How life can change in an instant…
Just wanted to say a few quick words about my past 7 days. For those who don’t know, which is probably quite a few, I had a terrible car accident last Monday night. It happened on a local freeway, at high speed, and I sustained a head injury. The good news is, it only knocked some sense into me.
In short, I’m bloody lucky to be alive.
I was buying a present for my husband for this birthday this morning from one of his favourite stores. I felt a bit rushed and somewhat perplexed about what to buy him. Normally I don’t struggle at all but this year it’s a tad different. There was an added element of complexity to the ordinarily joyous process of gift-giving. The gift had to be small and light and not contain anything ‘tricky’, so that it could make its way effectively overseas to where my man is currently living.
I was staring at all the stuff, beautifully displayed, hoping something would jump out at me. The woman working in the store came up gently and said “you look like you need a hand”.
I explained my situation and as a I did she slowly nodded and leaned in with this look of ‘knowing’ on her face.
During the course of her ‘recommendations’, she spoke to me about how her husband spent 30 years travelling overseas for work, how it took time to reconnect when he returned (but that it did get easier), how her children were often wary of their dad and where he fit in to the scheme of things when he got back, how she encouraged immediate bonding with the kids and their dad by disappearing for the weekend with girlfriends, and how she used to cope with it all. She joked about how she always struggled with gift-giving when he was away, so eventually they simply celebrated when they were next together. She told me how now, in semi-retirement, they travel back and forth to Noosa more often (the place they would take family holidays) and enjoy each other’s company in different surrounds. She runs her own interior design business and he consults in the city, but they allow themselves breaks after a big project. She spoke of the simple pleasure of the perfect small leather travel bag which she keeps packed with only the essentials, so that she’s ready to join him wherever and whenever their fancy takes them. And the big lesson… she spoke of how she’s come to realise that a marriage is about quality not quantity.
The strategies she imparted were wonderful and her gift ideas were spot on. The way she relayed her experience touched me deeply, as it was emotive, personal, yet helpful, and therefore highly powerful. I bought more than I intended to because I was so intrigued by her story, I just wanted to keep listening. I believed in her and the ideas she proposed, so I chose them all. I wanted to breathe in her experiences and make them my own. Hell, I want to be her in 15 years time!
Again, the lesson is clear. Be relatable to your prospects.
Tell your story in a way that matters to them. Find some common ground. Help them with their predicament. Make your story interesting, intriguing. And they will ask for your help. They will buy.
Go and be you. Unapologetically you. And tell your stories to those who need to hear them.
Email marketing isn’t dead. Let’s just put that out there first. It is VERY much alive and well. Email marketing is also one of the most cost-effective marketing tools out there. It is easy to manage, gives you full control and allows you to establish direct contact with your customers. So, as part of your overall content marketing plan you need to be considering how and when you harness email marketing.
Email marketing is a proven strategy with which to promote your business. It helps you attract new customers and maintain close relationships with existing loyal customers. You can manage your contacts by simply keeping a list of names and email addresses, or you can create a complex database full of subscribers segmented by demographic slices and engagement levels. The challenge is knowing what will work for you and what choices you need to make. Which method you choose, and what tools you buy, really just depends on how big your budget is and how sophisticated your business is at this point.
The first step is to know WHY you want to do email marketing
I believe that business ownership is a creative endeavour. But sometimes it can feel more like a task factory, more like a ‘job’ (you know, like the one you ran away from??), than a creative outlet.
And the problem is it kind of gets worse as you get better and more experienced at what you do, which feels counter-intuitive but it’s often very true. As you become a business-building machine, it’s easy to lose touch with your passion, your vision, your BIG WHY, and it’s possible to even lose that genuine connection with the people you love to serve.
What a tragedy!
But it’s all too real for many business owners, especially as they grow from being a solo-entrepreneur or micro-business to one that is consistently driving profit and also supports others, not just the business owner. The kicker is that your passion and creativity and the way that you express that is what really draws prospective clients in. It’s what people loved about you in the first place. Heck, it’s what you loved about you too! And if you lose touch with it, then your prospects and fans do as well.
That passion and creativity is why you set up shop to begin with, right? (You didn’t do it because you thought it would be easier than having a job, did you??) So it’s time to reclaim your calling and your creativity.
Attend a creativity retreat.
It’s SO important to get away from your endless To-Do list, your everyday activities, and reconnect to your creative energy. Giving time and space to you creativity, and actively working on the projects and ideas, will move you toward the future. It’s the juice that fuels your vision.
Don’t consider this a luxury. It’s a necessary practice for entrepreneurs and leaders. Seriously.
So I urge you to either find the time and place to have your own, personal creativity retreat, or better yet, come to mine!
There are some biz babes and bros I know who literally check themselves into a hotel room, turn off their phone, and stay there for a couple of days. Writing, filming, creating. Or the really lucky ones jump on a plane and go somewhere exotic, away from everything they know. This is awesome if you are highly self-motivated, not easily distracted and have the time to research what’s going to work.
With a group or guided experience however, you get the benefit of structure, expertise on hand, peer support, and collaborative energy. Being around other people on a similar mission often makes it easier to get into the creative flow. (Being given a gentle nudge by a coach when you get stuck also helps!)
Regardless of what way you choose to go, your creativity retreat should include these components:
Remove yourself from all distractions – clients, employees, kids, housework, day-to-day activities. Creativity and writing require a high level of focus that is often impossible in our normal environment.
Go somewhere different, away from what is ‘normal’. It doesn’t have to be the other side of the world, unless you have the means and the inclination of course. A mountain or coastal retreat works well because of the natural inspiration the surroundings offer.
Separation also means technological separation. Where possible, don’t be calling in to the office or home to see how things are without you; and ask ‘your team’ to respect the same boundaries. Being far away isn’t useful if you keep being interrupted by phone calls, texts, updates, etc.
Creating physical space away from your norm will allow the creativity to flow more easily.
Your retreat should incorporate things that support your creative side – and everyone is a little different on this front. Some people need the beach, others may need an adrenalin fuelled activity, still others might love the funky vibe of an urban neighbourhood.
Moving your body definitely helps to improve focus and creativity, so ensure your retreat includes regular breaks for yoga, stretching, walks, swims, dancing.
Other inspirational activities may be listening to mantras or music, trying something new, colouring in, listening to an inspirational speaker, cooking in a new style.
Habits and patterns are hard to break. Unwinding from your normal routine takes time. Don’t expect you can go away for an afternoon and slip into super-creativity-retreat-mode. To really gain the full benefit of an intense creative time, you need sufficient time. I recommend a minimum of 36 hours, but take 2 or 3 days if you can.
Before you go on your creativity retreat, set some specific outcomes, but be sure to have a flexible mindset that allows room for new ideas as well. My retreat participants spend up to two hours with me planning what they want to achieve and why. This is then condensed into a formal Retreat Plan that they pledge to follow by signing it on night one of the retreat – accountability always works best!
If you don’t have a plan, and are simply interested in ‘going with the flow’, you may find yourself floundering. Time is precious – don’t go wasting it.
Setting yourself a goal to complete X amount of blogs, or write your book outline, or create 6 months worth of Facebook posts, means you will come out the other end of retreat having accomplished something! You will have a body or work that can make a real difference to your business and carry the retreat experience forward.
Do you need to get out of your rut and shake things up?