In October, there is a focus on shutting down the garden, carving pumpkins and eating candy corn. But after everyone is done with the monsters, witches and zombies of Halloween, everyone’s attention turns to the activities of November, and some just want to skip right to December.
This year in particular, I’ve noticed that there is a fight for attention on what comes next. There are many who are eager for the Christmas season to begin. My daughter’s choral group is practicing carols for her Christmas concert, which has brought early Christmas cheer. A senior living center near my house put up their two-story high bedazzled and ribboned artificial Christmas tree on November 1. And of course, this year with the highly contentious elections, there have been lots of commercials on both sides, filling the airwaves with criticism, vitriol, accusation and anger. With the country so split on how best to move forward, it seems hard to imagine how we will heal the divide and come together as a nation.
But at this time, I want to pause the discussions of the winners and losers and hold Christmas at bay for just a little while longer so we can focus on Thanksgiving. This holiday asks us to focus on gratitude, one of life’s most essential qualities. It leaps across ethnic lines, religious differences and partisan politics to include everyone in its embrace.
Thanksgiving is a time for all of us to stop and think about what we are grateful for and the blessings in our lives. Here are five big things I’m grateful for:
#1: My Clients:
My clients fill my “to do” list every day, requiring time to ensure that webpages are updated, blog post a written, and email campaigns are analyzed. But that’s not what I’m grateful for. I’m grateful for the business challenges they provide, the thinking that provokes, the perpetual push for better and better results and the friendships that grow out of the struggles for those greater results.
#2: My Colleagues
While I am the lead for all of my client’s activities, I don’t do it all alone. I have technical experts on search engine optimization, copywriting, HTML coding, graphic design and email automation. I value their expertise and their contributions to making beautiful email layouts and website pages that appear on page one of Google.
#3: Digital marketing tools
Since I am a strategist, I spend a lot of time thinking about the strategies to build business for my clients. And for the most part, those strategies are timeless (deliver the right message at the right time to the right audience through the right vehicles).
But the tools were used to deliver those strategies continue to change dramatically. I can monitor my SEO ranking on a moment by moment basis and use email and social media tools to get a relevant message to thousands of followers in an instant. Pretty cool.
#4: Continuous Learning
Because the tools of the trade are ever-changing, I get to learn how businesses can use Snapchat or how building a database with e-books can lead to quicker sales. My clients have seen the tangible results of that learning, and it’s fun to bring them those results. I love reviewing the results and coming up with ideas for ways to do even more next time.
For all the ugliness of this election cycle, I still feel blessed to live in America. I believe in the ideal our forefathers struggled to create, the inherent checks and balances created by having three branches of government and the freedom of the press that is meant to keep the people who work in those three branches honest. I believe in the American dream and feel privileged to be a part of helping my clients innovate in their respective industries and grow their businesses.
No matter where you live, no matter what your political affiliation, race or religion, everyone can stop and give gratitude for what is in their lives. If you are reading this, then you are a part of my life, and I’m so grateful for that. Thank you for being a part of my world.
May you have a Thanksgiving season overflowing with gratitude.
The other day I wrote a blog about how, to support your personal brand, you should have a headshot ready in case someone needs it. A lot of people fuss over this, as they find fault with every picture ever taken of them.
Here’s a clue: The picture doesn’t have to be perfect, as it can easily be retouched. There are many services these days on the web that can help you get rid of a little blemish, eliminate redeye, whiten up your teeth a bit or change your background if necessary.
I’m not talking about dramatically altering how you look, (although that is possible with these websites). I’m just talking about making some slight changes so that a photo is best suited for the purposes for which you need it.
To illustrate this point, my very accommodating client, Boyd Comfort, agreed to allow me to show you what we did. In this particular case, it didn’t need to be absolutely perfect. We were under a very tight time crunch and needed something that would be “acceptable” within a matter of hours.
First, we had someone take a picture of him using their phone. The quality was good, and the lighting was good. Although he wasn’t wearing a suit, he didn’t really need the suit for the business and industry he serves. There were just a few things that we needed to change. In order to use this headshot for the media, we tweaked just a few things with the picture.
You’ll see that I took a line out of the wall right behind him, and I got rid of a logo and a zipper on his sweater that detracted from looking at his face. With these types of services, you can go crazy with airbrushing, spray tanning, whitening and otherwise altering any picture, but in this case, all I did was lighten up a little under his eyes. That was enough! With just a few changes, you can take a photo that completely doesn’t work, and make it so that it’s good enough to use.
All of these changes were altered on PicMonkey.com . It’s a great resource that I use a LOT. Canva.com is another one that I know a lot of people use. If you need a resource like this, I recommend you check it out!
… Plus, since it’s Halloween, I zombie’d Boyd up just so you could see what a Halloween headshot might look like.
So there’s no excuse for having a bad headshot. It doesn’t cost a lot of money and anyone can use it. Get your headshot done today!
Oh and happy Halloween!
Thanks again to client Boyd Comfort of Gasket Engineering for being so willing to be the subject of this blog.
If you are doing your own SEO work, you may be getting lulled into a false sense of security because of Google’s penchant for personalization.
Everybody knows how important it is to be on page one of Google for the keywords relevant to their industry. Have you ever typed in your most relevant industry keywords and seen your company’s name appear in a prominent position on page one? It probably filled you with pride, to see that of all the millions of possible results available for that topic, Google thinks your website is one of the best.
But wait a minute… Are you really on page one?
Don’t get fooled by Google personalization. You may be misled by Google because of the search engine’s algorithm, which has been written to provide as much personalization as possible.
Search has gotten so sophisticated over the past several years, and Google’s search algorithm strongly takes into account your previous online behavior. If you have done searches in the past and have clicked on a particular website 100 times, Google is going to consider that when determining the best search results for your query. That’s Google personalization.
It’s also going to deliver local content, taking into account your geography. It uses your IP address to deliver the best location-based results for you. That’s why you were likely to get the pizza parlor down the street or right around the corner when you go searching for the “best pie in town.”
Remember, because of Google personalization, all search is relative, so when you want to know how you really rank, you can’t rely on your own normal search results to tell you how you’re doing.
Here are two alternative ways to find out how you’re doing:
#1: Clear your search history and open an “Incognito” window. Type in your keyword and see where you come up.
#2: Use professional services. There are plenty of great resources that can monitor your rank. Two that we recommend are SEMRush or HubSpot.
If you’d like to get a full analysis of where your website ranks for relevant keywords in your industry (as well as those of your competitors), feel free to set up a free consultation. We’ll look at you and your competitors and let you know where you stand. Schedule your meeting today!
As a personal branding expert, it’s my job to make sure that my clients are positioning themselves for success in every business situation, so when I see missed opportunities to strengthen one’s brand, it drives me crazy. Here are two examples:
#1: One of our clients agreed to have a press release sent out about the innovations they were bringing to their industry… we had done some media outreach on their behalf and the local business journal requested an interview with the client. As a personal branding expert, I was happy for my client. Exposure is always a good thing! However, as a part of this, they needed a headshot to run in the publication as well. The timeframe was imminent because the reporter was on a tight deadline.
The interview was quickly set up, but there was no suitable headshot that could be sent. We tried to fix an existing family photo that he had, cropping out his family and trying to retouch out a child’s head to make it suitable for a business publication. But that photo ended up being too small. In the end, we had the client take another picture that was more suitable for the publication.
#2: I was having a really interesting conversation with a woman at a pre-tradeshow breakfast. She was intelligent and engaging and during the course of the conversation, we determined that it would be beneficial for us to connect after the trade show. I offered my business card and asked for hers. She sheepishly admitted that she didn’t have any.
If you don’t have a personal branding expert looking out for you, then listen to me. People, please! Be poised for success! Be ready for success so you don’t miss it when the opportunity comes!
Here are a few of what every personal branding expert would consider basic business necessities:
- Have a headshot available for any need
- Carry a stack of business cards
- Have a one sentence bio statement that recaps your career, your area of interest or your background
- Establish a social media presence. Even if you don’t want to tweet every day, you need to realize that this is how some people like to connect with you. Be there.
Be prepared and watch your authority and your thought leadership grow!
If you want to be innovative and grow your brand in a big way, you need to have the confidence and the arrogance to THINK BIG. Give yourself (and your team) permission to dream, to be expansive, to go all out during the ideation phase.
Look at the image in this blog and (just like the guy in the picture) ask yourself, “Why not?”
Throughout history, the people who are game changers ask themselves this question. Steve Jobs said, “Let’s make a dent in the universe.” He had the arrogance to think big, to not be limited by any boundaries and to dream beyond anyone’s wildest imaginations.
If you have a branding or business challenge that you’re trying to innovate around, think big!
Ask yourself, “If I were going to imagine the most crazy, far out, amazing outcome, what would that be?” By allowing yourself to be outrageous, you will find that you’ll come up with unusual, innovative solutions.
Brainstorming can be focused around many different aspects of a business, an opportunity or a business challenge, and “outrageous innovative thinking” is just another thought process to help you develop breakthrough ideas. As is true in all brainstorming, in the beginning, you can’t allow your practical brain to shut down ideas. In the beginning of brainstorming concepts, there should be no filtering! Every idea is a viable idea. This is necessary because that crazy, outrageous, “completely impossible” idea may cause you (or someone on your team) to think of an idea that IS doable and incredibly possible (but still a breakthrough idea). It is very possible that in the end, you may circle back to something more modest, but you might not start that way.
You and your team members might eventually say, “Well, we can’t do that but we could do this one little piece“… and that will lead you to some innovation, some new thinking and perhaps something new for your business.
To begin, think big.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what it takes to have an innovation mindset. I’m talking about the right frame of mind to allow innovation to happen and actually promote innovation within your world.
If You Do, Then You Will Expect Innovation
One of the first critical elements is to expect innovation to happen.
Some people think progress and new ideas come from a “Eureka!” moment that hits you like a lightning bolt, but in today’s business world, innovation is a regular, daily, ongoing, grind-it-out, get-it-done kind of an occurrence. While you might have a 5 am burst of inspiration, but most of the time, that is not how it happens.
In the business world, you can’t afford to wait for inspiration to strike. You have to make it happen. At Miracle-Gro, we had regularly scheduled innovation meetings. At LEGO, we had to introduce multiple new products for our sub-brands and product lines every six months. Kids are some of the toughest consumers around! They have short attention spans, and they want to know “What’s hot this season?” You can’t show them the toy from last season. That’s old news! It’s got to be different! New! Exciting!
In the technology world, innovation and improvements are expected and planned all the time. The professionals in those businesses work under a system of “planned obsolescence.” That means that, by design, the cell phone you buy today will be outdated within two years.
Do You Expect Innovation?
As you are thinking about your own business world, expect innovation. Arrange your business life around the idea that innovation is going to happen, can happen, and will happen (if you have that expectation).
If you knew without a doubt that you could have innovative ideas about your business, what would you do differently? That’s a big idea to think about.
Innovation can be challenging, and often you spend a LOT of time working on something that (seemingly) bears no fruit. I’m sure Edison felt that way as he was discovering the 10,000 ways NOT to build a lightbulb. But if you have a firm resolve and an expectation of success, this will speed your progress.
If someone knew nothing about gardening, they might think that their neighbor who gardens is crazy. From afar, they would see that the gardener spends a lot of time watering, weeding and otherwise tending uselessly to an empty patch of dirt. They might ask themselves, “Why are they doing that?”
They don’t have an expectation of success. The gardener knows that if they are diligent and keep working at it, they will be successful.
The same mindset applies to innovation.
If you are diligent and keep working at it, you will be successful.
So expect innovation to happen, and it will.
Get Ready For Success
Now, take a moment to think about something you’d like to innovate—a business problem, an industry challenge, or even coming up with a new way to approach an issue in your personal life. Put some time on the calendar to think about it and work on it at regularly-scheduled intervals and then, get ready to innovate!
When you think about how to grow your business or your brand, one of the key elements to think about is building on what you already have. Apple did a great job with this. Apple is considered one of the most innovative brands around, but they started with the computer.
When Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started out, they didn’t say, “Hey! Let’s make a telephone company.” They started with computers. They had a philosophy of making computers in an elegant, simple, sleek way that was accessible to everyone, easy to understand and user-friendly. They then moved on to the iPod and then later came the iPhone and the iPad. They took their knowledge of computers and their philosophy of elegance and simplicity and added it to those new industries.
I liken it to hopping on lily pads. If I were standing on one lily pad, in the center, very balanced…and if I tried to step onto the next lily pad (on the edge), I would fall in the water. But if I take one foot and put it in the center of the second lily pad and distribute my weight evenly, it would be different. Once I get balanced, then I can take my foot off of the first lily pad. If I keep doing this over and over again, taking advantage of the balance and structure where I am at the moment, I can progress and grow. And when I look back, I’ll find that I’m all the way across the pond!
Everyone thinks that innovation is making huge leaps forward, but sometimes, it doesn’t work that way. That doesn’t mean that if it’s not BIG innovation, it doesn’t count as innovation. It does! Sometimes it’s just more evolutionary.
This is how you can grow your brand too. You can innovate little by little, approaching different industries or different segments of the industry with your own philosophy and your own way of doing business. How you would approach a certain business segment is going to be very different from how another competitor would approach it.
Grow your brand your way. Take inventory of what assets you already have and ask yourself, “How can I build what I already have? What little steps can I take today that will get me to where I want to go?”