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How Content Marketing Will Keep You From Being Eaten Alive

If you pay even a little attention to marketing, you see and hear the endless buzz about content. If you pay a great deal of attention to marketing, you probably get it and know why it’s so important. If not, you absolutely need to start right now, and here’s why.

Your Business is Irrelevant

Don’t take that the wrong way. I don’t mean irrelevant in the sense that it has no importance. I mean it in the sense that it doesn’t matter what business you’re in ­– you must have a content marketing strategy – if you don’t want to become irrelevant.

Why? Because content is the bridge between you and your potential customers. Anybody can build a relationship with an existing customer with a little effort. But what about all the people you’re trying to reach?

What’s going to inspire them to try you out? How do they know they can trust you? What do they know about you, and is it accurate? Content is the answer – and it’s the bridge you need to build.

Andrew Davis, one of the most influential content marketers in the world, puts it this way: “Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.” You can’t get much more direct than that.

Build It, They Won’t Come

No matter what business you’re in, you can’t rely only on the ‘Build it and they will come’ philosophy. Sure, many will come by word of mouth – eventually. But is that really your plan? To take as long as possible to build your business?

You might have the best service business or have some of the best widgets available to man, but if nobody knows, it’s moot.

“Oh, they know about us!” you exclaim. “We run product ads on Facebook all the time, and we have a website that tells all about us.”


Sure, maybe you’re a step ahead of your competitor who doesn’t have a website, but there are a dozen competitors – or a hundred – who are going to eat your lunch because they understand content marketing. Because they understand that…

It’s Not About You

We all know the sales analogy of the radio station everyone listens to: WIIFM. What’s In It For Me? That’s what people want to know. You can’t drone on about how great you are all the time, because very few people care. What they really want to know is how you can help them solve their problems.

How many times have you seen an ad on TV, online, or in print that shows other people just like you, using the product? Or talking about the product and how it helped them. Why do you think testimonials are so popular? Because, as the seller, you have no credibility.

Not to sound harsh, but your credibility comes from other people, not from you. Every company will say they’re the best, have the best service, blah, blah. But when other customers tell you, then it’s real.

Go to the App Store or Google Play Store. Everything there has real reviews by real people. Facebook pages have reviews. Websites have reviews. Yelp, TripAdvisor, GlassDoor and Angie’s List, and many other websites all exist because of this concept. Reviews are everywhere and for a reason. In sales, it’s called Third Party Credibility, and it works.

What’s Your Poison?

Testimonials are only one type of content, but they are one of the most powerful by far. You have to work for them. You have to build relationships, then ask for them.

So, you have a few testimonials, now what? There are many, many ways to get your content in front of the masses. Social media, your website, Google Ads, landing pages, click funnels, local advertising, case studies, and articles, to name a few.

Some will make more sense than others for your business, depending on your audience. But whichever you choose, your content is the construction crew that builds the bridge to your audience.

The content you use must tell the story of what you do, as well as why and how you do it. If you can tell that story through other people, even better. Those other people aren’t trying to sell anything to your audience – but they will. They’re just talking about what you did for them and why you’re great.

It’s Still Not About You – Giving it Away

Another important aspect to content marketing may strike some people as completely counter-intuitive: giving away your expertise for free.

Another well-known expression from the world of sales is “Like, Trust, Buy.” People have to like you and trust you before they will buy from you. When you give away knowledge (via your content), people begin to trust you as an authority.

For example, let’s imagine a company that sells office copiers/printers. They have a blog on their website, and every post gets shared to their Facebook page. They constantly post short, upbeat articles about how to get the most bang for your buck from your copier, ways to get the best color, how to troubleshoot common issues, etc.

You might argue that they are missing service calls by solving those problems. But what if you’re the customer? I can tell you what I think if it’s me – I like it! On one hand, I appreciate not having to wait on a tech to come next Wednesday (while my equipment is down), and I also begin to appreciate that they are so knowledgeable and helpful to their customers. They actually care.

Why would I think of switching to anyone else? If they were all about themselves and charging me for service calls, I wouldn’t be a happy camper.

When you put yourself in the customer’s shoes and figure out how to help them, you build trust and loyalty.

Bridge Construction Ahead

There’s an old expression that goes: “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today.”

What does your content say about you? Here’s a one-minute exercise: put yourself in your potential customers’ shoes and ask why they should do business with you. Do they feel like they know you? What are other customers saying? Are there any reviews? Do they like you? Can they trust you?

If you aren’t using content as part of your marketing strategy, don’t wait another day. Bridges take time to build, but there’s no better time than today.

You’re Killing Me: Five Phone Battery Tips for the Older Generation

Every advance in technology can seem like a two-edged sword: For the young and tech-adept, it’s like a Christmas stocking, full of new and exciting possibilities. For the older generation, it can often seem like a big virtual lump of coal.

Although mobile technology isn’t new by modern standards, each improvement can seem light-years ahead of the last. One of the most common frustrations for the ‘mobile-unfriendly’ crowd is battery life.

While it may seem simple, even amusing to the younger generation, it could have serious consequences for the elderly in an emergency. Here are the five biggest culprits – and what to do about them.

Disclaimer: keep in mind that the terminology used below may vary among phone manufacturers.

Timeout – It’s Not Just for Kids

There is a setting on your phone called Timeout or Auto-Lock, usually under Display Settings, that determines how long the phone stays “lit up” after you lay it down (assuming you don’t turn it off on purpose). Decreasing this time will do wonders for battery life.

If you check email or use Facebook frequently, chances are pretty good you’re using your phone much more than you think. According to an NBC report, the average Facebook user checks their account 14 times per day. And that was in 2013!

Imagine laying your phone down 14 times a day without turning off the display. Decreasing the setting from 10 minute to one minute would save over two hours of battery every day.

Look on the Bright Side

Your phone’s brightness is another greedy, power-grabbing monster. Unless you need full brightness to have enough contrast to read, try adjusting the brightness down to where it’s good enough, but still not an eye strain.

Think of it like a light bulb on a dimmer switch. All smartphones have one, and yours could be acting like a little Dennis the Menace, mocking you every time you lose power.

Photo credit: Click for more tips

Another component of brightness is the Theme settings on many mobile devices. Some have darker backgrounds than others, and that’s what to look for. Any Theme settings that have more white or light colors will use more power, while darker colors use much less.

Snipe Hunting: Wi-Fi & BlueTooth

Remember taking the gullible kid Snipe hunting when you were young? If you happen to be younger and reading this, a Snipe is a fictitious animal, and Snipe hunting is a practical joke. If you get invited, don’t go. It’s kind of like cow-tipping, only more fun and much safer. Snipes don’t weigh much.

While you may not be sure exactly what a BlueTooth is, these two settings, if turned on, are constantly on the hunt for a signal from another gadget, trying to connect. Just like the elusive Snipe – whether it’s there or not, your phone’s going hunting. If you don’t know what those settings are, or you aren’t using them, turn them off.

Can We Still Be Friends?

Do you use Facebook? Or – if you like the trend of turning nouns into verbs when they aren’t – Do you Facebook? Believe it or not, the Facebook App is a major power-hog. Simply deleting the app from your phone will give your battery a big boost if you’re a heavy user.

Now, don’t get excited. You don’t need to break up with your friends. You can still use Facebook. Just use it from your internet browser instead. You can bookmark your Facebook home page and even save it to your home screen so it looks like an app – and you can still get notifications from your friends. They will Like you for it.

Absolute Power Corrupts

You’ve heard the expression: Power corrupts; Absolute power corrupts absolutely.  It’s no different with your phone. Try switching to Low Power mode, sometimes called Power-Saving mode. This nifty little feature is like a guard dog – it does nothing until it’s needed – then it springs into action.

When your battery reaches a certain level, usually around 20%, this mode shuts off non-essential features that may be draining your battery. Even better, you can go to Settings and tell it when it should activate, like 25% or 10%. It’s like being able to program your guard dog to bark only when you want – instead of every passing car and cat.

Of course, there are many other ways to increase battery life, but the biggest bang for your buck will come from these most common energy thieves.

Parting Words

Before we part, there’s one last thing: As trivial as it may seem to be concerned about battery life, remember that in an emergency situation, your phone could be your only lifeline.

If you can’t figure out how to change your phone’s settings, don’t be ashamed to ask a young whippersnapper for some help. They’ll be happy to show you how smart they are. Do you recall the expression: Pride goeth before the fall?  Don’t be too proud to ask for help.

‘Nuff said.

If you want to get crazy-obsessed with battery life, go here. Or here.



0-1nternet of Things, Where Art Thou?

For many who live on the cutting edge of technology, the possibilities that abound with the Internet of Things (IoT) are endless fodder for all-night conversations – or all day for that matter. Don’t believe it? Just pop into any coffee house at a tech college campus, find a table with a few IT or Robotics students and bring it up. You’ll have giddy conversation flowing faster than mocha caffé lattes in no time. (more…)

Life Skills Roadmap – All Roads Connect To Self-Esteem

When we talk about life skills in the ATA, (Honesty, Self-Esteem, Discipline, Communication, etc.) it’s interesting to me how much they overlap. Not only the foundational six life skills that we focus on at ATA, but (more…)

Small Business vs Big Box: 6 Ways You Can Compete

In an age where is seems Big Box chains seem to be getting bigger, it can be a struggle for small businesses to keep up. The reasons are no mystery. Among other things these are the top three:

Pricing. Big Box stores have access to better pricing because of larger purchases. Sure, the small business can often buy larger quantities and get better pricing too. But they often don’t have the shelf space or cash flow to justify the larger purchase needed to get the pricing they wantIt’s also a known fact that some big chain stores use their size advantage to put pressure on (read: bully) their vendors for better pricing in order to keep their contracts.

The Leadership Hub

Note to readers: Articles on Leadership published here are for actual use in a leadership program I teach at my Martial Arts school in Salem, MO. I currently have 50 students, and growing.

What is Leadership?

Leadership is pretty all-encompassing word, and doesn’t lend itself to a quick, one line definition. The simplest definition I’ve come across goes something like this: Leadership is the ability to persuade a group of people voluntarily to do a certain thing. I inserted the word ‘voluntarily’ myself. I believe if others follow your lead involuntarily, that’s not good leadership – it’s authoritarian rule.

Of course, that definition leaves a lot to be desired when you consider the qualities that make up a great leader. That’s what this class is all about – developing leadership qualities in others. To do that, we have to think about a whole list of personality traits, and develop each of them in ourselves.

The Leadership Wheel

An analogy I like to use, which I adapted from a different article I wrote on self-esteem is the ‘Hub and Spoke’ analogy. Think of a bicycle wheel, where you have the Hub in the center, and the spokes that go out from there to the rim. Leadership is the hub, and the spokes are the characteristics that support it: Communication, Confidence, Integrity, Trust, Vision, etc.

The wheel can still work without having all the spokes in place, but not well. At some point, it breaks down and fails. Likewise, spokes that are weak will have the same effect. Using that analogy, good leadership that will endure and be effective must have all the spokes in place.

To get a better idea, take any one spoke in the Leadership Wheel and break it, bend it or remove it and see what happens. As an example, let’s look at communication. What if communication within your team breaks down because it’s unclear, ambiguous, one-way, or doesn’t even exist? What do you think would happen?

If the Leader is unclear or ambiguous in communicating, people may go in the wrong direction. That can lead to failures, bottlenecks, inefficiency and frustration among the troops. Then the whole thing begins to fall apart.

How Many Spokes Does a Wheel Need?

Some may say, “Just enough to keep it rolling.” Sure, you could have a wheel with only three spokes, but they would need to be pretty stout. A failure of any one of the three would cause a complete failure. In reality, the more spokes, the better, because where some spokes may be weaker, others nearby help bear the load.

Likewise, with Leadership, a growing leader may be lacking in certain areas, but if the other needed character traits are in place, it’s easier to overlook the imperfection.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but a few key traits necessary to good leadership include:

  • Communication
  • Trust
  • Integrity
  • Empathy
  • Vision
  • Persuasiveness/Influence
  • Confidence
  • Humility
  • Rapport
  • Credibility
  • Commitment
  • Charisma
  • Self-Discipline
  • Flexibility

These are only a few, and each trait carries with it another list of traits that help to define it. According to renowned author John C. Maxwell, Leadership has five distinct levels, and 21 Irrefutable Laws which leaders should not break. Maxwell has written several books on the subjects of Leadership and personal growth, all solidly rooted in his experience in leading and growing people and organizations over many decades.

As we move forward, we will look at each of these important areas of leadership, their relationship to the other traits, and how we can begin to develop them in ourselves and others.