So You Think Your Marketing Idea Might Be Silly

silly-marketing-ideaSo you think your marketing idea might be silly.

I had a delightful conversation with a woman from Zurich today. She had an idea for the launch of her business – just a little idea, one small tactic for a fun promotional opportunity.

She asked me, “Is that a good idea? Or do you think it’s silly?”

That’s a good question.

One of the most difficult parts of running a business – and in particular starting a business – is having no idea if you’re out of your mind. This applies to everything from domain names to product lines to stationery to the t-shirt you wear to the trade show.

On every conceivable front, you could be totally insane, and you wouldn’t even know it. It’s nice to have somebody to ask the simplest of questions – is this silly?

So I asked her what I always ask in response to this question.

“Is there a downside?”

In almost all cases like this, the answer is no.

Sure, if the idea was “rent a $30,000 booth at the New York book fair”, well, yeah. There’s a downside.

But usually the idea is “put a little bluebird beside the ISBN on the book cover”.

There’s not really much that can go wrong with that one.

One of the reasons we go into business is to be able to do all the little things we weren’t allowed to do before.

In corporate, at school, even on the PTA, there’s always somebody wet-blanketing every tiny nice thing you want to do. It’s stifling, and we crave the independence of being able to put a bluebird anywhere we damn please.

The corporate world was so serious, so grave. Every bluebird needs a planning meeting. We crave being away from it.

But!

We’re so conditioned to that corporate gravity that often, when we become our own bosses, we become our own bosses. We act like they did, because we have no other frame of reference. In the absence of their gravity, we supply our own. Now that they’re not worried about the bluebirds, we worry instead.

That’s fine. That’s normal. You’re not stupid. But there is a way out.

The first step of the way out is to ask:

“Is there a downside?”

If there’s no downside, or you can easily absorb the loss of any predictable downside, go ahead.

You always wanted to advertise your new book on the side of a bus, and you’ve got the money? Go for it. There’s no downside.

You always wanted to package your soap like the woman in Castaway, with the colorful butterflies? Go for it. There’s no downside.

You want to send a little present after every clarity call, and it’ll only cost you $80 a month? Go for it. There’s no downside.

If there’s no downside, or you can easily absorb the loss of any predictable downside, go ahead.

Put your bluebird where you want.

50 Shades of YAY: Ways To Celebrate Success

Champagne - one of the many ways to celebrateYou want ways to celebrate? We’ve got ways to celebrate.

Whatever it is that you’re celebrating probably took a lot out of you and might have been a long time coming. Even if all you did was decide on a domain name, that decision was birthed after a long labor.

Here are fifty ways to celebrate success.

1. Champagne. Good champagne. Special champagne. “Good” and “special” are not price categories – they’re subjective feelings. Buy the champagne that feels good to you.

2. Send yourself flowers. Real flowers. The ones that are delivered by a florist. I have spent years buying little grocery store bouquets for myself and then I was sent flowers as a gift for finishing Money, Money, Money. The difference was incalculable. For the price of an ugly sweater you will never wear, you can get the kind of flowers that make you feel like a princess.

3. Play. Play with your kids, play with your partner. Play tennis. Play scrabble. Play house. Just play with your whole heart for a while. Put your whole self into it, drop the Responsible Adult BS, and play something.

4. Book a spa treatment you wouldn’t normally get. Yes, the pedicure is apparently the go-to pampering purchase, but it’s just never been my bag. I figure if you can get it for twenty bucks in a strip mall, it might not be the best reward for finishing a launch that nearly killed you. Scrubs, wraps, specialty massages – look at the special stuff you don’t normally do.

5. Dinner at the special place. If you never go out to eat, you can probably go anywhere and it’ll make for a good celebration. If you go out all the time, you’re going to have to pull out the stops if you want it to count as a reward or celebration. Try for “wow” rather than “good”.

6. Clean. I don’t know about you, but when I’m working, basic standards tend to suffer. In my twisted world, a few hours to really clean says to my psyche, “Behold! Feel the luxury! You have time to SCRUB THINGS!” Your mileage may vary.

7. Leave town. There’s something about a different location that says “special”, even if what you’re doing when you get there is pretty normal. Yes, you can stay there for a few days, but you can also just get in the car and go to a small tourist town for oh-so-cute lunch and then come home.Ways to celebrate - take a vacation

8. Put a deposit down. If what you did deserves a big “yay” but you’ve only got the time or money for a smaller one, consider putting a deposit down on a future experience. Maybe you can’t go to Cozumel next week – but you can book a future trip. All the buzz of celebration for 10% of the cost – this is one of my favorite ways to celebrate.

9. Do something you don’t have time for anymore. Remember being in your late teens and early twenties? Remember that stuff you liked to do? If you’re like most people, you don’t really remember because you haven’t done it in so long. Go to an art gallery or read a Harlequin or watch a creepy foreign film. Do that stuff that you used to do all the time but stopped when you grew up and got responsible.

10. Give a gift – energy, time or money. If what you’ve accomplished has impacted other people, this might be a beautiful time to give them something to show you appreciate them, and also to suck up. Partners, children, and even pets give up a lot so you can have a business you love – celebrate by giving them something that matters. (Also, I have noticed that partners and children who are spontaneously given wonderful things and told, “This is because we’re celebrating!” tend to be a lot more supportive in the future. Just saying.)

11. Donate – time or money. This is one of my favorite ways to celebrate, because there is huge symbolism in this. If you celebrate by giving of yourself to those in greater need, you reinforce to your subconscious that you do not lack. This is huger than huge.

12. Make plans. Strategy and long-term planning are often the first things to go (well, other than cleaning, above) when you’re in the midst of working towards something significant. When you’re celebrating a milestone, give yourself the gift of time and make big plans. Plan a vacation, plan Christmas, plan your kitchen renovation. Hell, plan your trip to the mall. The fact that you finally have time to plan is worth celebrating in itself.

13. Buy yourself something “only rich people” buy. I don’t care if it’s an $1800 coat, an $18 cocktail or a $1.80 heritage tomato – do something only rich people get.Ways to celebrate - buy something nice

14. Consume, rather than create. You and I are in a line of work that taxes our creation energies near constantly. Give yourself the gift of consuming something somebody ELSE created. Maybe it’s a movie, maybe it’s a play, maybe it’s a dorky training program. (*raises hand guiltily* You should SEE the junk I’ve bought in the last three months. It’s just such a relief that I wasn’t the one who had to make it. I’m gorging on terrible info products.) However you do it, let them entertain you for a while.

15. Get a sitter and do something. Yes, you can do something totally awesome, but if you’re new at Taking Time For Your Damn Self Already, you’ll probably do something totally lame. That’s fine. It’s a learnable skill. Start learning it now.

16. Give yourself a raise. If your finances are organized enough that you’re taking an official salary, give yourself a raise. Your boss would give you a raise, wouldn’t she? Well, you’re the boss now. Act like it.

17. Brag. Tell someone, or several someones, about your awesome celebration. If you are telling a person, try to find someone who thinks you are fantastic, which probably rules your mother out. If you’re telling several someones, try Facebook. Good news is always good, and you might get a bunch of comments and likes that will make you feel like you’re having a party. (My favorite parties are the ones where I don’t have to leave my house, or even wear pants. Note to self: Spend more time on Facebook.)

18. Get grateful. Write, speak, make a collage, do an interpretive dance – somehow record all of the people and circumstances that helped you along your way. Jenna helped me by letting me bounce ideas off her. James helped me brainstorm alternatives. Mike kept my spirits up. My mom watched the kids. With each consciously considered inclusion, you reinforce the significance of what you achieved, and how many people want you to succeed. Heady stuff.Ways to celebrate - say thank you

19. Eat ice cream. Remember when you were a kid and you did something special and somebody took you out for ice cream?* You DID something special and somebody SHOULD take you out for ice cream. Be that person. (*I had a milk allergy as a child, so I got taken out for sliced bananas in a cone. My parents were very creative.)

20. Alternatively (or additionally), purchase a cake. Like, a cake. A cake that you have to go to the counter and get them to write on. If Bertha in HR can have a retirement cake, you can have a “Holy Lord, she finally finished the book” cake. YOU ARE A GROWN ADULT. YOU ARE ALLOWED TO HAVE CAKE NOW.

21. Brazenly self-promote. Channel your inner PT Barnum and use your celebration as an opportunity to hawk your wares. Finished the book? Store sale!!! Finished the redesign? Store sale!!! Brushed your teeth? Store sale!!! (Note: Some people get cranky when you do this. Those people suck.)

22. Keep a promise to yourself. Multi-task celebrating with crossing an item off of your bucket list. Depending on your resources, this can be big or it can be tiny. But try to avoid thinking only in tiny. Maybe swimming with dolphins in Hawaii really IS the best way to celebrate your success. Awesome stuff is not just for other people, you know.

23. Wreck something. If your celebration involves the end of something, consider destroying it. I’ve heard of start-up CEOs smashing through walls with sledgehammers when they expand into a bigger space. I’ve heard of happy divorcees burning their wedding dress. I make a big fuss of shredding my notes when the product is done. Is there something you can symbolically destroy?

24. Frame it. If you wrote a book, get the cover blown up to poster size. If you got your drivers’ license, frame the letter. There are box frames, too. Ain’t NOTHING you can’t frame.

25. Read something completely unnecessary, something you never let yourself read. Saturday newspapers and special interest magazines are good choices here.reading a book

26. Create a mini-celebration anchor. If something is small but still worth giving yourself a visceral high-five, do something sensory to celebrate – songs are a good choice, as is dancing. Do it a few times and you anchor the song to the feeling. (Mine are Timber and Land Down Under and One Night In Bangkok. Seriously. Listen to them. HOW CAN YOU NOT BE HAPPY RIGHT NOW?)

27. Get a plaque made. Remember when your dad got Employee of the Month and his boss gave him that dorky plaque? You run the business, now. The dorky plaque will not present itself. You need to take charge of the dorky plaque situation. You’re the boss here, remember?

28. Make your own souvenir. You know when you go to a festival or something, and you get that awesome t-shirt so you can remember the moment? Your success is way cooler than that festival. It deserves a t-shirt, too.

29. Make a copy. If you launched a digital product, consider having a physical copy made. Get a DVD printed, put your ebook in paperback, or make a CD set. Digital’s great and all, and I love living in the Matrix as much as the next girl, but sometimes you need something you can hold.

30. Make a change. If your success is particularly meaningful or a major life milestone, you’re now a different person. Maybe you made your first sale, maybe all your kids made it to college, maybe you got a divorce. This would be a very good time for new hair. Or a new BMW.

31. Have a party. Have an actual party to which actual humans are invited*. Clearly state the reason for the party in all available ways. Write that it’s a celebration party on the invitations. Hang a Congratulations! banner. Give a speech. This would be a great place for that cake, incidentally. (*If you are an INFJ, you may eliminate human guests and substitute them with pets, providing you retain all of the other elements. Yes, including the speech.)

Ways to celebrate - have a party

32. Upgrade something. Choose one of the tools associated with your success, and bring it into the big leagues. A stunning grown-up pen, a sparkly new iPhone (don’t forget the case!), even a pro set of weights. Remember – fabulous people deserve fabulous things.

33. Drink heavily. One of the preferred ways to celebrate for everyone from frat boys to Auntie Mame. Granted, this one’s not for everyone, but neither are pedicures or bubble baths. Drink like you did when you graduated. Drink things with “bomb” in the name. Do shooters. Get crazy.

34. Do nothing. Quit. Quit everything. Quit all the things. You’re not taking the day off, you’re taking the day off from life. No email. No shower. No cooking. Go on a No bender.

35. Dress up. You wrote a book? Congratulations, today is Author Day and costumes are mandatory. (Also? Dress Up Day is a GREAT day to get new headshots.)

36. Get a tattoo. Each of the members of the country music band, the Dixie Chicks, got a tattoo of a chick’s footprint with every number one single. Keith Urban calls his ways to celebrate “little signposts along the way”. Throughout history and across many cultures, tattoos have been used to signify major life events. Maybe it’s time to get yours.

37. Jewelry. Even for men. I’m not going to say you can’t go wrong with jewelry because, um, yes. Yes, you can. But you ALMOST can’t go wrong with jewelry. Try for symbolism, explicit or implied. (Alternatively, engrave existing jewelry. As far as I’m concerned, AUTHOR is an excellent addition to any piece of fine gold.)Ways to celebrate - new jewelry

38. Upgrade your budget. Every time someone runs their first six figure launch and celebrates with a new mousepad, all the puppies whimper. When you go into a new salary bracket, you’re allowed to spend your money differently. Now’s the time to go to the better grocery store or register at the luxe gym. Isn’t that why you were trying to make all that money in the first place?

39. Purge and declutter. You’re riding high on your success and you feel like you can do anything. Take this time to purge and declutter to clear the space for more success. The bigger the thing (old Bowflex, I’m looking at you), the more satisfying it feels.

40. Start a new journal. When you’ve just achieved something, huge or tiny, it’s an amazing time to restart your journaling habit. Set a positive intention moving forward into the future by starting right now, when you feel amazing.

41. Change your screensaver and phone backgrounds to visually represent your awesomeness. Admit it – the lotus flower was getting old. Go for something that represents how great you feel, so you can feel it again later. This can be anything from an aspirational picture of the Bali resort on your vision board to “Jessica Jones, Published Author”.

42. Buy (or finally use) a Grown Up Thing. You know that thing you said you’d do when you were grown up and successful? Maybe you were going to make tea the Japanese way, or listen to real classical music, or eat from adult plates. You ARE grown up and you ARE successful. (See? You just succeeded!) Do something today that you always said you’d do.

43. Physically restore yourself. Pay attention to your body, your soma. Everybody and their schnauzer is telling you to take a bubble bath, but maybe you hate bubble baths. So how about a run? Or a three hour walk? Or a hot yoga class? (Go really crazy and pay the drop-in rate. Madness!) Do something nice for the body that puts up with all your crap for decades on end.Ways to celebrate - take care of your body

44. Keep it with you wherever you go. Think of three traits or strengths you drew upon to succeed in this endeavor. Bravery? Wisdom? Strategy? Faith? Write them down and put them somewhere you’ll see them all the time – a sticky on your monitor, a note in your wallet. Keep it with you all the time to remember you have those strengths all the time.

45. Update (or finally make) a work music playlist. Get a few dozen songs in there that represent kicking ass and taking names. Do it now, while you’re in a good mood. You’ll need it later when you’re thinking you suck.

46. Get a makeover – hair, clothes, makeup, whatever. Give someone money in exchange for making you look better than you did before. This works for both men and women. Ask whoever’s helping you for tips on highlighting your best features. (You can also ask them what your best features are. Then you get compliments while you’re there!)

47. Do something unboring, right where you are. Even if you can’t get out of town, do something great, right where you are. Take advantage of your surroundings and do something you don’t normally do. Restaurants! Theatres! Bars! Comedy clubs! (I have recently been informed that my city has an orchestra, and has for 43 years. Who knew? I didn’t know, because I was sitting around like a stick in the mud, thinking my home town was totally pathetic and rolling my eyes like a teenager. Mature, I know.)

48. Take new pictures. File this one under Ways To Celebrate That Also Count As Business Write-offs. You may want to combine this with makeovers and upgrades to really do it up. Unless you’ve had pictures taken in the last year, you could use new pictures. If you’ve recently accomplished something fantastic, you could definitely use new pictures. (Hot tip: Consider paying money for them. Radical, I know.)

49. Take a crazy adventure. Celebrate your newfound expansion of awesome by… expanding your awesome. Go ziplining. Jump out of a plane. Hell, just rent a convertible and mess up your hair. The universe loves synchronicity

50. Retire early. If your accomplishment is huge, well, technically you really could retire early. But for smaller accomplishments, try smaller retirements. Think of that list of things you’ll do when you retire – go golfing, take a watercolor class, do a wine tour. Got it? Great. Now pick one. The future is now, baby.

So there you have it. 50 ways to celebrate success.

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Website Makeover: 12 Little Things That Make A Big Impact

Website Makeover: 12 Little Things That Make A Big ImpactIt’s been website makeover week here. For the last week or so, I’ve been dutifully dusting and shining and fluffing the pillows of my website and social media presence.

A lot of people want to freshen up their website, but aren’t ready to commit to the sometimes gruelling process of a redesign. With spring in mind, let’s look at a few smaller things you can do to breathe some fresh life into the place.

Here are 12 low-commitment, low-or-no cost ways you can do a laser-fast website makeover.

Give your cover images a makeover.

In a social media obsessed world, your social media cover images are often the first impression a new person has of you and your brand. Could yours use some work? This can be beautifully achieved in less than an hour – fire up Canva, pull up the Facebook or Twitter cover templates, and you can have a sparkling new brand, just like that. (I made this one in Canva in about 15 minutes. I just can’t help loving the lion!)

Start small with a custom favicon.

I take an unreasonable amount of delight in people’s favicons. (A favicon is the tiny little picture in the corner of the browser tab. Scroll way up. See the tiny heart? That’s a favicon.) Favicons are tiny morsels of awesome fun, and a very easy way to add a splash of branding to a website in need of some love.

Get yourself a shiny new logo.

I have a logo inspirations board in my Pinterest that has visual inspirations, as well as places where you can buy GORGEOUS premade logo templates for less than $50. If you don’t find anything that floats your boat, search Pinterest for “premade logo designs” and you’ll have all the logos you can eat, instantly customizable for your beautiful self.

Perhaps a new website header is in order?

Consider when you created your website header. Now consider how much you’ve changed – how much more you know about your business, and how much more you know about yourself. Just like your wardrobe, you’ll feel like a million bucks when your header reflects who you are today.

(If you get a new logo and you make new social media cover images, this one’s extra easy. Put your newly acquired mad Canva skills to good use and you can have a header in 15 minutes. Aaaaahhhhh. Isn’t that pretty?)

Crisp up your fonts.

Thanks to our new robot overlords at Google, switching fonts has never been easier. Simply do a web search for “best Google font combinations” and dozens of ambitious designers will help you find the perfect combo for you. If your site is on the older side, this has the added benefit of improving readability – screen resolutions are sharper than ever, and a crisp new font will make your site much easier on the eyes.

Remember, though – bigger fonts are better, especially for body text. They can’t read it if they can’t see it.

Give your opt-in box a fresh look.

Now is a very good time to take a big step back from your website and re-ask the question, “Why should people be pumped to sign up?” Whether it’s a newsletter, a free download, or a resource library, you’ve got something great going on over there – wouldn’t it be wonderul if more people knew about it?

Ten minutes of solid thought about your headline, the details you’re providing, and your call to action can vastly improve your results. (Like 2X or 3X kinds of vastly. That’s pretty vast.) Don’t get paralyzed, though – your decision isn’t permanent. You can change the copy, split-test, or just switch it up as often as you like.

Smile for the camera!

One of the bigger jobs on the list, new photos – headshots, lifestyle shots, OMG look at these cute shoes shots – can make a huge difference. They don’t just make a difference in how you look – they make a difference in how you feel.

If you’re not ready to book a full-on photo session yet, you can DIY this if you’ve got a savvy friend/partner and some time on your hands. Just make Google your friend (“DIY headshots”, “DIY iPhone headshots”, “headshot lighting advice” and so on) and prepare to make a day of it. You’re going to look awesome!

Find the perfect brand palette.

Can I tell you a secret? For many years, the entire WordPress theme industry operated on the hidden understanding that when an average user saw “a website”, what they actually saw was “a unique collection of colors”. That’s how everybody on the damn internet had the same theme and nobody noticed. If you simply change your color scheme, you can change your entire look. (I also have a Pinterest board for website color schemes. Find a picture you like, pick two or three of the colors, wham! New branding.)

Wave a widget wand.

Website widgets are like magic wands. Attractive and enterprising web developers are hard at work creating little code miracles that give you anything you could possibly want. Want to double your time on site? Get a great “related post” plugin. Want a colorful way to increase your newsletter signups? Get the Hello Bar. The sky is truly the limit, and it’s honestly only a few clicks away.

(Don’t know which widgets you should be swooning over? That’s why God made search engines! Search something like “best widgets for a business blog” and change the date settings to results posted in the last twelve months. That’ll keep you busy till the 4th of July.)

Declutter your sidebars.

This is one of my favorite tips, one I perhaps mention far more than my friends would like. (“Enough with the sidebars, Naomi!”) Decluttering your sidebars is like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, except for your blog. Tag clouds, be gone! Old blog networks that haven’t sent traffic since 2009? See you later! If it doesn’t spark joy, kick it to the curb.

Add a banner or two.

Nature abhors a vacuum. Now that your sidebar is clear of anything that isn’t a spark of joy, may I suggest some new banners? You can make banners for pretty much anything. Product ads, newsletter promos, links to your social media feeds – there’s a whole bar of space waiting for you to transform it.

(One thing to remember – if your theme is mobile responsive, your sidebar content is pushed to the bottom of the page, so show a teensy bit of restraint in the amount of items you feature. Mobile visitors have scroll-weary thumbs, so we want to be kind to them.)

Prune old posts.

Like tightening up a section of copy, deleting older posts can really tighten up your blog. If you clear out off-brand or out-of-date posts, the only ones that are left are the ones that really sparkle. Visitors see you at your very best – no fluff, no filler. What happens then? Well, with all that great content, all they see is great stuff to pin, tweet, or share.

So that’s your website makeover list – 12 little things that make a BIG impact.

Want to see what I’m sparkling up?

Follow me on Pinterest and Instagram!

Or go totally crazy and like IttyBiz on Facebook.

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