business storytelling PR for small business

Three Steps to Getting Your Business Noticed with a Polarizing Point of View

blog 10.22


Earlier this week I was working with a client on messaging and storytelling, and she asked me an incredibly astute question.

“How do I NOT sound like all the other coaches out there?”

My immediate response came down to a few things, but the most significant one was that she had to share her strong opinions about what’s wrong with the conveyor belt type of coaching where people are just a number.

There’s a million and one ways you could be noticed, but hands down, the fastest way to get noticed is to have a polarizing point of view. To be the one that says the thing that everyone’s thinking or that at least your tribe has running through their minds. That’s the best way to go about getting your business noticed.

If you’re worried about pissing people off, don’t be. Trend Watching declared the “Brand Stand” as the trend to innovate with and profit from in 2015. The Brand Stand is about brands starting innovative, contentious and necessary conversations.

The Brand Stand doesn’t just help you stand out. Consumers believe brands should speak out. 73% of Millennials believe that businesses should share a point of view.

So while you may turn off some possible buyers (who aren’t the right fit for your business anyways), the payoff will be be much greater in terms of attracting the right customers and helping you avoid being obscure.

The Brand Stand, or as I call it in the Story Distillery Process, Getting Bold and Brazen (or the Polarizing Point-of-View), is a big part of your business’ story. It speaks to your brand’s heart and character as much as sharing your story or that of your customers.

Here’s how to be polarizing and make it a positive for your business:

Step #1: Get Comfortable with Sharing Your Opinion

You may be thinking, “No way, I’m not like THAT.”

But I’m willing to bet you believe in something when it comes to your business. I mean, clearly there’s some chutzpah lurking deep within you because, hello, if you wanted to do things the easy way, what are you doing running your own business?

Did you start a business for everyone to like you? Are you worried about people not liking you? What’s at the root of you not wanting to share your opinion?

Yeah, I get it. Especially if you’ve ever been branded a loudmouth, ball buster, or any other assorted things because you were willing to voice your opinions. (I totally relate, I’ve been called ALL of the above, and then some.)

If you’re in this to succeed, get comfy with your opinion and get okay with people not agreeing with you. It’s okay for people to not agree with you, and it’s not personal.

Diversity of opinion is necessary and needed. It’s up to you to speak up.

A few people I think do a great job of sharing opinions (even if you totally disagree) are: Paul Jarvis, Natalie MacNeil and Courtney Johnston. You’ll notice it’s not all dramatic, but they have a clear point of view on what they do share and there’s no guesswork about where they stand.

Step #2: Be Clear on What You Do Stand For

Once you’re ready to take a stand, you need to spend some time getting clear on what exactly it is you stand for.

Because here’s the thing. You can’t just pick something that you’re lukewarm on. Or something for the sake of choosing something. That shit won’t fly.

To be effective and capture attention, you need to have fire in your belly. You need to have a real, true belief in what you’re saying, otherwise no one is going to buy it.

Get clear on what pisses you off or what needs to change and what you want you/your brand to be known for.

On the flip side, don’t try to own all the issues. Carefully curate a few things, stick to a theme and make sure it’s aligned with your brand. Too many brand stands and you’re doing more harm than good.

Step #3: Make it Productive (And Not Crazy Ass Ranting)

Don’t let your brand stand devolve into the equivalent of angry girl teen angst where you’re listening to Rage Against the Machine or Nine Inch Nails all the time and hating the world.

That much anger or hostility isn’t good for you, and it’s not good for your business either. When you’re picking what you stand for, focus on how you can not only discuss the issue, but how you can be part of the solution.

By proposing solutions, sharing new ideas and owning the issue, you’re creating real change and not just being a big old complainer.

A prime example of this is a couple years ago, I wrote a post on 5 Ways to Ditch the Press Release which got a lot of attention, so much so that one of the leading PR Newswires was threatened and wrote a response post. That post was effective because it wasn’t pointless ranting, but offered productive alternatives.

Ready to Take Your Brand Stand?

The Marketing Makeover Starts Monday October 26th!

Marketing Makeover FB Ad Graphics2 (1) blog

So, are you ready to take your brand stand? Good news, I’ve teamed up with my friend and mentor Natalie MacNeil for a FREE 4 part training next week (Starting Monday October 26th) called The Marketing Makeover.

It’s 4 days, 4 mini lessons including a discussion and worksheet on the brand stand. We will give you an honest look at key things you need to do to grow your business, and actionable strategies to make it happen. Plus you get lots of inside scoop on what’s working for our businesses and what we really think about many things in the online business world. (And it’s short – no messing around – 10 minutes a day and you’re done!)

Sign up for the Marketing Makeover now.

email marketing marketing strategy PR for small business

7 Email Marketing Secrets for Your Small Business

blog 8.27

Email is one of those things on our marketing to-do list that can make you wonder if you really should be doing it.

When we’re so focused on streamlining our email, getting to inbox zero, and moving our collaboration to tools like Basecamp or Slack, is there still a place for email?


Email isn’t going anywhere. Email is currently used by over half the world’s population, and according to McKinsey & Company, email conversion rates are three times higher than social media.

While you may personally be SO over email, not everyone else is. And if you’re going to spend time marketing at all, your email marketing absolutely needs to be in the mix. Sure, you can focus on social networks, but you’re building on someone else’s network, you don’t own the data and most of all, social networks come and go. (Remember MySpace?)

But if you’re going to “do” email marketing, you need to do it in a way that’s actually going to help you get results. The inbox is a competitive place, so if you’re going to show up there, you need to bring your A game.

Here are 7 pro email marketing secrets to help you create the kind of email marketing that sets you apart in the inbox:

#1. Your Opt-In Gift Solves a Real Problem

Quizzes, guides and checklists, oh my! There’s no shortage of freebies for people to sign up for on the Internet as they go about their day. But if you want your offer to be the one that seduces someone into handing over their precious email address, you need to offer something that solves a real problem they’re having.

When you go to create your opt-in gift, take the time to dive into what your audience really and truly needs, not just what’s easy for you to create. Spending time upfront to create something of value will help you connect with the right audience and help you build your list that much faster.

#2. You Don’t Love Em’ and Leave Em’

Truthfully, my biggest pet peeve is when I sign up for someone’s email list and then don’t hear from them until they have something to sell me. At the point that someone has raised their hand and signed up for your email list, you want to ensure that you’re going to continue to give them some time and attention.

This is where creating an email autoresponder – or as I like to call it, an orientation sequence – comes in. After you deliver your opt-in gift, you need a series of emails to help your new subscribers turn into part of your community by building the know, like and trust factor.

#3. You Show Up On Time Every Single Week

Email marketing thrives on consistency. Even if the idea of a schedule feels completely stifling to you, when it comes to your email it’s a must. Start by picking a set date and time each week that you’ll send out your emails.

We are all creatures of habit, and with email over time your readers will come to expect you in their inbox on a certain day. And that consistent delivery of quality content helps to breed brand recognition, familiarity with your content and, most of all, trust in what your business has to offer.  You may need to miss a week here or there, but setting a schedule and sticking to it is a must.

#4. Have a Good Opening Line

When your inbox is jammed full of messages, what do you do? You skim it, reading the senders and the subject lines. So to get your email opened, spend some time crafting your subject line.

Think of your subject line as the headline for your email: you need something that’s going to elicit interest and make someone pause as they skim their inbox.

Not sure where to start? First of all, keep is short. 50 characters or less is ideal. From there, play with personalization, urgency, asking questions, sharing benefits and more.

#5. Email is a Conversation

Hey you, boring email marketer. Cut it out or I’m going to delete you. And here we go, time to unsubscribe!

That’s exactly how things roll in my inbox. If I invite you into my inbox (aka my digital house), you owe it to me to not bore the crap out of me.

Email is a conversation. Show personality, speak to your reader on a one-to-one basis, and avoid the kiss of death – corporate speak!

[clickToTweet tweet=”Do this so your emails don’t get deleted. #emailmarketing” quote=”Do this so your emails don’t get deleted. #emailmarketing”]

#6. Exercise the 80/20 Rule

You may have heard the saying “the money is in the list,” but as I’ve explained in this post, it’s only in the list if you’re a good list host. And part of that deal is not abusing your list with an endless stream of promotional emails.

A good rule of thumb is to focus on delivering value-added, no strings attached content 80% of the time, and then only promoting 20% of the time. Let’s say you send an email every week of the year. That’s a total of 52 emails. With that in mind, you’d only be promoting to that same group in 10 of those emails. (I’m not counting launch specific emails here – that’s a whole different beast!)

#7. Learn What Your Readers Want

Unlike some other parts of our marketing that we can’t easily measure (podcast subscriber numbers, I’m looking at you), email marketing gives us a gold mine of data to work with. By keeping an eye on and analyzing this data, we can learn what our readers want more of from us.

Start by looking at your open rates. Is your open rate in line with what’s typical in your industry? (Check out this handy chart from MailChimp here.) Then look at your last 5 or 10 emails. What’s your open rate on each one? Which ones did better than others?

Then, if you want to take it up a notch, look at your click-through rate (CTR). What links are people clicking on in your emails? Are they going on to read your blog post, or check out your new service? Watch for trends over time with your CTR so you can continuously tweak your email content.

[clickToTweet tweet=”7 email marketing secrets to take the suck out of your emails – new blog post” quote=”7 email marketing secrets to take the suck out of your emails – new blog post”]

Use these 7 secrets to help make the most of your email marketing so you can deliver content that connects and converts into results for your business.

Business Strategy for Entrepreneurs customer experience marketing strategy PR for small business

The Real Secret of Running a Successful Online Business

blog 7.9

Friends, fellow entrepreneurs…lend me your eyeballs. For just a few minutes, and then you can get back to biz.

This hasn’t been an easy post to write. Not by a long shot, but it’s weighing on me. Literally nagging at me day after day after day. So here we go.

Something is seriously broken in our industry. I’ve written on this before and  shared my feelings about six figure talk, and it’s not about the money talk or sharing results, but rather, the fact we’re being conditioned like a bunch of mice in a science experiment to use that as our yardstick of success.

Don’t get me wrong, making six figures in your biz is a big deal. I know exactly how it feels to see it happen – having done it myself and for my clients.

But it’s a number. A number that may or may not work for you. Maybe your version of success is a $50K year or a $350K year. Whatever you want, decide for yourself and own it. This is your business, so don’t let it become a shorthand for how you measure success.

The truth is my six figures isn’t your six figures. I live in a town in rural Ontario, Canada. I likely have higher taxes, but an overall lower cost of living. I have socialized medicine by virtue of being Canadian and a husband with the Cadillac of benefits plans to cover the rest.

What’s worse than the fact that six figures is all relative is the fact that the six figure obsession in our industry has a dark side.

Cue the dramatic music. (I’m thinking some Star Wars Darth Vader type music would do nicely.)

There’s a laundry list of dark side issues, but here’s a few worth considering:

1. Six Figure “Success” is Quickly Becoming Meaningless

If you’re on Facebook, you know exactly what I’m talking about. When you do the newsfeed scroll you are inundated with promises of six figure success all day long.

Build your six figure social media business.
Create your six figure sales funnel NOW.
Learn how I made over $100K with this one marketing trick.

The list goes on and on and on. The real issue here is that even if you have real six figure success, this steady barrage of six figure promises devalues it. It makes us think that we can all ride in our our unicorns and party it up on our piles of sweet six figure cash that we made while we were sleeping.

This is SUCH a big challenge that as I’ve been writing a sales page for my new course (more on that coming soon), it took me days to be okay with pointing to some big client successes I’ve been a part of that are in the six figure zone. Quite frankly, it pisses me off that I need to labor over what are simple facts because I don’t want to be one of THOSE people.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m very proud to have been a part of these successes but owning that for my own marketing made me feel icky. Because six figure success is now a tired cliché.

I did decide to include them, but I crafted that copy with painstaking thought and detail so it made sense. This type of marketing preys on people and I’m unwilling to be a party to this. (We can see if I hit the mark when I launch in late August!)

There’s proof and then there’s promises. Often, I follow the trail to check out these people running ads with big fat promises and find out that they’re extremely thin on legit examples of who they’ve done this for.

Which brings me to my next point…

[clickToTweet tweet=”Six figure success talk is one big fat cliche. New blog post from @magspatterson” quote=”Six figure success talk is one big fat cliche. New blog post from @magspatterson”]

2. Real Success is a Pattern

Success isn’t one six figure year.

Or even creating your own six figure business.

What the true pattern of success is being able to do it again and again. It’s having the experience and skills to replicate that for your customers.  And six figures aren’t mandatory.

What’s more important than the money made is the concept of mastery. So much of our industry is based on the concept of “you need to only be a few steps ahead” thinking.

Sure, for some things that makes perfect sense, especially when we’re talking a new social platform or something that’s evolving all the time.

On the flip side, I’ve always had problems with this concept. And not because I think we need to know everything, but rather how this idea is taken to extremes. Being a step ahead doesn’t meant you can take a course or read a blog post and then turn around and regurgitate it all as an expert.

I’m all for moxie and being bold, but proclaiming to be the expert when you’re as fake as they come and sliding on shit does no one – most of all you –  any favors.

The intent behind being a few steps ahead is for you to internalize what you learn, then apply it, test it, tweak it and refine it over time, then share it.  And not just do it in your own biz. That’s too small of a sandbox to really figure out how to make something work, and it takes a narrow view of what success really is.

Do you need 10,000 hours? Probably not. But you need a lot more than 10 hours to be selling it as a service. If you’re new at something, get practice clients, beta your offering, then test and test and test some more.

Then you can point to consistent results. And consistency is the sweet spot in a world where half of small businesses fail.

As someone out there spending your money in this industry, pay attention to consistency as the mile marker.

Not the new person on the scene with one big launch that everyone’s celebrating, but the coach with 5 launches where you’ve seen them improve incrementally. Or the person with multiple successful businesses that’s quietly doing their thing in a way that’s to be admired.  Or the consultant you’ve been following forever that shows up in your inbox every Wednesday without fail.  Or the graphic designer who’s been creating amazing brands forever and is so good that her business is 100% referral based.

Those are the people to look to: the quiet leaders, the unsung heroes, the super solid people you’d be proud to call your friend. Not the latest overnight success story, IT girl or fast talking guru, as they will come and go.

The consistent ones may not be sexy, but they’ve mastered their craft and are the right people to help you create success that sticks for the long haul.

And if you’re not sure about where to invest your money, remember that…

3. People Tell Big FAT Lies on the Internet

You’re shocked, right? We all know that people lie on the Internet, which is why you can bet your bottom dollar that many of these people shilling their six figure fix/solution/magical potion to you via Facebook and other mediums are full of shit.

Don’t believe me? I had a rather eye-opening conversation with some entrepreneurial friends not that long ago. (Places and names obscured as I’m not here to out people or point fingers.) More than one example of trumped up success stories and promises were discussed and this is NOT the first conversation of this nature I’ve had. From grossly exaggerated income to out-and-out lies, it’s happening out there. ALL.THE.TIME.

There’s many reasons people lie about stuff, from a serious lack of integrity right through to feeling that this is how it’s done. Whatever the reason, it’s not okay. Any time you feel the need to stretch the truth or push beyond the limit of what’s actually true, please stop. (And if anyone tells you to do this – fire them immediately.)

The goal should always be the strongest verifiable claim. That is, the best evidence you have that you do what you say you’re going to do. Sure, polish it up and make it look good, but don’t cross the line.

For those of you that are now questioning your faith in the online business world, this isn’t meant to be alarmist.

It’s the Internet, people lie all the time – so it’s up to us to turn up the BS radar and figure out what’s what.  You’d do the same if you were online dating, right? So do yourself a favor and get a healthy dose of skepticism to protect your bank account and biz.

Embracing the dark side and being wise to it may seem unpleasant or negative, but the reality is it exists. It’s real. And it’s not going away.

If you’re going to succeed and do it on your own terms with an online business, you need to be aware of the dark side. That gives you the power to consciously choose to create something genuine and true as you work on running a successful online business. For you to not fall into the lure of those that choose to play this way.  The online world needs MORE people with high integrity and low BS.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Embracing the dark side of online biz from @magspatterson” quote=”Embracing the dark side of online biz from @magspatterson”]

PR for small business The Marketing Moxie Show

Episode #90: Kira Hug on Overcoming Fear with 30 Pitches in 30 Days

episode 90

Putting yourself out there can be nerve-racking and fill you up with fear. That’s why I couldn’t wait to have Kira Hug on the show to share a challenge she set for herself – pitching podcasts. Thirty of them in 30 days, in fact. She shares how she did it and how it helped her spread her wings.

Items Discussed in this Episode:

  • Kira pitched 30 podcasts in 30 days, she explains what really instigated this for her and how the process worked.
  • At some point, you have to stop focusing on your business crushes and start focusing on your own business.
  • Kira shares her biggest hang ups for her project and how she overcame them.
  • It’s easy to feel like you aren’t an expert and aren’t good enough to be interviewed, but once you do it you realize you have something to say.
  • Once you start building momentum, pitching becomes so much easier!
  • Kira gives the advice to start small-pitch a small number of smaller podcasts and pile up the wins to boost your confidence.
  • Your baby step may be to start your own show to hear your own voice and build your confidence before beginning to pitch yourself.
  • We all have people we look up to in our industry, and we tend to create a chasm between ‘us’ and ‘them’. This can block you from reaching out and building a relationship with them and helping each other.
  • Kira shares the biggest things she’s learned from going through the entire process.
  • The online market is ever changing, you can’t just create or do one thing and expect it to last forever. Keep coming up with new ideas, and if you fail, move onto the next!
  • Kira shares some of the biggest things you can do to get over the fear of pitching yourself as a podcast guest.
  • Be aware of the way you’re presenting yourself, but don’t pick yourself apart after the interview is over. Celebrate it and move on!

[clickToTweet tweet=”Pitching podcasts and busting through fear with @kirahug @magspatterson #marketingmoxie” quote=”Pitching podcasts and busting through fear with @kirahug @magspatterson #marketingmoxie”]

Top 3 Takeaways for this Episode:

  1. Sometimes you need to bust through the fear by setting a challenge. What’s one thing you can do in the next 3 days to get over a fear?
  2. Kira used a building block approach to her pitching and understands how to use each experience to build for the next. How can you increase your chances of success by taking steady action over time?
  3. Have you been interviewed lately? Be kind to yourself. Learn from each one and improve over time. Progress not perfection.

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Links for this Episode:

Link to Free Marketing Moxie Facebook Group

PR for small business The Marketing Moxie Show

Episode #71 – How Not to Pitch Yourself

FF-71-2 (1)

Pitching yourself can be scary, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it. If you’re going to do it – you want to do it in a way that you’ll be successful and from a place of understanding the real exchange that goes on.

Acting like you’re doing someone a favor or like you’re not worthy isn’t the right way to go about it – ever.

Items Discussed in this Episode:

  • How do you extend the invitation where you’re making the ask?
  • You want to make sure you come across in the best light when you’re trying for an opportunity
  • Do your homework, be smart, and make sure you know what your target actually needs
  • Don’t make the assumption that everyone wants you or that you’re doing them a favor
  • When getting your pitch together, be honest but very clear about what you can offer
  • Keep it short and sweet, people are busy!

Links for this Episode:

Guest Post Pitching Guide

Link to Free Marketing Moxie Facebook Group

PR for small business

PR for Small Business: Three Secrets You Can Steal from Big Brands

blog 1.22

The whole idea of figuring out PR for small business probably seems crazy intimidating. This is something that comes up so many times within my community as people struggle to feel confident pitching the media or even with where to get started.

That feeling is normal. And I actually think makes you BETTER at doing PR in the first place. Let me explain.

Back when I was starting out doing media relations, while I knew the “rules” after studying PR, I was green. Greener than green. And scared as hell. Literally every time I had to email, or worse yet, call a reporter, I wanted to barf. This isn’t a good thing for a person who was hired to handle media relations on a full-time basis, because talking to the media was my job.

As I’d sit in my cube trying to psych myself up to actually make the call, I’d start to sweat and then I’d get a wretched feeling in my mouth that was all kinds of nasty. Eventually I’d have to play a game with myself. If I make the 5 calls, I can do or have X.

You may be wondering why I was such a basket case? Surely I had the skills and training for what I was doing…and believe me I did. The entire thing was a head trip because I watched my colleagues swagger up to the phone, bust through their list and just get it done.

Me. I would research, read and then assess the best approach. I’d figure out how to pitch the story the best possible way. All that over thinking it was paralyzing but once the call was made, it produced better results. I didn’t get hung up on or told to go eff myself, which was an all too common occurrence.

My nerves, lack of confidence and/or sheer ability to procrastinate via research to avoid speaking on the phone turned out to be a major asset. Instead of blowing the pitch, I was able to land the interview or coveted story in the magazine du jour. I was able to channel it all into results, which is what clients want from their firm handling media relations.

After that, I went on to work with bigger brands with bigger stories and way fewer opportunities to screw things up. Because when the media relations person for monolith computer giant drops the ball, the media remembers.

As a small business, you can learn a lot from watching how big brands roll, especially when it comes to PR and promotion:

#1. Tighten The Message

If you’ve ever pitched anything to anyone you understand the importance of not only nailing the message but having it so tight that there’s absolutely no fluff. When you’re working with the media, you literally have seconds to get your point across.  Whether you’re pitching an idea to your local radio station or gearing up for an appearance on Good Morning America, your message should be tightened over and over again.

It may seem so basic, but big brands spend literally years and millions of dollars on seemingly simple messages. As a small business, you want to give your message the same time and attention the big players do.

If you’re not sure if it’s tight or simple enough, use what I call the grandma test. If you run this by your 87 year old grandma will she get the concept? It’s a good way to refine what you’re saying and get rid of jargon. Clear will always trump clever when it comes to working with the media.

[Tweet “Use the Grandma test for your messages says @magspatterson”]

#2. Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

One of the most common mistakes that small businesses make is focusing on only one type of PR outreach. The days of PR being all about just one tactic are long gone and you have a wide variety to choose from including media relations, guest blogging, speaking and social media.

It’s too easy to become focused on only tactic because we feel comfortable, but the reality is that by using only one way of promoting our business we’re missing out on so many other opportunities. Big Brands often make this look seamless, but months are spent every single year coordinating all the ins and outs of the PR plan from what types of media to work with, to how much to speak to what platforms to use. While you don’t have the big budget they’re working with, you definitely can steal their multi-channel strategy.

Focus on ensuring your promotion plan has at least two types of promotion going on at all times. This will enable you to engage different audiences and build further reach. Be willing to experiment as you go and see what’s working and what doesn’t the same way a big company with a big budget does. Be ruthless so you can focus where you see the most return on investment of time and money.

#3. Bring In The Pros

Yes, I know, I happen to be a professional who deals in PR, but hear me out. There’s a reason that big brand hire big PR agencies to handle their accounts for them. These companies could easily hire the talent they need to handle PR for them in house but yet they typically don’t. After working with these big budgets, I often wondered why – but it comes down to this – because a PR team that’s not in-house isn’t drinking the Kool-aid.

When you’re paying a firm a large monthly retainer, it’s their job to help you reduce risk and not waste time and money. Most of all, they are in the business of telling you the truth and delivering results. Which is why, even if your small business is going to DIY your PR efforts, getting a plan or input from someone who will give it to you straight can save you time, energy and mega frustration.

And isn’t that all we really want? Not to feel like we’re going to puke and to just get on with the business of promoting our small business?

[Tweet “3 PR secrets you can steal from big brands for your small biz with @magspatterson”]

cellar club
Want more help with storytelling? And your content and promotion? Then my new offering The Cellar Club can help because we’ll get you feeling so much more confident about what to do, and when to do it.

It’s designed to fill the gap between total DIY and hiring out your marketing so you can stop being the queen of DIY, late nights and feeling like you spend all your time on marketing. It’s one part learning, one part implementation and lots of support.

Over three months we’ll cover storytelling, content strategy + content creation and then guest posting/securing interviews. You’ll go from where you are today to having a plan and actually implementing things without losing your mind.

Tomorrow is the absolute last day to sign up.

Learn more and sign up here.

PR for small business

Having an Opinion is No Longer Optional

HAVING-AN-OPINIONThere’s a saying which I’m sure you’ve heard about opinions…and how we all have them.  I’m not sure if that is entirely true. Because if what I see out there some days in the entrepreneurial world is any indication, it’s a whole lotta vanilla.

If this content was ice cream…it wouldn’t even be yummy French vanilla or delicious vanilla bean, but the cheap knock off discount kind of vanilla that’s not even in a proper container but those freakin’ boxes that no one even can close properly. The kind of ice cream that’s just a sad waste of calories and leaves you pretty unsatisfied.

When it comes to creating a voice for your brand and telling stories, you need to have a damn opinion. Not convinced? Think of the brands you love. Companies you admire. They’re leaders because they have opinions. They’re worth following because they aren’t discount vanilla, but the most exotic and tantalizing jamoca almond fudge in packaging that makes you feel like a total someone for only $5.

In short, you know exactly what they stand for.

PR for small business

Stick a Fork in Me. I’m Done. (With Expert BS Talk)

done with BS expert talk

In every business, there’s an element of repetition. The same questions and themes come over and over again with clients and your community.

A biggie for my work is the theme of expertise or authority. From giving people permission to helping them be more confident to simply giving them the nudge they need to assert their expertise it happens every single day.

Which is why when I got this question I stopped dead in my tracks:

How can multiple people be the #1 authority or the “leading” authority on a given issue?

Damn good question. My math skills are not all that hot, but if there’s a #1, there needs to be a #2. And all y’all can’t be #1. It’s sort of like saying you won the Oscar when you’re actually a nominee.

Welcome to the unbridled BS of the expert economy! If we’re going to talk about being an authority, I’m going to now declare myself as the #1 authority on the BS around authority. (*Badge on my website to follow.)

In all seriousness, authority is a tricky business. Because we’re all being taught that anyone can be an expert. That ANYONE can be an authority.

But you know who teaches that? People who make their living teaching people how to be experts for ridiculous sums of money. Experts teaching people how to be experts, is for one, pretty freakin’ meta. And, can you truly trust someone who’s business is turning people into experts at $5k or more a pop?

The shiny happy core of these teachings is that we all have expertise, which I don’t dispute whatsoever. I work with people every single day to help them take their business (which they’ve built on around their expertise) and step into their role as an expert with confidence, knowledge and hopefully some grace.

Where the big old breakdown happens in the expert economy is the fact that people are crowning themselves experts on things they really and truly are not experts on. They just need to find something to commoditize on the road to livin’ the dream of 4 hour work weeks and jetting around the world.

Becoming an expert is not an overnight thing. It’s not a recipe or a formula. It’s hard won wisdom that truly qualifies you.

Stick a fork in me friends. I’m done with BS expert talk.

[Tweet “Stick a fork in the expert BS talk. @magspatterson is done.”]

The Makings of True Expertise

Expertise is not something you magically gain at a weekend seminar in an exotic and sunny locale as you study with the big name experts on being experts. It’s so much deeper than that.

The true makings of expertise are a combination of experience + results.

You don’t need 10 years of experience, but to say you’re an expert, you simply can’t do something once and then solemnly declare that you’re the world’s leading authority. Experience means you’ve done “your thing” over and over to prove it out. That you’ve been through the good, bad and ugly and know all the permutations.

Doing something well once may very likely be the result of a fluke or a whole lot of luck. (Let’s not even talk about about how many people are teaching PR because they’ve personally had success. But good luck when things go bad, waaaay off message or a crisis occurs.)

Repeating success time and time again, is the show of expertise and subject matter knowledge that expertise should be measured against. Which is why on your website, in your content, everything you do, you should be showcasing your actual experience from training to credentials to amazing past or present work with clients/companies in your field.

Got a MBA? You’ve earned that sucker, don’t hide it because you fear looking stodgy or like a sell out. It shows me you can see things through and that you’ve got some solid training. You are, wait for it – reliable and qualified – which makes you stand out amid people who were too flighty to finish anything and entrepreneurship is another pitstop.

Next up, you need to able to prove what you’re saying is the honest truth. Having rock solid results that show you are legitimate and credible helps to set you apart quickly. If you want people to listen to you – you need to be able to prove that your stories aren’t fairytales.

I’m not talking about the “look at me – I was published on CNN” type social proof, but more about your entire body of work. This is the important stuff, that we often can overlook in a world of bold and brazen experts who claim to have what you “need”. The goal should be to cut through the hype and deliver the inside scoop.

This is where you can put on your private investigator hat and get down and dirty, because as my friend and client Racheal Cook says “success leaves clues”:

  • What case studies do they have? Testimonials? Real results from people actually working with them/using the product or service? (And not just big name buddy lip service. Holy nepotism!)
  • If you are making a bigger investment, can you talk to past clients, users or participants? (I personally will never invest more than $1k without this step ever again.)
  • Those media logos – are there articles to back them up? Can you read them? Find them? Are they self-published or something that went through an editor? (More on that issue here.)

I know a lot of that sounds like common sense, but it’s too easy to forget that in the online world, we can say WHATEVER we want.

Common sense is too easily short circuited by copy that is designed to elicit an emotional response, tap into your neurolinguistic programming and make you immediately want what they are offering to you.

On top of all of that add in the personal branding/cult of personality element and no matter how smart we are, it’s easy to buy into what we are being told because we want to believe people are good and trust them to help us.

If you’re hearing the word expert over and over, they are likely overcompensating for lack of something. Real experts don’t need to say it. A good test suggested by my buddy Suzi Istvan is to look at if that “expertise” would hold up outside the expert economy? Get out of your bubble into the real world and then you’ll quickly know how much BS is backing up that expert.

What About YOUR Expertise?

If you’re personally working on asserting your expertise, you need to make sure what you say is verifiable and you aren’t just totally high on the promises of some coach who turns people into experts overnight.

Don’t fall in the trap and become a faux-pert. (Which is my new term for manufactured experts who really have no cred or experience. I’m feeling pretty clever, so if you’ve seen this before, please don’t burst my bubble.)

To show you are the real deal, start by being willing to back up what you say 110% percent. Because the best kind of clients are going to think “they are the #1 expert according to who?” and do you really want to work with people who aren’t clever enough to ask the right questions?

If you want to be an expert, you need to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. Talk is cheap and you’re so much better than that.

Hit me up in the comments below. I’d love to chat more about faux expertise, your pet peeves and this bold and brazen online world with too many #1 experts to possibly count.

PR for small business

Bad Manners + Bad Attitude Doesn’t Make You A Badass

blog 9.18Growing up I was always one of those kids that sort of did my own thing. I wasn’t super concerned with what we were supposed to do or following everyone else. I wore what I liked, I was friends with a variety of interesting people, and that was a recipe for being pretty happy overall.

I’ve always wholeheartedly embraced anyone who is outside the norm. Which is why I feel so uncomfortable with some of the behaviour I see in online groups I’m involved in. As much as I’m all for self-expression and being yourself, I cannot stomach people who are trying SO hard to be different. Who are literally going out of their way to act a certain way or deliberately trying to be a badass.

Case in point is a social media post I witnessed last week with someone literally boasting about being extremely rude to a stranger. While I wasn’t there to witness the situation firsthand and I don’t know this person’s whole story, I stopped in my tracks. I don’t know what hit me harder – the fact that this person was trying so hard to be a badass, or that people were so freely showing support for someone acting like an entitled, spoiled brat.

Both of those things are bothering me days later. Having bad manners and a bad attitude does not make you a bad ass. The more you tell me you don’t give a fuck, the more you likely do in my mind. Because if you really were a badass you’d be comfortable doing your thing and not be running back to your peers for a gold star. (Wheee…look at me…I’m SUCH a badass!)

While I definitely have a soft spot for rebels, freaks and badasses, it’s only if it’s legit. I can smell a phony a mile away – call it gut instinct – but there’s a sad desperation to wannabes.

As for the supporters, I’m giving that a giant WTF. When did having a giant chip on your shoulder become acceptable? How can so many of these people talk about kindness and living “authentically” on one hand and then so blindly support this type of malevolence?

It may seem funny or harmless, but giving out that gold star only encourages more unconstructive f-you type behavior.

[Tweet “There’s no excuse for bad manners. Or a bad attitude. Because both are bad for business.”]

When Taking a Stand, Handle with Care

Right or wrong, in the online world, judgements are made in a split second and your job is to give people a taste of what to expect from you. Do you want them to take away that you are a mean and nasty piece of work that “doesn’t give a fuck”? Is that going to help you reach your goals?

Because I can tell you I would never in a zillion years give someone behaving like an entitled asshole my money or my respect. And I know I’m not alone on that one.

Are you supposed to be Mary sunshine and pretend it’s all lollipops and rainbows? No – of course you need to  be honest, but you want to handle thing with care and be thoughtful with what you say and when you say it. Because you don’t want to get a rep as the angry girl.

Taking a stand is critical to your message and helping to prevent you and your biz from being a snore inducing flavor of vanilla. The key here is to be purposeful and not sound off on every single thing that pisses you off.

Have you ever had someone in your life who’s always up in arms about something or full of snark 24/7? Yeah, me too. It quickly gets tired and you don’t really want to be around them. Soon, you find yourself going out of your way to avoid them.

If you are going go to the effort to build a business and market it…I’m assuming you want people to be part of your community and to work with you. So constantly ranting and raving without being productive is a recipe for disaster.  (And you very likely do not want the pain in the ass that comes with customers that are attracted to that.)

Here’s a few ideas to help you figure out where to put your stake in the ground and when to zip your lip:

  • Know your audience. Figure out where the line is in your business and what is aligned with who you are as a person. For example, I swear in my blog posts, but there’s a point. I don’t use those words lightly and I write how I actually speak.
  • Be productive. When you are going to take a stand, come with a solution. Don’t get mouthy, shrug and walk away. If you are going to bring up the problem, be a part of the solution. Focus on what you want to see change or what could be done instead of just complaining.
  • Think before you speak (or type). You know when you are in the heat of the moment and you say the unspeakable thing and you wish you could put it back in your mouth? Same goes for social media or your blog. Before you put it out there think about it carefully to make sure you really want to go there. Ask yourself, is this mine? Is it something that makes sense for you to even talk about? And remember, just because you can delete something doesn’t mean you can undo the impact of a poorly thought out post.

You Know What’s Really Badass?

Speaking up, being thoughtful about it and really owning it. It’s not about having many tattoos, multi-colored hair or any external packaging. So lose the chip on your shoulder, hold your tongue and embrace the fact that you don’t need to be right all the time.

That’s real leadership and the kind of person that people really want to work with. That’s the foundation for long-term respect and success.

Bring me your comments. Let’s get this party started and talk about taking a stand without being a brat. 

PR for small business

Are You Suffering from DIYitis in Your Business?

blog 9.11It’s an ongoing struggle for most entrepreneurial types – do you go DIY in your business or bring in a pro to take care of it?

Most entrepreneurs are the kind of people who are good with tinkering, figuring and doing what it takes to get the job done. But that personality trait isn’t always a good thing.

I must confess, I’m a recovering DIY fanatic. Because, why not – I’m smart, I can figure this out. (Uh, huh. No lady, you cannot learn HTML in a night.)

For many years, I had an acute case of DIY-itis. Signs of this affliction include:

  • Spending 8 hours trying to install and customize a WordPress theme only to lose your shit entirely.
  • Being convinced that you can TOTALLY figure it out. You discover three weeks later that you really can’t.
  • You’re addicted to free training and sit through hours of crap to learn the one thing you really need to know.
  • You claim that you enjoy DIYing it because you love to learn new things.
  • Last night you got 2 hours of sleep because you can’t figure out what to name your program so you spent the night tossing and turning.

Do you recognize these symptoms? Do you have a raging hot case of DIYitis?

Having a bootstrap budget means that DIY is often a necessity, but you need to learn how and when to let things go. Especially when you aren’t doing your business any favors because you are a coach, consultant or speaker – and that thing you are ready to DIY is going to end up leaving you with one big old #hotmess.

[Tweet “Do you have DIYitis? You may be turning your biz into a #hotmess – via @magspatterson”]

To really step it up – you need to step away.

So step away from Canva, Google Docs or Wishlist and ask yourself “am I best serving my business by doing this?” Get real with yourself and figure out what your DIYitis is costing your business.

Here’s the math on that one:

89 hours you spend working on things that aren’t serving you X what your time is worth = losing your mind for no good reason


7 possible clients you lose because you look like a rookie + hours you spend marketing yourself to find more clients = hustling but making it way harder than it needs to be

That my friends is DIYitis math and it’s costing you a lot more than you probably realize.

Where to Get Help

In the perfect world, you’d have the budget to simply get everything off your plate that isn’t core to your business, but that’s not what we’re talking about. Stepping it up by stepping away is about identifying the biggest roadblocks.

Typically, these are the “public” facing things where most of us are out of our depth:

  • Graphic Design – Canva and Picmonkey has made us all into DIY designers. But that’s not always enough. Sometimes you need to bring in a pro who will stop you from using 4 fonts, having zero proximity and chronically abusing whitespace.
  • Branding + Positioning – Who you are and what you say is more than your logo or the cute words on your website. Skipping this step and throwing up a website without understanding the conversations you need to show up in and your customer’s needs is going to hold you back in a major way.
  • Copywriting – Newsflash! Writing for the Web is not like writing an essay. Or a corporate data sheet. You need to speak English, not industry jargon,and use things like subheads and bullets. (Case in point, this list.)
  • Tech/Development – If your checkout for your ebook doesn’t work or requires you to manually do anything, stop. Or you’ve got Wishlist installed but anyone and everyone on Google can see all your content…do not pass go. Find a techie person to help.

Start by picking one of these things where you need to bring in a pro. Just one. Then figure out what your options are. Talk to your business BFFs, get recommendations from people you trust and carry on from there. Find the right person for the job and get a handle on the budget you’ll need.

Maybe you don’t have the budget you need right now, but with your commitment to recovering from your DIYitis, you can start to plan ahead.

After DIYing most of my current site, that’s exactly what I did. I literally saved up knowing the budget I needed to get what I needed for a new brand website. For me to take things up a notch in my business, I needed the next step up, so I had to get over my DIYitis because it simply wasn’t going to work any more.

Was handing over the money scary – hell yes. But it is an investment and a promise of things to come. Isn’t your business worth it?

[Tweet “The math of DIYing and what it is costing you with @magspatterson”]

Are you suffering from DIYitis? What’s one thing you need to be ready to turn over to a pro? Comment below. (And no judgements, I get it, DIY has a time and place for all of us.)