Pulling Up Weeds

Getting Results, Marketing, Planning & Goal Setting, Small Business Goals

Pulling Up Weeds

No Comments 16 April 2011

In last week’s Promo Ideas e-letter, I made a garden analogy when talking about bad habits that sneak into our business… I correlated those bad habits with weeds in our garden. Spring is wonderful in a lot of ways, but one of it’s shortcomings is the emergence of a fresh crop of weeds in the garden and flowerbeds. In order for our gardens to produce at peak, those weeds must go. And the same holds true in business.

I challenged my readers to identify those weeds in their own business, and here I’d like to walk through some of the ways that I’ve found work for me when I need to banish bad habits from my business life. You’ll have others I imagine, and I hope you’ll share them in the comments section.

1. Focus on cultivating healthy habits.

I’m a farmer’s daughter, so I’ve learned a few life lessons that way growing up. One is that bad weeds have a hard time flourishing in the midst of a lot of other healthy plants. Now, some will, and they will need to purposefully be eliminated. However, at the same time that you are removing weeds, you must replace them with healthy plants. Or the weeds just grow back.

The same is true in business. At the same time that you purpose to quit doing things wrong; you have to start doing things right. You need to determine what the correct and healthy habit is—then start doing that—and stop doing the bad one. Focus on how consistent you are with doing the right thing—and celebrate your wins—rather than focusing on not doing a bad thing and beating yourself up over missteps.

2. Write down your plan, goals or resolve.

Decide what needs to change – then write it down. Maybe you write it on a napkin or a post-it note. Maybe you e-mail it to yourself or set an alarm on your phone to remind you every day. It doesn’t matter how low-tech or high-tech… stats show that when you write something down, it has an exponentially greater chance of actually happening. That chance gets better and better as you refer to your plan daily and challenge yourself daily as you develop those new habits.

3. Attack the process in bite-sized pieces.

You didn’t develop those bad habits overnight, and they won’t quit happening overnight. When I gain a little weight, it takes time and a lot of bad eating habits to put on the pounds. And as such, I can’t lose that weight overnight, no matter how much I wish I could. Instead, divide up your goals into smaller, even daily, incremental steps. Then attack those bite-sized pieces one bite at a time.

4. Each day is a new day.

Without a doubt, none of us are perfect. As such, our path to better habits and achieving our goals will be riddled with backsliding or missteps or just not getting things done. Free yourself from the slavery of perfection and clean the slate everyday when you end your day. Wake up refreshed and re-energized to pick up on the right track wherever you left off. Every day is a new day, and there is no sense in beating yourself up over what you did or did not accomplish the day before. If you’re always looking backwards, you’ll never go forward. Purpose each day to start fresh no matter what successes or failures happened yesterday. The success of yesterday doesn’t guarantee success today, and just as much, the failures of yesterday don’t mean you’ll fail today. Chin up. Feel free to succeed. Review your written goals. Go do something good. Even revolutionary!

Photo Credit: kusine


My Three Words for 2011

Attitude and Success, Planning & Goal Setting

My Three Words for 2011

No Comments 12 January 2011

Last October, Chris Brogan generously bought our breakfast at a little downtown Mobile, Alabama cafe – which really wasn’t playing fair after he had already spent so much more of his time investing in our ideas… Andy and I got a lot of value that morning – so much that thanks doesn’t begin to cover it. (On second thought, maybe I can pay him back by exporting grits to New England?).

Beyond what happened that day, there is one concept that I think Chris originated that has really encouraged me a lot – it’s his idea about “three words.”

Embedded Words

Last year I toyed with the “three words” concept a lot, and I just took some time to get my sea legs under me on this idea. My take is that the three words are like a short term mission statement for me, and as such and not wanting to be flippant about it, I literally took a year to think about this and when the clock rolled over to 2011, my three words for 2011 were already concretely etched in my mind and have been driving my work everyday of this year (and okay, for a wee bit before). I talk about them, and I frame my business and life around them… at least for this year… until a new season comes around.

Kings, Diplomacy, Advocacy

Kings. This is one of Chris’ 2010 words. And while I’m getting bored with him having all of the good ideas first, I have to say that this one really gelled with me, and I can’t escape having it on my list this year. Kings have kingdoms. Kings can find other kingdoms with which to partner, kings wear crowns and kings conduct diplomacy and advocacy. Kings meet with other kings and support them. Sometimes they even help create other kingdoms. I want us to act more kingly (or queenly as the case must be for me). I want to be a servant king without wasting time – mine or anyone elses. I want to be wise. I want to meet other kings and create kingdoms and train new kings. Kings have authority, confidence… good kings are trusted, valued, and are ultimately – servants of their kingdom. I want to be about all of that – and we are on that path with the infancy of new business models (new kingdoms) that will support local businesses and specific geographic areas in new ways during 2011.

Diplomacy.  Competition is out; diplomacy is in. Webster’s says (among other things) that “in an informal or social sense, diplomacy is the employment of tact to gain strategic advantage or to find mutually acceptable solutions to a common challenge, one set of tools being the phrasing of statements in a non-confrontational, or polite manner.” Diplomacy is, at its core, about partnerships and trust. It’s about relationships, respect, and mutual benefit. Diplomacy is equal opportunity: with superiors, equals and up-and-comers. Diplomacy should stretch us and our ideas to better places and benefit lots of people beyond ourselves.

Advocacy. I want to stand up for those that need help. In some way of late, that is why my passion for local business has only grown – not weakened. As I’ve seen government efforts largely fail and small business owners grope for new ways to find success, I’ve sought to not just help – but become an advocate in various ways. My heart is to put myself aside and pour out my life in service to others – my family, my friends, those who can’t help themselves (the homeless, unemployed, orphaned) and on a work front: local businesses. Advocates go to bat for someone that needs help and stands in the gap to make a way for things to get better. Advocates fill a need and reinforce another’s position. I encourage and will pursue customer advocacy a lot this year to help businesses and my own projects provide remarkable customer experiences, to build customer loyalty, to grow customer communities and reach new kingdoms of customers. I want to serve how our kingdoms need us to serve – not continue to serve in the way that we always have – that seems like an advocate sort of thing to do.

Lastly, I can’t help but throw this out there…. After a year of simmering on the idea of three words, I also narrowed down a bigger theme that I instituting as my personal and business purpose statement. It’s not a word so much as a short phrase – but it’s about a concept that we all struggle with at one time or another. It’s about going the distance – not fading in the last inning. It’s about finding completeness and pursuing things to the end. It’s about doing my best until it’s done – and nothing short. It’s about never looking backwards and being defeated by past mistakes – and about looking forward to what I can do now – and in the future. My fourth word (well, phrase) of the year will last well beyond 2011. “Finish well.”

More “Three Words”

Following are some other blog posts out there following this same theme using the “three words” for guiding their year. These are some ideas that might guide you – and encouraged me to read. I hope you find them encouraging, too.

Chris Penn’s three words do not disappoint. He is always a genius and makes everyone think harder.

Beth Kanter’s three words post includes a nice chart and some cool references… She’s a smart thinker.

Michelle Wolverton challenged me with her choice of “fearlessness.” Plus, I hear she’s from the South, so she must be awesome.

Susan Murphy has three great ideas in her three words – but I like the concept of “intersections” the best – kinda fits well with some of my words as well… good stuff.

What three words will guide your business this year?

Photo credit: 24oranges


Set Your 2011 Business Goals

Getting Results, Planning & Goal Setting, Strategic Plan

Set Your 2011 Business Goals

2 Comments 10 January 2011

Editor’s Note: This is a post in the “How to Create a 2011 Local Business Marketing Plan”* series. Some of it will be shared here on [resultsrevolution.com]. The rest will be shared via my free newsletter. Get the newsletter to get the full planning series.

Do you have your business goals for 2011 etched in stone yet?

If not, it’s time to take all of those notes out of your notebook and do something with them. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, sign-up for our e-mail newsletter and forward me your confirmation – I’ll send you the back issues of our planning series so you can catch up).

How to define your goals for 2011.

1. Of all of the notes in your notebook over the past few weeks, go through and circle the things that stand out as MOST IMPORTANT. It’s time to pick priorities and create focus. It’s time to hone in on some themes that will describe your 2011.

2. Group the CIRCLED ITEMS into categories. Usually the things that we deem priorities usually could be grouped together in themes or categories. Maybe several of your items have to do with financial issues – sales growth, financial responsibility, decreasing debt, cash flow management, payroll issues, your own earnings, etc. If so, put all of those items together under a category called FINANCIAL. And so on for the rest of the circled items.

3. Usually folks end up with only 3-4 categories at the end of this exercise. If you have more, go back and circle the 2-3 categories that if they fall short will cause the failure of your business. Which are make or break – and which are just desires. At this point you should have no more than 3-4 CATEGORIES from which you will now define your 2011 business goals. Just let go of everything else. The fact of the matter is that if you will focus on the few items most critical to your business health that other things will fall into place more easily later. But you have to do things in order – and you can’t do it all. Success takes time – believe it or not – and a year doesn’t last as long as it did when we were five years old.

4. Create a list of THREE – FOUR goals you want to accomplish in 2011. If we stick to the financial analogy, you’ll look at your list of items in the framework of a single category. For example, look at all of the notes you now have lumped into the financial category. What single metric would accomplish them all – or at least most of them? Would a 15% increase in retail sales allow you to in turn accomplish your debt retirement, personal earnings, and cash flow management issues? Maybe – maybe not. But the idea here is to boil those themes into a single S.M.A.R.T. goal. S.M.A.R.T. standing for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-sensitive.

An example in this financial theme would be “Increase retail sales for 2011 10% over 2010.” Only you will know if this is attainable and realistic – but I will help you figure that out by introducing a simple method for accomplishing goals in the next edition of our e-mail newsletter. So sign up now, if you haven’t already.

Supplement Your Goals

Goals are good, and in my mind, necessary. They shouldn’t be like resolutions for a business – because resolutions don’t make it very far. Goals are meant to give you a target to aim at – a way to know you won. You can look back on your year, measure your success and celebrate your wins.

However, goals are usually so specific that without a supporting player they can even be distracting. That’s why I like what Chris Brogan does with his “three words” concept. These are, as I understand, guiding principles for a year that work with goals but provide more than that – a higher level purpose for each year. Read Chris’ excellent post because it explains this concept just fine, so there’s no reason for me to repeat it – and his 2011 post is FULL to the brim of other business people who said their three words out loud and got included in that post. It’ll give you some ideas, hopefully.

Stay tuned for my three words. I’m pretty excited about them.

Photo credit: TheFasterDanish


2011 Marketing Planning Guide: Branding.

Branding, Planning & Goal Setting, Restaurant & Food Service, Retail, Small Business, Small Business Marketing, Smart Strategy

2011 Marketing Planning Guide: Branding.

2 Comments 14 December 2010

This is a post in the “How to Create a 2011 Local Business Marketing Plan”* series. Some of it will be shared here on [resultsrevolution.com]. The rest will be shared via my free newsletter. Get the newsletter to get the full planning series.

Don’t Put Yourself at a Disadvantage at the Start

Whether planning or executing a small business marketing plan, one of the biggest failures I see is in the area of Small business branding needs life, breath & personality that matches your culture!branding. In particular, brands seem to disappear – or at best – are very weak. With that in mind, I want to encourage you that as you think towards 2011 that you renew your dedication to your small business brand (or establish one – if you’ve never cared about branding before).

Nuts & Bolts of a Small Business Brand

We’ve talked about branding basics before. You can read more about it here without me re-hashing the basic elements of visual logo, color scheme and domain name.

Behind every good brand are the “nuts and bolts” that hold it together. The breath that gives it life. And that’s what I want to focus on right now.

In my experience, there are two basic types of businesses: there are businesses that have to compete in a category (men’s clothing, ladies shoes, groceries, etc.) and those that created and own a category (like the lost and unclaimed baggage store in Alabama). The second category is pretty rare. But both categories need some branding “nuts and bolts” in order to survive because we ALL compete for the spending dollars and attention of consumers.

What will make your business stand out – no matter how “typical” it’s product – is the personality and culture of the business. Before you can promote a brand – you have to have a brand. And a brand is simply boiled down to be your reputation.

Your Brand is Your Reputation

That’s right, the logo, color scheme and domain name are just the elements that propel your brand into the marketplace. Your reputation IS your brand.

The Chick-fil-A Example

Chick-fil-A has the fun-loving personality of a bunch of cows campaigning that we all “Eat Mor Chikin.” Their antics and creativity are the “reputation” upon which the brand that sells an average chicken sandwich has soared to amazing heights of success and profitability.

The Broad Street Baking Company Example

On a local level, our client, Broad Street Baking Company, has embraced a colorful (literally) bunch of employees from all walks of life to meet, great and sell with the same enthusiasm that embodies their owners Jeff Good (a former technology sales guy  whose passion for community and people is contagious) and Chef Dan Blumenthal (a descendant of a baking family from New Jersey who loves driving very fast cars and can create amazing menu items in every possible menu category). They live the “Have You Hugged Your Baker Today?” mentality that fronts their famous t-shirts, and they also rock and roll through the day just like their new “Grateful Bread” t-shirts attest. They keep life jazzy and full of fresh colorful flavor – on and off the plate – a colossally successful recipe in a town full of great sandwiches.

The Peru Paper Company Example

On the flip side, another client, Peru Paper Company, is filled with heart-warming, genuine goodness that spills over into every life it touches – whether employees or customers. Her brand is the story of changing lives by giving previously impoverished workers a way to provide for their families safely and with dignity – and by spreading a culture of helping others in everything they do stateside and abroad. Their story is their brand – a story that is constantly unfolding because it is the “breath” of who they are. A different kind of brand – but one filled with the brand “nuts and bolts” that lead to success. (Want to read their story about “Cards That Care,” check out this online article out today.)

What is Your Brand?

As you set your sights on 2011, make a list of the elements of your own personality and that of your business that you wish to embody more fully in the new year. Branding needs a CONSISTENT presence that you and your employees can live. It must be your business personality naturally – and fit your business culture naturally. As you cannot force yourself to be someone you are not, you cannot force your business to be something it is not. Find the “nuts and bolts” of your business, then explore ways to bring them more into focus in 2011. Look at the case studies above – and others that you see around that are making their mark – in a highly competitive market. I guarantee it’s because they are far from vanilla – they have a brand that is memorable and consistent. They know who they are – and they’re BEING THEIR BRAND.

Here are just a few more small business branding ideas for you as you embark on this part of your 2011 Marketing Planning journey.

How will you BE YOUR BRAND in 2011?


Creating a Local Business Marketing Plan for 2011.

Attitude and Success, Local Business Marketing, Marketing, Planning & Goal Setting, Strategic Plan, Success in this Economy

Creating a Local Business Marketing Plan for 2011.

2 Comments 03 December 2010

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to do a series on local business marketing planning for local or small enterprises. This is the sort of planning that you should be thinking about right now as the year winds down and another gets ready to launch:

1. What will you do differently in 2011?
2. What are your goals for 2011?
3. What is your unique strategy to connect with customers in 2011?
4. What media will you use to communicate with customers, vendors, prospects, employees, etc. in 2011?
5. What products/services, etc. will you offer in 2011? What will be different or the same from 2010?

And many more questions just like these? How do you answer those questions strategically – and literally – for your business, so that you get your new year off to a blazing start? It all boils down to your local business marketing plan for 2011. That’s what we’ll be unpacking in the next few weeks.

Why is this important?

A local business marketing plan is important because many of you would otherwise march into 2011 without a single strategic weapon in place. Things happen just like you plan them – and if you don’t plan or you plan to fail – you’ll get just that. Local business must PLAN for success – create a road map that will win – not unlike a military going into battle. Yes, sometimes things don’t work out precisely as planned – but at least you have the order of the plan that you can change and aren’t just marching blindly into battle. Your chances of success are increased exponentially with the careful attention to planning that you give – and the success will be sweet at the end when you win – and win big for your local business!

Here’s how this will work:

Some of the content will be available here on the blog. A LOT of it will be in written “lesson” format via our e-mail newsletter. Let’s just say that 2/3 of the content will arrive in your inbox. Once I’ve finished the series, I’ll compile it all into an e-book and teach a webinar on the topic of local business marketing plans around the first week of the year.

The first e-mail lesson will go out next Tuesday, so go ahead and sign-up for the e-mail newsletter now, so you don’t miss a thing. (Motivating hint: the first lesson is something you can accomplish in ten minutes even in the midst of the holiday bustle to position yourself for a successful planning session later when things slow down a bit.)

Sign up in the box on the top right side of the page… just click here… and happy 2011 planning!

Photo Credit: West Point Public Affairs


How to Move Towards Your Goals

Attitude and Success, Getting Results, Marketing, Planning & Goal Setting, Small Business, Small Business Goals, Small Business Marketing, Success in this Economy

How to Move Towards Your Goals

2 Comments 11 August 2010

For some reason, August is always like my second chance every year to course correct and get back on track with those New Year’s resolutions that fell to the wayside or to get my business’ marketing plan back on track after the lazy days of summer. It’s back to school – and with that fresh start for my kids seems to come a fresh start for me. And I know I’m not alone, because the phone is ringing off the hook with others just like me seeking help with their own fresh start.

This year has been an especially poignant one for me in the area of discipline, goal setting and goal achieving. I’ve always been a planner (I’m a recovering plan-a-holic). But this year, I’ve been learning a few things about achieving goals that I wanted to share with you:

It’s best to go towards a goal than to run away from a problem.

This year, I started running for the first time in my life. The problem was that I had gained some extra weight and had lost my father too young to a heart attack. The problem was that I was scared. But if I looked forward I could see a healthy me with lots of energy to do almost anything with my kids and who was able to live a long, happy, effective life. My goal is to live well and finish well. From a physical health perspective that meant not just losing some weight, but becoming more physically healthy. Andy and I started training for a marathon, and I’ve never run in my life. Now, that’s running towards a goal instead of away from a problem.

What about your small business? It’s probably easy to list all the problems, challenges and discouragements that you face each day. Your fears and anxieties can easily overshadow everything else, especially when it comes to the daily grind of owning a local business. But when you look into the future longingly – what do you want it to look like? Define the future – and then run towards it.

There is no time like the present to start making changes.

If you want to win, you can’t wait until next Monday to get started. Change doesn’t start next month or next year – it starts today. When you realize you aren’t doing what you should be doing, you need to set your sights on the future goal and run towards it – TODAY. It doesn’t matter how slow the pace or how short the stride – it just matters that you don’t wait – that you do something TODAY that moves you closer to your goals, whether it be in small business ownership or in life.

When you fail, focus that frustration on being better again. Not on guilt.

Here is where I confess my failures. We started training for a marathon. I could run five solid miles, and I spent Spring Break this year riding bikes and kayaking with my kids. Then we moved to a new home.

Andy and I have exercised (either swim or walk) no more than two days a week since April. We have eaten too many desserts, and I’ve been drinking soft drinks way too much. We quit spending time stretching everyday. We’ve put on a few pounds and our bodies ache again. We miss the health, and we’re going to get it back. We woke up yesterday disgusted with ourselves for letting this happen. And yesterday we started doing something about it. Soft drinks are out and healthy, life giving water is in. I stretched this morning and am looking forward to an evening walk with my hubby. We’re turning our disgust into positive, life-changing, goal-achieving energy. I’m not going to sit around and mope about my failure. I’m going to do something to make it better again.

How about your business? Have you been complacent about your marketing, customer service, store displays, community involvement, social media messages, employee training, e-mail campaigns, or web site updates? Have you let bad habits creep into your business life? Have you let your passion slide? Have you taken your eyes off of your sales goals, marketing goals, business goals, life goals? Don’t focus on the pain and consequences of your complacency and bad habits – instead focus all of your energy on achieving your goals, sharing your passion, and finding your future success.

The cliché is true: you really do eat an elephant one bite at a time.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that this all sounds well and good but your circumstance is WAY more complicated than this. You’ve got layers and layers of problems and failures and scary obstacles to overcome. I wish I could tell you but I can’t – but my health is the least of my worries. But I can also promise you this: doing nothing but throwing a pity party will not get you any closer to freedom. Don’t be overwhelmed by the big picture. It is what it is, and there’s nothing you can do to change the past. But you can change your future. You make choices every moment about how to spend your time – and what you do next will affect your future one way or another. So, with your eyes on the goals ahead, find a tiny little bite-sized piece of a task that you can do right now that will move you one tiny step closer to your goal, to your full potential for success. As you train, you’ll be able to take bigger bites and the momentum will grow and you’ll get more accomplished and the race will get easier. But today, just take a small bite. That’s all you have to do. And tomorrow, take another small bite. Keep taking bites. Until you eat the entire elephant – or achieve your small business goals…

Want some encouragement along the way? What are your goals? Share them, and we’ll stay in touch as you walk towards the future.

Photo Credit: One-Fat-Man


Blogging, Getting Results, New Media, Planning & Goal Setting

Julie & Julia: New Media Success Story

3 Comments 07 September 2009

Julia photo

Just got back from watching the “Julie & Julia” movie with Andy. Two inspiring tales of paralleling perseverance in ages of “new media” – that’s my summary. (The movie was brilliantly done, in my opinion.)

One of my favorite lines from the movie was later in the movie when Paul (husband to Julia Child) said to Julia, in the depths of her woe over her manuscript rejection: “You can teach cooking in our kitchen…you CAN teach cooking on television.” (Keep in mind, TV was still a “new media” – and cooking shows were unheard of.) Julia was completely taken aback – but she also believed it possible. Julia Child made her own game from the moment she pursued doing something she loved instead of just something culturally acceptable. Julia was a game-changer on so many levels – of the sort that Chris Brogan describes in Trust Agents.

And then there is Julie – the picture perfect example of what happens when an “average” person does something extraordinary. I would suggest that everyone is extraordinary – we just don’t always find our passion. We don’t always have that fire to pursue our dreams, to do what we love, to find our fire and go with it at all costs. But Julie didn’t know anything about blogging or technology or even anything extraordinary about her topic. But she set a goal that had to do with something she LOVED, and then she mustered discipline and determination and was willing to share her journey with the world. And she wrote and wrote and wrote. She wrote transparently and honestly. She had success – and she had strife. And she wrote. Authentically. A real person.

Julie and Julia are both loved for their authenticity. Julia Childs wasn’t afraid to mess-up or spill or even fail on the camera. Julie wasn’t afraid to have a “melt-down” on her blog. Nor did either hold back their successes and joys – the celebrations were euphoric and contagious. Human. So very human.

Julie’s story can be your story. Just with a different passion attached. New Media – like blogging, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, etc. give you an opportunity to do something extraordinary, to be “found” and to earn a living on the coattails of something you LOVE. You don’t really have to KNOW anything more than how to be human and willing to develop a discipline and perseverance for the long haul.

If you’re willing to be very human – you too can be a “New Media Success Story.”

Photo Credit: Rakka


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About Marianna Chapman

For the past 15 years, Marianna Chapman has been creating game-changing big ideas resulting in big returns for dozens of businesses and communities across the U.S.

Today, Marianna and her team help business and non-profit clients at Big Idea Company, Inc., writes the Results Revolution blog, serves as Executive Editor for Eat Cities, LLC media outlets, and is a frequent speaker to national and regional conferences.

Marianna is a professional problem solver and rainmaker for hire.

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