you market to, not the masses.
Not too long ago, I introduced you to my newest project. It’s called HomeschoolGoods and it will be a community of authors and buyers that want to cause a ruckus in the education industry. We want to change the way homeschool, unschool or any other alternative education works in terms of resources by giving a platform to creators to share their resources. In turn, we hope to cause change in the education industry as a whole and introduce a new level of quality to the marketplace. It’s gonna be a big job.
So today I introduce you to a new word that I believe describes most every parent that wants to educate their child, regardless of what facility (home, outdoors, school rooms, etc) they are learning in. Today you become an educator and an artist. You teach and you make a ruckus. You lead by example and you show how to dream. You allow for growth and you harness individual talents.
Today, you are an Educartist.
If you feel so inclined, join the community for free.
The boat hotel and six meal restaurant
Being different is hard to do. It’s hard because we are inclined to build something safe that doesn’t stand out. We don’t want to be called out of the norm, so we play it safe.
But if we’re really honest, we know that the only thing that really gets talked about are the things that are vastly different.
The first story that highlights this is the boat hotel I heard about this morning. It’s located in Italy (I believe) and isn’t even open for business yet. It’s several stories high and books for $300 to $1600 a night depending on what you get. The largest rooms have balconies large enough to hold 20 people. That’s a serious hotel room…and this is a boat! The other thing is that it doesn’t even have a motor. It’s parked in the canal (which they had to lower the water level 5 feet to get it under the bridges) and won’t be moving for a long time. It’s different and it will be an incredible tourist attraction for years to come.
The second is a local restaurant in my town. They have a few locations nearby but still keep a small town feel. They offer only 6 main meals and they’re all the same price. There’s little customization that can be done and next to no choices. But the main thing they have going for them is simplicity. Simplicity in choice all the way around is what makes it work. And they are the only place in town that has a wait almost every single night, sometimes up to a couple hours.
So what do these two have in common that I would call them out in the same post?
They’re remarkable. In service? Maybe. In quality? Possibly. But most definitely in differentiation. They are both worth making a remark about. And that alone will provide them success for years to come.
[It's worth noting that being remarkable isn't easy. It it were, we'd all be so. I'm still working on making something worth remarking about. I hope you're on that path too.]
A little jewel in a gigantic book
I’m reading through, very slowly, “Whatcha gonna do with that duck?” by Seth Godin.
Basically, it’s a collection of blog posts from several years of writing that are categorized for you. I came across one that really struck me in light of my project. Here’s a sample from the post.
“New media creates a blizzard of tactical opportunities for marketers, and many of them cost nothing but time, which means you don’t need as much approval and support to launch them.”
He’s talking about tactics like Twitter, Facebook, etc of course. These are versus the actual strategy we need…
“”Building a permission asset so we can grow our influence with our best customers over time” is a strategy. Using email, twitter or RSS along with newsletters, contests and a human voice are all tactics. In my experience, people get obsessed about tactical detail before they embrace a strategy… and as a result, when a tactic fails, they begin to question the strategy that they never really embraced in the first place.”
This has caused me to really begin to think through the strategy and forget the tactics for now. I’ll continue to post, but that’s not the core of what I’m building.
I hope this helps you in your journey as well. Think of the long term, not the easy-to-do things.
Here’s the full post just in case you were wondering.
The longest road course in the US.
In a little town near me, there is a road course that is the longest in the US. It’s not well known to most, but it’s very well known to those that care about recreational racing. The other thing is that it’s exclusive to members. (Except you can tour it if you want). Those members pay a crazy amount of money in my opinion to be part of this club. And they’re happy to do it because it provides them with something they value more than dollar amount.
From this, we learn 3 very important things about what every brand should be.
- Not for everyone
It’s not for everyone because it doesn’t need to be. Being an exclusive member makes it all the more valuable to the members and all the less interesting to those that don’t care enough to be “in.” Not everyone wants to race for fun.
The amount of money exchanged to be a member doesn’t matter. The people that want to be members there are happy to pay the rate because, in their minds, the value they get from being a member is worth far more. (Notice the differentiation between rate and value.)
- Steal a model that works
They stole the model of a golf country club. It’s the exact same model from a membership perspective except instead of caddy’s, you have a pit crew and instead of golf carts, you have 700 horse power. Same model, different industry.
Take and apply those 3 things to your business and it will help. Make something that isn’t for everyone, provide more value than the rate you charge and steal a business model that is already working. Do that and you’re on a good path.
If job creation is such a hot topic these days, let’s create some. Not in the sense of starting a company that makes and sells more widgets, but a completely new job that few or no one else has.
Today’s assignment, create a job for yourself.
Title: Webmarketing Consultant
Description: I would be a 3rd party consultant works with various companies to help them navigate the waters of marketing and the web. This would include web design projects, social media marketing, general marketing ideas and campaigns and anything related to communications from the company.
I would not do any of the work myself (such as web design, social media marketing, etc) but would advise them who would be good to work with and who would not. No incentive money would be exchanged for recommending a particular company or individual.
Since I would not get paid off the money spent on marketing, my interests would align with the client. A monthly fee would be negotiated based on how often consultations would be needed.
As a matter of fact, if you know someone that needs this, recommend me. Thanks.
What’s yours? (Blog about it and link to this.)
Features, Benefits, Results and Emotion. (And how they work inside your brand)
When you have features for sale, you’re in a race to the bottom. You have to either have the most or have the best or sell it for the least. Very rarely do we see where more features equals more value.
And yet, most of us sell the features of our programs or widgets.
Then you have benefits. Benefits are great to sell until virtually every item can get you the same benefit. Then you’re right back in the features race (to the bottom). (The same goes for selling results.)
So if we can’t sell benefits or features, what are we selling?
More and more we are selling emotion. Not, what does this do for me results-wise, but what I think it should (or does) do for me. The key word there is ‘think.’
If I think this computer by this brand makes me fit in with my peers, I’m going to buy it. I’ll find the money to do so. If these sunglasses are the kind that ‘people like me’ wear, I’ll buy them, expensive or not. If I feel better owning this brand over that one because it brings back childhood memories, I’ll go with it. If I want to do something off the beaten path, I’ll find a brand that fits that lifestyle.
Features are worthless. Benefits are hard to differentiate. Emotion, when appealed to correctly, trumps most any scenario.
I’m fairly certain it wasn’t all a waste.
Last year I spent an inordinate amount of time creating stuff. Content, podcasts, ebooks, guest posts, etc. It was awesome and a great experience.
But the problem was that I forgot that I needed to make money. Which, as you can imagine, posed a little bit of a problem.
Towards the end of 2013, I got a handle on things and have since been doing a little better with my priorities. But I have been thinking a lot about all those resources I created and what I could do with them. I’ve been thinking how I could leverage them with my web design clients and if it was a waste in the sense of not being my target audience, or if they could help provide more value to the services I offer as a designer.
My conclusion is that I can use them to help my brand as a web designer. It wasn’t a waste, though I definitely should have handled it all differently. The podcast I created was about branding. The ebooks were branding and small business tips. And the guest posts were about everything from branding to fear to blogging and marketing. All that very appropriately fits into my brand as I have it today.
So I would encourage you to look back at what you’ve done. Don’t think that your time was a complete waste even if you royally screwed up. It’s likely that you added a lot of value to your brand without even knowing it. And also likely that you accomplished more than you realize.
Recognizing a major shift in business today
Well. I was right.
I was the only one wearing Vans. And brown corduroy pants. And no blazer/jacket/whatever. And comic cards for business cards. See what I’m referring to here.
But I have to admit that I did have a good time. It wasn’t as stuffy as I had imagined, to be honest. However, it did make me realize yet again how different I think.
The rules of business have changed. What works has changed. What gets noticed has changed. It’s all different and it seems to me that very few people realize that. I’m not sure if they are caught up in mimicking what others in the past have done or if they are taking too much direction from today’s leaders. Or something else.
I recognize that I don’t know it all. Nor will I act like I do. But at the same time, I have always been someone that recognizes change before it occurs. I used to work for a company that I saw no future for and I was right. I’ve directed clients who didn’t take my advice for web related things and they haven’t prospered. Does that mean they would have if they took my advice? Maybe. Maybe not.
The one thing that I can tell you for sure is that I’m not the only one preaching the changes in this world. Look around at the top of the marketing or creative industries. These people understand the way the world is going much more than us average people do. They see changes and have been for some time.
One last thought. Blazers are a thing of the past. It doesn’t convey professionalism anymore, not to the average person. It conveys a sense of “I’m better than you so respect me.” Respect isn’t commanded. It’s earned. And I’ll spend my life earning it while wearing Transformer shirts and Vans Off The Wall.
On fitting in with the crowd
My tendency is to want to fit in. To want to blend in with everyone and be “normal.” But I have to fight that.
Today I’m going to a local event for a new business center that will have a ton of businesses, most of which appear to be corporate and will probably be wearing suits and ties to look all professional. Which is perfectly fine…for them.
But more and more I find that I don’t fit the traditional mold of anything. I have a disdain for the public school system, the corporate structure of our economy, big government, etc. So what I have elected to do is try to stand out.
When I went into my closet this morning, my thought was not, “How will I look professional?” But rather, it was “How will I stand out?” This, I think, is the ultimate question for anyone in business today. Heck, anyone doing anything that matters today. It’s no longer about fitting a mold or fitting in. It’s about being weird. Purple in a world of brown. (Yes I took that from Seth Godin.)
I’ll let you know how it goes. My hope is that I’m the only one wearing something bold. If they think I’m weird, good. If they think I’m not professional, great. My best case scenario would be that I’m the only one not wearing a black or blue blazer.
This thing you’re doing, it’s real life.
You know, this thing we’re doing right now, it’s real life. It sounds simple but I would venture to say that you’ve forgotten as did I.
In life sometimes we get caught up trying to make awesome stuff happen for us. Or for others. But either way, we get caught up. And I want you to take a step back for a moment and decide if maybe you’re in that place where you got caught up a bit.
Maybe you’ve forgotten that this is real life. That the things you do on a regular basis can never be taken back, never “redone”, never 100% forgotten.
Don’t get scared and do nothing, but be aware that every minute is only lived once. Make sense?