Small Business Marketing On A Shoestring Budget Done Right

I learned how to do small business marketing on a shoestring budget during the launch and growth phases of my first successful business. I was in my early twenties at the time, and bootstrapped my small biz back before bootstrapping was cool. It was literally a hundred dollar startup, since I had virtually no overhead and probably invested less than that into advertising my services when I launched.

Small business marketing on a shoestring budget

Fast-forward to eighteen months later, and I was running a thriving small business in my own full-time location, serving a growing clientele in a highly desirable area. Granted, some of that growth was organic and based on positive word-of-mouth, but without implementing solid low-cost marketing strategies, my business would have never left the ground.

Even so, I think there’s a stigma that goes along with marketing a small business on a budget; that being the mistaken assumption that unless you spend a lot, your business image will suffer. Hogwash. Affordable small business marketing needn’t be bad marketing, especially in our present time when you can take full advantage of social media and other online marketing channels.

How to Do Low-Cost Small Business Marketing Right

Making your business marketing look good when you’re on a budget relies first on a judicious allocation of whatever scant marketing budget you may have. Of course, when you’re first starting out your chief aim is to generate revenue by getting new customers. No customers, no business.

And when you’re attracting new customers, image is everything. For this reason I strongly recommend you spend the bulk of your marketing budget on outsourcing anything that is public-facing to a professionalespecially when it comes to designing the graphics for your website and other online marketing channels.

Both new and established small business owners often mess this up, and there’s really no excuse for it. Sure, good graphic designers and web designers don’t come cheap, but you really don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to have a professional image for your business. Here are my suggestions for getting the most from the money you spend on graphic design when you’re just getting started:

  1. First, get a professionally designed logo. I realize that your logo isn’t critical to your marketing message as a small business, because you’re not pursuing a brand marketing strategy (too costly). But despite that, you can get a lot of graphic design mileage out of a professionally designed logo, thus saving you a lot of money in the short-term. It can be used for your letterhead, in the header artwork on your website, on your packaging, and as part of the call to action in your ads. I suggest that you get a text-based logo (easier to use in ads and websites) and that you get two versions done – one with your contact information (physical or web address and phone) and one without. Trust me, this will save you time and money in having a graphic artist do this for you over and over later on. Also, ask for your logo to be rendered in multiple file formats (.psd, .eps, .jpg, and so on) and sizes, and in both high-res and low-res (web) and color/black and white versions.
  2. Next, spend money on getting a professionally designed website. A lot of small business owners simply don’t take their online image seriously. This is often a critical mistake. But, unless you have a background in marketing and graphic design, do not build your own website. DIY websites are invariably ugly websites, and this is the unforgivable sin in today’s marketing environment. Don’t do it. Instead, hire a professional to ensure your websites are professional-looking, unambiguous as to their purpose and intent, and easy to navigate.
  3. Finally, make sure everything matches. From your business cards to your website header to your signage on your front door, make sure everything matches and follows the same design cues and color schemes. Again, this is where spending money on a nice logo can go a long way toward improving your professional image. You paid good money to have that logo designed, so for goodness sake use it everywhere and on every bit of marketing collateral that goes out your door.

Sweat Equity Marketing = Marketing Done With Elbow Grease

Now, assuming that you’ve spent a great deal of your initial marketing budget on polishing your professional image, it’s time to introduce you to Massie’s Universal Marketing Cost Axiom:

Massie’s Universal Marketing Cost Axiom

Marketing that is low-cost is typically high-effort, and marketing that is high-cost is typically low-effort.

In other words, low-cost marketing typically requires a greater expenditure of time and effort to implement. On the other hand, more costly marketing is usually more or less hands off.

Take almost any low-cost online marketing method, for example. Blogging, SEO, social media marketing – they all can be done cheaply (even completely free) in exchange for a fair amount of sweat equity. Contrast this with pay-per-click campaigns (in extremely competitive markets), television, and radio; those marketing channels are costly, but they take little time and effort to implement.

What that means to you as a lean start-up is that you are likely going to invest a great deal more time than money into what I call Sweat Equity Marketing.

Investing Your Time Into Sweat Equity Marketing

In the early stages of your business when you’re cash-poor but time-rich, you’ll be focusing on Sweat Equity Marketing methods. These are marketing methods that are cheap but fairly time-intensive:

Examples of Sweat Equity Marketing:

  • Posting new content to your business blog weekly (short posts 3x per week, minimum) -
  • Spending time building your platform (including leveraging your blog and social media outposts) -
  • Personally doing local direct marketing (whether B2B or B2C) -
  • Spending a great deal of time driving traffic to your site (via SEO, social media, and article marketing) -
  • Working hard on building and leveraging your optin email list (and sending a regular newsletter) -
  • And personally following up with new clients (cultivating repeat business) -

Leveraging marketing methods such as these will be your bread and butter, so you’d best be ready to roll your sleeves up if you want to grow your business. And as your business grows and your success expands, of course you’ll find you have less and less time to spend on these tasks. This is a good problem to have.

For this reason, at some point you’ll need to determine which of your marketing tasks are critical tasks – meaning the 20% that generates 80% of your new business. Those are the tasks you’ll likely decide to keep on your plate, supervising them closely even if they are delegated to a highly capable employee or expert third-party service provider.

Other Tips for Marketing Your Small Business on a Budget

  1. Learn to write sales copy. Copywriters – good copywriters – are very expensive to hire, and even run-of-the-mill freelance copywriters typically charge $50 or more an hour. The good news is that the basic mechanics of writing decent sales copy are pretty simple and easy to master. Write conversationally. Focus on benefits (for the consumer). Use headings, sub-heads, and bullet points to break up the copy. Write in short sentences using simple language. Make sure you include a call-to-action. Etcetera. Buy or borrow a few books on copywriting, and study them until you understand the basic principles. Then use those principles in everything you write for your business, including your ads, articles, and blog posts.
  2. Start collecting customer data now! This not only includes building an email list (collecting contact data); it also means collecting data on which ads and marketing campaigns are generating the bulk of your customers. And, it especially includes profiling your customers so you can know who your best customers are and where they are coming from. This data will be essential to targeting your marketing campaigns to those markets and customers that yield the highest return on investment for your marketing dollars.
  3. Diversify your marketing. Don’t put all your eggs into one marketing basket, because it’s a risky way to do business. I’ve seen many small business owners who had all their marketing time, effort, and money invested in a single marketing channel. What do you think will happen to that business if that marketing channel goes away? In today’s business environment technology moves and evolves so fast that you can’t afford to rely on just a single marketing channel. So, utilize as many marketing channels as you can manage effectively, and stay on top of trends so you can spot new marketing opportunities as they appear.

Questions? Comments?

I welcome your feedback. If you have a question about today’s article or something to add to what I’ve said here about small business marketing on a shoestring budget, please post it in the comments below.

Great Infographic On The Hidden Value Of The Long Tail

This is a great infographic from HitTail on the hidden value of the long tail. Long tail SEO is definitely where it’s at for small businesses who want to leverage content marketing as part of their overall online marketing strategy, as this graphic illustrates.

The Hidden Value of Long Tail SEO

5 Things Good Small Business Marketing Should Do

Good small business marketing is really the result of function following necessity. This is something I discovered shortly before I first found success as a small business owner. Previously, I’d failed miserably in business because I remained focused on the service, and not on marketing.

Good small business marketingAs any successful business owner will tell you, revenue generation is the first step to success in any business. Of course, customers are where revenue comes from, and you can’t get customers without marketing.

And as I learned, if you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business.

The Problem With Loving What You Do and Doing What You Love…

Early on in working with small business owners, I identified a disconnect between the activities most small business owners would rather be doing, and the realities of what business ownership requires. Most would-be entrepreneurs would rather be doing their first love, which is likely the passion that they decided to turn into profit.

The problem with this is that by pursuing our passion in starting a business, we tend to ignore the reality that revenue is the lifeblood by which we are able to continue pursuing our passion as a vocation. So, we lie to ourselves when we say that so long as we are providing the best product or service possible, we’ll meet with success.

If only that were true…

But as you probably already know, the path to small business success is littered with the carcasses and corpses of businesses that had incredibly good, even amazing, products and services. Yet, these businesses died without the world at large ever having enjoyed what the business had to offer them.

And in the majority of cases, those businesses failed for the simple lack of good small business marketing practices.

Identifying What Good Small Business Marketing Is

For starters, let’s identify what good small business marketing is not. It is not the type of marketing you see from Fortune 500 companies and the marketing agencies they hire; it is not marketing for the primary purpose of building “brand awareness.” That sort of marketing is expensive, and it requires the sort of deep pockets and mass saturation that you, as a small business owner, simply do not have and cannot attain.

No, instead good small business marketing is laser focused on getting results that produce almost immediate profits. I tell my clients that when they spend a dollar on marketing, it should return a minimum of two dollars in revenue, because that’s the only way they’ll be able to put food on the table and still have money left to do more marketing. That’s the type of marketing you must focus on as a small business owner.

To further help you understand just exactly what good small business marketing should accomplish, I’ve identified and listed five characteristics of an effective small business marketing campaign. As you read through them, think about the type of marketing you’re doing for your business now, and ask yourself if these characteristics are present.

Good Small Business Marketing Identifies a Target Market

If you don’t know who your ideal customer is, how are you going to come up with marketing that will reach them and speak to them? You have to know where your best customers are in order to get the best results from your marketing.

And to do that, you need to first identify them by knowing what they look like, where they work, what they do for fun, and most importantly what their secret (or not so secret) worries, goals, and dreams are. What keeps them up at night? And, how can your product or service help? Answer those questions, and you’re well on your way to devising a winning marketing campaign.

It Defines an Ideal Marketing Outcome

Small business marketing won’t work without a laser-focused end goal. Ask yourself right now, “What is my ideal outcome with every customer interaction?” In other words, what do you want to happen when a customer is exposed to your business?

The details will differ depending on the type and nature of your business, but I would hazard a guess to say it somehow involves putting money in your pocket. However, it has to go deeper than that; what do you want the customer to experience before, during, and after the transaction is complete?

Remember, marketing generates sales, but customer service sustains them. So define your ideal outcome and keep it in mind as you devise your marketing campaigns for your small business.

It Focuses on Getting a Direct Response

Direct response marketing is marketing that elicits an immediate response from the consumer, be it a phone call, filling out a form on a website, or making an immediate purchase. If you run an ad today, it had better generate sales for you tomorrow, right? Well, that’s what direct response marketing is designed to do. This is the only sort of marketing that matters to a small business owner, period.

So, focus on getting a direct response from consumers who see your ads and marketing. Design every marketing piece with an immediate call-to-action that gets your phone ringing, your email inbox dinging, and your front door swinging. That’s the key to sustainable small business advertising and marketing.

Good Small Business Marketing Operates Continually at an Immediate Profit

Remember how I tell my clients they should get two dollars back for every one dollar they spend on marketing? What I mean by that is your marketing campaigns should operate as a continual and immediate profit generation machine for your business. Meaning, every dollar you spend on marketing should generate near immediate sales and leads for your company.

In order to do that, you have to track your results. That means finding some means of determining which marketing campaigns generate profits for your company, which break even, and which were total duds. Keep the winners, decide whether or not you can improve the ones that break even, and jettison the duds.

And, It Serves in Lieu of Brand-Building by Letting the Product Speak for Itself

Stop worrying about building your brand. As a small business owner, your “brand” equals your ability to sell your product or service multiplied by the customer satisfaction your product or service generates (tweet this).

You don’t have enough money to build a brand before you build a loyal following, so focus on filling seats and putting smiles on your customers’ faces, and your brand reputation will grow organically.

The Best Marketing Is Marketing That Meets an Immediate Need for Both You and Your Customer

In my experience, the best marketing meets an immediate need for both parties involved in the transaction. For the consumer, it presents a solution to an immediate and pressing problem or a way to fulfill a burning desire. And for the small business owner, it generates revenue – an immediate and pressing need for any small business.

What other characteristics do you think all good small business marketing shares? I’d like to hear what you think, so please share your thoughts in the comments below.

5 Reasons Why You Need To Build An Email List For Your Business

It amazes me that more of my clients don’t ask me about how to build an email list for their business. Although the majority of them are interested in getting potential customers to contact them, few of them are interested in building an email list that they can contact and follow-up with. And that’s a shame.

Building an email list is perhaps the most important task you will undertake in the course of marketing your small business. The reasons I say this are numerous, but I’ve boiled them down to what I believe to be the top five reasons you need to build an email list. And if you’re an email marketing skeptic, I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that you become a true believer by the end of this post.
reasons to build an email list

Reason #1: Sales Lead Generation

Email leads are some of the best leads you can acquire for your business. Why? Because these are people who have raised their hands and said, “Yes, I’d like to know more about what you offer and how it can benefit me personally.” Boy howdy, what more could you ask for as a small business owner or service professional? For this reason alone I believe that email lead generation should be at the heart of your small business marketing strategy. If it’s not, I suggest you make it so immediately.

Reason #2: Cost-Effectiveness

Short of word-of-mouth, email marketing remains the most cost-effective way to market your business, period. Cost of acquisition for email leads is negligible if done properly (a topic I’ll cover in future posts). And it literally costs just pennies each time you send out an email message to your list. Compare this to direct mail and you can easily see why it makes sense to invest time and effort into building an email list.

Reason #3: The Real Profits Are In The Follow-Up

Anyone who has ever been in sales knows that the real profits are in the follow-up. Rarely will a consumer make a major purchase decision on their first contact with a business or brand; savvy sales people know that it’s typically only after they make a connection and develop a relationship with a brand or business that they buy. And following up with your contact list when your competition can’t or won’t is perhaps the best way to make that connection with a potential customer.

Not only that, but the follow-up is also where you generate repeat business. And in my experience, following up with your customers via regular and consistent email contact is the easiest and most cost-effective way to keep your business and brand in the forefront of their minds. This increases the odds that they’ll come back to you when it’s time to make another purchase… so long as you honor and respect their trust in sharing their personal contact information with you (more on that in future posts).

Reason #4: Automation

Web-based email software applications make it easy to automate the task of following up with your email contacts. In fact, automation is one of the features that makes email marketing so cost-effective. Think about all the time it would take to prepare a follow-up direct mail campaign to your house list. Now, contrast that with having the ability to prepare a series of prewritten emails that you simply load into your email autoresponder system in a single afternoon… scheduling them to be sent out over a period of days or weeks automatically with just a few clicks. There’s simply no comparison.

Reason #5: Relationship Marketing

Relationship marketing is a marketing philosophy that emphasizes customer retention over a hard-sell approach. As I mentioned earlier, relationships are key to both making the initial sale and developing a strong repeat customer base. Moreover, consumer research has shown that the public is gradually becoming more cautious and skeptical of online marketing, making it essential for you to master the zen of relationship marketing.

Years ago (like 1999-near-birth-of-the-internet ago), author Seth Godin recognized this trend and introduced the concept of permission marketing versus interruption marketing. Email marketing is permission-based marketing, meaning, it’s marketing that by its very nature allows you to overcome the trust barrier with potential customers. In my estimation, that makes it a crucial component of relationship marketing, and an undeniable reason to add it to your marketing quiver.

So, Tell Me Something…

I believe we can all learn from the experiences of others, and I’m curious to hear about your experiences with email list building and marketing. So if you care to share your own experiences with email marketing and list building, please do so in the comments below.

Marketing Success Tip #1: Learn To Love Marketing

Do you hate marketing?

When I first started consulting with business owners as a small business marketing coach, I was shocked to find that not everyone loves marketing. I just assumed that everyone was like me. I love marketing. Just the thought of coming up with a new idea for a marketing campaign, designing an ad, writing a sales letter, or penning a new blog post gets my blood pumping.

So, when I found out that a lot of small business owners dread marketing, it really surprised me. I mean, why in the world would a small business owner hate marketing, when it’s the lifeblood of their business?

hate marketing

Then, it occurred to me (or rather, it was revealed after coaching a few people who really hated marketing). Small business owners who hate marketing generally hate it because they’re not very good at it.

Which, incidentally, creates a conundrum. How do you get good at doing something you hate doing? The answer is, you change your attitude toward the thing you hate.

You Don’t Have the Luxury of Hating Marketing

Marketing really is the lifeblood of your business. Marketing generates new business, and new business drives revenue, and revenue drives your business growth. No marketing, no business.

Every small business owner knows this. Still, I believe for those who struggle with marketing there’s a disconnect between the rewards successful marketing brings and the handling of critical marketing tasks.

The thing is, as a small business owner you don’t have the luxury of hating marketing. Sure, you can hire out a lot of the actual grunt work of marketing. And, you can also hire talented people to handle the creative work of marketing your business. But, the fact is that someone needs to be in the driver’s seat when it comes to initiating, composing, and directing your marketing campaigns.

If you can afford to hire an entire marketing department to handle this for you, then you’re reading the wrong blog. You don’t need to know what I teach, because you can hire someone like me to handle it for you.

However, if you’re like most small business owners, you don’t have that kind of marketing budget. That means you’re the person who has to oversee your marketing campaigns, and you’re also the one who is ultimately responsible for the success or failure of your marketing.

So, you really need to get good at marketing, which means you also really need to learn how to love marketing. That being the case, here are a few tips on learning to love your marketing.

First, Focus on the Rewards Good Marketing Brings

The most efficient way I know to motivate myself to do anything is to stay focused on the reward. I can do just about anything if I know there’s a reward waiting on the other side of the task. For example, I can stick with my diet and exercise program if I know I get a cheat day at the end of the week.

In the same way, if you want to be motivated about your marketing you need to focus on the rewards that good marketing will bring to your business. Before you ever start planning a new campaign or working on new website content, you need to take a moment and visualize what it will be like when you have more business than you can handle.

Picture yourself taking a nice vacation, or buying a new car, or sending your kids to a good school. And don’t just think visually; experience it in your mind using all five senses. Feel the sand between your toes. Smell that new car smell. Hear your son or daughter laughing when they get their acceptance letter.

Focus on the rewards the work will bring; it will make it so much easier to get the work done.

Second, Remember the Alternative

There are days when I just don’t want to get up and exercise. On those days, I’m tempted to take my cheat day early and skip the weights and road work. But I don’t because I know what the consequences will be if I do. And, picturing myself as a sickly, overweight, pain-ridden mess is motivation enough to make me do the hard work on days when I don’t want to do it.

Likewise, on days when you don’t want to do your marketing, you need to remember what the alternative will be if you slack off. Closing your doors. A failed business. Bankruptcy. Your kids going hungry. Your car being repossessed. Your home being foreclosed on, your family homeless.

Maybe business failure wouldn’t have quite such a dramatic result for you, but you still need to associate not doing the work with something you find extremely unpleasant, something that scares you enough to make you do the hard work on the days you don’t want to do it.

Finally, Get Good At It

You know as well as I do that it’s always easier and more enjoyable to do things we’re good at, just as it’s drudgery to do things we suck at. But the thing is, we’re in business now so we have to put our big boy and big girl britches on, which means we do the things we have to even when we don’t like it.

So if that’s the case, we may as well get good at it so we’ll like it. And how do you get good at marketing?

By doing exactly what you’re doing right now. You read, you study, you fill your brain with information on how people who have successfully marketed small businesses did it, and you copy their successes while avoiding their mistakes. Learn everything you can about marketing. Fill your spare hours by reading small business marketing books and blogs, by listening to small business marketing podcasts and audios, and by watching videos and tutorials on how to successfully market a business.

And don’t wait to put all that information to use. As soon as you learn something new, implement it. This will allow you to learn experientially, which will make it stick. Sure, you’ll make mistakes… but isn’t that also a part of learning?

Before you know it, you’ll be good at marketing. And, if you don’t like it by that point, at least you won’t hate it so much.

But What I Want To Know Is This…

Do you have a least favorite marketing task? Something you dread doing, and that you’ll do anything to avoid? I want to know! Tell me about it by sharing your most reviled and hated marketing task below in the comments:

Seth Godin On Standing Out

A great TED Talk from the always informative Seth Godin on standing out.

Great Tips On Marketing With Storytelling

It’s rare that someone can eloquently sum up why good marketers are also good storytellers. So hats off to Arnie Kuenn for this recent article on the MarketingLand.com blog:

“Extraordinary stories are relatable to people of all ages and walks of life and either call on our attention or respond to something in our lives. Memorable stories have characters people care about, along with a problem or issue that ebbs and flows. And of course, all stories must have a conclusion, or there was no point in even listening to the story in the first place.

As marketers, we are constantly telling stories to our audiences, particularly through content marketing. When employing content marketing as a tactic, it is imperative to connect with your audience through storytelling.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Here’s the link to the rest of the article.

What Is RSS, And Why Does Your Blog Need It?

No RSS, No Bueno

First off, if you have a blog you already have RSS – you just may not know it. “RSS” stands for “rich site summary”, but it’s more commonly called “really simple syndication”, and that’s exactly what it allows you to do. RSS is actually a format that is used to deliver web content that changes on a regular basis (like a blog).

See, every blog has an RSS feed. This feed (sometimes called a “blog feed”) formats the content from your blog in a way that it can be syndicated out to feed readers, such as the ever popular Google Reader. This allows avid blog readers to stay current and up-to-date on content from multiple blogs, without having to actually visit those blogs each day to see if there’s new content posted.

No RSS Link Or Subscription Button On Your Blog? That’s No Bueno…

RSS feed buttonThe problem with this is that some bloggers think it will hurt them somehow if readers are getting their content without actually visiting their blog. Since many bloggers earn some income from sidebar ads and offers that are not included in an RSS feed, they think that encouraging RSS subscription will somehow negatively effect their income.

Because of this, many newbie bloggers who are aware of RSS “hide” the subscription button, or they exclude it from their theme altogether. This is a rookie move, and here’s why…

Think for a moment about why you’re blogging in the first place. It’s to attract a readership, right? Readers = influence, and influence = platform. So, if you want to build a platform, you need to attract a lot of readers – any way you can. And smart bloggers know that definitely includes making it easy for people to subscribe to your blog via RSS.

Influential People Are Busy People – And They Use RSS

One of the great things about technology in the information age is that it allows anyone to build a platform and reach all manner of people with a message. And, if your message is good enough, influential people may pick up on it and share it with their subscribers.

However, influential people are also busy people, and they don’t have time to revisit your blog every couple of days to see if any new earth-shattering revelations have resulted from the tap-tap-tapping of your ebony keys. Therefore, the people you most want reading your blog probably use an RSS reader to keep up with the blogs they determine to be worthy of their attention and time.

Guess what will happen if they can’t easily subscribe to your blog via RSS? That’s right, they’ll quickly give up and move on – and you’ll lose out on an influential reader who just may have helped expose your work to the masses.

RSS Is Crucial For Mobile Users, Too

Web use is rapidly shifting from laptops and desktop computers to mobile devices and tablets. Not only does that mean you need to make sure your blog has a mobile version (WordPress makes this easy with plugins, by the way), but you also need to make it easy for mobile users to subscribe to your RSS feed.

Think about it; you not only have 20-somethings who grew up with an iPhone in hand reading your blog, you also likely have readers who are older and can’t type 40 words a minute with their thumbs (yours truly being one of them). Providing them with an easy way to subscribe to your feed via a prominent link or button on the mobile version of your site means they’re more likely to subscribe.

Besides that, for some people using RSS reader apps can make it easier to read blog content on a mobile device, and many readers prefer to consume content using this method. Simply put, by offering your readers flexibility in how they consume your content, you are more likely to attract a larger readership.

How To Make It Easy To Subscribe To Your Blog Via RSS

If you’re using a free blogging service like Blogger.com or WordPress.com, this is most likely already taken care of for you since their default layouts and themes tend to have a prominent RSS subscription button. However, even on a hosted blogging service some themes will not include an RSS subscription button by default, so you need to make sure if you’re using a custom theme that an RSS button is integrated.

Many advanced bloggers have moved on from hosted blogging services to a self-hosted solution, the most popular of which being a self-hosted WordPress blog. If you’re currently using this option, here are some tips to help you make it incredibly easy for readers to subscribe to your RSS feed:

  1. First, use FeedBurner.com for your feed distribution. They were acquired by Google, and thus are part of the Google family of web apps and services (meaning it works and it’s well-supported and regularly updated). FeedBurner makes it easy for readers to subscribe to your feed using the feed reader of their choice. Moreover, it allows you to track certain metrics that may be valuable to you as a blogger.
  2. Second, include a prominent feed subscription button in the upper right side of your blog, above the fold. This is where most people will look for it, and it will also make your feed button visible when someone first lands on your blog. Don’t make people hunt for your only feed subscription button by putting it in the footer. However, it doesn’t hurt to include a feed button or link there as well, if you already have one above the fold.
  3. If your theme doesn’t have an RSS button above the fold, use a plugin to include one. I personally prefer Social Media Widget, but there are many other WP plugins that will allow you to easily add an RSS subscription link to your blog. You can also copy and paste the code for the FeedBurner chicklet into a text widget in the sidebar of your WordPress blog.

Do you have a question about RSS that I didn’t answer above? Please let me know by commenting below:

Timeless Social Media Marketing Advice

Here’s a TED Talk titled “How to Make a Splash in Social Media” presented by Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit.com. Short and to the point, this video reveals timeless social media marketing advice that’s still relevant today (which in internet years is really saying something). Enjoy.

How to Get More Done By Quieting (and Nurturing) Your Inner Two-Year-Old

I’m finding that my two-year-old is not a reliable source of accurate information, something that all parents discover as their children grow through this stage.

Being a typical two-year-old, he’ll pretty much say whatever is going to get him what he wants at the time. Because he doesn’t yet understand the consequences of lying, he might say just about anything if it leads to immediate comfort and gratification.

When to Squelch the Inner Child…

inner two-year-old

Is your inner-two-year-old a distraction, or your greatest inspiration? Knowing when to turn it off and when to let it loose can help you get more done.

I believe we all have an inner two-year-old who inadvertently undermines our progress toward our goals. It’s that little voice that’s telling you to go check your Facebook account, or to see what the latest holiday shopping deals are on Amazon, or to check out what your friends have pinned today, or to sneak in a few minutes of Words With Friends

When all the while you know you should be working on your marketing right now, or writing the next chapter of your book, or planning out your next blog post, or making those important calls. Your inner two-year-old doesn’t care about the fact that you have set goals, that you have a deadline, or that your success or failure in business hinges on your ability to be productive and move further toward your goals each and every day.

That inner two-year-old only cares about what’s fun right now. So if we want to hit our goals, we need to be willing to squelch that voice of distraction and stay focused on the task at hand.

But here’s the kicker; if you work in a creative field, or if you’re doing creative work, sometimes you have to give that little guy or gal free rein to run.

…And When to Give Your Inner Two-Year-Old Free Rein

See, that’s the thing I love about spending time with my two-year-old. Everything is new to him, he’s incessantly inquisitive, and he loves to have fun. Spending time with him reignites my sense of wonder and breaks me out of whatever funk I might be in at the time. Just hearing him laugh is contagious, and it brightens my day immensely.

In fact, some of the best work I do is when he’s playing on the living room floor while I tap away at my laptop. Sure, he’ll interrupt me while I’m working, but having him near puts me in a lighter mood, and I tend to be more creative when he’s around.

In the same way, when you’re doing creative work sometimes you need to let your inner two-year-old steer the tricycle. Let that adventuresome little rascal take hold of the handlebars, and get him peddling away to parts unknown. In my experience, tapping into your inner sense of two-year-old wonder is the best way to spark your creative fire… especially when you’re completely stuck creatively.

And besides breaking through a creative block, it’s a great way to recharge your creative batteries as well. I don’t care how old you are, everyone needs to play. You were designed that way, it’s in your DNA, and ignoring your natural tendency to cut loose and enjoy the wonders happening all around you is a great way to live a life unfulfilled.

I mean, seriously; you think Thoreau was looking for work when he split town and headed for the woods? Heck no, Kip – he was looking for an excuse to play and explore, and it resulted in some of the best literary work to come out of that period.

So, when you know you have a deadline looming, you need to squelch your inner brat.

But when it’s time to create and you can’t find your muse, let that little booger out and just dance.