Archive for January, 2015

Why I Am Writing This in a Woman’s Bathrobe

by John Hargrave on 01/30/2015

Think of Authenticity as Your Foundation.

As I write this, I look ridiculous.

If you could see me right now, you would laugh out loud. It is 6:00 am, and I am wearing my wife’s blue terrycloth bathrobe (it’s cold in here, and it was the closest thing available). My hair is a mess, and I haven’t shaved. And here I am, writing a column on leadership. (more…)

10,000 Hours in 10 Minutes: Phillip Davis on Naming and Branding

by Susan Jennings on 01/28/2015

Phillip Davis is the founder of Tungsten and has vast experience in marketing and branding. Tungsten’s goal is “to create a brand identity that fits your company’s unique needs, while reflecting your key strengths,” and as an industry leader, this goal is continually achieved. Phillip is a frequent keynote speaker about brilliant branding, and his insight and knowledge is beyond valuable. He took the time to talk with us about the importance of a great name and brand, and what it takes to get it.

Why should an entrepreneur turn to a professional for naming the company?

Like any other aspect of starting a new business, an entrepreneur must allocate time and resources in the most efficient and effective manner to ensure success. If he or she has a background in marketing, it might prove worthwhile to attempt the naming, branding and identity portions of the business. But even so, naming a company today involves more than creative expertise and insight. There are also the more pragmatic issues of domain, social media and trademark availability. So it really boils down to time, energy and expertise. To avoid the painful prospect of a botched launch or a trademark lawsuit, it best to hire naming professionals who live in that world every day. They can help you not only name, but also position the company so that the identity is built on a strong and lasting foundation. (more…)

The 5 Best Business Books They Don’t Teach You in Business School

by John Hargrave on 01/26/2015

Work on the Business, Not in the Business.

I got my MBA at Babson College. There are two great things about Babson: first, their sports team is called the Babson Beavers, and I challenge you to find a funnier team name. Second, it really is the best school in the country for entrepreneurship, which has served me well as an entrepreneur. I studied with gifted professors like Anirudh Dhebar and William Bygrave, and of course read all the great business books and case studies required of any MBA student.

Since graduating, however, I’ve discovered several books that have had a greater impact on my thinking than any of the required coursework. Here are my top five, the ones that I recommend not just for aspiring entrepreneurs, but for our content marketing clients at Media Shower — or for anyone involved in business. (more…)

How to Avoid Organization Constipation

by John Hargrave on 01/23/2015

Be the River, Not the Rock.

At Google, they have a saying: “Be the river, not the rock.”

It sounds like something Bruce Lee would tell you, just before he’d give you a roundhouse kick to the inner knee. But there’s great wisdom in this saying, which is why we’ve adopted it at Media Shower.

The rock is stationary, unmoving. The river is fluid, dynamic. While the rock is forced to sit in one place, the river finds a way around the rock, whatever it takes. What it’s really about is flow.

Everything in business is in flow. This is why we often refer to money in flow-like terms: “liquidity,” “flooding the market,” “cash flow.” Beyond money, however, everything in your business is in flow: the flow of product to your customers, the flow of development through your pipeline, the flow of information through your organization.

Or is it? (more…)

10,000 Hours in 10 Minutes: David Burkus On the Myths of Creativity

by Susan Jennings on 01/22/2015

David Burkus, founder and host of LDRLB, DavidBurkus.com and author of The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies Generate Great Ideas, is a renowned speaker who has shared his talents with Fortune 500 companies such as Microsoft as well as leaders at the US Naval Academy and Naval Postgraduate School, and he is a regular contributor to media leaders such as Forbes and Harvard Business Review. David also teaches at Oral Roberts University, where he is an assistant professor of management. He took time to chat with us about creativity and problem solving, and the myths surrounding creativity.

Hey, David! Tell us about the myths of creativity. How can we all embrace creativity, hidden or not?

The stories that we tell ourselves are true, even if they aren’t actually true. There’s a phenomenon called confirmation bias that asserts we selectively filter in or filter out information depending on whether it conforms to what we already believe. So if you tell yourself a story, you’ll convinced yourself that it’s true. In the case of creativity, many of us tell stories about it being vague and mysterious or stories of who has it and who doesn’t. The truth is, creativity is something we all have the potential to unleash; many of us are just out of practice. (more…)

10,000 Hours in 10 Minutes: Maria Ross on Branding Better

by Susan Jennings on 01/16/2015

Red-Slice is an energetic and inspirational site full of stories, strategies and expertise on branding and marketing. Maria Ross, creator of Red-Slice, took the time to talk with us about her site and the importance of branding. Not only is Maria a branding and marketing expert, but she is also author of Branding Basics for Small Business and Rebooting My Brain and an actress. She shares with us her insight on branding for success and thoughts on philanthropy and giving back to the community, something high on her list of priorities.

Hey, Maria! Can you share with us a bit about Red Slice – I love the vibe from it!

Red Slice is a brand consultancy but online; it’s really what I like to call a “digital sandbox” of stories and strategies to help brands (or people) tell their stories. I offer advice about attracting your target audience, standing out from the crowd and growing your business. When I work with clients or do workshops, it’s about figuring out what your story is, why it matters and how it’s different from the rest. This is the key to successful branding. Red Slice targets entrepreneurs and small- to mid-sized businesses ranging from authors to consultants to tech start-ups. Really, we’re a community of people building brands they are passionate about that mean so much more than just the products or services they sell. (more…)

10,000 Hours in 10 Minutes: Phillip Verheyden on eCommerce

by Susan Jennings on 01/14/2015

As a senior software engineer at Broadleaf Commerce, Phillip Verheyden is always thinking about how to make eCommerce better. He recently shared some of his expertise on eCommerce with us.

Hey, Phillip! What’s the one thing you wish everyone knew about eCommerce?

That reinventing the wheel with eCommerce will lead you down a road full of pitfalls. At this point, the path for selling products online is well traveled, and it makes more sense to build your eCommerce system on top of a well-architected and hardened eCommerce framework. However, most eCommerce systems will give you about 90% of the functionality that you need out of the box; very, very few will get you 100% of the way there, and if they do, the solution ends up feeling hacked together. Because each business has small intricacies that make them unique, the real question becomes, how easy is it to implement the final 10%? (more…)

10,000 Hours in 10 Minutes: Marcos Lujan on Listening to Your Audience

by Susan Jennings on 01/12/2015

If you want to make sure people don’t leave your website, then stop acting like a know-it-all, says Marcos Lujan, SEO guru for online job site Jobmanji.

Rather than assuming you know what people are looking for when they visit your site, how they navigate and what appeals to them design-wise based on your own personal taste, start testing things out.

“It never ceases to amaze me how many website owners think they know what the best structure or content is when in actuality it is not what their users want,” he adds.

We recently checked in with Marcos, who was kind enough to spend a few minutes sharing more about Jobmanji and the most effective strategies he’s found to help grow the site since it launched in 2012.

(more…)

10,000 Hours in 10 Minutes: Shel Horowitz on Marketing with Time, Not Money

by Susan Jennings on 01/09/2015

Shel Horowitz is a profitability expert for green/socially conscious businesses, the author of eight books including the best-selling Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green, and can often be found analyzing how to get the most out of your marketing dollar on FrugalMarketing.com. He recently spoke with us about what works in marketing, especially online.

Hey, Shel! So tell us, what do you mean by “frugal marketing”? It’s an interesting name for a business!

FrugalMarketing was the first site I put up that was just about marketing. It’s the idea that there are plenty of ways to get the word out besides spending a fortune on advertising – and many of the best cost little or no money, just time. GuerrillaMarketingGoesGreen.com is an example of a site set up just to promote a book – and even that one is rich in content.

What are some common misconceptions about marketing you see online?

More and more people seem to think that spam, scams, article spinning, link farming, black-hat SEO and other deceptive practices are the way to go – I have to wonder what planet they’re on. They think they can get away with putting up a static brochure. Or they think they can get by with just social media and no website of their own. “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t work. (more…)

10,000 Hours in 10 Minutes: Femme Frugality on Strategies for Growing Your Audience

by Susan Jennings on 01/07/2015

Want to ensure your site not only grows its audience, but also engages it? (That was a trick question – what business owner doesn’t have these goals?)

The anonymous voice behind the uber-popular Femme Frugality blog has a few thoughts on what’s made her site so successful.

First and foremost, she attributes her readers – without them, she says, all of her efforts would be for nothing. Many of her readers are fellow bloggers from networks she’s joined, and FF says these networks are where she was really able to build momentum. Actively participating in these networks by both supporting others and asking questions of more experienced writers when she hit roadblocks was instrumental when she was first starting out and is still important.

Finally, she says, just sticking around makes a big difference.

“Most blogs don’t make it to the one-year mark, and mine is now three,” she says. “Over those three years, I’ve built and engaged my audience by trying to actively understand where they are in life and what might help them.”

FF talks to her readers directly as well as focusing her time and energy on the one or two social media platforms (follow her on Twitter and Google+) she’s found really works for her rather than spreading herself thin over every platform in existence.

The personal finance blogger was kind enough to share some of her sage advice on smart strategies to use to grow your site.  (more…)