Starting a business? Here's how you can beat stress and overwhelm

Something they didn't tell you: starting a business is hard. It can look easy from the outside when you hear about the "overnight success" and "$100,000 program launch." Unfortunately, sometimes these "overnight successes" are 10 years in the making.

People slogged for a lot of years to make their businesses happen. They worked through kids play dates. They spent the weekend building out their first prototype. They took a day off of work to go pitch someone their idea or land a new client.

Starting a business and feeling overwhelmed?

All business pursuits require a lot of thought, time, and effort. But can be hindered by overwhelm and stress.

However, I'm sure you're feeling the overwhelm in the background (and a lot in the forefront of their mind). I know I was thinking and feeling things like:

  • What if I should pursue my other idea instead?
  • What if my customers aren't interested?
  • What if I can't make any money at this?

You can find yourself stuck - mired in self-doubt and overthinking your options. You spend all of your time thinking about what color a button should be instead of doing what is going to make their business succeed.

You might find yourself:

  • Not returning client phone calls
  • Filling orders late
  • Sitting and thinking about what you business could be, but not selling it to people

Why does this happen? Sometimes you don't really know what to do next. You have an amazing idea and then marvel at it. You're not sure how to tie the beast down and ride it to success.

When you're feeling overwhelmed, aren't sure what to do moving forward, and feel the frazzle building up around you, there's one thing you need to remember. Do you know what that one thing is?

 
 

Focus.

In order for entrepreneurs to put in their time, thought, and effort they know what they need to do and work toward. Having a goal in sight or in mind is what helps entrepreneurs create the company and product they've been dreaming of.

With focus, you can:

  • Calmly meet your goals because you've been preparing for them.
  • Hustle toward your goals because you know what you're striving for.
  • Prioritize your ideas because you know what is important for you to accomplish.

Looking to find more focus in your business because your fighting the frazzle and stress of overwhelm? Check out the worksheet I've put together.

Find Your Focus Worksheet.jpg

Need a hand with finding and honing your focus for 2018? Check out my course here.

7 steps to finding and reaching people where they are

Now that you have an idea of what your target audience is experiencing, you need to figure out where they are.

With these seven steps, you can know where to find your ideal customers and select how to reach them.

1. Know your ideal customers.

Know who's shopping in your stores or browsing on your site. Know their demographic information (location, age, gender, income range) so that you can start to get a handle on the psychographic profile. Start with:

  • Google Analytics - This tool is wonderful for understanding who is browsing your site. Maybe all purchases are from women 24-35? That will help you begin to identify just where they might be located.

  • Facebook and Instagram Insights - See who is following you on these platforms to add additional insights to your ones from Google.

Find out:

Are you attracting two different audiences? And are the people engaging with your content different than the ones that are buying?

If the people buying are different than the ones following, start to adjust your content and targeting to shift your audience. Target one more likely to convert.

Do you have multiple audiences?

Find out if you're having different customers for different items. If all women purchase your purses, but all men are buying your scarves then you will have two audiences to contend with.

2. Find psychographic information

Both Google Analytics and Facebook will provide psychographic information in their insights.

Google will show you:

  • What people were searching for

  • How many people from social media were interested in your content

  • The general trends in what people were searching for and interested in when they found your site

Facebook will show you:

  • Which types of content are receiving more engagement

  • Use Facebook Graph Search to see the general content that people who are interested in your niche also like

Supplement the additional information by talking to your customers and potential surveys.

3. Talk to potential customers

The best thing you can do is to always talk to your customers. There's no getting around the fact that they are can be a great source or starting point for information. Maybe they say they always read the Sunday paper. Maybe they're addicted to Facebook. Maybe they subscribe to a certain news program.

All of these insights can help you choose a way to reach them. Take into account:

4. Narrow to your target market.

If you're reaching too broadly, narrow to the market that is converting. This may be based on a psychographic or demographic, determine which one it is to begin catering to that interest.

For example, you notice that one audience in converting more frequently and they are interested in swimming pool repair. Then develop more content around swimming pool repair for social media and your website to help them find your information.

5. Look at your competitors

They may have a good handle on where their own customers are. If they are investing heavily in print of Instagram ads or Facebook, see if that opportunity fits with your own demographic. If not, you may have a slightly different market and can reach people in a space you can own.

6. Investigate the demographic following of different mediums.

Some psychographic segmentation can make media choices easier. You may know that people buy motorcycles and have said they read Motorcycle Weekly. Then you already have a place to start, content to work from, and a place to start reaching customers.

For more vague psychographic information, like knowing someone is interested in sports, it can be much harder to narrow down where to meet your customers (simply because of the plethora of options).

Prioritize and systematize your search by:

  • Limiting yourself to the forms of communication that your target audience would be interested in. If they won't touch a computer, than skip the process of identifying website or online ad placement.

  • Starting with psychographic options. For example, if your customers are interested in sports and only like online mediums, find and read the media kits for prospective media buys in online sports news and magazines.

  • Comparing your media kits to your demographic information. Maybe these people are all interested in sports, but only a couple have a large female audience that you want to target. Focus on the options that match your psychographic and demographic profile.

  • Prioritizing each type of buy based on reach and price. Do a little math to determine what you would be paying per customer reached.

7. Choose a combination of mediums, across different media, to create a portfolio of ways to reach people.

Don't rely on just one method to reach customers.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket. You want to have a variety of ways to reach people so you can adjust your marketing across these different channels.

Vary your messaging to reach people at different stages of awareness.

Some people have heard of you, others haven't. Some are aware of the problem you're addressing, other's aren't. Educate and help your audience understand the problem you solve before selling them on the solution.

Use appropriate messaging on each medium.

A message should be crafted differently for Facebook vs. Instagram. Choose your words wisely so that you have the best chance to convert.

3 common missteps when meeting people where they are (and how to combat them)

Your goal with messaging is to reach people where they are. To do this, think about answering:

  • Where do your ideal customers eat?
  • Where are they located?
  • Do they commute?
  • What's their day look like?
  • What are they excited about?

These are just a few things you should know about reaching your target audience. Developing buyer personas for your product lines will help clear up targeting issues and bring more focus into who you are trying to reach for a particular advertisement. Your personas should be specific, understandable, and executable.

When deciding exactly where to meet your buyer personas where they're at, so they don't need to hunt for your information, there are three common issues that need to be considered.

What you need to keep in mind includes:

People have short - squirrel.

People needed to be grabbed and grabbed quickly. People decide whether or not they will continue watching an advertisement in 3 seconds (or 8 seconds max which is shorter than a goldfish). That means you have 3 seconds during a video advertisement to convince someone to continue watching.

Other types of advertisements, outside of digital, have little research into how much people are continuing to read or engage with them. Print magazines gauge impressions - number of people who they have likely reached - rather than being able to say someone looked at your ad for 10 seconds.

 
You only have eight seconds to grab someone's attention.

You only have eight seconds to grab someone's attention.

 

Ways to combat short attention spans:

  • Create content that engages quickly. Using cuts of video, attention grabbing headlines, and visuals can help someone decide an article is worth reading.
  • Make articles accessible. Minimize the number of clicks it takes to engage with your content. Like online shopping, online reading can be hindered by an increased number of clicks.
  • Create a brand promise around engagement. If your content is always engaging to your target audience, they will be more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt for a given piece of content. They will also come back for new content rather than needing to reach out to them every time.

Noise is everywhere.

There are a couple different types of noise. Noise can be that there are too many messages vying for attention in the same space. It can be literal noise when it comes to someone receiving the ad. Noise is what interferes with someone receiving a message as intended.

This is the Shannon-Weaver model of communication. It describes how messages have issues reaching a selected individual. More stressing is the Interactive Model of Communication, insinuating that there is noise around the entire process of communication.

Ways to combat noise:

  • Choose the right time and place to interact. Understand your target audience's limitations and biases to make sure you're reaching them at a prime time for minimizing noise. Do your research in advance and test your ads to see what's working.
  • Be engaging. Exceptional content can help cut through the noise of a overwhelmed psyche. It's one of the reasons Buzzfeed rose to popularity.
  • Be different. One of the issues with noise is separating quality from a jumble of messages vying for contention. Separate your content as much as possible from what's next to you on the magazine stand, in someone's News feed, or along their drive home.

Attention is limited. Use it wisely.

People have a limited amount of time and attention to spend on an advertisement. They may be present while their is an ad going on, but there's no guarantee that they're absorbing the information. Choosing a better time of day or method of engagement can help assuage this issue.

Be careful when choosing where you're reaching customers to take into account how they might be feeling. If they're workaholics, maybe they will be working during their commute and will only skim an ad. If they're single moms, maybe they can't focus on picking up their kids from school around 3 pm rather than watching the TV that's may be running in the background. These are example scenarios - and can severely impact people's reception of your advertisement.

Ways to combat limited attention:

  • Find a better topic. People engage with content they want to engage with. Simply because you've paid for air time doesn't mean people are listening. If you've chosen a paid way into impressions or reach, impress with content that grabs attention by being relevant.
  • Find a time when your target audience can focus. Is that late at night? Early in the morning? When they're taking a break at work? Maybe there's a particular medium they are able to focus on. Take time to know these places to make the best decisions for ad placement.
How to engage millennials
Millennials are the largest generation in history - Goldman Sachs

As part of the large millennial cohort that is on the way to being one of the major shapers of culture today, I thought it was important to address marketing and millennials.

 
Millennials represent a $2.45T spending power.

Millennials represent a $2.45T spending power.

 

It's important for companies to reach the largest generation in history as their discretionary income grows. Millennials represent a $2.45T spending power.

Millennials get a bad rap

Millennials receive quite a bad rap from employers, mostly complaining about how hard it is to keep them happy. These are the same companies that will need to sell to them as the millennial generation grows in buying power.

If you need more proof that Millennials get a bad rap: look here. And here. And here. And here.

On a personal note, I have been to networking events where entrepreneurs have specifically lamented millennials. Knowing that these people work and hire people my own age is disheartening since any evidence to held beliefs can be blocked by confirmation bias.

The wrong way to engage millennials

If you're going to market to millennials and expect them to buy from you, maybe avoid saying they're irresponsible because they buy too much avocado toast. And then needing selling luxury properties to the same group since Millennials will be the largest share of home buyers.

One consistent finding for the last four years has been that buyers 36 years and younger (Millennials/Gen Yers) is the largest share of home buyers at 34 percent.
— National Association of Realtors

(Not to mention you would have to go 15 years without avocado toast to save enough for a down payment on a $300,000 home.)

The right ways to engage millennials

Millennials respond well to purpose and feedback and will stick around for advancement opportunities.

Explain and have a company purpose

It's one thing to have a mission or purpose and it's another to live it. Greenwashing and other attempts to appear to have a purpose are not ways to reach consumers. Those types of tactics can't last for long and serve as a way to lose customer trust.

Having a purpose at a company level helps for both purchasing and employing. Millennials want to understand what their larger service is to the environment, their team, and their company. Showing millennials how they fit into a company that ultimately gives back is part of what they are looking for.

Give feedback

Feedback can come from many places, but it shows a company's interest in how that person or customer is doing. Social media is one space that companies can use to engage millennials. Whether it's the internal company social channels or engaging on a one-to-one level, they want to feel like a valued part of the team.

Structured feedback is appreciated. Millennials want to know how they're doing so that they can continue improving and delivering. It's not about hand holding, it's about knowing they're on the right path to deliver the best results.

Path to advancement

It's something Millennials will stick around for. They want to know that their efforts are going to be rewarded in the long-term. According to Gallup,

An impressive 87% of millennials rate “professional or career growth and development opportunities” as important to them in a job — far more than the 69% of non-millennials who say the same.
— Gallup

How are you connecting with millennials?

Sophie NewmanComment
Brands are stepping in for Hurricane Harvey relief

It's been a hell of a week with Hurricane Harvey destroying large parts of Texas and flooding others. 

Some important things to realize:

  • This could be the costliest Hurricane ever with an estimated price tag of $190 Billion. To put it in perspective, Hurricane Katrina cost $49.8 Billion.
  • 53 counties were affected, around 11 million people, which is 46% of the Texas population.
  • South Texas received 19 trillion gallons of rain in the span of a few days. 

I live and work in Houston, so this past week has affected friends and coworkers. Thankfully, a lot of them were not significantly affected by the flooding, tornadoes, and storm. However, there are over 9,000 evacuees and many more displaced and needing help.

Some people I know were rescued on rooftops. Others were evacuated by boat. The week has been hectic, tiring, and stressful for everyone affected.

And while all of this is going on, people are stepping up to help. There are lines outside of shelters not for help, but to volunteer. People are pledging their support from New York. Mexico offered to help. The Cajun Navy came to the rescue.

Brands are stepping in to help out victims

Brands large and small are stepping in with company-wide efforts to help victims of Hurricane Harvey. 

  • HEB trucks were lined up outside the city to begin serving meals. Each truck is capable of serving over 6000 meals per day.
  • Waffle House stayed open to support first responders. My boyfriend's company has set up a fund to help employees affected by the storm.
  • Gallery Furniture has made it a hallmark of their business to step in when people need help. They opened their doors to shelter people affected.
  • A 2nd Cup, usually dedicated to fighting human trafficking, is organizing volunteers and raising money for relief.

Even more companies are sending or offering aid to those affected.There will be more work to do in the coming weeks in months, especially with FEMA estimating they will be in Texas for years.

And some brands increased prices

Memorably, there have been the brands and companies that decided to raise prices in response to a crisis. While the companies have responded saying there were "pricing errors" it still was a striking moment.

While I didn't witness it, I did hear through other people experiencing the flood that some tow truck drivers were charging around $600 for a tow. That even some people with boats were charging people to be rescued.

In times of crisis, it's important for everyone to step up and help

This is the moment that people will remember when someone stepped in to help them. It's a time to drop what you're doing and lend a hand or a dollar where you can. For ways that you can contribute, see here.

The contribution doesn't have to be large.

Companies large a small, from individual creators to larger corporations, have found different ways to offer aid. It can be a volunteer outing, donations, or offering shelter to people in need. It can be as simple as showing your own employees that you care about their well being and will be there to help them get back on track.

Brands have the opportunity to make a difference.

A brand can bring people together and organize relief that may be difficult to achieve at the individual level. Take this time to really show people what your brand stands for by contributing.

Don't help looking for a quick soundbite.

Real people have been affected. People have lost their homes, businesses, and friends. People are still missing. Help to genuinely make a difference, not to just look good.

There's a lot of work to be done. I will be out and about for the next few weeks - out of town and then returning to help out friends. See how you can also make a difference in the lives of people affected.

How can you do your part as a business or individual to offer aid?

Brands are getting political

It's hard to not "get political" for brands over the past few weeks. There have been terror attacks in Spain and the incident in Charlottesville that killed Heather Heyer. Civil and national unrest has prompted brands to respond with their own campaigns or strategy shifts.

Brands have varied in how they have responded to these types of crises. Some have already removed their advertisements from controversial sites, while others have created an active comment, policy, or campaign.

Brands are getting involved

The events at Charlottesville have caused more brands to get political, but brands started sharing their views before then. The immigration ban also prompted brands to become more involved to connect with consumers about topics they care about. While this can be done well, some brands did misstep (Pepsi). 

Uber, Lyft, Starbucks, and Airbnb have taken the opportunity to speak out in accordance with their values.

Honesty is the foundation of any relationship. As is being true to who you are, standing up for what you think is right.
— Saul Bedmead, chief strategy officer at Y&R Europe

Removing themselves from controversial content

Digiday covered brands pulling advertisements from sites deemed "too controversial." With media companies under fire for how advertisements are being placed, and the secrecy around their processes, brands are taking placement into their own hands. They don't want their ads shown next to political or controversial content they don't agree with. 

Companies working with agencies have "blacklisted" certain sites for their content. Sites include FoxNews.com, Breitbart, and Infowars. Some brands have singled out news sites like CNN and New York Times.

An anonymous exec commented, "Advertisers may just be using Fox News as a symbol of rejecting offensive content or ideas... [It’s] a pretty political move for a brand to publicly reject a publisher, but the calculation is likely to be ‘better safe than sorry.’"

Uber's response denounced hate

After the event's in Charlottesville, I received the below email from Uber. While Uber has not had the best PR lately, the made a point to denounce the events in Charlottesville and address how they are helping the Uber community.

The email reads, 

"Dear Sophie,

We were horrified by the neo-Nazi demonstration that took place in Charlottesville, which resulted in the loss of life of a young woman as well as two Virginia State Troopers responding to the protest. There is simply no place for this type of bigotry, discrimination, and hate.

As the country braces for more white supremacist demonstrations, we wanted to let you know what we are doing for the Uber community: 

We will act swiftly and decisively to uphold our Community Guidelines, including our policy against discrimination of any kind—this includes banning people from the app.

24/7 in-app support is available to answer questions and address concerns. You always have the right to end your trip if you feel uncomfortable or disrespected.

Now more than ever we must stand together against hatred and violence. Thank you for making our community one that we can all be proud of. 

On behalf of all of us at Uber, 

Meghan Verena Joyce 

Regional General Manager, US & Canada Cities"

Online discussion about what to do

In one Facebook group I'm in, there was an active discussion about how a brand can comment on tragedy or events like Charlottesville. It was interesting to listen to small business owners discuss why they wanted to make a statement, how they had already made one, and how to do so in an appropriate way.

Some decided to donate a percentage of their proceeds toward charitable organizations. Others posted signs on their stores. Some posted on social media. Each one took a unique approach to responding to political events.

What can brands do to lead with their values?

When a brand's mission comes in direct opposition to the beliefs or acts demonstrated, brands have to opportunity to comment and show their perspective. This doesn't have to be done in a large way, but something like donating proceeds is a way to put your money where your beliefs are. Voting with dollars shows customers and prospective customers your commitment to your vision.

 
 

Some ways brands can respond include:

  • Making a statement. It can be online on in-store. A statement regarding the business's beliefs and mission can reaffirm what the brand stands for.
  • Donate to a cause. Show people what you stand for by donating to a mission that is complementary to your own.
  • Open up a discussion. Speak to people around you and open up a meaningful dialogue about events.
Selling with transparency

An ad is still selling you something. That's it's primary goal. But being open and honest about the product facts, minimizing puffery, and staying true to a core message make selling more transparent.

Around 50% of people trust advertising.

Ever read an ad that starts with the hard sell? Something like, "You need this product now! It will change your life! See how it changed Mary's life!"

I picture a lot of exclamation points, maybe a before and after photo, along with a "BUY NOW" in large text. While these types of advertisements must be working somewhere (it does beg the question of just how often these work), they still are bombarding the consumer.

The first thing a consumer thinks is, "That's not true." Once they identify an advertisement for what it is, they are ready to argue with it.

63% of global respondents trust or somewhat trust TV advertisements.
— Nielsen

TV was the highest of the categories. Most of traditional advertising fell closer to 50% and mobile advertisements ranged from 36-48% trust. That means:

Around half of the people seeing your advertisement don't trust its message.

Advertising on its own is not well-trusted. That's why the added effort to be transparent or to craft a well-written ad like the one above is so important. Overcoming consumers' predisposition for skepticism can be done by disarming them.

Disarm distrust by being transparent, persuading with honesty, and doing the unexpected.

Being transparent.

Acknowledging that an advertisement is trying to sell you is one way for someone to leave their skepticism behind. They are ready for you to say exactly what they expect. Something like, "My product is the best because..." Stop that conversation and puffery to start opening up the consumer to being persuaded.

An ad that admits it's an ad (when it's done right) is able to be transparent while still managing to sell you on an idea. In that vein, I wanted to share this advertisement from Bill Bernbach:

Bill Bernbach ad.jpg

I enjoy ads that are self-deprecating or self-aware. They acknowledge what they are and what they are trying to accomplish. Not all advertisements are created equal, some are better than others at prompting action, telling a story, and selling by showing.

 
dISTRust.png
 

Persuade with honesty.

Honesty sells. People want their advertising to tell them the truth, not have a hovering asterisk over every claim. VW does it well by selling an "ugly" car. Or advertising without advertising.

Volkswagen-advertisement-print-7.jpg

Do the unexpected.

Tell people that your car is ugly. Tell them you hate being sold to as well. Tell them you're trying to sell them something. 

By doing the unexpected and telling the truth, minimizing "sales language", and building a connection with the customer, you are building a foundation for someone to accept your message.

Knowledge sharing builds trust

Sharing knowledge and transparency isn't simply a way to sell, it's a way to demonstrate your expertise. By giving back to the community through your knowledge, you can create additional trust with your customers and future customers. You can share knowledge through your own blog, videos, guest blogging, social media... the options are endless!

Sharing your knowledge:

  • Demonstrates your expertise
  • Builds a deeper bond with your audience
  • Can show individuals how your reputation, knowledge base, and approach is built (a look behind the curtain)

Share your personal journey

I wanted to share my own knowledge regarding unemployment, hustling for roles, and lay offs so I wrote a guest piece of content for Toronto FuckUp Nights. My goal was to shed light on failure, what it can do for you, and take some of the stigma away from failing.

Failure is embraced by entrepreneurs and small businesses. It lets you know when a product is doing well or when it needs tweaks. It lets you know what strategies are working and when you need to pivot. It can become a powerful tool for change.

Going into it, I was trying to share my own journey. I wasn't sure if it would resonate with others or what impact it had. I simply wanted to share what I had gone through and then realized.

I wasn't even sure that people would find my piece valuable. Through sharing, I helped humanize the situation and hope to bring light to the struggles of other young professionals.

Sharing your professional knowledge

Sharing your expertise doesn't have to be limited to shining a light behind the curtain. It can be demonstrating your knowledge on a subject you enjoy and work on. I also did a guest post for another blogger talking about melding your brand experience together.

I enjoyed getting to write it and it continues sharing in the marketing realm.

When you choose to share:

  • Choose a format you enjoy using. If you don't like writing, don't write. If you don't like being recorded, avoid video and podcasting. Unless your audience is explicitly demanding it, share on the format you're most likely to continue using.
  • Curate what you share. You don't need to share everything you've ever thought about to create a worthwhile blogging experience. Select specific topics and information you want to share (maybe even putting it in a content calendar).
  • Be personal. People want to read something that's written in your own voice! Don't drift into complicated techno-speak for the sake of sounding smart. Speak the way you would to a friend or colleague.
Building trust with transparency: Sharing your knowledge

Knowledge sharing is an important way to demonstrate your expertise in a given area. It's why content marketing can help companies create a great SEO presence and it's part of how a customer finds a solution. It's also how people understand what you do, respect how you do it, and trust your guidance.

Building trust is an important part of the buying process. A salesperson's main goal is to build rapport, getting someone to understand and trust what they are saying. Building rapport is done through creating connections and delivering true information.

Without transparency, you risk customers going elsewhere

Transparency is desperately needed, especially in advertising and marketing. With the lack of communication around media buying for companies - what it's getting them and how it's doing - is part of why companies are turning to consulting agencies.

According to Digiday: Management consultancies are turning the trust problem between advertisers and their media agencies into an opportunity to muscle in on the number of budgets increasingly prioritizing planning over buying.

Companies are turning to another source of transparency because their current partners aren't offering it. Companies are rethinking their budgets, spending allocations, and placement of media.

How to be more transparent

You can share your knowledge through blogging, videos, social media, and more. You choose which media to share on based on where your audience resides, you want to reach them where they're at. Do your research about who is on each one and when they are engaging before committing to a platform.

Share the "why", not just the "how." Part of learning and decision making is understanding the underlying factors behind making a decision. You can tell people the "how" - how to gain followers, create a community, increase their SEO - but starting with the why will leave them:

  • More energized about the types of changes they can make
  • More confident that all of these tactics they're employing will help them meet their goals
  • Able to use tactics in other ways since it's not simply memorizing a set of tactics

But, what if someone copies me or steals my information?

Individuals or businesses sharing information tend to get worried that someone will take their secret sauce and they'll be left without any recompense. Opening yourself up to someone hearing and disseminating your information is the cost of doing business. However, sharing information doesn't mean you're:

  • Giving away all of the family's secret recipes - Proprietary and "secret" information can stay that way. You're sharing information that will entice and enlighten your target demographic and then solve their problems.
  • Oversharing - You're not sharing everything that happens to your and your business. You're curating relevant information that you think would resonate with your target customers.
  • Giving the surface stuff away - You're not repeating information seen everywhere else on the web. You're offering should be unique and valuable to keep customers coming back or willing to give you information like their email or contact information.

The benefits far outweigh the cons when it comes to being transparent with your customers online and in person. By doing this, you build trust and rapport. Building these two things allow you:

  • To resell to previous customers
  • To upsell current customers
  • Build a base of fans and advocates who will tell future customers how awesome you are
  • Develop a following that is interested in what you have to say
  • Create a bank of interested potential customers

By building these opportunities up, you open your business up to other kinds of revenue (like sponsorships and affiliate marketing) and make your customers trust, respect, and value your information.

Network and Learn

Sometimes you can meet people in your network that have a lot to teach you. Which is how I ended up learning more about Facebook ads from PRKriystna. Or you find a mentor who can tell you about their own experiences like Amy Dionne. Or you want to run ideas by someone and you find a professional contact.

There's only so much self-teaching you can fit in during the day - I'm trying to learn code with Code Academy, reading daily articles from HubSpot and Digiday, and writing to keep myself fresh.

Sometimes that person isn't in your network yet and you need to go out and find them. Or at least find a place to learn.

Networking events are not the best place to learn, but there are some geared toward teaching around topics with the benefit of networking. These events don't have to be industry conferences or weekend seminars. They can be monthly events with people in your area.

Networking events to attend

Start with these types of activities and see what you can learn. I went to a great networking event this morning about social media automation. It was a worthwhile few hours spent learning, building my network with people in my field, and potentially meeting new clients.

You don't have to be a marketer to attend! Small business owners and companies like to drop into these places to see where they can grow their initiatives, what changes there have been, and to create connections with marketers that can grow their business.

Online networking

While networking online can be helpful, it's not always the most fruitful way to spend your time. Find Facebook Groups that inspire you, Twitter chats that rock, some sites to subscribe, and inspirational podcasts.

Try not to get too sucked into the black hole of the internet in the search for knowledge. Soon you'll find yourself on Wikipedia trying to find out when the last time that Vanilla Ice released an album.

Learning by doing is the next step. Find the clients that will let you experiment in a new area and build that into your budget with them.

Marketing podcasts for your summer jam

I was never one for listening to podcasts, I really never understood the appeal. And then I found Being Boss and I have started upping my podcast game.

For marketers out there who need a place to start learning more about marketing, entrepreneurship, and business, I would subscribe to some of these podcasts!

 
 

1. Being Boss Podcast

This is the podcast I wait patiently for every Tuesday. This is what got me listening to podcasts. I innocently stumbled across it, went back and listened to every episode, and now enjoy their weekly episodes! I was surprised that someone was discussing the things I wasn't sure about: money, creative business, and how to be your own boss.

Kathleen Shannon and Emily Thompson host this weekly podcast describing habits and tactics for bosses. Their guest roster includes Brene Brown, Marie Forleo, Tara Gentile, and more! Subscribe and learn every week about how you can "be boss."

iTunes

2. Profit. Power. Pursuit. A CreativeLive Podcast with Tara Gentile

Tara Gentile hosts this podcast that features interviews with business owners and people in business. It explores how creative people have "made it" by taking control of their finances, business, and purpose.

Tara Gentile asks great questions and features guests that have incredibly diverse stories, like the founders of Warby Parker. She builds an engaging episode and helps you understand what each person went through as they grew in their business.

iTunes

3. How I Built This: NPR

Guy Raz has some excellent guests on his podcast, including Kate Spade, Jenn Hyman, and Jonah Peretti. The talks involve the beginnings and inspiration for business to how their business models are succeeding today.

I loved the talk with Jonah Peretti who spoke about starting Buzzfeed. Originally just a little experiment about how things "go viral," it's now a huge content engine.

iTunes

4. Inc. Uncensored

A topical and insightful look into business trends. As part of the overall Inc. brand, the podcast has rich investigative content. I recommend for anyone who needs to stay abreast of new marketing and business stories.

iTunes

5. Invisibilia: NPR

A look into psychology and connecting stories in an unexpected way. Invisibilia doesn't talk about marketing, but it's a great example of creating a unique product with unusual interviews and mental links.

It looks into human behavior and the "invisible" influences like beliefs, assumptions, and emotions. A captivating listen for marketers beholden to consumer behaviors.

iTunes

6. Invisible Office Hours

While I haven't given much of a listen, it's created for people who "Aren't confined by conventional thinking." Enter: marketers, creatives, and entreprenuers. Jason Zook and Paul Jarvis host this podcast every Tuesday. 

From the descriptions of the episodes, like podcasts about "Paul's epic killer whale photo" and putting on nerd goggles" mean that I will be listening to more from these gues shortly.

iTunes

Some podcasts that came recommended:

There haven't been any new episodes, but if you want to go back and give their seasons a listen, I have heard good things about these podcasts.

BONUS Podcasts

1. Finely Crafted

Learn about branding and story telling from entrepreneurs. I only listened to their last episode, released 2 years ago, but it's titled, "Where Was R. Kelly?" So you know you're missing out.

2. You University | The Personal Branding Podcast

Hosted by Michael Peggs, this podcast is all about personal branding and building profit. The last episode was two years ago, but I'm sure you can get through their 90 or so episodes before summer end.

iTunes

What are some of your favorite podcasts?

Required summer reading: [marketing] Back-to-work books

The days might have passed to where you're no longer in school, but that doesn't mean you can stop learning! Summer reading was a necessary, but not always fun, portion of the school year. To continue in the tradition of previous summers, I wanted to give some book recommendations to liven up your book pile this summer.

 
 

While I am definitely someone who enjoys a beach read, these are a few of my favorite marketing beach reads.

Beach Reads for your Business

Rework by 37signals

I just finished this book the other day - it was incredibly quick read and very insightful into how you can avoid pitfalls in building your business. If you need a quick jolt about how you can change and run your business, this is a perfect under 2-hour read.

I loved the visuals, the authors' style, and the clearness of what they had to say. It was easy to follow and I really enjoyed learning more about the founders' journey in business.

You can do it your own way. Businesses don't need to be layers and layers of processes or shoot for staggering growth. Right-size your business instead of shooting for what is expected (growing employees, Public IPO, etc)

Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman

These brothers come together and create a book to help explain the decisions that consumers make. They go into case studies and examples of just how irrational consumers are, and the small tweaks that can be made to drive action and change.

Understand how your consumers are irrational so you can use the underlying psychological principles behind your marketing tactics.

Advertising Life

The Art of Client Service by Robert Solomon

Clients got you down? Listen to how this account executive worked through the ad business and created value for his clients. More than just a glorified scheduler, Robert turned client service in a way to build client longevity for your business.

The stories are interesting and provide a slice of life for an account executive in an advertising agency. A read that offers 58 tips for marketing professionals.

Always create value. By being more, you create a better environment for your agency and coworkers. You do this in how you interact with others and creating a more effective relationship with clients. 

Hey Whipple, Squeeze This! by Luke Sullivan and Edward Boches

A comprehensive guide to great and classic advertising, this book is a must-read for anyone in advertising. Learning the craft means understanding how and why great ads work, something the authors showcase in every chapter.

Simplify, simplify! Don't get too caught up in a concept or an idea. Think about something in the simplest terms and convey a singular message.

Virality of Ideas

Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

Remember all those fun email forwards that are now replaced by Instagram posts? Learn why each of those types of social shares went viral. Jonah Berger explains how things go "catch on" with his six principles.

Tell an interesting story. Every product has a story - even blenders - that can be used to grab and keep attention.

Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Another brotherly dup deliver a book explaining why you remember some things, while forgetting others. Why do some ideas stick around and others fade? They found six commonalities among stories that kept them "sticky" over time.

Connect to people with emotion. Emotion will humanize stories, brands, and products so that people can connect to what you are trying to convey.

Personal Growth

Yes, Please! by Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler sheds light on her career, trials and tribulations on her way to success, and the comedic pals she made along the way. The SNL crew, like Seth Myers and Tina Fey, make an appearance and she delivers an homage to her Parks and Rec cast.

Hilarious and literally having me chortling at the airport, Amy packs insight and humor into the package. You knew she was funny, but get to know her even better in Yes, Please!

When you're ready to complain or be frustrated, just say, "Yes, please." Welcome new experiences and changes that come your way with openness and grit.

 
 

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

Get into the arena and put yourself out there! Brene Brown did just that with her first TED Talk that went viral. Seeing the interest in her research on vulnerability and shame, she wrote a book dedicated to her many years of research.

Be open to being vulnerable. The best and the worst moments in life happen in that space. Without spending time feeling the negative or trying times, you won't be able to enjoy the good.

Now reading

Predictably Irrational

To be started soon, I'm excited to learn more about psychology (my original major) and human behavior.

What are you reading?