Insight for Independent Consultants

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    The size-speed illusion

    Ever wonder why people die at railroad crossings?Somewhere around 2,000 to 3,000 collisions, around 1,000 injuries, and around 250 deaths per year happen at railroad crossings. Along with many other things, those numbers were even worse in the 80’s.It seems so simple! See train coming, get out of the way before the train crushes you. Simple, right?The speed-size illusion make this not so simple:—Leibowitz (1985) maintained that a large object seems to be moving slower than a small object travelling at the same speed. Support has been provided for Leibowitz’s theory from studies using simple shapes on a screen. However, the reasons behind the size-speed illusion remain unknown and there is no experimental evidence that it applies to an approaching train situation. To investigate these issues, we tested observers’ relative speed estimation performance for a train and a car approaching at a range of speeds and distances, in a simulated environment. The data show that participants significantly underestimated the speed of the train, compared to the car. —That’s from a 2013 paper on the speed-size illusion and railway crossings.The bigger it is, the slower it appears to be moving.That applies to the future too.The future is this massive thing that is steadily approaching you at the rate of 1 day per day, 1 year per year. That doesn’t seem fast until you look away for what seems like a moment and then BAM! that event that seemed so far away is right on top of you.BAM! You’re up late the night before a deadline.BAM! You’re cranking up velocity to try to hit an important milestone.Most people tackle the long, slow work of specializing their services when they’ve gotten tired of their business stagnating. That’s not ideal. It’s kind of like jumping off the train tracks at the very last moment before the train passes by, without much margin for safety.I hope you’ll consider specializing your services starting now, well before your business feels stagnated or stuck.I’ve baked the most reliable, low-risk way to specialize your services into a course: Talk to you soon,-P

    Being Michael Jordan

    Replicating Michael Jordan’s career is like getting struck three times by lightning. Closer to an act of God than anything you have control over.Being a sought-after expert consultant is a job you can hire yourself for. It’s something you can dream, plan, execute on, achieve, and get better at. It’s 99% under your control.Get started here: http://thepositioningmanual.comTalk to you soon,-P

    Impulse buy

    It’s easier said than done, but in your positioning statement, avoid fancy language.Instead, opt for plain, clear descriptions of whatever it is you’re describing.At the Whole Foods checkout today I noticed something that made me think of you and how you might describe your market position.Everybody knows that items displayed in a grocery store checkout line are chosen to go there because they’re “impulse buys”. They’re things that you didn’t plan to buy but oh well you’re here waiting in line you may as well pick one up.They’re (almost) never labeled that way, though.Check this out:Impulse buyThat’s an impulse buy product labeled as such.Again, that’s what you should do in your positioning. Avoid fancy, vague, or unclear language. Always opt to be plain, clear, and as precise as possible.Want help improving your positioning or marketing? I offer a small group program to help you do exactly that: Talk to you soon,-P

    It’s bigger on the inside

    ImageMost niches are bigger on the inside than they appear from the outside.I’m not sure I can prove this to you. You’re just gonna have to trust me.Want to attract better clients? Identifying a strong market position is step #1. Learn how here: http://thepositioningmanual.comTalk to you soon,-PPS – The recording from the Dev Shop Marketing Briefing with Frank Rietta on content marketing is available for you to check out: I’ve made it possible to download these videos now in case you’re in a situation where you want to download and view them offline. Just click to start playing the video and check out the control bar at the bottom of the video. You’ll see a download icon there.

    “clothed in smoke like those vaporous beings in regions beyond right knowing”

    “A legion of horribles, hundreds in number, half naked or clad in costumes attic or biblical or wardrobed out of a fevered dream with the skins of animals and silk finery and pieces of uniform still tracked with the blood of prior owners, coats of slain dragoons, frogged and braided cavalry jackets, one in a stovepipe hat and one with an umbrella and one in white stockings and a bloodstained wedding veil and some in headgear or cranefeathers or rawhide helmets that bore the horns of bull or buffalo and one in a pigeontailed coat worn backwards and otherwise naked and one in the armor of a Spanish conquistador, the breastplate and pauldrons deeply dented with old blows of mace or sabre done in another country by men whose very bones were dust and many with their braids spliced up with the hair of other beasts until they trailed upon the ground and their horses’ ears and tails worked with bits of brightly colored cloth and one whose horse’s whole head was painted crimson red and all the horsemen’s faces gaudy and grotesque with daubings like a company of mounted clowns, death hilarious, all howling in a barbarous tongue and riding down upon them like a horde from a hell more horrible yet than the brimstone land of Christian reckoning, screeching and yammering and clothed in smoke like those vaporous beings in regions beyond right knowing where the eye wanders and the lip jerks and drools.”I’m pretty sure when Cormac McCarthy wrote the passage above for Blood Meridian he was actually describing the members of Congress who voted yesterday to allow ISPs to sell customer browsing history.:)That’s also got to be the longest single sentence I’ve ever seen. Holy cow!When you’re writing a positioning statement, look for opportunities to remove words to make it shorter and more punchy.I’ve seen a few good positioning statements that use the word “and”, but not many. Usually the word “and” in a positioning statement means you’re shrinking back from being 100% clear about your ideal client or what you do for them.Want help improving your positioning or marketing? I offer a small group program to help you do exactly that: http://positioningacceleratorprogram.comTalk to you soon,-P

    2 weeks with a sheet of plastic taped over where the window *should* go

    Some guys came by the house recently to replace the old crappy garden window in bathroom.Here’s an artsy picture of the window:garden windowI was working from home in order to give the contractor access to the house and was in the other room. I did not hear any power tools for the first 40 minutes or so.This was unnerving at first, then VERY reassuring. Why?It was unnerving because they’d already come out a few weeks ago to do measurements to order the right window, and in my mind this meant that when they arrived today with the window they’d hit the ground running.But instead, they did MORE measuring, more careful checking, more thinking, more stuff that reduced the very real risk (anyone who has paid for a construction project of any size knows this) of my wife and I spending 2 weeks with a sheet of plastic taped over where the window should go because the window was off by 1/2” or whatever and they had to re-order and come back later to install.What about you? What do you do to reassure your clients that the time and effort spent on up-front planing work is well-invested?Want help improving your positioning or marketing? I offer a small group program to help you do exactly that: http://positioningacceleratorprogram.comTalk to you soon,-P

    …Also Expert Shoe Repair

    I hope you’re starting a week of challenging, interesting work done either for your own product(s) or for wonderful clients who highly value your expertise.If not, maybe this will lighten your spirits:lionel hutz, attorney and also expert shoe repairIf you’re stuck being like “Lionel Hutz Attorney Also Expert Shoe Repair”, I’d like to help you get unstuck and moving towards a market position that will bring you wonderful clients who highly value your expertise, check out my Positioning Accelerator Program: http://positioningacceleratorprogram.comTalk to you soon,-P

    Vision vs. misssion

    The idea of mission has come up several times recently on this list.List member Danny offered this very useful clarification:—I work in branding, and something I’ve been working on is trying to help people define – or rather declare – what their vision of what they do is… The second part to that is working out their mission (ie, your mission is the work you’re doing to solve an existing problem, and your vision is how things look when your work is done… I try to get people thinking of the vision – the end result – first, and work back from there. So in your case for example, a vision might be that every technical firm is finally positioned perfectly to serve their ideal customers. Your mission is all the work you’re doing right now).—Extremely well said.What’s your vision?Not your vision for your business (revenue, growth, lifestyle, etc.). Your vision for your business is important, but I’m more interested in your vision for the change you’d like to create for your clients.If you’d be so kind, email me and let me know.-P

    This is a call to action

    This is a call to action:a restaurant menu sitting outside the closed restaurant inviting passerbys to take actionWhat you’re seeing the photograph above is a Thai restaurant here in Sebastopol.The restaurant was closed at the time I made that photograph, but they had a little table with a menu sitting there for anyone to pick up and peruse.This is a call to action. An invitation to move from person-walking-by-on-the-sidewalk to person-taking-the-first-small-step-towards-becoming-a-customer.For people selling expensive services (that’s you, I hope. And when I say “expensive services”, I really mean “expensive but worth it“.), your call to action could be “hire me. My prices start at 5 figures.”.But what if you had something that’s less of a commitment? Something that is equivalent to your prospect reaching out, picking up a menu, and perusing it?Since I’m an email marketing ZEALOT, I like using trigger links that launch short informative email campaigns that include the next bigger commitment as a CTA.Like this one: If you’re wanting to narrow your business focus but not really making any progress on your own, discover how working with me could help: http://positioningacceleratorprogram.comTalk to you soon,-P

    “He is no different than you or I”

    List member Nick shared the following:–I’ve really been enjoying your newsletters and wanted to share with you something I just learned.My girlfriend just started working for a company that was a generalized consulting company for years.. They had about 20 employees but found themselves stuck year after year at about $2million in revenue.During this time they explored new technologies and areas they could be helpful through building small tools. One of the tools found traction and the company decided to abandon the “we do everything” approach and become the go-to company for the software suite they’d chosen.They’re now known in the industry as one of the leaders. They’re doing $60million/year in revenue and are up to over 300 employees around the world. Recently, the owners sold the company to a much larger firm, which netted all of them life changing paydays.I can’t share any details beyond this, but wanted to let you add it as another success story for how little guys can do big things once they make the right moves.It was founded by a single owner. He is no different than you or I.—Well said!Want help becoming the “go-to” company for something clients want? –> http://positioningacceleratorprogram.comTalk to you soon,-P