Marketing changes people. That’s what marketing is for. Marketing is the act of telling a story to an audience that wants to hear it, a story that resonates, a story that leads to action. Marketing is the first step before we create a product or service, and it’s the last step before a transaction happens. Marketing is about serving needs, and being good enough at it that we get the chance to do it again. Marketing can help us grow market share, get more profitable, find freelance clients, get funded, educate children, get a bill passed, organize a protest, right a wrong and help people get what they’ve wanted all along. If you want to make an impact, then, it seems like getting better at marketing, doing it well, doing it professionally, doing it with intention— that’s a great place to begin. – Seth Godin
I know very few people who don’t like pizza.
Sure, there are lots of people who don’t eat pizza on a regular basis…after all, it’s typically replete with gluten and dairy, which many folks are trying to avoid these days.
But people who simply don’t like pizza? Hardly anybody, right?
However, small businesses are NOT pizza. And YOU are not pizza.
You can’t make everyone happy. You are not pizza.
There are people, though, who will are looking for you and your business. Who you authentically are and how you do things is exactly to their taste.
You might even turn out to be their “pizza.”
These are your ideal clients.
They will help you to do your very best work, be your very best self, and build a business that meets the needs of other people just like them.
When you work with your ideal clients, you help them to achieve their goals. In turn, they make you more successful. They will bring ease and vitality to your business.
Alternatively, the people you can’t make happy and who don’t enjoy your “flavor” will simply steal your focus from the others.
You need to know how to identify your ideal clients, connect with them, solve their problems, and keep growing in ways that will serve them in the future.
Do you know who your ideal client is?
Maybe right now you’re thinking “ideal client?” “How about just any client?”
It may seem counterintuitive–especially if you’re just getting going and you want to say yes to every potential project that comes in the door–but for small businesses, becoming more selective and focused is CRUCIAL to success. This is why knowing as much as you can about your ideal client (what I like to call Ideal Client Intelligence!) will always lead you to do your best work.
For small businesses, making your market “everyone” means making your market “no one.” To be a successful small business marketer, you need laser-like focus on a narrow target market, sometimes called a niche…Targeting a tight niche allows you to become a big fish in a small pond.
– Allan Dib, The 1-Page Marketing Plan
Who exactly is your ideal customer? This is where it ALL starts. While this may seem “backward” it’s not. Product development should come from listening to the needs of your clients, and how can you listen to your clients if you haven’t identified who they are?
Was her mobile phone on her bedside table when she woke up this morning? Did she reach for it as soon as she opened her eyes? Or did she go for a run before sun up, then sip hot water and lemon as she scrolled through her Facebook feed? Did she catch the train to work, pack lunches before doing the school run, or head to the nearest cafe with nothing but her laptop and a full inbox. How does she spend her weekends? Does she prefer the art gallery or a night club? What brings her joy? What does she put off doing until the very last minute? What does she care enough about to pay extra for? Where is she hoping life will take her?
Only once you have a sense of all of this, are you really ready to begin.
Who exactly is your ideal customer? Bernadette Jiwa, The Story of Telling
FOCUS ON THE ONE
The biggest mistake I see people make when it comes to who they want to create for is to choose demographics or even psychographics over living, breathing human beings…We’re better at relating to real people than to demographics. As a result, if you work hard to understand the needs, desires and frustrations of that one person who brings your genius to life, you’ll get better results. And you’ll find out that there are thousands out there just like him or her.
Oh, and one more thing:
If you haven’t done any work on your ideal client profiles in a while, you should probably revisit them. Just as you and your business aren’t static, neither is your ideal customer.
When I went through the Collage Your Ideal Client process in the fall of 2015, what I discovered propelled my business forward in concrete ways I couldn’t have imagined beforehand. Now it’s time to do it again, to ensure that what I’m focused on creating continues to meet the needs of those who benefit most from what I offer.
You want customers for a lifetime. Does the ideal client profile really exclude the possibility of evolving with time to expand your services? I’ve never thought of it as a static snapshot, more like a storyline.
Ask yourself, “What will my client need tomorrow?” and you are on your way to sustainable growth.
Last chance reminder to register for the next workshop I’m offering–COLLAGE YOUR IDEAL CLIENT–coming up this Saturday, February 4th.
Here are the details: http://
It might sound like just another artsy crafty afternoon, but the positive momentum forward this process gave me the last time I did it is something not to be minimalized.
I’m excited to do it again, a year later, alongside a small group of approximately 8 guests.
It’s going to be fun and relaxing, in addition to enlightening.
All clients receive a $20 discount on each of our workshops. All materials, snacks, and drinks are provided. All you have to do is show up and relax; I’ll guide you through the process.
What we’ll be doing on February 4th goes far beyond scissors, glue, and magazines. I’d love to share this enlightening process with you in person!
We can all relate to this statement, but these days I use this phrase most often in the context of my business.
After all, those of us who are business owners, artists, entrepreneurs and trailblazers almost never have a smooth or well-lit path to follow.
When we commit to showing up in the world in this way, we are forced to accept that we will (mostly) be learning by doing. And this means not knowing where the next step will lead.
Inevitably, the result is tripping over a rock. In the dark. Falling.
Some of us find it is easier to bounce back from these experiences than others. My truth: I’ve struggled in the past to get right back up, needing time for the fresh sting to subside and space to transition from harsh judgment to gentle self-acceptance. The work I’ve done to become more self-aware combined with the plentiful opportunities I have had to practice failing (and surviving to see another day!) has resulted in a more powerful, compassionate, centered me.
If you pay attention to what’s going on before and after a spectacular fall (fail), you will learn things you can’t learn any other way.
I’ve also discovered that failure, and the deep discomfort that accompanies it, is often a signal that exponential growth is right around the corner.
“There is no innovation and no creativity without failure. Period.” – Brené Brown
“Discomfort brings engagement and change. Discomfort means you’re doing something that others were unlikely to do, because they’re hiding out in the comfortable zone… If failure is not an option, then neither is success.” – Seth Godin,
I truly am becoming accustomed to the ebbs and flows, joyful highs and frustrating lows of this winding path I’ve chosen. I’m increasingly more tolerant of myself, other people and imperfect processes.
What have you learned from failure? I’d love to hear your story.
One of the most common questions we hear from clients on a regular basis is: “What is SEO and what should I be doing about it?”
This question is usually accompanied by a certain amount of anxiety, or at the very least, frustration and confusion.
SEO (which stands for Search Engine Optimization) is a phrase that has certainly become a “buzzword” in business circles during the last few years. The overall impression is that without this elusive thing called “SEO” in place, no business can hope to be found online at all, much less actually be profitable.
With so-called “SEO gurus” contacting business owners on a daily basis to say they can “easily” improve the business’ website rankings, get them to the top of the list in Google searches, and/ or increase the number of blog readers they can expect, it’s certainly tempting to hire someone—perhaps anyone—to do something about it, even if the service being offered is ambiguous and extraordinarily expensive.
The sinking feeling that the services offered by this self-proclaimed “SEO guru” is what’s missing from one’s website or business success is understandable and it has pressured plenty of well-meaning business owners into throwing a bunch of money at an unknown but highly-confident “expert,” typically with less than desired results. In the meantime, the exchange puts a huge dent in the typical small business’ marketing budget. When this scenario is layered with unfamiliar technology and intimidating vocabulary, the feeling is overwhelm, followed by action not grounded in a strategy of any kind.
Around here, we call this type of activity “Random Acts of Marketing,” and one of our passions is preventing clients from getting caught up in it−especially losing precious time and hard-earned money to it−by demonstrating that there is a more productive, small business-centric solution for the “SEO problem.”
When clients ask for our SEO advice, our response is very different from what they’ve typically received, particularly when its come from someone who has had no ongoing relationship with them nor familiarity with their actual business.
True, our answer may not offer the same allure as a simple equation like that of the SEO “expert”:
You/ your business
+ SEO guru’s mysterious activities
= Top of Google search rankings.
Instead, we take our clients back to the SOURCE of all effective small business marketing: STRATEGY.
Just like the process of creating a brand that captures your ideal client’s imagination and makes him want to give you a call, or a website that that will get her to take immediate action, it’s natural, organic, content-rich, sustainable, and effective SEO tactics that we recommend. These activities might not come with guarantees and they will require you to be involved. It’s not a “one and done” solution; rather, it requires creating a strategic foundation for sharing what you do with clarity and authenticity, followed by regular maintenance and monitoring.
The foundation of great SEO is a strategy that is clear, authentic, and powerful.
The purpose of SEO is to help the search engines find your content. You want them to know what’s on your site, that it has value, and that it should show up in the search engines for those who are looking for what you offer. Stuffing your site with the “right” keywords—while ignoring the far more powerful path of accurately describing who you are and how you make a difference through your business—has limited sustainable impact and it may even leave you in a worse position than when you started.
Many SEO experts will espouse their super secret knowledge, knowledge that enables them to “work” the search rankings in your favor. However, Google doesn’t want you to know how to manipulate the system. That’s why the system (i.e. search algorithms) is always changing. What does Google want? They want you to put great content on your site and let them know what content you have. That’s it.
And that’s the truth about SEO.
We help our clients apply a customized marketing strategy to a comprehensive set of business activities in order to create naturally powerful SEO for their websites.
Below are a few quick tips. If you are looking for more information regarding what we teach our clients about SEO and why, best practices for designing your website, or if you are just wondering how to find solutions to your website and SEO challenges, join us on Wednesday, February 1st, from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm for WINNING WEBSITES, led by a panel of experts and followed by a Q&A.
We’ll discuss the strategy, planning, design, and SEO tactics that go into making your website work for you–and the search engines. More information on this expert panel can be found here and a list of all our workshops can be found here.
Click on this image to download your TOP 4 SEO TIPS as a PDF
Seth Godin wrote about looking at marketing in four steps. From invention to design to implementation, the first three steps are predictable and exciting.
Then there’s the fourth step. The step where you “show up, regularly, consistently and generously, for years and years, to organize and lead and build confidence in the change you seek to make.”
Often, this step gets forgotten. We think the hard work is done once we’ve implemented our great idea. But consistently showing up is what turns that great idea into a success.
Marketing plans are a great way to guide you through these steps and help you to show up, day after day. However, marketing plans tend to cause panic with people. They can feel overwhelming and impossible. But breaking them down into these four “steps” is one way to make them not seem overly complicated.
In our class, “The No-Stress, High Impact Marketing Plan,” we’ll teach you how to ensure that you are not spending time, or money, on marketing efforts that might be “fine” but don’t contribute to your bottom line or move you towards your desired destination.
This class is a great way to really dig into your 2017 goals and get started on a realistic yet impactful plan for your business. It is approximately 30% education and 70% hands-on-planning, with my availability to assist a small group of attendees on the spot. It is a less intensive and less expensive option for those who don’t have a budget for a one-on-one marketing planning strategy session, but who would still like access to my expertise at this key time of the year.
The intent of this class is to give our clients (and other attendees) a strong head start on their marketing planning process for 2017.
I’ll share some streamlined information on what I believe are critical aspects of marketing planning for small- to mid-size businesses. For example, the things I believe you should be concentrating on and the things that are ok to let go of. We’ll provide planning templates that we’ll walk through together, using real life examples from your businesses. You’ll have homework to complete prior to attending this class and the more time you can spend preparing, the more beneficial this class will be for you–and your business.
We’ll also share what I believe to be the essential marketing principles to consider while planning:
- how to focus in on what can realistically be achieved with resources available to you;
- how to queue up your planned activities so that they are most likely to contribute to accomplishing your specific business’ goals for the upcoming year.
But the most important thing to remember?
Don’t invest your time and money in a marketing plan and then forget the fourth step:
Do the daily work that leads to the change you seek to make.
Thanks to you our grand opening celebration was a huge success!
Over 100 people stopped by to say hello, enjoying food provided by Anna Dvorak andAmy Nadeau, touring our new space decorated with artwork by Maris Gilbert, Pete Sandvik, DeAnne Williamson and Anna Dvorak, reconnecting with old friends and making new connections…
The whole evening filled our hearts with joy and your good wishes launched us into the next stage of not only our business…but also yours!
Even if you weren’t able to join us for our party, you are always welcome to visit! There are a few options:
- Set up a strategy session to kick your 2017 planning into high gear.
- Attend a workshop! That’s right, we’re bringing social media and marketing workshops back to The Rachel Greenhouse Agency, now that we have the perfect space to gather you. More on this exciting (re)addition on our events page.
- Text Rachel (612.501.5565) if you are in the neighborhood and you’d like to do a quick pop by. If she isn’t in a meeting, she’d love to see you!
- Come co-work with Rachel! We have a lovely little private office that is available for you to use. This quiet room offers a cozy, tranquil zone perfect for writing, focused work or planning, podcasts and webinar recordings, listening to course materials, conducting interviews or making conference calls. There are no monthly commitments to rent this space; it’s available to you as you have need for it, for a small fee. Just call (612.916.2678) or email Lori to reserve it by the half or full day.
Where are you headed? Even if you don’t know exactly where you’ll end up, are you open to what’s coming next? We’d love to know!
We’ve recently reached one of the ports on our “long and winding road.” Our new clubhouse is ready for creating, brainstorming and hosting with you. Now we’re readying for the next leg of our journey and we hope you’re planning to come along for the ride!
As the image above highlights, a good journey requires understanding where we are and knowing that we are willing to arrive somewhere new.
The question is how committed we are to making the changes necessary to get to that new destination. As the old adage says, “If you want something you’ve never had, you have to be willing to do something you’ve never done.” Sometimes the changes required of us on our journey can feel very challenging, or we have no idea what needs to transition so that we can move forward.
With just weeks left in the year, now is the time to ask yourself how you want 2017 to be different.
And the next question to ask yourself is this:
What are you going to do to ensure that you actually end up where you want to go, rather than spinning your wheels all year?
We came across a great article from the Harvard Business Review this week called Successful Companies Don’t Adapt, They Prepare (Gregg Satell)
“While nimble startups chasing the next trend are exciting, the truth is that companies rarely succeed by adapting to market events. Rather, successful firms prevail by shaping the future. That can’t be done through agility alone, but takes years of preparation to achieve. The truth is that once you find yourself in a position where you need to adapt, it’s usually too late…
But truly great companies don’t scramble to adapt to the future, because they create the future. Take a look at any great business and it becomes clear that what made it great wasn’t the ability to pivot, but a dedication to creating, delivering, and capturing new value in the marketplace. The technology companies that endure are the ones who spend years — or even decades — to create the next generation of products.
Which brings us to something else Theodore Levitt said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.” Clearly it is not a particular business category that defines a company, but its ability to solve problems for its customers. And you can’t solve really tough problems by simply moving faster. Great companies prepare the ground long before.”
The bottom line is that while it might not sound very exciting or spontaneous to talk about planning and preparation, they are essential to success.
So…do you have a plan for getting yourself where you want to go? We want to support you in starting out the new year strong, so that you’re ready to hit the ground running.
What better way to get to that place than by mapping out your goals in an end-of-2016 Get Brilliantly Clear Strategy Session?
We also have several workshops being offered in November and December with a 2017 planning focus. Check them out here.
We’re currently well into November with scheduling one-on-one strategy sessions with Rachel. Soon she’ll be booked through the end of the year, so this is your chance to grab a spot on her calendar before 2016 is in the rearview mirror. Use this time as an opportunity to reevaluate your goals, assess your progress, troubleshoot issues and refine your messaging and/or marketing. You can see more benefits to strategy sessions here.
For clients who have already worked with us, the price will be $150 for an hour or $225 for two hours. The price for new clients will continue to be $225 (for an hour, including pre-assessment and post-session notes) through the end of the year, at which point rates will likely increase.
Email Lori or call her (612.916.2678) to request your appointment.
We hope to see you in our new space for your individualized session soon!
Product development isn’t about coming up with something you think is great and then finding a way to sell it to someone.
Loyalty-inspiring products result when they originate with the customer’s actual needs and wants.
One of the best practices we learned from Steve Jobs’ leadership at Apple is to work backwards.
Always start by asking for—and listening attentively to—your customer’s input first.
No matter how compelled you feel to create something sparkly and new.
Is it really needed? Is it really wanted? Will it make a difference? Would it be missed if it never existed?
Answer these questions and you’re much more likely to create something people will care about…
and maybe even beg to buy.