Is the “How To” Content Marketing Strategy Dead (I think so)?

Neil Patel, the uber online SEO marketing genius, has started to talk about the death of the traditional content marketing strategy.  That it is the end of writing long and in depth “how to” blog posts to get inbound leads.

Why does he think this? Because there is now a surplus (more than ever) of these sorts of posts. It has reached a tipping point so, we have to face facts that, you’ll likely never get picked up by Google by blogging with How To style content.

So what’s the solution?

Getting personal. Yes, adding your own unique “take” on an issue or adding your personal “insights” seems to be the way to go moving forward. This approach is, by its very nature, unique – as there’s only ever ONE you.

Gary Vaynerchuk has been talking about “documenting rather than creating” content for a while.

You can see this in the success of Insta-stories. People are more interested in “getting to know” the people they follow. You just don’t get the same connection through a wall of “how to” text. So it’s becoming a turn off. And Google probably knows that…

So maybe I should eat my own dog-food and start putting more of the real me out there. You too? Now that’s the scary bit!

What do you think?

Sunday Thoughts: What Tasks Could You Take Away This Week?

As I sit here and plan my week ahead, the list of tasks that I need to complete seems to get longer and longer. Week on week.

We all seem to have ever-expanding “to-do lists”!

So at times like these I think to myself: maybe I need to ask myself a better question… And I came up with this question:

What tasks could I take away this week?

Hmmmm, thinking about what I do in a typical week, I need to consider what tasks I could either: eliminate, automate or outsource/delegate?

Writing down a list of repeated tasks on a piece of paper, I add these three columns with these three titles. And start to allocate tasks between the columns where possible. Already I can see possibilities to free up time.

I recommend you try this for the week ahead. See what tasks you might be able to stop doing altogether or automate (using apps like Zapier and IFTTT) or outsource/delegate.

We can’t keep adding more. We need to explore ways to take tasks away.

Unexpected Benefit of using Steempress with WordPress for Blogging

I’ve been using Steempress for a few months now as I like the fact that I can continue to add content to this blog at BusinessN2K, whilst continuing to get credit on Steemit.

An unexpected added benefit happened a couple of weeks ago when my self-hosted website went down. I haven’t sussed out exactly what went wrong (I ain’t no techie) but – long story, short – I lost all my blog posts over the past few months on my WordPress blog…

But all was not lost – the good ole Steem blockchain continues to host them!

Never envisaged that as a reason to use both but it’s good to have a backup and even better to have it on the blockchain – the future is here!

Surprises can be a surprise…

So it’s my wife’s birthday and, sure I could step out on a limb and go buy her something – a surprise something – that I think she might love, but then again, she might not.

Meanwhile there’s a whole bunch of stuff that she’s dropped some (not so subtle hints!) that she would like.

So I either go for the surprise option or I get her what I know she would like.

When I put it like that, it’s obvious which option I should go for. But why do we feel compelled to go for the ‘surprise option’?

I suspect (or fear) that it’s actually our own ego that we’re stroking when we choose to go for the surprise option. We want to knock it out of the park and delight the recipient and give ourselves a warm glow… like we knew more about what they wanted more than them. 

Or am I missing something?

P.S. Which option do you think I went for: surprise or not so subtle hint(s)?

They Don’t Build Them Like That Anymore

We wandered around the streets of Florence, in Italy earlier this year, mouths agape, gazing up a spectacular buildings, awe-inspiring marble statutes and ornate piazzas.

gift from 100’s and even 1,000’s of years of human imagination, (lost) skills and hard graft. To carve and sculpt the stone before carting and building up those proud monuments – all without the labour-saving machinery that we enjoy today? Built on blood, sweat and tears.

As I admired this skill and beauty, I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of guilt. Guilt about our generation, and what we’re leaving behind as our legacy to the world. Our gift for future generations to enjoy.

What are we leaving (or failing to leave) for future generations to admire…? Picture our descendants wandering around our streets (that we built) with ice-creams melting in hand, unable to tear they’re eyes away from the beauty and magistery of…….erm…..streets of identical looking bungalows, 1960s high-rise flats, state-of-the-art (read: cheap) venues like cinemas and concert halls….

Where has the artistry gone? Human ingenuity. Our most beautiful relics are seemingly solely from many generations ago. And not being replaced.

Are we no longer building things to last?

Rules to Live By #001

Two things you must never delegate or hand over control in your business:

  1. Managing your bank payments to suppliers etc
  2. Sales and marketing activities

The rest is all fair game to be delegated, outsourced or whatever you care to call it…

Are You Asking the Right Questions?

“The Quality of Your Life is Determined by the Quality of the Questions that You Ask Yourself”

If this quote is true, it begs the question whether we have been digging deep and asking ourselves those powerful questions that might help shape our lives…?

Here are a few to get you thinking:

  1. “Who” not “How”? (don’t try to do it all – find those that already have the skills and hire them)
  2. Do you want to work for your business or do you want your business to work for you?
  3. What are your unique skills? What could you do all day and feel in the flow?
  4. If money was no object, what would you be doing right now?
  5. What is stopping you doing that thing that you answered for Q.4. (hint: it’s probably not solely down to ‘money’)

What are the most powerful questions that you have heard or live by…?

14+4 = 18 (v Brexit)

For all the naysayers and dooms-day Brexiteers out there, here’s one for you:

“14+4 = 18”

So the theory goes that the land cycle has run to this formula over the past 200+ years of recorded history. Research suggests that the economy follows the value of land (theory of economic rent… and all that!).

More specifically the theory is that the land cycle has followed a period of 14 years up (until it hits its peak) and then four years down (14+4); and this cycle has repeated itself over the past 200+ years. So this cycle repeats every 18 years or thereabouts.

You can watch Phillip Anderson (a big time proponent of the 14+4=18 theory) explaining it here:

You can see an example of the real estate graph here:

When was the last 14+4?

So we had a peak in the late 1980s and then a bust in 1992. The next peak was 2006-07 followed by 4 years of downturn.

So where does this leave us now?

So if the 14+4 theory is to hold up, the next kick up from the last downturn should have started around 2011ish and should run up to 2025 before the next crash. So we are now in the relatively early stages of a 14 year bull cycle, despite the negativity that is swirling around us.

Sure, there will be ups and downs along the way (Brexit, anyone?) but it will be interesting to see how this plays out against hiccups such as Brexit and whatever else might be heading down the pass….? It is interesting to note that stockmarkets across the globe are hitting new highs – so the early stages look promising.

Food for thought as you plan for the future in your business against what might otherwise appear to be a negative macro economic backdrop?

12 tips on building a business you can sell

Here are my notes from a very readable book called Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You by John Warrillow

  1. Do one thing well
  2. Treat like a product rather than bespoke service – one size fits all
  3. Service based companies are normally over-reliant on their founders – even if you can sell will result in an earn-out over 1-3 years post sale which is beyond your control
  4. Bill up front like a product sale – otherwise sales cycle means adverse cashflow
  5. Systematise the process into easy to follow steps
  6. Document the steps clearly so that anyone can follow
  7. Get rid of staff that are non-core to the one thing
  8. Measure number of leads and conversions to allow for systematic prediction of future revenue
  9. Hire two sales people – always two or more as they will compete
  10. Hire product rather than service sales people – the latter will use consultative selling that will require bespoke services
  11. Sack your other clients
  12. Allow three years

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25 years v 5 projects: Same yet (monstrously) different!

Lasers

“Life is long – if you know how to use it…”

– Seneca

I am unsure if it is my background of working with venture capital backed businesses but I always find myself thinking in 3-5 year time horizons.

So when I am advising businesses on strategy or exit planning this seems a natural reference point as this is the typical timeframe VCs will tend to use in seeking a return for their investors.

But I think this 3-5 year timeframe is useful for entrepreneurs with respect to how you plan your life.

Let me share a personal example: I try to view my working life in 3-5 year periods and try to allocate a project to each. I use the term “project” broadly which could mean a business, career, job, vocation, whatever. So there is 3-5 year time period to build it (whatever “it” might be) with a view to an exit or delivery on the next phase of growth within this timeframe.

Why is this important and how does this thinking help?

Well I am fast approaching the grand old age of 40 and I have been working on my current project for just over 4 years so I am now thinking:

“I have 4-5 projects left in me – what might they be?”

Thinking I might have 20-30 years of working life ahead of me allows for lazy thinking. In contrast, thinking I might only have 4-5 projects left to immerse myself in over the remainder of my life is sobering (to say the least). 

So rather than plodding on with your business or career, ask yourself how long you’ve been working on your latest “project” and how many projects you might be lucky enough to fit into the remainder of your life?

You might just find your thinking changes and you have a little extra zip in your step – and you might just surprise yourself…

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