Seth Godin’s Surprising Definition of Marketing

Most of us are marketers whether we realize it or not. For some it’s a profession, for others it’s simply ingrained in what you do, what you say and how you interact with others.

A while ago I asked Seth Godin his thoughts about being often referred to as a “Marketing Expert.” In typical Seth fashion, his response wasn’t a generic reply… it was a response designed to make you think. His answer started with a question, a defining question that challenged the very notion of what “marketing” really is.

“What is marketing? If marketing is the act of overcoming fear, telling stories, doing work that matters and engaging with a world that’s going through revolutionary change, then sure, I’m flattered to be a marketing expert. My job, I think, is to highlight things we already sense, and to help people push themselves to do the work they know they ought to be doing.” – Seth Godin

Marketing isn’t just promoting something, at least effective marketing isn’t.

It’s also about being an agent of change, getting to the core, sharing value, and much more.

Do Your Research First – Lessons from the National Speakers Association Platform Rebrand and Michael Hyatt

Whenever you are looking to create something new… a logo, product, event or whatever… do your research first. Go to Google and search the name, the keyword, etc. of what you are looking to create. Check and see who is already doing it or who might be doing something similar. Then consider the implications of doing what you are looking to do IF someone else is already doing it. Can you modify your name? Can you modify your scope? Whatever you do, just don’t copy what someone else is doing… especially when it comes to their look and use.

Case in point… Michael Hyatt has spent the last several years building a brand known as PLATFORM. He wrote the New York Times bestselling book (which I helped launch), aptly titled PLATFORM, that was released in May 2012. He also has the Platform Conference, Platform University and many other “Platform” centric initiatives that have been ongoing for some time. He has clearly defined himself as the go-to “Platform” guy in the marketplace for authors, speakers and anyone else with something to say or sell.

Thanks to Mike Kim for the Image

On July 2, 1014 the National Speakers Association unveiled that they were changing their brand / name from “National Speakers Association” to… wait for it… PLATFORM. – See that post here.

But here’s the thing… it’s not that they just changed the name to PLATFORM, it’s that the branding (logo, etc) looks strikingly similar to what Michael Hyatt already has been using… for several years. Down to the similar color scheme, font, and talk bubble useage.

I’m scratching my head on this one honestly. I’d hate to think that an organization as solid as the NSA would rip off someone else’s brand, especially someone as well known and established as Michael Hyatt, but I just can’t see how they wouldn’t have known. If you Google “Platform” Michael Hyatt’s stuff is at the top of the page.

Beyond all that… On a general branding note, I’m also surprised that the National Speakers Association would change their name to something so drastically removed from their core. Removing “Speakers” was a defining keyword and niche that they excelled in. They obviously want to expand their “platform” and reach but doing so in this way was a major miscalculation, at best.

Just look at some of the responses people are posting on the National Speakers Instagram reveal… or on Michael Hyatt’s Facebook page… or on Twitter… or Mike Kim’s great post here.

Let this be a lesson for us all. Do your research first and regardless of trademark issues… there is the court of public opinion which will ultimately make or break the brand, especially when they are in a similar marketplace. You need to consider that.

And… if you do run up against something like this, respond quickly and address the issue. If you were wrong, apologize and admit it. If it was a mistake, do the same. If you feel you are correct, blaze your trail but be willing to endure the consequences (good or bad). Either way, don’t remain silent. Silence creates a void that negativity often fills.

For the sake of the NSA, I hope they issue a response soon, do the right thing and avoid any further negative backlash. They are a great group and have impacted many in a positive way. I hope they land on the side of integrity here.

I’m a Proud Freak (And You Could Be Too)

I just bought 8 copies of Chris Brogan’s new book (and I think you should pick up a copy too).

Why did I buy 8? It’s not just because Chris is a friend, which he is. And it’s not just because I personally find the book of great value, which I do.

It’s because I have friends. Friends who I care about. Friends who have ideas and passions but are struggling with how to turn them into realities. Friends who could use a framework or a little extra nudge on making their passions into a viable business (or nonprofit or whatever).

So, I decided that simply reading the book wasn’t enough. I wanted to take a few copies and physically put them in the hands of others.

I’ll be honest though, when I first saw the title of the book I was a bit… well, curious.

The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth:
Entrepreneurship for Weirdos, Misfits, and World Dominators

I didn’t consider myself (or my friends, with several exceptions) to be a freak or a weirdo really, although some might say otherwise. But as I read on I quickly realized where Chris was going and knew exactly why this book would be perfect for many and revolutionize a lot of people’s thinking (and more importantly, their doing).

So, what is a Freak you ask?

I’ll let Chris tell you himself… taken from his blog:

In the parlance of this book, a freak is someone obsessed with excellence and a deep understanding of their domain. Marc Ecko is a freak about design and apparel and deep level brand-making with meaning (interviewed in this book). Tony Hawk is a freak about skateboarding and the community around it (interviewed in this book). Kate White is a freak about women’s success plus a mystery novelist and so much more (interviewed in this book). Sam Calagione is a freak about beer making and music (interviewed in this book). In short, I talk to people who are passionate about something the average person might not be, at least not to their level, and have gone one to make success from it.

What does the book talk about?

Again, copied from Chris’ blog:

It’s not a book of high and mighty ideas. It’s a book of action. Where do you start? How do you go from being a misfit to being a misfit who makes a living being a misfit (like AJ and Melissa Leon). How do you turn your passions into something that fuels your passion to travel the world like Chris Guillebeau? How do you learn what it takes to grow your ideas into something sustainable? And what tools will you need along the way?

The personal business revolution is upon us. Here’s your recipe book for starting your revolutionary business, including some of what you will learn:

  • How to be as weird as you want while providing a viable business structure to support it
  • What most people are missing from the basic frameworks of doing business
  • How to turn passions into businesses
  • How to build out the Digital Channel
  • What Kickstarter and Square mean for the future of business)

Take the plunge. Learn to fail and then win. Dare to do something that “everyone else” doesn’t. The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth will help.

I’m a #ProudFreak and I hope that you will become one too!


Have A Blog? Here’s a Simple Way to Make Your Top Posts More Effective

If you have a blog, are trying to grow it and make it more effective, this post is for you!

What I’m about to share is really simple… in fact it’s one of those things that’s right under your nose but likely being overlooked. When I realized it and started implementing it (on my blog and blogs of clients), I almost instantly saw a significant positive result.

The cool thing is that you don’t need to spend any extra money or really any extra resources (other than a little time) to implement this and make it work for you.

Here goes…

Every month, go back through your blog stats (analytics) and see which posts are naturally getting more traffic.

Look back at the last month and the last quarter, even the last year as a whole.

When you determine which posts are getting the most traffic, see if you can go back into those posts and better optimize them in some way.

Can you alter the post a little to make it more responsive? Can you add in links to additional resources (of your own or affiliates)? Can you link to other posts on your blog to encourage people to visit other posts (better cross promotion)? Can you go back into the post and highlight good quotes and add TWEET THIS links (using to help increase social sharing? Can you use the post to help generate leads in some way?

Any optimization that you can do to posts that are already getting good traffic will help those posts perform even better. It’s a win-win and you can do this for as many posts as you are getting good traffic on.

By the way, if you use WordPress and have the native stats plugin installed, you can use that. Or if you have Google Analytics or any other stats/analytics solution installed, you can use that too. Doesn’t matter as much which stats solution you use, just use something.

Now, this might vary based on your goals but here is an example of what I did recently…

Take these 2 posts for example:

  1. When is the best time to post on Facebook? Here’s the Answer…
  2. 10 Reasons Why Email Marketing Still Trumps Everything Else (Yes, Even Social Media)

Both of these posts have been generating a considerable amount of traffic, direct traffic from people referring to the pages and even more Google search traffic (which is really great and helping the posts continue to do well + sending new readers my way).

When I analyzed my top post stats and saw that trend… that these posts were continuing to be larger traffic generators ongoing, I went back into the posts and cleaned them up a little (text wise, formatting wise, etc.) but then I made them more responsive based on a few goals I had. How?

I altered my email optin / sign up box on each post and I added a qualifying question to try and generate more response from visitors. Here’s an example of the qualifying question I added to one of the posts:

To me, this qualifying question does two things.

  1. It enables me to get open ended responses to see what types of content readers of these posts want. I can use that info to write additional posts, come up with helpful resources or products, etc.
  2. It increases my email optin because the form has an additional email optin question.

From the time I implemented changes I almost instantly saw a huge spike in response. Same holds true for client sites that I’ve tested this on as well.

The moral of the story is this…

Sometimes the greatest growth occurs by leveraging what you already have.

[Click to Tweet That]

Blogs are no different.

I hope this post inspires you and gives you a few creative ideas that you can do on your own.

10 Reasons Why Email Marketing Still Trumps Everything Else (Yes, Even Social Media)

Back when social media started getting really hot there were a lot of people who were quick to predict the demise of email marketing. It was like that famous line from Henny Penny (aka Chicken Little), “The Sky is Falling! The Sky is Falling!” but instead they were saying “Email is dead! Email is dead!”

They were wrong.

Email marketing is just as much alive today as it ever has been. Sure, like all marketing, there are hurdles to overcome and right vs wrong ways to do it but I believe email marketing trumps every form of online marketing in terms of generating the type of response, action and engagement that really matters.

By the way, I’ve been involved in marketing (online and offline) and platform building for over 15 years. I’ve worked with all types of clients, some who had almost no budget and others where I managed multi-million dollar budgets. I’ve built targeted email lists of hundreds of thousands of subscribers, I’ve helped create and grow dozens of successful brands, I’ve taken social media platforms from zero to almost a half-million followers, and much more. The point is this, the advice I’m giving here is not random. What I’m sharing is based on being on the front lines, seeing what works and what doesn’t.

This post isn’t to bash social media either. Quite the contrary. I love social media but only as a PART of an integrated marketing mix, not an end-all solution that many seem to think or have been misled to believe that it is. Same goes for email marketing actually… or running ads… or direct mail… or any other component of a marketing mix. Rarely is one solution THE solution. In most cases you utilize different solutions to reach different people in different ways. It’s all part of a collective effort that, to be effective, you must leverage to generate the best results for your particular goals.

So how does email still trump everything else?

I’m glad you asked. Here are 10 reasons why:

1. You Own the List – One of the greatest assets you can have is your list (list of customers, prospects, clients, members, etc). When you own this list you have direct access to communicate with them whenever you want. The list is yours and having it helps you build and grow residually and exponentially. If you choose to move from one email list provider (Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Aweber, etc.) to another, you can take your list with you anywhere. Not the same for 3rd party platforms like Facebook and Twitter, at least not easily. If Facebook or Twitter died tomorrow or

Magical Unicorns and the Comparison Trap

There is a danger that exists for all of us regardless of whether we are trying to launch a business, accomplish something great, or simply get ahead in life…

It’s the Comparison Trap.

We’re all guilty of it… that temptation to compare ourselves to others… to try and judge our own success based on the success of someone else.

Don’t do it.

Don’t compare your success to the success of others (or what you perceive as their success). You are unique, your purpose is unique and your success might look different than theirs. As Seth Godin says, only compare yourself to the uncomparable, like a Magical Unicorn. : )