Do You Make a Difference?

As a writer and internet marketer, I think one of the most important questions I can and must ask myself is… “Will the work I just did make a difference in someone’s life?”

A Real, Genuine Difference.

People consume experiences, not stuff.  When you’re making a difference with your presence on the Web, your visitor will experience it. 

Whether you’re selling or giving away information… or a physical product…your website is For a Reason. The question you want to ask is …”Does it bring focus on what really adds meaning to your visitor’s lives? Will it, or does it make a difference?” Continue reading

Cats Have Staff – Friday Follies

Instead of Twitter’s  “Friday Follows” , I have my own twist that I call Friday Follies.  

I’ve mentioned before that Fridays are my day to “be me.”  A day when I don’t take myself so seriously.  Not write about anything important..at least in the serious, “what do you do and how can I help” sense. 

No trends.  No patterns.  No consistency. 

Freestyle.  Only one rule.  That I have fun.  Not at anyone else’s expense. If I laugh at anyone today, it’s only me…and my foil-ables!

Today I thought  I’d throw out a few comments about my feline friends.    How they make me laugh…how they command my attention…and how they run the house.

There is no doubt whatever.  Cats Have Staff

There are numerous quotes about cats and their independent nature.     Here’s one by Bill Alder that I really like:

“The cat is there when you call her – if she doesn’t have something better to do.”

And here’s another by Mark Twain that captures their essence:  

 “Of all God’s creatures, there is only one that cannot be made slave of the leash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve the man, but it would deteriorate the cat.”

Cats are totally independent creatures, and they want to make sure that you understand that you are here to serve them…not the other way around.  While a dog will wag its tail, and always want to please you, a cat wants to please you…only if there’s something in it for them!!!

Here’s a case in point:  Our cats have an “outdoor patio;”  a secure upstairs deck where they can be outside and yet protected from coyotes, owls, and other predators that happen to share our environment.  They have a special cat door fitted to a window where they can slip in and out to the deck when they want.  The deck, however, also has a “human” door, so we…the humans.. can go in and out also.   Or…at least.. that’s what I used to think.  

Until I was properly trained.

What I have learned  [or have been trained to respond to] is that the real purpose of the human door is for the cats to go in and out when they don’t want to use the cat door.   When they feel so inclined they call us…  allow us a brief moment of petting…and ensure we get the imbedded command…   “Open the human door for me…NOW.  I don’t feel like going through the cat door at this moment.   It’s so small.  And I just ate.  I’m feeling a little bloated.   And… there’s something even more important.   I… have…Staff –You!”

The message couldn’t be more clear.  When the call comes, the Cat frequently isn’t even at the door.  If the Cat  is in the middle of room, when I respond to her call…that plaintive, “Help…can’t you tell I need you now?” cry… she will walk me to the door [human].  Then, asking for a chin rub (only a ruse, a bribe  to make sure I respond appropriately), she will rub her head against the door frame, and stretch up to the door knob.   Then, she will turn her head toward me and purr ever so pleasingly, to convey her message. 

If I am silly enough not to open the door immediately, she will take me through the routine again… drop down to the floor, allow me to scratch her chin and pet her, and then reach up to the doorknob…”OK, enough already…why do you think we are here???”  until, of course, I open the [human door] for her to go through.

And… we have two cats.  If one is already on the deck, and sees the other issuing commands for me to open the door, the second one will go to the deck side of the door and stretch. 

One cat in…one cat out.  Unless… at the last moment, one can’t make up its mind.  Then we all stand at the door, letting the flies in. 

All day long.   Except when I am gone or through some furtive maneuver, manage to elude their directive…in which case they somehow manage to get in to and out of the patio through their cat door.

I admit, however, that I am very well trained.  I respond like Pavlov’s dogs.  I salivate at the opportunity to serve.   Because my reward…the purr, the snuggle, the playing, the very occasional lick of my hand…is  so very fulfilling.  I am a slave to the Feline Furry.  

  I am willing to say without reservation…at least at this home…Cats Have Staff.

What are Bullets For?

Can you rattle off major points from some of the best articles or sales letters, or book covers you’ve seen?

If you can, the bullets have done their job.  Once the title or lead catches you, you’ll be pulled into the bullets.  They fascinate you, captivate you and keep you reading!  

The bullets pull your eye… keep you from getting sucked down by the detail.  While details may be important,  they’re the back-up, supplying additional information on demand. 

Right now, see if you can remember something you read recently that particularly captured your interest,  and find out how many of the following are true:

1.  There are no more than three to seven major bullet points.

According to numerous studies, that’s all the human mind is capable of absorbing.  

2.  The bullets are clear.

They build and outline the content in a way that sets out the major points so they are easily described and understood.

3.  They’re logical.

Logic is the brain’s way of sorting information and seeking order. For persuasion, you will generally see the strongest bullets at the beginning (for attention) and at the end (for impact), with those having least impact in the middle.  People generally only remember the beginning and the end, and what’s in the middle gets lost.  This is a good one to test.  If you remembered bullets from an article that stuck in your mind, which ones did you remember?

Chronological order can work as well, when the suspense builds to a crescendo, or if you’re simply building facts in step toward a conclusion. 

4.  They’re fascinating.  Bullets are whispers of the secret that’s coming…the one you’re waiting for as you read…the one that’s going to transport you to a new place and time…NOW.

5.  They establish credibility.  This is the “why” bullet.  “Why” bullets support and strengthen the position or sales proposition, and whet the appetite for what’s being offered.  They tell us why we should get on the wagon…”because Joe and Alice did, and look at how successful they are!”

6.  They drive home a point.  Bullets that hit you where it hurts, or feel really good…they’re doing their job.  They’re visceral…psychological triggers.  You’re thinking “Right on.  That is SO true.”

7.  They are rapid fire.   The staccato tempo beats to a rhythm our brain thinks is its Drill Sargent, and we respond with a “Yes,sir, No,sir, Now, sir.”  They inject emotion, drama, and power…how you are going to gain pleasure or avoid pain.   They are short and tight. 

Successful writing, in any venue, is the dance of words.  It’s the dance that sees you sitting on the sideline…waiting, hoping…that someone will say..”Would you care to dance?” 

And when you say “Yes”, that you will be swept onto the dance floor… that someone will lead you,  intrigue you, then show you, with rapid fire clarity, the moves of the dance step.  And as you swoon in your partner’s arms, you will be lead once again, to what you knewwhen you started…YOU can dance…now that some one’s shown you how! 

The lead catches you and draws you into ‘your’ story, the bullets pull you, and the conclusion reinforces why you’re there…because it’s your story. 

So…are you ready to dance…with…or without…the Stars?

How to Use the 5 Questions Approach in Marketing

We all know that in marketing it isn’t enough just to present the facts. 

You have to create a story around the facts.

One that appeals to the “heart” of what you are asking a prospect to do.  And, in marketing, we are, of course asking the prospect to do something… to buy… whatever it is we are selling.

There needs to be a certain flow to the story.  It must keep the reader interested.  Once you have their interest, it’s important to “immerse” them in the story…the story that gets them to say “Yes, that’s what I think” ..or “that’s exactly how I feel“. 

Then of course, answering the questions before they’re asked [in your visitor’s mind] is the next phase, followed by leading to an action step…the “buy” button.

When setting up a story in marketing there is a five-question format that is designed to help move the visitor from the beginning…the story line… to the end…the “I want it, I can’t survive without it” buy button.

It is the “what, why, how, when,  and how much” format…just a little variation from the what, why, when, where, and how you remember from journalism or other writing classes. 

“What….is it, [Prospect/Visitor], that I can offer you to solve your problem(s)?”  There is, of course, an underlying assumption that, consciously or unconciously, the visitor has a problem that they wish solved… otherwise, why would they be at your website? 

Example: [What]  “Are you tired of telling your family “No, we can’t do that…it costs too much …every month?”  Are you sick and tired of being broke…month in…month out

 If so“………..

this is where you, the writer,  inject your idea, your strategy, your solution.

Why… would you like things to be different?”  

 “Here are the most often cited reasons people site for wanting to have more money…….”

here you can describe the rationale, or the “business” reasons for your visitor to act or buy… to affect the change they desire.  Include both tangible and intangible benefits.

“How.. important is it [Visitor] that your money problems be solved

To see your child’s eyes light up when you tell them you can afford to take them to Disneyland, or take your spouse to dinner and the theatre…the things that some people take for granted…and so could you.”  

Followed by an explanation of how your solution can be accomplished.  An explanation of the tactics, what will be required of them and why.

When you….[opt in/select the buy button/review the available options below,etc.etc.] you will have completed the first step toward the life you know you’re entitled to…and want to provide for your family.”

This is the section where you provide the timetable…the “Do [this] now to receive . . . . . . . . .” along with the sense of urgency…”Don’t miss out on this ONE opportunity to change your life forever…. You’ll never see this price again… ” to remind them that the timetable for change begins with one action…the first step…and it begins now.

How much… could be “how much longer can you stand the pain,” …. or “how much are you willing to pay for your and your family’s happiness?”  

Or, any variation. Now comes the actual cost of making the proposed change:  “How much does it cost?  Not anywhere close to what you may think. ”  Include in this section the return on investment, your ideas on how long it will take to recoup their expediture, and the REAL value they will derive… feel better about themselves, receive the loving attention of appreciative family members, etc.

By creating a story that is woven around the Five Questions for your website visitor, you are persuading them to take action..now.  You are enticing them to try your product or service rather than whatever other alternatives are available.  You are reaching your visitor at their core in a way that makes absolute sense to them.  It gets them to do what you want them to do…full of desire to capture the “what”s in it for me.”

Is Constant Change A Fleeting Perception? Friday Follies

Fun on Fridays!  As I’ve mentioned before, I got the idea for Friday Follies from Twitter’s Friday Follows. 

 The RT’s, or ReTweets are all about sharing.  Sharing ideas… expanding the Universe…  letting what we know, or have been illuminated by, be known by others. 

I’m diving off the deep end today on a couple of phrases that have been around for awhile, and what I know about them…or think I might know about them.  And have a little gentle Friday fun…laugh at myself..my follies, my foil-ables…

Here they are:  “The Only Constant is Change.”  and “Perception is Reality.”   I’m sure you’ve heard them both before.  But what do you know about them?

 Actually, if you think about those two catch phrases, especially together… “What is it that we know…about anything??   If the only thing constant is change… then the thing we knew a moment ago we couldn’t possibly know now, because it’s already gone.  Faster than I can key what I thought I knew,it’s changed…  constantly disappearing in the exact perspective in which I thought I knew it.  And…if perception is reality, whatever it is that I perceive as real… in this moment… is in flux, changing as we speak, so my sharing is changing faster than I can key it…constantly. 

I want to share anyway.  My thoughts, my ideas, my perceptions of what is, and isn’t, in this moment.   Life as I “know” it.  Or… as I perceive it. Even knowing that it is changing…now.

One thing I know, for example, is I like to have fun.  What I know about fun is that when I’m having it, I’m smiling, laughing, and dancing on the inside if not with my 2 feet on the outside.  And…yes… dancing is constantly changing, perception of skill, grace, or lack thereof, strictly in the eye of the beholder.  Or…that’s my perception of it anyway.

I love to be on the dance floor, moving, twirling, sometimes tangling my feet.  The feeling of being.   Outside of myself, looking in.  Not the observer, but the participant… combining mind and body in being.  Constantly changing. 

I love to dance around the house as well.  To release the child in complete freedom of movement, without constraints of what I might “look” like to someone else.  Without regard to posture or perfection of step, but entering another level of existence where I am totally free…to be… Or to exist momentarily within my perception of it.

I admit, though, if I think someone might be watching, I constrain myself.  I’ve seen people on TV, at weddings, parties, and on barroom dance floors who dance with abandon, clearly oblivious to the perceptions of others. 

Why is that?  What is it that they know that I do not?  Perhaps because I still think that ‘who I think you think I am’ is allowed too much control in my life.  A tongue-twister to be sure, but perception is reality, yes? 

So if everything is constantly changing, and only my perception in a moment that is fleeting… is real… than where are we?  There are tomes by great teachers and philosophers on the topic.  And… there is this poem by Gordon Lightfoot…

  You make time stand still,

you do it now

and you always will.

You take me as I am,

you make me feel

like a brand new person…

because you are

what I am.

 

Perhaps it’s not so much what we know…but the expression of what we perceive…that when it’s shared… moves into the Greater Thought of the Universe in which we all exist.  Where you are what I am.  Perhaps it’s an expression that touches another in a way that gives meaning in that moment.   Perhaps it reignites a flame that only flickers.  And, if even for a moment, an expression of fun…of joy…brings a special meaning  in someone else’s life …I’m glad I share. 

 And I’m glad I can dance. With the Universe… On the floor… or in my mind…I perceive it as graceful, fun, and most of all…joyful.

Calling Collector’s Anonymous – Friday Follies

I admit it. I’m a follower.

I love Twitter and on Friday, I do Friday Follows. Not only do I recommend follows for lots of folks of great talent, I recommend lovers of fun and frivolity. After all, it is a social network, and for me, being social is all about having fun.

From Friday Follows came the idea for Friday Follies. You may “follow” right into these… or… not. In the context of being social, however, comes sharing, and I’m not above making fun of myself and sharing my “foil-ables.” As you will discover, I have my share. (pun intended)

I’m not just a follower… I am also a collector. I thought I’d tell you a little about that… see if you connect. (double ‘n’ instead of double ‘l’ — there’s a little collectible for you)

When most people picture “collector” in their head, they tend to see a collection of objects of great (or at least above average) value. Like a garage full of classic cars, or a room full of baseball cards, or dolls. Like that.

What I collect is “stuff.” Clothes that I had in high school. Or close. Along with shoes that went out of style and I haven’t worn in at least 10 years. Screws and nuts and bolts that I don’t know what they belong to. But I can’t throw them away because then I’ll have the “aha” moment, and know exactly what they’re from. And I won’t have it anymore. That kind of “stuff.”

My closets are full…way too full. Jeans, shirts, boots, hats, mittens, and gloves (and that’s only the beginning) that either don’t fit or I don’t like well enough to wear. “Stuff” that should go to the church, Good Will or the Salvation Army.

And did I mention books?  I’m a reader.  Eclectic tastes. Therefore… books everywhere!  A room without a book is like a house without a cook… no flavor.  And, yes, that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Getting rid of what I’ve collected is agonizing.

I know I have to. I’m running out of room.

We need walking space, and room for everyone else’s “stuff.”

 I’ve done it before –purged “stuff” that is. Not often… nowhere near often enough… but I have done it. And I’m telling you, every time I’ve agonized through the process, one of the “collectibles” I’ve just retired for someone else’s use, I need…the same or very next day!

I’ve tried to determine the cause of this malady.  I’ve come up with a series of underlying causes.  Like not being an only child, and therefore having to endure hand-me-down clothes from my bigger sister causing me to hang on to anything that was new and truly “just” mine.  Like lots of moves across the country, and losing parts of a stove, a dresser, an entertainment center… something with every move.  A spouse who takes my hammer and other tools out to work on a project just when I need them.  Stuff like that. 

What I haven’t found yet is the cure.

We’re pretty much settled now… if such a thing really exists… and I don’t expect to move a lot more.  I can afford new clothes when I want them, and (sometimes) enjoy shopping for something new.  While he’s not perfectly trained yet, my husband is getting better at returning my tools when he’s done with them… and he has quite a few of his own. 

And I still can’t quit collecting.  Whether I’m truly addicted, or have just developed a really bad habit, it’s becoming a part of me.  Like the few extra pounds that I want to drop, I have developed an attachment to collecting.   Like most attachments/addictions, I have periods of denial.  When I tell myself it’s not really that bad, it’s no big deal, and if we can’t get in the front door… well… there’s always the side door. 

Sometimes I picture what it would be like not to collect.  Our house would be so… empty… so alien. 

I don’t know if they have a Collector’s Anonymous… at least not for my kind of collector.  But maybe they do.  I know I have an irrational fear… of being without… something.  

So maybe I’ll find it…”Stuff” Collector’s Anonymous and go see if I can collect some behavior-changing ideas.  More “stuff.”

How to Reinvent Yourself & Succeed in this Economy

How would you like to feel free…TODAY…

Are you, like a lot of folks, worried about whether you’re going to have a job to go to tomorrow? Are you worried about what you’ll do if you arrive at work tomorrow morning and see the infamous “pink slip” sitting on your desk, or the HR Manager at your office door, with a forced smile and packet in hand?

Whether you’re self-employed, working under contract, or working for an employer, are you one step ahead… or one step behind… the possibility curve?

Hey, if you’re happy and comfortable where you’re at, no worries. If you’re concerned… even a little bit though… would you rather be ” ahead…  than dead?” (metaphorically speaking of course)

 
If you’re heading out the door of your office building today.. coming out with a “dead” career,  an “escort”  and your box of personal possessions… or the feeling of certainty that you’re next,  the “possibility curve” may be bending the right way already for you.  Right now, the unemployment statistics tell us the possibility curve (that you will lose your job)  is at least 10%.  That’s huge — statisically.  It just doesn’t sound all that big compared to the 90% remaining employed.  Unless… you’re part of  the 10%  or are afraid you will be.  

Now is the moment for you to realize… you have choices.

Choice:  You can be afraid… very afraid.

If you come into this moment unprepared, or with such dread you go to bed, cover your head and vow to never come out of your bedroom;  fear… combined with analysis paralysis [coulda,woulda,shoulda] may rob you of one of the greatest opportunities to ever come your way. 

Choice:  You can be unafraid… happy and ready to jump to… whatever is Next.

This can be an adventure.  One where you think about who you are and what your values are.  A time  to rediscover the passion and ambition in your life.

With a little advance planning, and the knowledge of how to successfully switch from one career to another, you can have the freedom to create a life of happiness instead of a life of drudgery.

We all have talents that are transferable.  We all have the capability, and too frequent tendency to be blind to those talents, to our true passion, and the real reason we are here.

I recently read a great book that I highly recommend.  It’s titled” The Passion Test.  The Effortless Path to Discovering Your Life Purpose. ”  It is authored by Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood, and available at www.amazon.com,  as well as many other bookstores.

It’s an important “read.”  It’s about knowing what you’re here for.  The authors write:  “When you begin to do what you love, what you are  truly passionate about, your life will be irresistibly pulled in directions you can’t even begin to imagine.”

I’ve heard that before, and you probably have too.  But how closely have we really examined it.  Have you ever taken the opportunity… or had the opportunity created for you… to examine and gain great clarity about what you really love to do?  And, by the way, this includes making money… lots of it… if it’s truly important to you!

Start today.  Start now.  Get ahead.

When you lay out and really dissect your skill set, it is extremely likely that you will find many positions, or entrepreneurial opportunities where you can be a good fit. You’ll likely also find that there are some “tools” in your skill set that you really already like using.  And some that you don’t.   Focus on what you like best.  Think about how to use those skills on what you care about doing in this world.

Building your transferrable skill set, and matching it to work that you really want to do, and have a passion for, will help to build your confidence, achieve your goals the life you want.

Once you’ve created your “Passion Path”,  you’ll begin to lose your fear of unemployment.   You won’t be one of the ones who are floundering… unable to decide what to do when/if you lose your job. 

You will have a plan…   something the majority of people don’t have when they are switching careers.  This opportunity may also be just the “kick in the pants” you need to make a dream come true…  and to realize that putting your attention… and intention… on what you really enjoy giving will pull you into the life you have only imagined.

Learn how to overcome your own mindset and reach for a future that excites you. This means learning what motivates you and what you enjoy. There is ample evidence that the future shows most people with  multiple careers in one lifetime. It is no longer “abnormal” for a medical doctor to become  an artist,  or a corporate executive to become a farmer. 

You can re-invent yourself  many times as your passions move, as long as you have the commitment to follow your dreams. 

All of this is not to say you won’t need to plan, or won’t need to put some effort into executing  your plans.  Living your life on purpose, with passion,  makes it a lot easier, however,  to place one foot in front of the other… even if they’re a little “off the ground” as you plan and then execute one goal after the next.  Once you’ve set your passion path there are, of course, practical considerations to re-inventing yourself.  You may have to get additional education, and if so,  now is the time to consider:

• How will you get an education? Who will pay for it?
• How will you manage your time and your family responsibilities?
• Where can you make business contacts?

These are all crucial life issues that have to be recognized and dealt with in order to succeed. Very few people succeed in a complete vacuum.  Fear of change…fear of success… fear of failure.  You may grapple with one or all.

Along your journey, you’ll find people who want to help you; who become allies, as well as those who create obstacles in your drive to “become your destiny.”  Even well-meaning friends and relatives who tell you to “stay the safe course.”   You can even sabotage yourself and not realize it until many years of what could have been fruitful work have gone by.  Passion and purpose help you stay focused and provide the means to succeed.

Reinventing yourself… living your passion… is a noble endeavor.   The actual execution of it requires both your commitment… and a plan. Whatever plan you build, however, be sure it’s flexible.  Be sure you’re flexible.

Being flexible allows you to stay open.  There are many paths on the journey to the top of your mountain.  If one’s closed due to a rock slide, or a bridge that’s out, remember to stay focused on the top.  Detours can be the most exciting part of your journey.

Success in this… or any other economy… is  about your ability to see beyond yourself.  To see beyond the barriers, real or imagined… and to feel the excitement of having reinvented yourself.  However many times you choose!

To wait or not to wait… that is the question.  Choice.

Start today.  Start now.  Invent the new you.

Is Efficiency Killing Creativity?

John Carlton’s visiting Australia.  [John Carlton of the “Who’s Who” of great copywriters]

OK, that’s cool. 

He’s doing more than that, though.  While he’s there, he’s speaking… and he’s reading their newspapers. 

You know… what we used to have a lot more of… here… in the States.  In his blog, http://www.john-carlton.com/  John  concludes that the US newspapers’ “efficiencies”  are the culprits of  their demise.

Over the last 2 decades, he says  “efficiency” raised its ugly head, and savvy [newspaper] moguls realized they could outsource and deliver the “news” from central locations… and stop paying writers a living wage.  So, instead of a full staff in towns like Reno, where I live, we’ve got a skeleton crew slapping together prepackaged issues that have been designed to offend the least number of folks, while efficiently delivering a “product” to wrap around the advertising.”

John thinks Australia is more likely to keep their newspapers, rather than self-destructing as they are here.  He likes their writers;  thinks they’re bold and brassy:

   ” It’s the writing. ..  The Aussies show craft with their writing.  They are brash, bold and fearless about challenging conventional wisdom, and speaking their minds (usually after spending at least a little time getting their facts straight).” 

He also says US newspapers did it to themselves.  “Like GMs grisly demise, this did not have to happen.  The Web isn’t killing newspapers.  Newspapers are killing newspapers.  With sheer incompetence.

All of this may sound pretty gloom and doom. As you read further,though, a more optimistic tone emerges.  Whether we’re getting our information through the Web  or [for the moment] from a real newspaper, he reminds us it’s all still about the “power of the pen.”  And he concludes:

The folks who know how to write are dominating the conversations going on right now, in every part of your life.  They’re scripting the movie we’re all living out, and if you want to have a say, you’ll need to get your chops sharpened.”

Reading this blog post really got me thinking about the huge opportunity there is for writers…from the US, Australia, and every other country…  who are ready, willing and able to do something more than make generic wrappers. 

Even if newspapers have hit their demise…

The Web is alive….

What an opportunity… and responsibility… there is, for writers of all kinds.  

Information consumption is increasing exponentially at an unimaginable…even perhaps unquantifiable…  rate through the world.   Filling the “need to know” vacuum is the writer’s opportunity.  Doing so responsibly is both your mission and obligation.

As writers, we’re responsible for overall concept and presentation.  You want to be the kind of writer who will find out what the customer’s needs, wants, and interests are.  Regardless  of whether they’re a news or information customer, or a service or product prospect.  You want to hone a message  that will  feed the desire that brought the reader to the question they want answered…wherever they look.

Think of your project as a before and after. Writing your own material, [by the way, just so you know… I’m not in favor of outsourcing your writing if you’re a writer]  really reviewing the research before you publish, [even if you outsource your research work] and saturating your mind with ideas on presentation is the before of writing.  Honing the material into real communication… wielding mightily the “power of the pen” to create the scene into which the reader jumps… is the after

Your perspective of the facts [who/what/why/where/when/how]  is what you have to offer.  Your value proposition is in your slant… reaching out to someone else who shares… or wants to share… your journey. 

In the Seven Deadly Writers’ Sins #2, we talked about Laziness… and not succumbing to it.   Dig hard for and verify your facts… flesh out the substance of your topic.  Communicating instead of just writing….  not taking the lazy way out with a plain wrapper,  boiler plate message.    There are a lot of ‘templates’ in copywriting, and formats and formulas in all writing.  Good writing, however, still isn’t generic, and is seldom  “politically correct”.  

This is a new era, with a new medium… the Web… and it is much easier to resist the Corporate “efficiencies” that have not only killed some of the companies that created them; but also dulled or killed some of the best creative minds in the world.  Some of the remaining companies may learn.  Some we may be able to help.

Or… we may just choose to be entrepreneurs… picking and choosing clients whose interests most closely align with ours.

So… Are you ready to “sharpen your chops?”

You don’t have to be an Aussie to be “brash, bold and fearless.”   As writers …and by the way… that persona exists in all of us.. we can all hone our skills…”sharpen our chops”… and have a say in this lifetime movie we’re creating.

To Exercise or Not…That is the Question – Friday Follies

As I’ve said before … I love Twitter! 

I get great Ideas from Twitter.  Which is where this idea came from…

Instead of “Friday Follows”, I have Friday Follies.  This is the day of the week where I let down my hair… although I notice there’s not as much of it as there was 20 years ago…  and share a few of my “foil-ables.”

I thought today I’d share a little about my exercise “program.” I mentioned before that about 10 years ago I knew I needed to do “something” about my health. Strike that… make it.. wanted.. to do “something about my health. 

Something like … living better…  since [statistically speaking] it appeared I would live longer than my ancestors. I decided it was OK, in fact really good, to live longer.  What was not good was living longer and wishing I hadn’t.

So I began the journey to better health.  And I give myself credit. I really do eat better now.   I haven’t had a doughnut in over 2 years. [although I confess there are a few ‘healthy’ muffins I’ve eaten in that time period that have had that same ‘doughnut/muffin-per-pound… gained… effect].  I eat a lot more fruits and vegetables, and a lot less red meat.  

 And I kinda have an exercise program.  The one I start on January 1 of every year.  I used to join a gym to “force” myself to exercise with everyone else.  You know… the buddy system… where I would hold myself accountable because I told the person working out next to me that I’d be there to work out with them the next day…unless something came up of course. 

Some emergency that would keep me from being there. 

Then when I showed up the next time, I’d have to invent some emergency.  Because I said I would be there… otherwise.

This worked…off and on… for a few years.  And I moved numerous times, so I would join a new gym, and tell myself this would give me a “fresh start.”  A new gym…a new program… a new me!  Sound good so far?  It did to me.  I had myself totally convinced.

Until I quit moving… and quit trying to fool myself.  I finally admitted that I just wasn’t good at “the gym thing.”  Sometimes I feel like working out at midnight, when I can’t sleep.  Sometimes I want to work out for 15 minutes instead of an hour, and I always felt so guilty jumping off the treadmill while the person next to me was just finishing their warm up.  Waiting to challenge me to a “run-off.”   One they felt fairly confident they would win.

I couldn’t quit exercising, though.  It’s important!  I know that. 

So now I have a “home gym.”  I have an elliptical  and weights.    I also have exercise videos and DVD’s.  And I use them.  Sometimes.  Not consistently though…like I should. 

 And every year, on January 1, I “restart” my exercise program.  If nothing else, I am optomist.  I think I deserve a fresh start, don’t you?

And I’ve drawn “the line in the sand.” 

I will not live in a house without stairs.  Where the bedroom… or the kitchen…  is up the stairs. 

Maybe it’s just a trick.  But who cares?  It works.  To eat or sleep… I will get some exercise!    Stair climbing makes me feel good… it’s aerobic.   When I use my exercise equipment regularly, climbing the stairs is easy… and fun.  And the stairs “remind me”… When I quit doing my regular routine…aerobic, weights, stretching…the stairs  “tell me.”   You know.. the pull in my calves, being ‘winded’ before I reach the top…using the hand rail…

When I get a little discouraged, I also remind myself that I’m not alone is this challenge to exercise regularly.   When I’m feeling really guilty I think of what I heard on TV [when I should have been working out]  from Ellen DeGeneres:  “I gotta work out.  I keep saying it all the time. I keep saying I gotta start working out. It’s been about 2 months since I’ve worked out. Which uh.. is odd. Because I have the time to go out to dinner. And uh.. and watch tv.  And get a bone density test. And uh.. try to figure out what my phone number spells in words.” 

… And then I don’t feel… so bad…    Oops.  I better put that in quotes.  But there’s nothing like a little Mary Poppins to reinforce my optimism. 

I may not be there yet…  but “I think I can” (become a regular exerciser)… therefore I can.  Can’t I?

Empower Your Prospects; Offer A Journey

I remember my first fishing trip.  

My dad said I was big enough for a backpack to carry in supplies, and we stayed in a tent overnight.  

I remember the mountain stream on a rainy day, the flash of the Brook Trout speckled and shiny, and that heart-struck moment when the fish took my line.

And, I remember “10 and 2,  and what do you do?” … the lessons Dad gave me before the trip.  

I hung on for dear life when the trout plunged and splashed and I knew… I had to follow and wait.  And just when I thought I’d waited too long… that little tug and bend in the pole, told me to draw Him in slow.  And not let go.  

I remember.

 You, too, have Stories. 

Maybe your Dad took you fishing, like mine did. Or maybe your experiences were totally different.  

We all, however,  have capivating examples that we can use to engage  a prospect  in conversation.  Stories that will take her on a Journey.   Stories that speak to her needs in a way that will capture her attention and reach her heart.  Words that infuse both copy and content with creativity,  and create a journey that is fun and profitable for both of you.

This is your opportunity to interact in a way that draws your prospect deeply into your conversation.    As she navigates through each page of your website,  the information is consistent and relevant, and your interactive process ensures she enjoys her journey all the way through the buying process.  

Before we started this conversation about offering your prospect  a journey, in a previous blog we talked about what visitor you wanted to attract.  You’ve chosen a niche.  I think it’s safe to assume that you chose it for a reason. You have a passion about all, or some aspect of what you’ve chosen.  

Your visitor probably came to your site because she shares your passion in some way.   What value can you add… that no one else can… that will attract the visitor you want?   The one with the money, authority and desire to buy your product?    What can you share with her that will enhance her  journey and allow her to reach a happy (sales) destination? 

All good marketers will tell you that people make buying decisions based on feelings, not on logic.  As you’re creating the wireframe, or flowchart, for your prospect’s message, what emotion do you want to evoke?  What words and phrases will she associate with the journey you are sharing with her? 

What will put her in the boat with you… into the eddies, through the rapids and down the chute?   What will put a smile on her face when the journey’s complete… the transaction is done.  And… what will cause her to come back… to journey with you once again?

If you’re enjoying taking this journey with me on my blog, and maybe learning a little along the way, will you come back again?  Leave me a comment, tell me a story you’d like to share. 

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll tell a little bit more about fishing… the fish we caught,  the (big)  ones we didn’t, the streams we fell into;  and other lessons I learned from my Dad.