Facebook Start to Success ProgramYou’d like to spend less on your Facebook Ad campaigns and get more out of them, right? Of course you would. :)

So, let’s focus on the “spend less” portion in this post. I’ve been meeting with an Account Manager and Client Partner at Facebook in recent weeks, and regardless of whether you’re running cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-impression (CPM) campaigns, there’s one mistake that advertisers make which drives up their costs for absolutely no good reason.

Just one of the benefits of our new partnership with Facebook through the “Start to Success” program is insider information like this, which we get to share with you! To make it as easy as possible, I break down the details in one minute flat in the video embedded below. (Can’t see it? Check it out on YouTube, and subscribe to our channel while you’re there, will ya?)

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Dreaming is at the heart of disruption. - Whitney Johnson

“Dreaming is at the heart of disruption.” Whitney Johnson, at #Inbound13 last month. Need a little (or a big!) shake-up in your business, or in your personal life? That’s what we’re talking about. Here’s a deeper dive into the whole dreaming thing, courtesy of the 31 Days of Possibility. Dream it first. That’s how the most powerful moves you make in your world ever get started.

So…what are YOU dreaming about? And what are you doing about it?

Finding the Opportunities Within Your ChallengesHow do you quantify the marketing ROI of a $40 late fee on a video rental that turns into a $4 billion business with more than 2,000 employees?

That’s the story of the founding of Netflix, and of entrepreneur Reed Hastings, who started the company after getting hit with that fee on a video rental of Apollo 13.

In the aftermath of a presentation on the business value of “The Unmeasurable” (delivered as part of a “Back to Business” workshop put on by Constant Contact), Epiphanies, Inc. co-owner and Ally in Possibility Allen Voivod encourages YOU to look at everything that happens in your business – good, bad, or indifferent – as a potential opportunity for you.

Maybe they won’t all turn out to be opportunities, but the more you open your mind to thinking in this way, the more likely you’ll be able to create opportunities for yourself where no one else could have seen them. Watch it, and train your brain!

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“What if…”

A 60-Day Juice Fast? Why the heck not. #Aha60That’s the whisper I heard in my gut last night as I slurped the last bit of my fourth juice of the day, a tomato-celery-rainbow peppers-carrot-parsley-lemon concoction I threw together as Allen read the fifth Harry Potter to our sons for the nightly bedtime reading ritual.

It was the end of my second day of consuming nothing but fruits and veggies churned out of my Breville juicer. I had planned on juicing for a day or maybe three, just to jumpstart a few other health goals I was putting into place. As always, the changes were a desperate effort to reverse the ridiculous 20 lb. weight gain I experienced after destroying my ACL and tearing my meniscus in February…

PLUS the 20 lb. weight gain that hitched a ride with my hips and buttocks as I forayed into motherhood…

Not to mention the soul-crushing 40 lb. weight gain I earned with impressive panache in my 20s.

But last night, when a few bold thoughts were vying for my attention, I heard – and felt – something different.

“What if I just commit to this crazy 60-day juice fast adventure? Heck, I like juicing. I’ve made it 11 days straight before, and I’m already two days into the game. Why not just do this thang?!” 

I checked in with myself and couldn’t find the usual scoff, or the fear, or the list of reasons objecting to such an arguably radical and slightly unconventional approach to change and transformation.

Nowhere in my gut was the drama or hesitation to such a “preposterous” idea.

In fact, all I could see, feel, and imagine was this head-smacking clarity of the choice, bolstered by an onslaught of benefits:

  • Swift and healthy weight loss (!!!! Woohoo!!!!)
  • Clear thinking
  • Full-throttle detoxification
  • Radiant skin
  • Increased energy
  • Feeding and flushing my cells with a glorious deluge of micronutrients
  • Reprogramming my mind, body, and taste buds to embrace and flourish with rock star nourishment once and for all
  • Achieving all the above and more in just Two. Short. Months.

Truth be told, I thought the experience, the whole unpredictable two-month experiment itself, sounded downright FUN.

Then I realized the best thing about this budding adventure.

Maybe, just maybe, I could inspire a few others along the way. After all, I’ve got this “A-Ha!” Blog, 1,300+ pals on Facebook, 300+ folks on Instagram, 1000+ peeps on Pinterest, and nearly 30K amigos on Twitter.

Throw in some wonderful connections on LinkedIn, Google+, and our various Epiphanies, Inc. social channels with the magic of algorithmic serendipity, and surely my journey will reach and positively impact at least a handful of seekers, dreamers, dieters, and doers.

Those of us who wrestle with weight do so much of it in our own private dungeons of doom. When we feel brave, bold, or even depleted and depressed enough to start poking around the Internet for answers, inspiration, hope, or possibilities, sometimes the most unexpected blip can become the spark that lights our fire toward fat freedom. I, personally, have spent hours and hours looking at myriad hashtag threads and Pinterest Boards for tips, stories, and fodder that might, somehow, nudge me in the right direction, and ideally serve as the catalyst for deep and lasting change.

I truly want to experience my life in a healthy, fit body.

The years of fight and misery around this area have been a doggone drag, and I’m sick of it all. For the first time in a long, long time, I can see a pathway to the next phase of my gig on Earth. My youngest has just started kindergarten. My knee’s mostly back in commission from April’s ACL surgery, which means I can hike again, do more than the stationary bike at the gym, and get back to my perfectly imperfect yoga practice. I’m not going on any big business trips during the next two months, and the high-calorie holiday season is outside of the 60-day Juice Zone.

Thus, the time has, at long last, finally arrived.

My Commitment, to Me and to You

Day by day, I will buy the produce, prep the produce, juice the produce, drink the produce, and clean the juicer.

I will exercise, sleep well, and laugh on a daily basis, meditate often, and do yoga at least twice a week.

I will take what I learned in Fat, Sick, and Nearly DeadForks Over KnivesFood MattersHungry for Change, and so many other passionate health documentaries and resources and apply it all to my exquisite reinvention.

Finally, I’ll share the journey in, on, and around my social-sphere with pictures, videos, updates, posts, and tweets, and let anyone interested peek into the process as they choose.

I’m on Day 3. The next 57 1/2 days will surely be a breeze… ;)

 

 

 

 

HubSpot Inbound Marketing Conference“Inbound marketing” – according to Wikipedia, it’s “advertising a company through blogs, podcasts, video, eBooks, e-newsletters, whitepapers, SEO, social media marketing, and other forms of content marketing.”

HubSpot, the marketing software company based in Cambridge, MA, has been espousing the gospel of Inbound Marketing for many years, and this week, they held their annual Inbound conference for more than 5,000 trailblazers, marketers, and tech mavens. Featuring marketing pioneer Seth Godin, Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington, The Signal and the Noise author Nate Silver, and more than 100 other speakers, the event spanned four days and trended on Twitter for most of the event.

Our own Lani Voivod attended as the guest of HubSpot’s Lane Sutton, and captured some of the big ideas from this conference in a series of Instagram and Twitter photos, and rounded them all up in this rockin’ Animoto video, “The #Inbound13 Experience.” (Click to watch here if you can’t see the embedded video!)

 

 

If you want a closer look at the images used to create this video (and the quotes from some of these incredible speakers), check out the #Inbound13 Storify wrap-up that Lani created just for you!

Old School Social Networking

Old School Social Networking – Rolodex by James Roach on Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

New businesses are being started by the thousands, every day. And each and every one of those businesses starts with a social media presence at zero.

Nowhere to go but up, right?

Except sometimes it is SLOOOOOOOOOOOOW going, getting your social ramped up. And…that’s okay. Numbers for the sake of numbers? Sure, there’s something to be said for the credibility that a bigger number gets you. But a smaller, engaged community giving you great word of mouth, and spreading the news about you, is going to be much more valuable in the long run.

And speaking of smaller, engaged communities, here’s the truth. These days, NO ONE starts a social media presence at zero.

Why?

Because most of us already have networks. Most of us already have them easily at our fingertips, via LinkedIn and Facebook. Or, if you’re old school, in your Outlook contacts. Or if you’re REALLY old school, in the Rolodex.

Mari Smith and Mchael StelznerI’ve probably assembled this memory from three or four different encounters, but I remember being in Mari Smith‘s living room a couple years ago, listening to Michael Stelzner talk about the founding of Social Media Examiner. They currently have more than 220,000 subscribers, it’s the #1 or #2 social media focused blog in the world, and it also started from zero.

But Michael had a network. He used it to get the word out about his new venture. And not only that, he tapped a smaller set of people to be his “Firestarters” – experts with their own circles of influence, who agreed to guest blog and widely share with their own networks in the early days of Social Media Examiner.

And he’s no different than you or me. He doesn’t have some rare genetic quality, inexplicable magic, or superheroic mutation that made it possible.

That’s important. So let’s say it again, together.

He’s no different than you or me.

The only thing different from where he is and where you are is that he took the actions that made his success happen. And as he said in that living room – nearly two years ago to this day, actually – any of us could do what he did.

So, here’s what to do, if you’re launching your business from scratch:

1. Tap your networks to help you get the word out when you launch, and as you hit big milestones.

2. ID the big influencers in your network, who also have large networks of their own.

3. Make it worth their while for those influencers to become your Firestarters – the ones who will spread the word far and wide, over and over. And don’t hesitate to do the same for them.

Now, a word about ID’ing your influencers. And what I’m about to say, I say with a grain of salt. Klout and Kred are by no means perfect in terms of identifying influencers. BUT…a brief analogy. You might ask Google to give you a list of keywords to consider for an ad campaign. And when Google does, you’d go through that list, and say, “Yeah, that’s a good one” to one, and “No, that’s completely off base” to another, and so on. Use Klout and Kred the same way, to get a first-level list that you can review to find the best fit for your purposes.

Remember, you never really start at zero. If you find yourself falling into that mental trap, remind yourself of what you do have. Then put your bountiful blessings and assets to work.

Powerball - A Great Website FAQ ExampleZen proverbs? Imaginary dragons? A deep meditation on the number 19?

You’ll find it all on the Powerball website.

This is a story of how every single webpage – even your FAQs – give you the opportunity to make an emotional brand connection with your audience, and factor into your website and content marketing strategy.

But first, a brief prologue.

There have a couple of REALLY big Powerball jackpots this summer, and we finally joined in the frenzy and bought a few tickets. In the process of checking to see whether we’d won (we hadn’t – darnit), and being the curious type, I started poking around their site.

On their FAQs, I stumbled into this:

Greetings Gentle Reader,

“Gentle Reader?” From the “Multi-State Lottery Association”? Really?! I’m already intrigued. And then I scan down the page, and find these examples of dry-witted, laugh-out-loud surprises:

 MY NUMBERS ARE: XX-XX-XX-XX-XX-XX; DID I WIN?

I can’t check numbers for a million folks a week. You can check your numbers on the web site. Teach a man to fish. Please go to: http://www.powerball.com/powerball/pb_numbers.asp

YOUR ODDS / PROBABILITIES ARE WRONG.
Are not.

HOW COME THE ONLY JACKPOT WINNERS ARE FROM THE [EAST - WEST - NORTH - SOUTH - CITIES - RURAL AREAS]? HOW COME ONLY [WHITE, BLACK, TALL, SKINNY, YOUNG, OLD] PEOPLE WIN?

Powerball is a random game that knows nothing about who buys a ticket or where a ticket is purchased. There really is no white/black/old/young/rich/poor, etc. button on the machine.

DO POWERBALL TICKETS EXPIRE?
Yes. The Universe is decaying and nothing lasts forever. Ticket expiration periods vary from state to state – from 90 days to one year.

I’m excerpting from longer (and percentage-wise, mostly serious) answers, but c’mon…isn’t this great? How often do you come across stuff like this? I’m guessing this is the work of their Executive Director, Charles Strutt, who has a pretty amazing bio. And his further responses to real letters are even more hysterical – and where you’ll find the “Zen,” “dragon,” and “19″ items mentioned at the start of the post.

So, back to their FAQ page: It’s human, it’s helpful, and it’s got personality to burn. It’s everything an FAQ page should be. Check it out, and then go back and look at your own FAQ page – if you have one. And ask yourself,

“How could I have a little more fun with this, and use this as another chance to better engage my site visitors, reinforce my brand, and deliver another useful and effective call-to-action for my products and services?”

Or, check it out just for their answer to this: “Is there secret to improve your chance of winning Powerball?”

There is…and they’re happy to share it, while prefacing it with, “But you have to promise to keep the secret – called THE BIG SECRET TO WINNING POWERBALL — between you and me.”

Geek Summer Camp at Dyn, Inc.What happens when you put hundreds of bright minds together to talk about Internet infrastructure – speed, optimization, scaling, redundancy, security, email delivery, IP addresses, innovation, and the culture of tech companies?

You get the incredible inaugural event known as Geek Summer Camp. (#geeksummercamp, for you hashtaggers out there.)

On August 7-8, Manchester, NH tech star Dyn, Inc. brought together clients, partners, and folks from the across the tech industry for a two-day summit, and made it ridiculously fun by turning their office space into a campground, complete with campfire, tetherball, mess hall, clotheslines, and even “trees” (they printed giant, hi-res pictures of birch tree trunks to wrap around the office building’s support pillars).

As conferences go, this one had tremendous information AND tremendous visuals, and thanks to the magic of Storify, Twitter, Instagram, and crowdsourced posts from attendees, speakers, panelists, and the Dyn team, here’s your window into the first of what we hope will be many more Geek Summer Camps to come.

 

Reed Hastings, Netflix, and Negative Serendipity

Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO of Netflix, by Ben Lucier on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Getting charged $40 in late fees doesn’t sound like a serendipitous event.

In fact, let’s double-check the definition: Serendipity, noun. Accidental, desirable discovery. Doesn’t sound like late fees qualify.

But serendipity doesn’t always come in a positive package. It comes in negative ones, too. In this case, the $40 in late fees were charged, once upon a time, to Reed Hastings. (That’s him in the spotlight, as the co-founder and CEO of Netflix.) Any guesses as to what the late fees were charged for?

If you said “overdue video rentals,” you’re right on the money. And this accidental, un-desirable discovery got him thinking along the lines of, “Why can’t you rent videos like you go to the gym, and get charged a monthly fee regardless of your usage?”

$40 in late fees. That was the genesis of Netflix. Jump forward 15 years, and Netflix is a $3 billion company, with more than 2,000 employees. Last week, they broke new ground by becoming the first providers of original, online-only web television series to receive nominations for the Primetime Emmy Awards – 14 total nominations for 3 separate shows.

Don’t let your most powerful, potential-ripe moments of serendipity slip by, just because they don’t look the way you expect them to look.

Had a “negative” serendipitous moment in your own life or biz? Please share it!

Agents of Change Conference

At the 2012 Agents of Change Conference. Clockwise from top left: Conference host and presenter Rich Brooks; Lani and Allen with Amy Porterfield; Allen with Elijah R. Young; Lani with Chris Brogan and Rob Hatch of Human Business Works.

What do you think? Is attending conferences your thing? Have you cut down or ramped up on attending in recent years?

Here’s our take. We’re choosy about which ones we attend, and we do our best to make the most of them to boost our own business. For example:

1. We post, tweet, and get pics and video, using the event hashtag for maximum visibility and networking, as well as sharing the best of what we learn with our own social media channels.

2. Speaking of networking, we either know who we want to meet in advance, or we go in with the intention of meeting exactly the people we need to meet…and make it happen!

3. We consider professional development to be one of the most important investments in our business. With business evolving as rapidly as it does now, small businesses that do their own marketing may need to spend more on marketing training than they spend on the actual marketing tactics.

Last year, we had the pleasure of attending the first-ever Agents of Change Conference, and we were so happy with the experience that we’re going again this year. Early bird tickets are on sale now through August 1, and you can either attend in-person or online with a digital all access pass. The lineup is bigger and covers a wider spectrum of topics than last year, and after looking at the list of currently confirmed presenters and attendees, we can tell it’s going to be a fabulous sophomore year.

Join us for the Agents of Change Conference on September 20th in Portland, Maine, and if you can’t make it in person, grab that digital pass option, and look for us waving into a camera at you!