|I’ve been reading Carly Fiorina’s book, Tough Choices. She’s the H-P CEO who was fired after 5 years of missed targets. A fascinating glimpse of corporate life and I’d love to hear what readers think.
After years of living with cluttered offices, I finally feel vindicated. Last week the New York Times ran an article, “Say Yes to Mess,” by Penelope Green. New experts urge us to embrace clutter and stop beating ourselves up. About time, I’d say. Read it here:
Career Advice and Opinions
During a midlife career crisis, many of us experiment with new ideas. Nearly everyone considers applying Law of Attraction principles to our lives.
Attractor Factor was recommended by someone I respect, and of course I’d heard of Joe Vitale,
so I put aside my skepticism and began reading.
If you’ve been walking around feeling negative, this book may help. When you feel positive and in control, you’re more likely to think clearly. That’s psychology of mood.
And if you always turn right instead of left, you can change your life. Natalie Goldberg made that point in her excellent book, Thunder and Lightning . And if you’re not feeling desperate, you have more power and more confidence, which in turn brings clearer thinking.
Parts of Vitale’s advice can be difficult for an ordinary person to follow.
For instance, we’re encouraged to be open to new ideas. As an example, Vitale says, he decided not to pursue a mail order advertisement for a self-improvement product. But he soon decided he was resisting a message, so he ordered the product. (pp. 31-32)
So how do we interpret this story? Do we order everything that’s advertised? We need a discussion on how to use our intuition to discern the value of what we’re offered.
And selling an e-book or e-course on the Internet can be a great way to make money … if you’ve got a topic and a great marketing strategy.
It also helps if you have a big mailing list and copywriting skills. So how do we get these advantages? Vitale acknowledges — rightly, I think — that most of us make excuses when we need to roll up our sleeves and go to work (p. 75), investing time, money and energy in our dream. It takes more than attraction to attract these rewards!
I agree with Vitale: “Intention” can be powerful.” Once we set a firm goal, we often figure out ways to get there, if we genuinely want the goal.
For instance, I’ve met many people who found jobs just as their unemployment payments were about to end. The combination of positive mood and clarity of goal can be very powerful. But you don’t have to explain these effects as “law of attraction.”
Parts of Vitale’s book were quite disturbing. Twenty-two pages — nearly ten percent of the book — fall into a chapter labeled “The Proof,” which is nothing but a list of testimonials for Joe Vitale and the first version of this book.
Second, Vitale acknowledges that his guru, Jonathan, molested a woman who was close to him at the time. On page 181, he writes that the “situation with Jonathan…was a gift of freedom.”
But the woman who was molested (p. 182) never recovered. Although “she tried to forgive him,” writes Vitale, she “only found peace in death.” And in the very next sentence, Vitale writes, “Meanwhile my adventures continue…”
Frankly, I don’t get it. Some psychologists believe the human mind may be wired to explain negative events in terms of some greater good.
But I would expect to see some evidence of the author’s compassion for the woman and perhaps some revised thinking — maybe even some activism to prevent other women from being harmed by gurus they trusted. I would encourage readers to look up Natalie Goldberg’s memoir
The Great Failure
, where she describes honest feelings about being betrayed by her spiritual father and her birth father.
Finally, the notion that we’re responsible for everything that happens to us can be traced to early New Age philosophies, including the “est” of the seventies. We’re dealing with values that are nearly religious. For instance:
- Do you believe soldiers in Iraq attracted death and dismemberment?
- Do you believe the starving poor of Third World countries attracted poverty?
- Do you believe that three-year-old children attract disease into their lives?
Some Law of Attraction theorists say yes; others hedge.
Still, I wouldn’t discourage anyone from trying Vitale’s exercises in a spirit of playfulness. And if it’s easier to take a message of “Work hard!” when it’s couched in this language, no harm done.
These authors are down to earth and realistic about what you can expect (at least in these books). Best of all, you can follow their advice even if you don’t buy into their world views.
When I first started on the Internet, my first website was about career change. I still maintain the site and it keeps earning money for me. But back then, I was not sure what I needed.
Here’s some advice I got from people who were considered experts at the time:
1 – “Branding? Don’t bother. Brand? Shmand!”
2 – “Come up with a list of adjectives, like, “The Cathy Goodwin brand stands for enthusiasm, excitement, adventure …”
3 – “Get a logo … and I’ve got one for just $1500.”
By this time I was ready to give up so I didn’t think about branding for a long, long time.
Then I got into copywriting and named my website, “Copy Cat Copywriting.” A lot of “experts” advised me to go with the feline motif, such as, “the purr-fect copy for you.” (Yeah, I know…)
But after awhile I discovered my prospects were confused. Some thought the site was about cats. And when I introduced myself at networking events, I started getting questions like, “Do you use swipe files? Are you really a copy-cat?”
Hell no. I’m as original as they come.
So I began doing research on branding. Here’s some advice I got:
“Your brand is copywriting.”
“You describe yourself as a maverick. Why not brand yourself as a maverick?”
“Find your brand archetype … such as a combination of hero, warrior and magician.” (I know I’m going to take a lot of flak for this one.)
I was ready to give up again, but this time I knew branding was important for credibility and building relationships. I realized my own fuzzy brand was confusing prospects and driving people off my list.
So I analyzed successful business owners and compare them to those who were struggling. And I noticed that people who were successful had a branding strategy … even if they didn’t realize they did.
“It’s your brand …”
Many of my clients share this confusion, even if they’ve been around the Internet for a long time. We know something is wrong but we don’t know what’s missing. So we try to fix the problem and often it gets worse.
Here are 5 symptoms of brand failure:
Symptom #1 – You don’t have a tribe. Your list comes and goes. You go on a list-building expedition and come back with names – and they all escape within a day or two.
Symptom #2 – You’re not getting a lot of referrals. You’re not seen as the “go to” person for a problem that many people have.
Symptom #3 – You keep getting requests and queries from people who are not in your target market.
Symptom #4 – You have trouble creating content for your website that is consistent with your branding.
Symptom #5 – You continue to struggle with the challenge of sounding authentic and not at all sales-y … but also promoting yourself and marketing yourself online.
If you experience one or more of these symptoms, chances are you need a brand makeover. Without fixing the branding problem, you’ll keep working and nothing will happen. For instance, you might keep chasing after names to put on your list; they’ll hop on and then hop off again at the next stop.
Your brand is not a lifetime commitment or a magic potion.
Expect your brand to change as your business grows, as you evolve professionally or as you just decide to move in new directions.
Don’t be surprised when well-known marketers and competitors seem to have no brand or have a bizarre brand name. Remember that a brand is much more than a name.
Some people succeed in spite of their brand names. I know at least two very successful consultants who named their business after foods. They are successful because they send consistent messages and they’re authentic.
3 Common Branding Mistakes
Mistake #1: Branding from the outside in. In other words, it’s thinking a brand is about a logo, colors and graphics.
The truth is:
Branding can be invisible. Some business owners don’t think they have a brand – just a name – but they have a very consistent, recognizable writing style as well as a unique philosophy, approach and set of values.
For instance, I know someone who shoots off 20 to 30 tweets a day on Twitter. She gets great response. What works isn’t the number, topic or even wording of tweets: it’s the fact that she’s built a likeable brand and a special relationship with her followers.
Branding may go beyond your catchy slogan. You may have a brand about “helping conscious entrepreneurs” when your real brand is “outrageous ideas that promise to deliver outrageous profits.”
Mistake #2: Branding on something that’s about you … and not relevant to your client.
Every so often we see people who brand themselves as, “The Curly Haired Coach,” “The Red-Headed Accountant” or some other personal quality.
Some coaches advised me to brand as “Amazing Copywriter” or “Expert Copywriting.” I’m tempted to brand as “Copywriter With A Cute Dog.”
These brands focus on you – not your clients or prospects. Hopefully nobody cares if you have curly or straight hair.
Mistake #3: Creating a brand concept that can’t be translated into persuasive marketing materials.
It’s happened to all to us. We get an idea for a “branding strategy” that sounds brilliant … until we try to write some content.
You’ll recognize the disconnect as soon as you start writing copy for marketing materials, such as websites and sales letters.
In fact, sometimes the process of writing copy is so powerful, I call it “Copy Branding:” copywriting to create and support your brand, and branding as the foundation and inspiration for your copy. Branding and copywriting go together.
Creating Your Own Compelling Online Brand
We’ve just scratched the surface. I’d like to work with you further to create a compelling brand or develop your marketing materials so they work with your brand, not against them.
My consultations are tailored to fit the schedules of busy professionals. They don’t want to sign up for long-term coaching. They want to get a lot done in one call, with opportunities for follow-up. If
The Ultimate Strategy Consultation:
The Copywriting Walk-Through:
Build Your Brand One Story At A Time: