Category Archives: Small Business Marketing

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The Small Business Mental Health Crisis

The Small Business Mental Health Crisis written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

No matter where you live in this world Sunday, Oct 10th was meant to be World Mental Health Day.

The topic of mental health is getting a lot of chatter these days and of course, if you’re like me you saw a few social media posts extolling the virtues of mental health day.

Now, I’m not going to offer mental health tips today and I’m not suggesting that mental health awareness and the ability to talk about our issues is not a positive thing, but I would like to make an entrepreneurial observation.

Eighteen months ago or so the world of business (well, life too) came to a crashing pause and while the fear, disease, and eventual death were horrible, there was undeniable energy around change, innovation, and solving for things.

This is the exact kind of energy that entrepreneurs thrive on, and I saw many positive outcomes, the getting closer to customers, the being more human, and the discovery of new possibilities everywhere I looked.

Hardship is a form of entrepreneurial fuel.

Now, many months on, and many months of living with the current now, I’m witnessing the insidious glow of burnout take hold. There’s no more energy, we’re not really talking about it, we’re just continuing the grind.

Burnout is a sneaky cuss, you don’t see it coming, you’re not aware of the symptoms you just kind of stop feeling.

It’s like when the pandemic hit the truth was in plain sight and being told to our faces, now, the truth is hiding behind our back and gossiping about us when we’re not around.

To make matters worse, the politicians, the media, and the culture wars are just an attempt to take us back to the way it all used to be, to forget that part of what we are feeling is that we experienced how it could be for a moment.

I’ve had at least three recent conversations with small business owners who have told me they feel numb, burned out, and not sure if they want to keep doing what they are doing.

Now that’s a mental health crisis that probably won’t grab many headlines, but it impacts us all, I think.

While I genuinely love what I get to do every day I have found myself needing to be more intentional about a few things to stay energized, so I’ll share a couple just in case they ring true or offer encouragement.

Let myself feel what I feel

Entrepreneurs are great at compartmentalizing, stuffing feelings, fears, and anxieties in the closet so we can get through another day pretending we’ve got our shit together for everyone who, well, expects us to.

And, I think that’s a problem. My parents never argued, and maybe I wish they had a little more, or at least taught me how to say and feel more openly.

Intuition is a superpower and when I check in with my feelings I experience a much high level of that “gut feeling” about why I’m meant to do what I’m meant to do.

Habituate gratitude

Practicing gratitude is a proven and trendy practice and with reason. While I like to think I’m grateful in those quiet moments when I reflect, I’ve recently discovered and developed a habit that’s become a potent tool.

When I experience some discomfort or feel stuck or overwhelmed by something I’ve committed to I make every attempt to reframe how I feel about it. Let’s face it, it’s never the thing, it’s how we about the thing.

This last weekend I spent about ten hours designing a workshop I’m conducting and at first, I thought, dang, I should be riding my bike but instead I’m chained to my desk.

Now, I’m not promoting working on the weekend, but I did think to myself – isn’t it amazing that people still think enough of what I plan to share that they are going to pay good money and hang out all day on Zoom with me.

Simple stuff, but one day they won’t, and that provides energy.

Write more stuff down

I’ve been journaling off and on for about 25 years and never understand why I get away from it when I do.

But I do know that it has a way of snapping me out of a phase of boredom, mediocrity, and stuckness that I’m guessing we all experience from time to time.

Writing in any form, yes, this page of words included, is one of the most therapeutic activities I can experience and in many ways is just that, therapy, for those who do it routinely.

If you’ve not tried “Morning Pages,” a term coined in Julie Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, I highly encourage it.

You don’t have to be a writer, although you are, just use the time to dump your thoughts. I can’t really explain the power of this, but I know it works for me.

So, if you’re feeling any of what I see many business owners and entrepreneurs feeling, know first that you’re not alone and second that you have the answer.

Thoughts?

7 Small Business Trends that Arrived Just in Time for 2021

7 Small Business Trends that Arrived Just in Time for 2021 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

This blog post is brought to you by GoDaddy Pro.

 

Every year for the last 20 or so, I’ve wrapped up the year with my predictions for trends in the coming year.

I’m usually spot on too. But that’s really more of a testament to the fact that trends tend to creep up on us rather than overwhelm us. So, they’re not that hard to spot if you’re paying attention.

Add to that that a trend has usually long since “tipped” in the main by the time it’s honestly something that small business owners need to heed. Think social media, mobile marketing, or heaven forbid AI.

Ah, but then 2020 happened, and anything that might have crept up on anyone pretty much arrived untethered and proud. Trends accelerated and became fact more than a trend – Zoom anyone? A new behavior that may have taken years to take hold is now instantly second nature.

It’s going to take a new level of insight to curate this year’s trends. The trick this year lies in the ability to spot the behavior that may emerge from the change, or the forced trends if you will. For example, is business travel is going to take a long time to recover? Are large conferences on hold for a while? Will people come to expect 15 virtual meetings even in the office?

So, what do we make of any of this?

I suspect you can count on many pundits simply regurgitating the already worn line about marketers using this moment to become more human. That business will be more about people and less about whatever it was about before COVID.

But don’t be fooled into thinking that a) doing the same thing you were doing in a different format is an innovation and b) that anything in your industry will look precisely the same again.

This year the friction around change went to zero because there was no choice. Expect some people to try and crawl back to what they knew and still others to re-evaluate and restart everything.

I think a lot of business soul searching has occurred, but let’s not oversimplify its result. Because we were forced to deal with change that we don’t fully understand, it has led to some introspection. But where we’ll land is, frankly, anyone’s guess and leads me to my first trend.

1) Paying attention becomes a survival mechanism

In 2021, as in most years, businesses will thrive and survive due to many factors, but next year those who best discover the shift of the moment will be more equipped to evolve with their customers.

2020 showed us just how fast everything could change and simultaneously how fast we can respond and then change and re-respond. This is the commercial version of present moment mindfulness, I suppose.

Don’t take anything for granted; something that feels like momentum may be a bandage for the moment’s feeling. Talk to your customers as much as you can, not because they can tell you what they want or need because they can tell you how they feel.

Expect fear to be feeling number one for most of the year. Tune your strategic thinking to finding ways to be the light in the dark.

2) Everything gets smaller

From a practical standpoint, we’ve already seen this. Conferences, meetings, gatherings of any sort contracted, and we will all need to relearn how to gather again, no matter how much we think we crave it.

Expect a push for less content, shorter videos, more intimate launches, mini-courses, 142-page books instead of the classic 284 pages.

This trend will be driven by people’s desire for something that feels more personal than the market’s design to get smaller.

Design, a true barometer of change, has already moved in this direction. Take note of the larger headline fonts, muted color splashes of retro illustrations, and more white space on web pages. 

Smaller also means less complex, and you can expect that to play out in a large dollop of nostalgia. Visions of families riding around their neighborhoods on bikes during 2020 sparked an emotional desire for simplicity.

3) AI gets practical

Almost every trend article you encounter this year will talk about AI in some fashion. While I mention it here as a trend, I do so for some of the practical things it now brings rather than the futuristic promise of the technology it implies.

Without getting too techie about the workings, the mid-2020 roll-out of Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 or GPT-3 made AI a useful tool for many applications.

No longer confined to those pesky bots on website help desks, AI is now being embedded in our basic typing functions. Maybe you’ve noticed that the application keeps suggesting finishes to your sentences as you compose an email in Gmail.

This isn’t simply a feature added by Google; this is AI at work powering routine tasks.

This fall, I wrote my latest book, The Ultimate Marketing Engine (HarperCollins Leadership Sept 2021), entirely in Google Docs. I was amazed how often the suggested AI helped me write better or at least easier sentences from a simple suggested start.

Look in 2021 for a host of tools, services, and websites aimed at making writing easier. Tools like HeadLime and MarketMuse will change how content is created.

AI applications can already write an article based on a handful of fed keywords. Now, is this award-winning prose? Well, no, but is that blog post you paid someone $15 to write near as good as AI – probably not. AI writers can get you 80% of the way there, and then you, the brilliant content strategist that you are, can spend your energy on making it sparkle and getting it read by others.

This will shake up the content creation, social posting, and freelance industries dramatically.

4) Talent investment is back in style

Most large businesses understand the competitive nature of attracting and retaining their best people. Therefore, they often invest heavily in recruiting and employee branding initiatives.

Small businesses rarely can afford outlandish perks to attract talent, but one trend that I think will grow in small business is talent development.

Even if revenue is down and budgets are tight, I predict that small business owners will see the wisdom of creating training and mentoring opportunities to level-up, develop, and, let’s face it, send a clear signal that their people are an important piece of their success.

This has always been an important topic, but I think we’ll see a return to a fundamental commitment to employee engagement around things like profit and skill development that will not be limited to big biz only.

If you have training for skills, mindset, and even personal development, small business is a great target market right now.

5) Video gets personal again

I said this last year, so that’s the again part.

Video will continue to grow as a content medium and act as a bridge to a couple of other trends. Most notably, the acts of paying attention and getting smaller.

I think video, think of it as asynchronous virtual content, will take another big leap and bounce from the Zoom screens we are in front of to the more personal 1 to 1 platforms for sales, technical support even as a form of commenting and collaborating.

Expect the use of tools such as Loom and BombBomb to continue to grow. I mean, face it, who wants to read that 4 paragraph email when they can close their eyes and click play.

6) UX and SEO get attached at the hip

 A few years ago, it was fashionable to talk about the marriage of content and SEO. Now that content is basically online air; it’s sort of passe to talk about the concept as two.

But there’s a newish player making waves this year – UX or user experience. UX isn’t really new as a concept. I mean, navigation and content structure are UX. So is site speed and security. However, with its mobile-first point of view, Google is going to raise the SEO bar another notch next year.

Three words you better come to terms with for 2021 – core web vitals.

This isn’t a technical post, so you’re just going to have to research this one on your own but suffice it to say that sites that load slowly or don’t provide what Google thinks is a great mobile user experience are going to suffer in the SEO game. 

The typical mum Google has gone as far as to publicly claim that in 2021 they plan to combine core web vitals with other ranking signals. 

My go-to source for education on anything SEO related is my friend Brian Dean at BackLinko. You can find high-quality stuff here – especially when it comes to learning more about core web vitals.

You can see what Google thinks of your core web vitals right now in Google Search Console.

7) Coaching ranks swell

During 2020 some people found that corporate jobs weren’t so stable or fun anymore. Some were laid off and started that coaching or consulting business they had longed to start, while others took the pause as a moment to reconsider their life path in general.

My final prediction is that the number of people who decide to start coaching businesses and those who decide now is the time to get a coach will explode next year.

I think 2021 will be a year of recovery and personal development and, in some cases, one of changing priorities.

This crystal ball stuff is fun, but more than anything, stay curious this coming year, and you may indeed discover a new and exciting chapter in business and life because the only thing that I know for certain is that change is gonna keep coming.

 

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Becoming Your Best Virtual You

Becoming Your Best Virtual You written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on Becoming Your Best Virtual You

Virtual and work from home is getting a lot of hype right now, for obvious reasons. I’ve been a big fan of virtual work for many years, and there are some tools I’ve come to love and rely on over the years. I’m going to talk about some of those tools that I think a lot of people have either underutilized or are coming to a new appreciation for right now.

Some of these tools you might begin to use out of necessity right now, but as you get to know them, you might discover that you enjoy them so much you’ll continue to rely on them once we’ve returned to business as usual.

I’m going to run down my list of go-to tools, give you some case studies, and share how I personally use those tools in my daily life as an entrepreneur.

1. One-to-One Video

A lot of people are relying on one-to-one video at present because we can’t meet in person, but one-to-one video is a great communication tool even when we do have flexibility with how we meet up and converse with others.

By one-to-one video, I mean a video that you record specifically for one individual. The greeting and message is personalized just for them. And I’ve found over the years that this technology has many applications, from sending internal messages to remote folks on my team to interacting with clients and prospects.

The first way I use one-to-one video is to provide clarification when I’m sending a message. Say I’m forwarding on a long document with lots of detailed information. I might send along a one-to-one video highlighting the most salient parts of the document to help direct the reader.

I also find it’s a helpful tool when you’re working with a distributed team. For example, I work with a lot of web designers, and it’s quick and easy to record a video that shows minor edits that I’d like to see on a webpage they’ve already mocked up.

It’s also great for documenting processes. Using the screen capture tool allows you to walk someone through a process, if you’d like to give them a guided step-by-step walkthrough of what needs to be done in a given program.

It’s also a creative way to interact with clients or prospects. Instead of just sending a standard introductory email, which doesn’t stand out well or capture attention, use a personalized video to catch someone’s eye in an otherwise crowded inbox. It’s also a great way to send a thank you or to ask for a review from a happy customer.

The Tool: Loom

My go-to for one-to-one video is Loom. Even the free version of the platform has tons of functionality. You can film yourself, do a screen capture video, or create a video that shares your screen and shows you down in the corner.

Loom also makes the sharing process seamless. As soon as you’re done recording your message, you hit stop, it produces a link, and you drop that URL into an email. If you’ve integrated Loom with Gmail, it will embed the video directly into your email.

When someone gets the email, Gmail users don’t even need to leave their inbox; the video plays right within their inbox.

2. Video Meeting & Webinar Platform

When you’re working with a distributed team, it helps to have a way for you all to come together face-to-face. That’s where video meeting platforms come in. We use them for internal meetings, to talk with clients (to present ideas, brainstorm, or offer updates); we even use it for one-to-one sales calls.

Video is also a great tool for creating educational content and webinars. And some podcasters have started using video in their recording process. While they’ll only use the audio stream to produce the podcast, it’s helpful for them to be able to see their guest on the screen and makes the interview more natural and seamless.

The Tool: Zoom

The video meeting and webinar platform I’ve come to rely on is Zoom. What I love about Zoom is that there’s no software involved. No one needs to download anything to access the meeting; you simply forward a link and anyone can join from any device.

Zoom can be used for both webinars and meetings. The tool allows you to do a presentation (like a webinar) where everyone is an attendee and is muted. There’s a screen-sharing functionality, and you can incorporate features like chat, Q&A, and polls into your presentation.

Alternatively, you can use Zoom for meetings. Here, your team hops on the video and you can sit around and talk in much the same way you would if you were all around a conference table.

Of course, the one thing everyone must have to participate in a Zoom meeting is a way to connect. But it’s possible to do so via computer or phone. There’s an app for mobile devices, and people can even call in through a dial-in number, if that’s easier.

3. Live Streaming

Live streaming is becoming increasingly popular. And particularly during the current moment, where we’re not able to meet up in person, we’re seeing more personalities hopping onto Facebook, YouTube or LinkedIn to connect with their audience.

I think live streaming is an incredible tool for building community and speaking to your fans, but I find it’s often over-utilized. I think the key to creating great live streaming content is to start by asking yourself “What is useful for my community, prospects, or clients at this time?” That’s the question that should be driving you as you devise your live programming.

All of the major social platforms allow you to go live from within their individual apps, but I prefer to use an external tool.

The Tool: StreamYard

My go-to for live streaming online has become StreamYard. I find the tool helpful for a number of reasons. First, it allows you to broadcast to multiple platforms simultaneously. Rather than having to decide between addressing your fans on Facebook or LinkedIn, with StreamYard, you can do both at the same time.

It also allows you to add branding onto your video. You can put your logo or any relevant promotional information in the bottom third of your video screen. You can also easily incorporate Q&A and chat into your video, making it easy to engage your audience while you’re live.

It’s also really easy to record and hang onto your sessions. While it’s possible to download things that go live on other social media platforms, they don’t make it simple for you to capture that content. StreamYard makes it seamless, and then you have access to the content for future use, should you decide you’d like to reuse it.

Finally, StreamYard allows you to schedule out the time when you’ll go live and includes a notification on Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, or your streaming platform of choice. By notifying your audience of when you’re going live in advance, you create a built-in audience for your content and ensure that you’ll have people there to engage with—it helps you to create more of a live webinar experience.

4. Collaboration Software

For many folks who are used to sharing office space with their colleagues, the biggest hurdle to remote work is keeping everyone on the same page when it comes to advancing your projects and agendas. You need a unified communication tool and work space so that you can bring together all the emails, files, revisions, and to-do lists in one place. That way, everyone is always on the same page, and you always know right where to go to look for information.

There are tons of great collaboration suites out there, from Basecamp to Asana to Microsoft Teams.

The Tool: Slack

Our team loves Slack for collaboration and communication. When you’re used to working in an office, you can just pop down the hallway to ask your colleague a quick question. When you’re working from home, Slack is the next best thing.

It not only allows you to keep up a friendly and more relaxed chat environment, it also helps you to keep communications unified and to make sure all relevant parties hear announcements and are kept up-to-date on the latest company news. Rather than having to call around to each person individually, you can notify the appropriate Slack channel, and everyone who needs to receive your message gets it right away.

Is Virtual Me Here to Stay?

A lot of these tools have become necessities right now because of the coronavirus pandemic. People are using the tools in new ways. Some are conducting networking groups online rather than in person. Others have even set up co-working video sessions, where folks log on, go on mute, work individually, and occasionally come up for air to say a few casual words to each other.

We’re even seeing families adopt the technology for fun ways to stay connected virtually. I’ve seen scavenger hunts, science experiments, play dates, book clubs, and dance parties all occur on the web in these last few weeks of social distancing.

While some of these virtual ways of being will likely go away when life returns to normal (a virtual family game night will never replace the in-person hugs and warmth you’ll feel), I suspect some of these new ways of working will stick around.

For example, I host a number of weekend bootcamps throughout the year with our Consultant Network, and we’re planning to move them to virtual events. While there are some things you may lose in a virtual setting (the spontaneous conversation over lunch, say), in terms of cost and ability to include more people, virtual has got in-person beat every time.

Tips for a Better Experience

When it comes to connecting virtually, there are a few steps we can all take to make it a better experience for ourselves, our clients, our families, and anyone else we may be conversing with online.

First, audio is a big deal. There’s nothing more frustrating than listening to fuzzy audio that keeps going in and out. Particularly if you’re presenting to a group, it pays to invest in a nicer, USB condenser mic (like the Blue Yeti). These microphones pick up more depth and character in your voice, and they make you sound a lot more professional than the mic on your iPhone headphones.

Video matters, too. Rather than relying on the built-in camera that comes on your laptop, spend a little bit more on something like the Logitech C922 Pro. A nicer camera will give you higher video quality, with better light and clearer visuals.

Speaking of light, make sure that you have natural light on your face, if you can. Don’t have the light streaming in behind you, though, or you become a silhouette. If you don’t have natural light wherever you’re recording from, investing in a ring light can help your video look less dark and grainy.

Finally, do what you can to eliminate distractions. I know it can be difficult when you’re working from home and might have kids or pets running around in the background, but anything you can do to make your background as clean and seamless as possible is a major bonus for video calls and presentations.

I love the company Anyvoo; they create easily portable backdrops for video calls. You can get whatever you’d like printed on the canvas—your logo, a peaceful mountain scene—and you simply set the background up behind you whenever you have to take a video call. It’s on a stand, so it can be assembled anywhere and is taken down just as easily.

Many of us are adjusting to a new way of working that became a reality very suddenly over the past few weeks. I hope these tools make the transition a little easier for you, and that some of them become favorites that will continue to help you grow your business even after we return to normal life.

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Small Business Marketing Insights for 2020

Small Business Marketing Insights for 2020 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on 2020 Small Business Marketing Insights

I wanted to close out the year with a solo show looking ahead to the next one; let’s talk small business marketing insights for 2020.

While there have been some big trends in the world of marketing—things like AI—getting a lot of buzz, I’m not here to talk about those. Trends like that are often not relevant to small business owners. Instead, I want to cover what I think are the insights for 2020 to give you some things to think about, that can actually add to what may be your long list of planning elements.

Insight 1: Audio Content Will Prevail

I think audio content is going to be something that people need to really embrace for 2020. If you’re not podcasting already, now is the time to start. It’s a great way to produce content. It’s also a great way to open up lines of communication with people you want to speak with, whether those are authors and influencers or folks in your target market or even your very own customers.

So podcasting is a great way to build relationships. But beyond that, the format appeals to the needs and sensibilities of a modern audience. People have less time and attention to sit in front of a monitor and read content. I certainly know I’m that way! Same with video. I have a lot of trouble sitting in front of a monitor and devoting time to a video when I could be doing other things.

Audio content, on the other hand, is totally portable. I can download a podcast, stick my phone in my pocket and go for a walk. I can turn it on in the car and listen during my commute. I can walk the dog, I can go for a run. The portability of the format makes it incredibly easy for even the busiest of people to consume the content at some point during their day.

So, if you are not producing audio content, I’m going to encourage you to do so. And there are a number of ways to get started. If you have videos you’ve already produced, you can strip out the audio from those videos and run it in another format. You can use audio to talk about your business, then get the audio transcribed and use that on webpages as written content.

And you can create a non-traditional podcast. It doesn’t have to be all guest interviews. You can occasionally do a rant (like this one I’ve done on marketing insights!) to get results.

Getting started with audio now isn’t just about getting immediate results—it’s also about the long game. I see smart speakers eventually playing a bigger role in the way people consume more of their daily content. So “Alexa: play my flash briefing,” might deliver a daily recap of audio content. While I think this is a ways off, it’s never to early to get prepared for a shift like that!

Insight 2: Take Your Marketing In House

As a marketing consultant and person who trains marketing consultants, I think more small businesses should bring things in house. And there’s two areas in particular that should be outsourced less: marketing tactics and technology.

In the case of both of those areas of focus, it’s not an either-or proposition. You hire a marketing person to handle routine things that include both sides of that coin, from writing content to doing social posts to getting reviews to making Instagram posts. Those are all things that I think you should have an internal resource to do, but the secret ingredient is to marry that with a strategic marketing partner.

A lot of times, small businesses will hire a marketing person who knows how to manage social media, but isn’t given any broader direction when it comes to marketing strategy. (And that’s because there often isn’t a bigger strategy.)

That’s where a marketing consultant or advisor comes in. They can help you with the strategic component, the plan, the operations of the plan, the analysis of results, and make sure that you remain on track in working towards your big goals. Meanwhile, the internal person who knows the intricacies of the business can be directed to execute on this plan and craft messages that align with your strategy. That way, you get the best of both worlds.

In fact, I think this is going to be so critical in 2020 that we’re creating a certified marketing manager program, where we’ll train small business marketing staff on how to hire internal people and have that person directed by an outside resource, like a Duct Tape Marketing Consultant.

Insight 3: Humanize and Automate

Remember how back in the day, every deal was done with a handshake with a trusted partner you could look in the eye? Then technology came along, and suddenly you could do business without ever actually speaking with another human being. Now, it seems the pendulum is starting to swing back the other way, and we’re finding a happy medium.

So this insight sort of seems counterintuitive, but I’m saying you need to both humanize and automate. It comes down to finding the right balance. Both customers and business owners want things to be convenient and efficient—which is where automation comes in—but they also want that human touch.

There’s a tremendous amount of research being done around what makes someone love a company. And in many cases it’s things like convenience, knowledge, communication, efficiency, friendliness—all human traits. But a lot of the reasons a company is convenient and efficient are now aided by technology.

So I think that we need to get to the point where we are automating everything that can and should be automated and we are humanizing or re-humanizing everything else. My insight for 2020 in terms of a recommendation in this case, is get back on the phone. Let your phone ring, answer your phone, call people, that is one of the easiest ways I think to re-humanize our businesses. I’ve certainly been guilty of the opposite, and I look forward to picking up the phone more this year.

Insight 4: Focus on Customer Experience

Customer experience and retention is the golden opportunity for every single business.

PwC did extensive research into why customers stay loyal. They found that very few reasons had anything to do with the actual product or service. For the most part, it was all about customer experience—things like convenience, knowledgeable communication, efficiency, and a friendly staff.

So, how can we look at this in our marketing? You’ve probably heard me talk about the marketing hourglass, where we get people to know trust, try, and buy. But then we think marketing ends at the repeat and refer stages.

In reality, though, all seven stages must come together under the marketing umbrella. Everything from building knowledgeable, efficient communication to reporting results and providing friendly interactions for customers all go hand-in-hand.

I think we as marketers ought to spend at least half our time on creating a better customer experience and then you can spend the other half on generating more leads and converting more leads.

Insight 5: Paid Search Matters More Than Ever

Paid search—Google ads, Facebook advertising, LinkedIn, all the banner ads—have been around forever. So it’s not their existence that’s a new insight. In fact, certain types of businesses, like e-commerce brands, have used paid search to dramatically grow their businesses. But we’ve now entered and era where the small local business of any stripe must embrace paid search. Increasingly, Google is where people turn to find any and every piece of information about a business. Even if they’re already a customer!

An interesting anecdote for you: I did a search the other day for a plumber in Kansas City. And the first real result, meaning an actual business that wasn’t either an ad or an aggregator like Angie’s List or Home Advisor, showed up on page two. So, pay to play is definitely here. Making paid search a real, significant part of your overall marketing plan is no longer optional.

My first bit of advice on that front is to make sure you’re involved in the paid search process and are doing it in a smart way. Do your research about what paid search actually entails. You don’t have to do it for yourself, but you need a baseline knowledge to know you’re not getting scammed.

I see so many small business owners that work with pay per click firms that basically set up templated campaigns and forget them and don’t communicate and just say, “Oh, you got 27 clicks this week”. Well what does that mean? It means I spent X amount of money, that’s all you can tell me. It’s not about how many clicks you got, it’s about how many customers you won.

My next piece of wisdom is the use paid search to capture people with the highest purchase intent. There’s a lot of categories of business where paid searchers converted two to one over people that just went out and had a long tail search and found your blog post.

I’m not saying abandon everything else. In fact, never abandoned your website, SEO, or content. But you want to supplement it with paid search to get that high intent stuff. Maybe there’s categories where you’re having trouble getting your content to rank. Maybe there are certain really competitive search terms like an emergency service for something that you know if somebody finds your ad they’re going to buy it, because they’re trying to fix something.

I believe that the local service ads are going to only get bigger as a category. Eventually, you’re going to find accountants, lawyers, and more in those service ads because Google is making more money on those ads than anywhere else. And, consequently, the ads are going to take up more real estate on the results pages.

One final note on paid search: if you set your campaigns up correctly and are checking in on reports regularly, you come to understand that you’re not really bidding on keywords. You’re bidding on search terms: what someone puts into a search term to make your name pop up.

Once you begin thinking of things in those terms and use analytics to track your results, then you can build a complete roadmap for your marketing plan. When you understand the tactics that are working, and how people are moving throughout their customer journey from start to finish, then you can tailor your content further to encourage others to take that same path to conversion.

Those are my five insights for 2020. I hope you get out there and make moves to implement some of the tactics around these insights, because I really do believe they can make a huge difference in your marketing.

To help you in your marketing efforts, I wanted to announce that—while I don’t have a release date yet—you should keep your eyes peeled for a significantly revised edition of Duct Tape Marketing, the original book. Also, we’re creating a certified marketing manager program, which should be launching at the end of Q1 2020. The program will allow business owners to provide personal development and training to their team. You’ll have your own private coach or consultant, and they won’t just go through the plan, but will also apply the plan to your business.

So keep an eye out for all that and more in 2020. Take care and have a great rest of your 2019. See you in the New Year!

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by SEMrush.

SEMrush is our go-to SEO tool for everything from tracking position and ranking to doing audits to getting new ideas for generating organic traffic. They have all the important tools you need for paid traffic, social media, PR, and SEO. Check it out at SEMrush.com/partner/ducttapemarketing.

How Did the Customer Journey Evolve in 2019?

How Did the Customer Journey Evolve in 2019? written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The customer journey is at the heart of all marketing efforts. I wrote last week about how the marketing hourglass and the marketing maturity model are the two frameworks to guide you through the creation of your entire marketing system.

While the marketing maturity model helps you to establish and grow your own marketing assets, the marketing hourglass teaches you how to interact with customers throughout their journey with your brand. In today’s digital world, where things change quickly, the customer journey continues to grow and evolve. And it’s critical that you’re aware of these changes so that you can continue to deliver an effective marketing message to customers, even as their journey shifts.

Let’s take a look back at how the customer journey evolved in 2019 and where we might expect it to go in 2020.

The Omnichannel Experience Expands Further

Digital marketing allows you to create multiple touchpoints with your customers. From your website to social media to video platforms to paid advertising, there are dozens of channels for you to explore. And in 2019, you gained even greater options.

Voice search continues to grow. Experts expect that 200 million smart speakers will have been sold by the end of the year. While smart speakers and voice assistants provide another way for you to get discovered by new prospects, you may need to pivot your SEO efforts to get noticed by Alexa and Siri. Things like having a mobile-friendly site that is fast and secure, and making sure you’re listed on relevant local listings sites (think Yelp, Facebook, and Google My Business) can all help you to be the brand that’s suggested by a voice assistant.

Augmented reality (AR), which first gained widespread attention as the tech that powered the popular Pokémon Go app, is now being used by marketers to sell products. We’ve seen retailers in the fashion, beauty, and home furnishing spaces develop apps that allow people to virtually try before they buy.

Visual search is also something to keep on your radar screen. Social platform Pinterest has added visual search to their site, allowing consumers to upload a picture of a product they like and presenting them with suggestions for where they can purchase the item—or something similar—online. For tips on how to make Pinterest work for your business, check out this Duct Tape Marketing podcast episode with Pinterest expert Alisa Meredith.

Data and Automation Are More Important Than Ever

Data and automation are buzzwords we’ve heard tossed around for several years now, but they’ve established themselves as critical elements of business operations and marketing. On the marketing front, they allow you to better understand the unique shifts in your customer’s journey, so that you can modify your approach and direct the right message at the right prospect at the right time.

As the technology becomes more widespread and costs of implementation decrease, small businesses are able to tackle personalization on a level that was previously only possible for giants like Amazon.

This year, 80 percent of regular shoppers indicated that they’ll only do business with brands that serve up personalized experiences. So if you’re still sending the same emails to everyone on your mailing list, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

Understanding customer data allows you to segment your customer base into different personas. Very few businesses serve customers that are all exactly alike. For most of us, we mean different things to different people. Let’s say you’re a florist. Some of your clients purchase flowers only for special occasions, like birthdays and anniversaries. Others are event planners who place large orders on behalf of their clients. Others still are individuals with standing orders for arrangements at their home or office.

Each of these customers have very different needs, and so they should be getting very different marketing messages from you. By using the data you already have on your customers to better understand their behaviors and actions, you can craft your marketing messaging to speak directly to each segment of your customer population.

And with marketing automation tools, you can set your system to send certain messages to customers that are triggered by specific behaviors. That means everyone is always getting the marketing message they most need and want, and you’re likely to generate more business.

Online and In-Person Worlds Collide

If you’re a marketer today, there’s so much to think about in the digital world that it’s possible to get carried away and forget that your customers still exist in the real world! That’s why it’s important that, even as you keep an eye on digital trends, you work to bring the digital and real worlds together for your customers.

Eighty-eight percent of consumers who do a local search on their phone end up calling or visiting the business within 24 hours. This means that the online portion of the customer journey is leading directly to in-person sales.

How can you better facilitate the customer journey from online browsing to in-person purchasing? Make sure your business is present on local listings sites like Google My Business so that you can get found in the first place. Have your contact information and hours listed prominently on your site and local listings, so that prospects can actually call and visit.

Webrooming is another digital-to-real-world trend that local businesses need to be aware of. Webrooming is the practice of searching for a product online while you’re physically in the store. I know I’ve done it myself to check out specs and reviews on the top one or two items I’m considering. Reviews and ratings are important to any small business for SEO, but they’re also relevant in the real world as they have the ability to sway a webrooming consumer in real time.

Engagement is Key

As the customer journey has grown more and more complex, engagement has become even more important. When prospects or customers reach out to you via any channel, you must respond quickly and effectively.

Engagement is your opportunity to capture more of your audience’s valuable attention. If someone comments on your social media account, don’t just let it sit there or simply reply with a like. Instead, ask a question or write a response that invites them to engage in conversation. The longer you can keep that volley going, the greater their sense of connection becomes with your brand. If you’re able to make a good impression now, it’s the kind of thing that will make them think about you later when they’re ready to make a purchase.

Building Loyalty is Critical for Long-Term Success

Because the customer journey is no longer a straight light, you need to build loyalty. Otherwise, people will abandon you when a better offer comes along.

Be honest: How many times have you done your product research on one site, settled on your product of choice, and then opened up a Google tab to search for the same product elsewhere, cheaper?

Digital enables people to go through all of the steps of the journey with you, and then at the last minute jump ship to go with a cheaper competitor. The only way to combat this is to offer an incredible customer experience. Your brand has to be about more than your products, or you’ll lose your differentiation (and your customers). And you need to be going above and beyond at every stage of the customer journey, because they can slip away at any point.

The Journey Can’t Just Happen, You Need to Guide It

With so many marketing channels in place, you can’t leave customers’ paths to chance. Instead, you need to take control of your destiny and guide the customer journey.

This starts with mapping to understand your current customers. When you know how your existing ideal clients behaved on their journey, you can work to recreate that experience for others. Not only is it more likely to lead to conversions, it also means you’ll be attracting new customers who fit your ideal profile

When you’re refining your approach, it’s good to use testing. Research your existing customers, posit a theory, test it out, and measure results. A/B testing is a great way to run side-by-side comparisons of different approaches to see which resonates best with your target audience.

The customer journey is constantly evolving, and I’m sure we’ll see even more changes—big and small—in 2020. No matter where the customer journey goes next, if you keep the marketing hourglass and a commitment to serving your customers as your North Star, you’ll be able to weather any ups and downs in the marketing landscape.

The Relationship Between the Marketing Hourglass and Maturity Model

The Relationship Between the Marketing Hourglass and Maturity Model written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape philosophy is that marketing is a system. There are so many moving parts that go into creating a great marketing strategy that, without a guiding framework, it’s easy to get tangled up, twisted around, and lost completely in the weeds.

Over the years, I’ve developed two systems that inform all of the marketing work we do: the marketing hourglass and the marketing maturity model. The marketing hourglass is a way of thinking about the customer journey. These are the steps that a consumer will take in engaging with your brand. It starts with first coming to know you, and goes all the way down to when they’ve become a happy repeat customer, ready to refer friends.

The marketing maturity model is a way for you think about your own marketing activities. What are the assets you need to build, then grow and amplify (or ignite) in order to guide those prospects from the top to the bottom of the marketing hourglass?

In this blog post, I’ll walk you through how the two systems are inextricably linked, and how you can align the way you think about the work you do behind the scenes to create your marketing presence with the experience customers are having on the other side.

The Top of the Hourglass and The Grow Phase

The top of the marketing hourglass is when prospects are first coming to know your brand. We call them the know, like, and trust phases. They’re not ready to make a purchase decision yet, but as they move through these three steps, they’re getting closer.

It starts with them first encountering your brand. Maybe they hear your name from a friend, maybe they discover you in a Google search. Whatever the case may be, you need to greet them with a solid marketing base at this stage to get them to go any further.

marketing hourglass

Create a Strong Website and Tackle SEO

Don’t you grow wary when a business operating today doesn’t have a website? What are they trying to hide? Or how far behind the times are they? The first step in the marketing maturity model is building a great website because it is the heart of your online presence. A strong website is more than great design; it’s about incorporating a modern promise that shows you understand your customers’ problems and have the best solution out there to fix it.

Behind every great website is a strong SEO strategy. While SEO is an ongoing process and there are dozens of factors to consider if you’re taking a pro-level approach, even a marketing novice can use some SEO quick fixes, like repairing broken links, checking site speed, and designing a mobile-friendly site, to get your website ranking higher.

Build Trust with Content

Once the prospect has discovered your website, you need to provide them with ways to come to know and trust your brand. That’s where the other elements of the build phase—a strong content program, social media presence, and email marketing campaign—come in.

The content on your website (blog posts, explainer videos, product descriptions, your about us page—if it’s on your website, it’s content!), should help prospects get a greater sense of what you do. Your homepage will draw them in with a promise to solve their problem, your other content needs to prove that you’re as good as you say you are. Informative blog posts, glowing reviews from existing customers, and explainer videos that teach viewers something valuable are all great ways for them to come to know and trust your brand.

Get on Social Media

Social media can help in the like and trust phases, too. Simply having a presence on the major social sites gives your business greater legitimacy. Then, creating a strong social presence, with consistent posts that are relevant and helpful, builds on the trust factor.

And take it beyond simply posting—engaging with your followers on social media means building a personal connection. It allows prospects to get to know the individuals behind the brand, and when they get 1:1 responses to their questions and comments on your page, they develop a deep trust in your business: “If they’re paying this much attention to me before I even become a customer, I’m sure I’ll be in good hands once I make a purchase!”

Stay Top-of-Mind with Email Marketing

Finally, email marketing is a great way to continue to show your expertise and remain in prospects’ fields of vision. While they have to seek out your website content or social media profiles, creating an email newsletter filled with helpful tidbits (and the occasional offer) allows you to come to them with your industry knowledge.

The Middle of the Hourglass and the Grow Phase

The middle of the hourglass are the stages we like to call try and buy. By this point, you’ve built a lot of trust around your brand. Your prospects are intrigued and really like what you do. If you can make a compelling offer to get them to give you a try, and the trial goes well, that’s often what seals the deal and helps them convert to full customer.

At this point in the marketing maturity model, you want to continue expanding your essential blocks from the build phase. Your website and content program can grow. Adding things like a regular podcast with a cadre of exciting industry guests is a great way to strengthen your content. Gather all of your relevant content together onto hub pages to give your content program and SEO a boost.

Speaking of expanding SEO efforts, focus on building up backlinks, and get Google Search Console set up so that you can optimize your search ranking for many years to come.

Also, continue to engage and follow up with leads via social media and email marketing. But it doesn’t stop there; now is the time to introduce new tactics to grow your existing relationships and turn prospects into customers.

Undertake Paid Lead Generation

When we say paid lead generation, we’re talking about things like search ads and social media advertising. These can come in many forms. A great place to start is with boosting content on social media, giving posts you’ve shared organically a broader reach for a small fee.

The more advanced tactics take you further into tracking your ads and getting more efficient about driving conversions.

Once you’ve established a series of Google Ads, you can use their offline tracking tool to understand how your ads are impacting business in the real world. By importing your sales information from conversions that happen in your brick-and-mortar store or over the phone, you can better understand the effectiveness of your online ads and refine your approach to win over more prospects.

For all of your ads, you should be creating landing pages that are unique to that particular campaign. In doing that, prospects find the exact deal, offer, or topic that intrigued them in the ad front-and-center on your website, and it makes them all the more likely to convert.

Create a Culture that Integrates Sales and Marketing

Your marketing efforts can take you pretty far, but you need them to be integrated with your sales approach from the start in order to get the greatest result. Make sure that your sales and marketing teams are in communication from day one about prospects.

Set up a clear process for the handoff from the marketing to sales teams, so no one falls through the cracks. And have your marketing team create materials for your sales team, so your brand voice remains consistent in those interactions with prospects as you’re shepherding them from your marketing to sales basket.

Focus on Customer Experience

This is the stage at which your prospects become customers. They’ve liked you enough up to this point to give you a try, so the customer experience must be stellar. That’s the way to take them from one-time customer to repeat buyer.

This starts with a killer onboarding process. No matter what kind of business you’re in, there’s some kind of onboarding for new customers.

If you sell products, your onboarding has to do with getting the product to your customer and ensuring they know how to use it. If you’re shipping your items, make sure that you have a process for your customers to track their packages. Once the item gets to them, include information that will help them get the most out of their new item.

For complicated products, like an electronic device, include clear instructions and maybe even a link to explainer videos to help them get set up. Simpler products, like clothing items, can include care instructions or even just a thoughtful thank you card to show you appreciate your customer’s business.

For services, your onboarding process might be more complex. Establishing a single point of contact within your company for any questions your new client may have, and sending along forms and paperwork that can help you both get on the same page faster, are important elements of your onboarding process.

No matter what kind of business you run, reviews are also very important at the try and buy stage. If you have an unhappy first-time customer, a speedy, sincere response to their complaint can turn things around and save the relationship. Similarly, glowing reviews shouldn’t go ignored. If you take the time to thank new customers for their positive feedback, their happy feelings will only grow!

The Bottom of the Hourglass and the Ignite Phase

By the time you’ve reached the bottom of the marketing hourglass, you’ve already won over that first-time customer. This is your chance to get them to become a life-long customer, and to tell all of their friends and family about your business.

And while it’s statistically easier to hold onto existing customers than to win new ones over, the last thing you want to do is take someone for granted now! You’ve already put in the hard work of converting them; you need to continue to wow them so that they’ll stick around.

Again, you continue to work on the existing tactics you’ve got up and running, from your website through to sales enablement and customer experience. But here, you add three more elements to take your marketing approach to a whole new level and build those lifelong customer bonds.

Invest in a CRM

A customer relationship management tool (or CRM, for short), helps you to better manage all of your customer interactions, both old and new. The tool allows you to track all points of contact with prospects and customers.

This is helpful in better understanding prospects’ path to conversion, and in offering better service to your existing customers.

Let’s say you have an existing customer who’s had an issue with an order. When your team can see that they called last week and emailed a few days later to follow up—and can pull up the transcripts of those communications, plus see notes from the customer service representative who was handling the case—you’re better able to take appropriate action for your customer, without making them explain their problem over and over each time they reach out.

Or maybe you have a customer that’s never had a complaint in their life. The CRM can still help; it can provide information for you to make smarter offers to that customer. If you’re a home improvement store and you notice that a customer recently purchased a dehumidifier, you can target them with ads about replacement filters for their new machine.

Whether you’re troubleshooting, looking for new cross-sell opportunities, or simply trying to better understand your sales pipeline, a CRM is the way to do it.

Use Marketing Automation

Marketing automation and a CRM tool often go hand-in-hand. The CRM gives you all of the customer information you could need or want to enact smart marketing automation techniques.

When you understand your customers’ behaviors, you can segment your buyers into different personas. Each type of customer has their own unique needs that your business meets, and when you understand those needs, you can create marketing materials that most effectively speak to them (and direct that messaging only at the relevant parties).

Take Advantage of AI and Analytics

Also tied in with your customer information is analytics and AI. When you’re gathering information on your customers, you can use analytics to understand what the data all means and, from there, refine your marketing strategy long-term.

Tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console for your website are free to use, and can provide you with deep, meaningful information about the behaviors and attributes of your customers and prospects. You can even use more advanced techniques, like call tracking, to understand how your online marketing efforts are affecting customers’ behaviors on the phone.

Armed with this information, you can undertake A/B testing, showing two different marketing messages to two different audiences in order to understand which one works best. This kind of testing allows you to hone in on the best possible messaging for each segment of your audience, helping you to retain existing customers and win new ones who might be referred by your biggest fans.

When it comes to creating an effective marketing strategy, you need to align your marketing tactics with what your prospects and customers want and need. By using the marketing hourglass as a guidepost while you walk through the marketing maturity model, you can build a strong marketing presence that will work for your business from start to finish.

How To Write an Effective Brand Story

How To Write an Effective Brand Story written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Every business has competitors. No business will ever be the only option available to a client or customer. So every brand has to do some work to differentiate themselves from the competition. Why would someone pick you over that other guy or gal down the street? What unique value are you bringing to the table that they just can’t get with anyone else?

This is where storytelling comes in. Sure, there are a number of businesses out there that could theoretically solve your prospect’s problem. But by crafting a compelling brand story, you can differentiate yourself as the brand that understands the problem the best and has the most thoughtful solution to the issue.

There are five key elements to any effective brand story. Here, I’ll walk you through them, and give you the tips you need to create a statement that sets your business apart.

Address the Problem

People don’t seek your business out because of the product or service that you offer. They seek you out because they have a problem that needs fixing, and they think that yours could be the business to solve it.

The first step to proving that you are the best business to fix their issue is clearly defining the problem at hand. When you’re able to articulate the pain that your prospects are feeling, they immediately feel at ease: Here’s a business that gets what I need, and likely has the know-how to deliver.

So a great brand story starts with calling out your ideal customer’s problem, frustration, or challenge. Take, for example, a brand like Glossier. In recent years, they’ve squeezed into the crowded beauty space and now have a valuation of over $1 billion. They identify their customers’ issue right on their home page: “Beauty inspired by real life. Glossier is a new approach to beauty. It’s about fun and freedom and being OK with yourself today. We make intuitive, uncomplicated products designed to live with you.”

They acknowledge that their ideal customers have too many options when it comes to beauty care, that those high-fashion brands make them feel like they can’t live up to those impossible beauty standards, and that the steps to a beauty care regimen have gotten more and more complex over the years. They’re looking to pare things back and offer a handful of great products that get the job done, rather than complicate things with some other product you now need to cram into your medicine cabinet.

Paint a Picture of a Problem-Free World

Okay, so now you’ve gotten your prospect’s attention. You understand what their world is like, and you’re on their side: You know there’s a problem that needs solving. The next step is to show that a problem-free world is possible. What would your prospect’s life look like without the problem in it?

Returning to the Glossier example, they address this by sharing real-world stories of women who have embraced their intuitive approach to skincare. They include pictures of their smiling, naturally-glowing faces, and the women tell stories of a quick and easy beauty routine that still allows them plenty of time to enjoy their morning coffee before heading off to work.

How Did We Get Here?

Sure, your ideal customers have a problem, but now that you’ve called it out, you want to make sure they feel like they’re not alone. Visitors to your website shouldn’t get the sense that they’ve been called out; you want them to feel like it’s not their fault they’ve gotten into this mess!

The team at Glossier does this by acknowledging that they’re just like their ideal customer. They say that they’re “beauty editors [who have] tried it all.” They’ve walked into a Sephora and picked up every serum, eye cream, face mask, and eye shadow palette under the sun, just like their ideal clients have. And from this place of knowledge, they now create products that are uncomplicated and just work.

Outline a Way Forward

Now that you’ve addressed the issue, acknowledged that a better way is possible, and made your prospects feel that you understand how they got here, now you can show them another way.

Outline a way forward for them. Show that by taking a first step with you, they can move towards getting out of this mess and finding themselves on the other side, in a problem-free place.

Glossier does this on their site by then introducing their core products that are designed to simplify a skincare routine. There are only a handful of products, and they’re the basics anyone would need (like a moisturizer and face wash).

Invite Them to Contact You

Once you’ve proven your value by identifying your ideal customer’s problem, acknowledging that they’re not the source of the issue, and offering up your way forward, towards a brighter, problem-free future, it’s time to invite visitors to reach out. You’ve made your case for what you bring to the table, now it’s up to them to contact you to learn more.

Glossier does this at the bottom of their site. In addition to products that can be purchased online, they invite visitors to “Meet [them] in real life” by finding a store or pop-up location, and then they offer up their newsletter as a way to stay up-to-date on product launches and events.

Getting your brand to pop in the crowded online marketplace is about more than having a spiffy logo or memorable slogan. It’s even bigger than offering the best product or service out there. The secret to standing out is telling a compelling brand story. And when you follow the steps above and include those essential elements, you can guarantee that you immediately build a sense of connection between your brand and prospects.

The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur Reading: September 18

The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur Reading: September 18 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur – September 18

It’s time for another episode featuring a reading from my upcoming book, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur, due out in October 2019. If you’ve been following along, you know that the book is structured as 366 daily meditations for entrepreneurs, with readings from famous Transcendentalist authors and commentary from me on how it all relates to the entrepreneurial journey.

Today’s Reading: Find Your Gifts

But the great Master said, “I see/No best in kind, but in degree;/I gave a various gift to each,/To charm, to strengthen, and to teach.//”These are the three great chords of might,/And he whose ear is tuned aright/Will hear no discord in the three,/But the most perfect harmony.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – “The Singers” The Complete Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1854)

Poetry is hard for most so here’s the full context of what goes on in The Singers. There are three musicians and people can’t figure out which one is the best so the great Master assures them they are all great for different reasons and if you listen with that in mind all you can hear is the most perfect harmony.

Okay now go reread the stanza above and it may be much more lyrical.

So, how do you find harmony in a world of difference? How do you find yourself and your place in the band? 

Or to quote Deepak Chopra, “There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle.”

Your values, the things that mean the most to you in life right now, are the keys to understanding your gifts. The musicians in the poem above employed their gifts to charm, to strengthen, and to teach.

How about you? Journal, get alone, ask your three closest friends. Don’t sweat it –  as long as you are actively looking – your gifts will find you.

Final Thoughts

I think there’s a lot of pressure today, particularly on entrepreneurs, to prove their success and self-worth. To some degree, that’s why you see so much nonsense on social media.

Deepak Chopra says, “there are no extra pieces in the universe,” and that idea that we’re all unique, connected, and here for a purpose? It’s powerful. I don’t know that I’ll ever find my purpose and my gifts, but I think it’s cool to live with the idea that I can relax because I’m meant to be here. My job is to insist on myself and never copy.

With that in mind, I leave you with today’s challenge question: When was the last time you got lost in the present and time disappeared? What were you doing?

Want to learn more about The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur? Click here.

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The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur Reading: September 11

The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur Reading: September 11 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur – September 11

Each week this month, I’ll be doing a reading from my upcoming book, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur, due out in October 2019. The book is structured as 366 daily meditations for entrepreneurs, with readings from famous Transcendentalist authors and commentary from me on how it all relates to the entrepreneurial journey.

Today’s Reading: Solving Impact

The continuity of life is never broken; the river flows onward and is lost to our sight, but under its new horizon it carries the same waters which it gathered under ours, and its unseen valleys are made glad by the offerings which are borne down to them from the past,—flowers, perchance, the germs of which its own waves had planted on the banks of Time.

John Greenleaf Whittier – The Prose Works of John Greenleaf Whittier, Volume 2 (1866)

What problems are you solving? That’s the essential question in life and it certainly applies to business. It’s not that you should set your entrepreneurial journey in search of problems, the fun is in creating opportunities, making new stuff, building amazing relationships, but in the end, doing even these things solves someone else’s problems. Intentionally or unintentionally.

“. . . and its unseen valleys are made glad by the offerings which are borne down to them from the past . . .

The measure of your true impact, and hence the jolt you may need to keep at it, resides in your relationship to the problems you ultimately solve for others. This is as true in your role as a brother, friend, spouse, as it is in your role as a founder, manager, worker bee.

Problem solving seems a bit negative until you start to use it as a way to understand those you serve and interact with from their point of view. Think about it – being a good listener is solving someone’s problem, showing up when needed, having a frank conversation, celebrating a win, all problem solving.

Today, try this idea out as a filter for how you think about what you do, how you interact and maybe even the products or services you might provide.

Final Thoughts

Problem-solving is what we do all day long, whether it’s on purpose or not. And certainly understanding, as a business owner, that people don’t buy our products or services; they buy the problem that we solve. In a lot of cases, they don’t even really care how we do it.

So I think it’s important that you understand that. It doesn’t mean that you’re constantly on the negative, thinking, “Oh boy, I’ve got to solve a problem.”

Think about it this way: Being a good friend to someone during the day is solving that person’s problem. You may not look at it that way, it might not seem that grand, you may not enter into it with that intention, but if you start to think about interactions like that in terms of the value that you bring? That turns a negative into a positive.

I leave you with today’s challenge question: In a single sentence, what is the greatest problem you currently plan to solve?

Want to learn more about The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur? Click here.

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This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Intercom. Intercom is the only business messenger that starts with real-time chat, then keeps growing your business with conversational bots and guided product tours.

Intercom’s mission is to help you provide simple, quick, and friendly service for your customers. When you can give your customers the one thing they’re looking for, you’ll generate amazing results for your business.

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The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur Reading: September 4

The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur Reading: September 4 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur – September 4

This is the first podcast in a series of episodes about my new book, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur, due out in October 2019. The book is structured as 366 daily meditations for entrepreneurs, with readings from famous Transcendentalist authors and commentary from me on how it all relates to the entrepreneurial journey.

In the weeks leading up to the release, I’ll be sharing a reading each week from that particular day’s entry in The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur.

Today’s Reading: Into Silence

What are the great faults of conversation? Want of ideas, want of words, want of manners, are the principal ones, I suppose you think. I don’t doubt it, but I will tell you what I have found spoil more good talks than anything else;—long arguments on special points between people who differ on the fundamental principles upon which these points depend.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. – The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table (1858)

Defending one’s position is a clear signal of a lack of trust – not in the person subjected to your defense, but in yourself.

Assuredness in a point of view sounds a lot like silence.

Yes, today’s call is to be still and listen.

This isn’t a knock on your ability to share or even the fact that you have brilliant ideas to share it’s just that when we choose to listen more, some beautiful things can happen.

In conversation, the economy of our words gives space for others to feel heard and valued. It invites people to find themselves and see you as a source of energy that allows rather than prescribes.

Listening draws ideas, relationships, stories, information, and clues that allow you to better understand the impact you have on others.

For most, but particularly entrepreneurs, this advice requires biting your tongue and reining in your natural inclination, but if you can ever allow yourself to embrace this and practice this, you’ll never give it up.

Today, try to speak only when spoken to and then listen with your entire body. Observe how silence feels and take note of your urges to burst out talking, but more importantly bask in the transformation of those who experience your active listening.

If you have a lot you need to say then write it down. Of course the sneaky little trick in this advice is that writing forces you to listen to yourself and for once observe just what you sound like.

Final Thoughts

I invite you to think about what you just heard me read—you may even want to go back and listen again.

The question of silence and listening is often tough for leaders. We get used to being the person that everyone turns to for the answers, and a lot of times, we want to share our thoughts and provide that guidance.

But there’s a valuable piece of advice I picked up from The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier. His book really hammered home the idea for me that, when someone comes to you asking for the answer to something, more often than not, they’re not looking for you to be prescriptive. A lot of the time, they’re looking for you to validate what they think, and to invite them to think up the solution for themselves.

So I leave you with today’s challenge question: Who will you listen to today?

Want to learn more about The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur? Click here.

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Intercom. Intercom is the only business messenger that starts with real-time chat, then keeps growing your business with conversational bots and guided product tours.

Intercom’s mission is to help you provide simple, quick, and friendly service for your customers. When you can give your customers the one thing they’re looking for, you’ll generate amazing results for your business.

Want to learn more and take advantage of a 14-day free trial? Just go to intercom.com/podcast.