Creativity is such a buzz word. Everyone is talking about getting creative. But, putting all trends aside, creativity is a part of our human nature. So to be human is to create. We create everyday. For instance, if we look at just how we create our mornings we'd see, for example, that we create our outfit for the day, we create what we eat for breakfast, and we create our plans for how to most effectively get through our day. These are things we do anew every morning and we've formed a habit to create these things in the morning. Therein lies the secret. Habit. Creating a habit is probably one of the most important things you could create. It's actually quite wonderful to know that creativity is something that is innate in us and that we already know how to be creative. So creating the habit just means acknowledging that and then taking action. Today, I am going to write about getting more in touch with that most human part of us and tap into a incredibly intelligent resource within us to create huge results in our work.
You may or may not know this already, but you are in the midst of a movement. It's huge. In fact it is reshaping our economy into a brand new economy where YOU can play a vital role. We are in, what I like to call the Entrepreneurial Era, and you either already are or have the opportunity to be a trailblazer in this movement. My passion and mission is to help you succeed as an entrepreneur and for you to truly tap into that trailblazing potential. And it's not just those of us that are starting businesses that are participants in this era. No. You can and are part of the movement whether you are a nonprofit leader or an employee in a small business, you just have to tap into and hone that entrepreneurial mindset. When you do, the sky's the limit.
I liken entrepreneurs in the new economy to fireflies. Small yet significant, trailblazing, and building community. When they all come together, what a beautiful result! I've discovered simple tenets for igniting the entrepreneurial mind-set and succeeding in the Entrepreneurial Era. Are you ready to step fully into that movement? Then read on...
If the breakdown is inevitable and you just couldn't avoid it, (read about avoiding a breakdown by clicking here) see the immense opportunity in it. Yes, I know, when you are down, destroyed, and lying on the side of the road smoking (reference to my car) there IS opportunity. Don't roll your eyes. I know this sounds woo woo, but maybe Deepak can change your mind.
Deepak Chopra, a person I greatly admire, says that in every problem we face there is an opportunity that awaits you. It's your choice whether you seize it or not. In order to seize it, you must recognize that the opportunity exists.
When you recognize, you gain the chance to rebuild. Even in the wake of complete annihilation you can pick yourself, or your business, or your car up and start again.
We need plans. We need written plans in order make things happen. Meaning, they have to be outside of your head. The plan doesn't have to be elaborate. We don't need plans that are pages and pages long if we don't want them. We don't need to follow any templates that restrict our way of thinking about our plans. There, I said it.
You might be thinking..."Rubina, you create plans for people for a living, are you serious?" Yeah, I make plans, but I make plans based on what people want and what they really need. If I think you would do best with a visual plan with some important phrases and keywords on it, then that's what you'll get.
I often get asked, "Rubina, what is the one thing I can do to get clients." Or "What is the one thing I can do to get people to donate to our organization." My answer is always, There's not. There is no ONE thing you can do to get people to buy from you or give to you. Many don't want to hear this, but it's true.
Regularly, we are all consuming massive amounts of information from a variety of sources. Rarely do we run out and buy something or get compelled to give right when we consume that information. It's when we are ready to buy something or ready to give to a cause or organization, when one or two brands, or messages will stick out for us in our brains. We can recall these specific brands or images more easily. Why? Because we saw the brand and/or message enough times through various channels and they stuck with us. This is called accomplishing top of mind status. If you did just one thing, it would be very hard to achieve this status. Therefore, a variety of methods are recommended even if you are a small business or small organization.
TIP 4 : Get the word out by using a variety of marketing channels.
Here is my list of what I like to recommend to folks to do if they want to get the word out about their business or organization. You start here and you build. You build by either adding more channels, or turning up the frequency of delivery on an existing channel, like first you start off by sending one press release every quarter, but then you up the frequency of delivery by sending out one press release every month.
1. Network. There are many networking opportunities out there. The problem is trying to choose which ones to go to! Chose the ones where the people who are most suited to buy your product or give to your organization. Also, go to those events that accommodate your schedule so that you are at your best at these networking events. Also, you don't always have to go the same networking evens in town. Create your own. Get some groups of people together that share the same interests, start a book club. Get creative with this and get the word out.
2. Ask for referrals. Don't assume that because you did a great job for your client, that your client is not automatically going to tell people. You have to ask them to give you referrals. You also have to follow up with them and give them the things they need to make referring you easy.
3. Utilize social media. The people who have friended (this is now a word at least in my book thanks to Facebook!) you are your biggest fans. They've come to you with permission. Give them information about what you are doing. Don't make it a sales pitch. Genuinely share what is happening with you and with your business or organization. Engage others by commenting on their posts , etc.
4. Have business cards you are proud of. You need something to handout to people when you meet them. Every time you meet someone, they should get their business card. Your business card does not have to a standard business card. It can be the size of a postcard, or stitched onto cloth. But, always have something you leave people with. On the flip side, always leave with their information too. This way, you are not leaving it up to them to get in touch with you. You then have the ability to be proactive and reach out to them first.
5. Send press releases. Let the media know you are an expert. Send them press releases bi-weekly or even weekly of information that is pertinent to them and the section they usually write in. Start building a relationship with the right media contacts. Press releases don't have to be exactly about your business or be very sales pitchy. They can be about a great new book you read related to your field of expertise and you are offering a quick synopsis. You could write about a topic related to your field and share information. There are many ways to go with a press release that doesn't have to directly sell to people. The knowledge you are sharing is doing the selling.
6. Collaboration. Find other businesses, organizations and individuals you might be able to collaborate with in order to stretch those marketing dollars. They don't have to be businesses and organizations that do similar work as you. Pick those entities that complement you and your business. For instance I was at a used book store today and next to them is a herbs store. When I was checking out the store manager said that if I supported the herbs store then they would give me 20% off my purchase. The true was also the same at the herbs store. This is just one example of collaboration.
Focus on these few things and start documenting what works and what doesn't. Change accordingly again if necessary.
Today's tip from the tip jar might not seem like much to some, but it is needed. I run into people all the time as I'm teaching workshops and meeting people while networking that do not have websites! Yes...it's true. Now, in their defense, many of them have either held successful careers and never needed one because they relied so heavily on word of mouth, or there were those that just couldn't even fathom working on developing a website because it seemed too cumbersome for them.
There are several reasons why having a website is a good idea.
1. As we've stepped into, what I like to call, the Entrepreneurial age, competition has grown. There are new faces entering the market with beautiful, bold, and informative websites that sell what they do.
2. Almost everyone is searching for products and services on the web now. 3. Finally, having a website validates you, your business and organization.
TIP 3: You MUST develop a website. Create a free one to begin with and remember, just keep it simple and clean.
All your other marketing efforts lead to the website. This is where people ultimately get to before they take that action to call you, to work with you, or to give to your organization. There may be instances where a couple other steps come up along the way, but the website is a key decision making factor for most customers.
Now, you don't have to know HTML to get a website created. There are plenty of awesome tools out there for you to use to get you started. I have two favorites. Fist, I love Weebly.com! I used weebly to create my site and the pro version is cheap and so worth it. Weebly has a ton of templates you can choose from that are fairly customizable. Their drag and drop editor makes it super simple to create a site in a flash. Also, you can use one of their domains for instance, yourname.weebly.com, or they give you an option of registering your own domain with them. So check weebly.com out.
Another free website creator is Wordpress.com. I am going to switch to a wordpress.com site at some point because they are becoming the most popular platform for building a website. Also, Google loves wordpress sites. They give you a leg up in the organic search engine optimization game. Sorry for all the lingo here, but I'll go into search engine optimization in another blog article.
So, weebly.com and wordpress.com, are my recommendations to help you get started right away. And, as I mentioned earlier. Keep it clean and simple so that you don't get yourself stressed out. It doesn't have to be perfect...just make sure you don't have too many mistakes and typos. A few nice pictures and concise messaging for your copy is all you really need to get started.
Just a quick note for those of you who are like "duh." I already have a website. Well, I would suggest carefully assessing your current site. I'm sure there are things you can update, upgrade and change. Comb through every page, or at least those pages with actual in depth information about your programs and services and see what you can do to improve the copy, the images, and the general usability of the site. Make those updates. Also, as a general rule, you should update the content regularly.
Here's to you birthing a new site...or re-birthing an existing one!
I have the book "The Creative Habit" by Twyla Tharp very near me in my office at all times. This book has offered me inspiration on several occasions. Mostly, it has provided me with specific actions to take to help me transform my way of thinking and being, allowing me to step away from doing things the way I always do them. It opened up my mind to try something new. These actions have helped me get through proposals to potential clients, problem solving marketing issues for current clients, and even coming up with ideas for growing my own business. Because I have found this book to be an invaluable resource over the years, I am compelled to share with you one of my favorite passages form this book and I challenge you to "Give Yourself a Little Challenge."
On page 114, the section numbered 14 is titled "Give Yourself a Little Challenge" and it reads: "George Harrison once decided, as a game, to write a song based on the first book he saw at his mother's house. Picking up at random, he opened it and saw this phrase 'gently weeps,' whereupon he promptly wrote his first great song, 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps.' You can give yourself the same kind of challenge whatever medium you work in: paint only in shades of green; write a story without using the verb 'to be'; film a ten-minute scene nonstop with one camera. Giving yourself a handicap to overcome will force you to think in a new and slightly different way which is the prime goal of scratching." For Twyla Scratching is where creativity begins and she puts it " the moment where your ideas first take flight and begin to defy gravity."
I strongly urge you to take on this challenge. Let it help you relieve the grip of the mundane and elevate you to a place of curiosity and creativity. Help it to finish that project you started and can't seem to finish. Let it inspire action or provoke the urge to serve in your community. Let it move you out of stagnation and propel you to new heights.
To learn more about Twyla Tharp's creative habit, I encourage you to get the book.
Finally, if you try this challenge, please share your story here. I'd love to hear from everyone on what they did and how it worked out for them.