Dream Again Marketing https://dreamagainmarketing.com Storytelling Branding & Premier Design for Small Businesses Sat, 25 Jan 2020 00:56:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 https://dreamagainmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/cropped-Dream-Again-Marketing-Social-Favicon-32x32.png Dream Again Marketing https://dreamagainmarketing.com 32 32 Small, Smart, & Savvy: The microzine for real stories from real people marketing a small business https://dreamagainmarketing.com/small-smart-savvy-the-microzine-for-real-stories-from-real-people-marketing-a-small-business/ https://dreamagainmarketing.com/small-smart-savvy-the-microzine-for-real-stories-from-real-people-marketing-a-small-business/#respond Tue, 21 Jan 2020 18:05:17 +0000 https://dreamagainmarketing.com/?p=208240 Check it out! This first issue of ‘Small, Smart, & Savvy’ is live. 

It’s a weekly, mini magazine 100% focused on sharing the stories behind small business success. 

Read it as a fancy flipbook, or download the pdf.

Download the PDF

I’ve learned 2 things from following the small, smart, and savvy folk on LinkedIn:

  • Everyone has a story worth sharing.
  • We all need more examples of small business success – on small business terms.

So, here’s how I’m giving back this 2020. I’m focusing on highlighting your stories. Not your brand story. Yours. The magic behind the mask.

This first microzine (like a mini magazine) gives us a taste. It’s geared to make you look amazing, and bring you a whole new asset to your marketing.

Send me your story! I’ll respond with prompts to help you shine.

There’s no cost, no fees, no risk. We all win.

So join my mailing list right now!

Not sure if your story is worth telling? Send it to me for free feedback.

I’m beyond excited to be launching this with you!

This month is spent gathering your stories. By the end of February, the series will start (perhaps sooner!)

Who deserves a microzine dedicated to their story? Please share this with them, or nominate them!

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Which of these 5 types of brand are you? (It impacts your content mission!) https://dreamagainmarketing.com/which-of-these-types-of-brand-are-you-it-impacts-your-content-mission/ https://dreamagainmarketing.com/which-of-these-types-of-brand-are-you-it-impacts-your-content-mission/#comments Tue, 14 Jan 2020 22:23:29 +0000 https://dreamagainmarketing.com/?p=208120 A lot of brands struggle with a similar problem: what do we do with our content marketing?

Especially marketing agencies. Can you believe it? For the heck of it, we can’t figure out our own content needs.

  • Shouldn’t we be able to nail it for ourselves?
  • Why should my clients trust that I can help them when I can’t do it myself?
  • Will they be concerned that we’re inconsistent at posting on our blog, and on social?

Eating your own dog food often seems near impossible for lack of time. But I think it’s because the answer lies deeper.

You need to decide which of the 4 kinds of brand you might be. Are you:

  1. Gun for Hire (most of us)
  2. Santa (also most of us)
  3. Unicorn Viewpoint (very rare)
  4. Visioneers (Some)
  5. Platformation (Most love these)

Let’s break it down.

Which of these 4 types of brand are you? (It impacts your content marketing!)

1. Guns for Hire: Pay me, and I’ll get it done.

These kinds of brands don’t need to have much of a content game. Your clients are looking for your skillset to get their job done. All they want to see is the results you’ve brought your clients.

Your content and credibility is in your portfolio.

This is probably most companies. And they’re often very successful. Since it is your content game, your reach will be likely limited to prospective clients, or others in your space who want inspiration.

This runs aground when you don’t have enough going on. That’s when you might want to incorporate at these other options.

Which of these 5 types of brand are you? (It impacts your content mission!)

2. Santa: giving gifts and checking lists

This is what a lot of brands expect to do; creating valuable content that helps with inbound marketing, educates a mailing list, and keeps people learning.

This content isn’t always for the target buyer. These listicles and content clusters are perfect for the DIYer out there. The target buyer sees that you’ve spent time and thought on a problem, and trusts that you can handle theirs.

This content mission runs a knife edge between blah and brilliant. Without any of the next missions, it can maroon in the doldrums, and read like every other site out there.

Which of these 5 types of brand are you? (It impacts your content mission!)

3. Unicorn Viewpoint: A new way of seeing something

These brands bring a new angle to the same methods and tools. They are often hugely inventive, a fantastic sense of distinction and originality.

You have to have a incredibly unique voice or approach if you want to stand out. Usually there’s some learning transfer that’s happened. You’re bringing a new system or thought flow to the market.

Most brands don’t have unique viewpoints that make people go crazy with anticipation.

The reach for this kind of content is much broader, but most of the time, will be limited to prospective clients and people within this niche. Not a bad thing, but there’s a lot of education that often happens. There’s not usually a broader appeal or cross-pollination into other niches.

Since most of us are learning a craft, and not yet at a point of unicornity (is that a word?), then the next option might work for you.

Which of these 4 types of brand are you? (It impacts your content marketing!)

3. Visioneers: market your why.

Does your brand have a reason for existing beyond serving your clients? Do you have a cause that you’re passionate about? Will you continue to post and blog about it, even 2 years from now? 5 years?

If yes, then that’s your focus. That’s what you’ll become known for. Make that an ongoing campaign that puts all your skills and team in play.

This is often a hugely interesting kind of brand. It creates all kinds of followers, not just from your target audience and your buyers. You can have a much broader reach this way.

Which of these 4 types of brand are you? (It impacts your content marketing!)

4. Platformation: create a voice for others

This kind of brand builds off the ‘Visioneer’ type, with a strong voice and vision. But instead of creating a ton of your own content, you create a platform that allows others to do the talking.  

This kind of brand builds of ‘user generated content,’ where you’re corralling content, instead of creating it. You focus on keeping everyone clear about the vision, and give them a voice, a chance in the ‘spotlight.’

Out the gate, this kind of brand has the potential for a lot of growth, and for reaching a lot of people. Everyone loves to be seen, heard, and understood. So when you make that your focus, they make you theirs.

You’re now off the hook to create stuff. You cultivate and curate.

These kinds of brands often build loyal tribes, because you’re giving so much attention to others.

Dream Again is gunning to be this kind of brand in 2020, focusing on helping more people tell their stories.

What do you think?

So if you’re having the hardest time cranking out blog articles, staying on top of your Instagram, tweeting and going live on Facebook, and so on, perhaps you haven’t yet cleared up your brand type.

There’s only so many things that can be said about a literal hammer. Or how to use it. That horse has been flogged till the cows came home to roost.

Today, focusing on the stories that the hammer makes happen is often easier, and more valuable.

What do you think? Are there any other kinds of brands? What’s yours?

Go ahead and reply with your type, and how you’ve made it work for you. Or how you’re struggling with it.

I attribute this article Eating Your Own Dog Food, The Cobbler’s Kids, And The Texas Law Hawk for helping me make sense of this.

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Why we need Small Business Stories. Lots of them. https://dreamagainmarketing.com/why-we-need-small-business-stories-lots-of-them/ https://dreamagainmarketing.com/why-we-need-small-business-stories-lots-of-them/#respond Tue, 07 Jan 2020 18:35:42 +0000 https://dreamagainmarketing.com/?p=208089 Over the holiday downtime, I watched a bunch of shows with the family. One thing really jumped at me; where are all the stories about people starting businesses?

There’s 27,000,000 entrepreneurs in the USA. We all know at least 1 person who’s starting up their brand.

And we’re going to continue seeing a lot more.

But when you Google small business movies, the top 10 include ‘Wall Street’ ‘Jerry McGuire’, and ‘The Social Network’.

Only one of those is actually about someone building a small business.

I remember a year back, I was chatting with a life coach. And he shared with me that he was struggling with his promotions, because he didn’t have any credentials to his name. We fell to talking about his story, and he wanted to brush past it.

You see, he’d been homeless, stuck in truly terrible housing situations, and day by day, worked himself back off the ledge and away from despair. Today, he’s recovered, of sound mind, and enjoying healthy success in life. It was from that interior place that he wanted to share his lessons, but was afraid his story wasn’t appropriate to share.

I was convinced that his story was the most interesting thing he’d told me, and it inspired me to believe that he had the experience to understand what others were going through. Many with degrees don’t have life experiences like that.

His story could become the cornerstone of his credibility.

But no one thinks like that, because we don’t see these stories.

Every time we start marketing or advertising, we look to the best practices of the big dogs in the industry.

We need to change it up.

We need more real life stories of real people, with their honest-to-goodness struggles and breaking points and bright successes.

Most of all, we need new examples of people making it work in today’s online and offline world.

Kind of like ‘This is Us.’ (I need to watch it too.)

For example:

  • The middle-aged mother, who’s kids are all flown the coop, and she’s picking up where her career left off – this time with a ton of experience.
  • The dad with 4 kids who was just fired, and decides to strike out on his own.
  • The retiring grandparent who realizes there’s a gap in his community that he can fill.
  • The young millenial, still in college, and teaming up with friends to start something new.

Each of them having something they can share and learn, because we’ve never seen business cultivated and created in a world like ours. The tools are all so new. The human part remains unchanging.

What do you think?

I’m thinking of taking 2020 to focus my Linkedin account on sharing the scars and stories of people and their small businesses.

Then pulling it all together into a magazine.

What would you call a project like this?

Do you have an interesting story you want to share?

Know someone you can tag?

Let’s have a little fun here. 🙂

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Fireside vs stageside: what storytelling is… and isn’t https://dreamagainmarketing.com/fireside-vs-stageside-what-storytelling-is-and-isnt/ https://dreamagainmarketing.com/fireside-vs-stageside-what-storytelling-is-and-isnt/#respond Tue, 31 Dec 2019 21:55:31 +0000 https://dreamagainmarketing.com/?p=207668 Like most of us, you steered clear of English in high school. Creative writing was fun. But it was for the delightful dorks in the corner.

But today, you’re running a business. Or in charge of creating content for your team. And you’re finding that a lot of your posts on social, your articles, and the stuff you’re talking about, just isn’t sticking with people.

You’ve realized you’re missing a human component. The humanizing element.

That’s what stories do. They make the truth more palatable (George Orwell). They make data memorable. They make moments stick. And they help people connect with your brand.

But, you feel like you don’t know where to start with storytelling. How do you do it? Where do you stop? Do you have to include some sort of moral?

Starting with a blank document feels like you’re trying to write a Pixar movie. It feels fake, like writing a fiction novel.

First of all, let’s take a step back.

Let’s talk about the simple and powerful difference between fireside vs stageside storytelling.

Or between campfire and TED talks.

See, we all tell stories to each other. All the time.

We recount moments. We share experiences. A glass of wine or a few beers with friends round a campfire brings up all kinds of hilarious and instructive stories.

Dream Maker

We talk about things that happened in our childhood. We connect those to bad experiences with our bank. And then we share what happened to a friend, or some hearsay about how things changed.

And that’s how it should be. Unstructured, free flowing, fun. That’s the nature of fireside stories; everyone in the circle shares a common context – friendship.

But in your brand, your visitors, your buyers, and your superfans don’t yet share a common context. They don’t yet have that sense of clarity and friendship that allows for freeform storytelling.

And that’s why you need something structured.

Stories are very concrete things.

Not highlights, or unstructured experiences. They are shared moments of change.

They are mostly about a human experience.

Social networks market ‘storytelling’ with their vertical ‘Stories’ media. But, most of what we consume isn’t actually a story.

We watch moments, dialogues, shower thoughts, series of ideas. Perfectly fine. But don’t call it a story.

It’s like calling every street a bridge because it connects separate locations.

A story can’t become so broadly defined it means anything. That’s what we call an ‘experience’.

Social networks tell you that you can be a storyteller, or feel like one. But unless you follow certain rules, it’s not a story.

Bridge makers don’t get to do what they want and call it a bridge.

Marvel screenwriters don’t get to deconstruct a story and call it proto-modern heroism.

Roller coaster creators can’t create a riveting ride loaded with stuff, and call it a story.

A story is a thing.

Most of us love stories because they make sense. They are sense-making machines. The outcomes are understandable, and that’s the point.

The Magic of TED stories

TED is a fantastic shorthand for where we’re going. I can almost guarantee that all of the last few TED talks  you’ve watched have had a story in them. They either started with one, or described a gripping moment to go deep into an idea.

TED talks are usually refined works of stagecraft and performance art. Their time limit means that every word is weighed. The speakers are usually trained to identify core emotions and ideas, and share them with breathtaking excitement.

Their stories are gems at the core of their talks that capture an idea. And they are carefully crafted. They always:

  • Begin with a concrete moment, or idea
  • Are focused on one person’s immediate experience
  • Build around a clear message
  • Keep it simple
  • End with a strong statement

It’s the art of high stakes, short form storytelling.

And that’s the kind of story that will work best for you. Use powerful, emotional, short stories in your emails, in your social shares, on your website.

Creating a Common Context

Your brand stands for something you deeply believe. Your stories are the ‘bricks’ you use to build up a platform that creates connection between strangers, and brings them together as friends.

That’s why you can’t waste time, description, or effort with your stories. A story must have a point. It can’t meander, however nicely written.

It has to end with a very clear idea, and finish quickly.

Do not waste your reader’s time. You haven’t ‘earned that right.’ Friends are far more forgiving, and can even ‘fill in the gaps’ when you forget where you were going.

Not so with strangers.

So key takeaways for any story you want to tell:

  • Make it about a person
  • Be clear about the context, and what they do
  • Keep it short
  • Have a clear point
  • Finish quickly

Show that you know where you’re going with a story. You’ll create confidence that you know where you’re going with your brand.

And most importantly, with your customers’ future.

Extra resources:

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‘My SEO stopped working… I have an email list. Now what?’ https://dreamagainmarketing.com/my-seo-stopped-working-i-have-an-email-list-now-what/ https://dreamagainmarketing.com/my-seo-stopped-working-i-have-an-email-list-now-what/#respond Mon, 23 Dec 2019 08:57:20 +0000 https://dreamagainmarketing.com/?p=207872 So the man sold tree services. And the season was turning into December in northern USA.

During this time of year, homes can be in danger if trees aren’t trimmed and cared for.

A snowfall or heavy load of ice could break branches, bringing them down into your bay windows, or take out your porch.

And then suddenly, for no apparent reason, Google stopped ranking him well. Visitors to site dropped away.

Nothing had changed on his site. From what his marketing team could tell, he outshone his competitors in almost every way. And yet…

On top of it, he started worrying about layoffs. Without new business, he couldn’t pay his entire team of guys.

He couldn’t pay for advertising. Passive, inbound SEO was the best he could afford.

Many of us have heard this story before.

I wish I knew the end to it.

It’s become a standard business tale today.

Then my friend, the one telling me this story, mentioned that the man had an email list of 500 emails.

Never been used.

What would you do?

Here’s my ‘unsolicited, storytelling advice’.

Start a hearts and minds campaign.

Send an email to your list, sharing a tip for their own safety this winter.

And then ask them to reply with the one question they NEEDED answered about tree care.

Most won’t open. Perhaps a 100 actually benefit from the tip. And maybe 20 write back.

You now have conversations going. Write up short answers and send them back to the email list.

Then, once a week, send a photo and short bio of a team member. Start humanizing the brand.

Share the founding story, and why you care about the community.

At this point, you should have some kind of testimonial you can share, perhaps photos of a job.

Invite past customers to send in a photo of past work that’s been done, and how its held up a year later.

None of this costs much, except time.

And it creates something invaluable; trust. In a small business, trust is the actual currency that makes sales. Sales happen because we believe in something.

So I think, if you’re stuck with conventional advertising, take stock of what you have, and don’t pitch to them.

Help them, share your humanity, ask how you can educate them. You wont be like the competition who keep adblasting reminders.

They’ll remember you.

What do you think?

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Why should I market when there’s so much competition? https://dreamagainmarketing.com/why-should-i-market-when-theres-so-much-competition/ https://dreamagainmarketing.com/why-should-i-market-when-theres-so-much-competition/#respond Thu, 19 Dec 2019 07:55:06 +0000 https://dreamagainmarketing.com/?p=207869 I was driving through town the other day, and saw an ad for Geico. It simply said: ‘Geico is now here.’

It was as if to say, ‘You’ve had to put up with everything else till now. Come, the promised land awaits.’

Or something. That made me smile.

My first thought was, ‘Everyone already has insurance, if you’re just now opening a franchise store. How do you think that’s going to work for you?’

And then I realized that that’s the point.

They know everyone already has insurance.

They’re banking on it.

And they’re banking that all their hard work in marketing their brand will inspire people to rethink things.

Insurance is a hard niche to compete in. That’s why Geico is a household name. When everyone hates insurance salesmen, Geico made them funny. Again, and again. And were insistent about their brand promise.

’15 minutes could save you…’

So when it comes to your/my marketing, there’s a lesson here.

Often, you want to see competition around your service.

I keep putting my hand down when I see so many other amazing brands already fishing the ocean red.

But when you stand up with a new attitude, you can start something new. A new option for people.

So, totally speaking to myself here. Don’t be afraid to speak out.

And market from your uniqueness.

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What happened when the Barista asked my name https://dreamagainmarketing.com/what-happened-when-the-barista-asked-my-name/ https://dreamagainmarketing.com/what-happened-when-the-barista-asked-my-name/#comments Mon, 16 Dec 2019 17:20:12 +0000 https://dreamagainmarketing.com/?p=207865 A few years back, I went to order a coffee from my favorite, local cafe.

As I pulled up to the counter, the young man pushed up his glasses, grinned through a short beard, and took my order.

And then, he put everything down, and asked me what my name was.

Not in a Starbucks way. But in a ‘I’m curious to connect with you’ way.

In that moment, I felt two completely distinct, polarized things.

On the one hand, I felt like I’d been insulted. Excuse me! What gives you the right? I just want my coffee, and to get back to what I was doing. The nerve of some people. What happened to personal space? What about boundaries?

And on the other hand, How cool! A real human being. No one ever personalizes things any more. No one ever makes a human connection around a sale. I like this guy. 

Now, I like to think I’m a nice guy. Mostly a people-person. So I was surprised at my first reaction.

Later, I realized that it surprised me – because no one does it. It’s such a rarity to actually make a human connection.

After that, we were on a first name basis.

That weird instant of the two feelings stuck with me. And I keep coming back to it.

Because in a simple act of humanizing a sale, the young man (Jeremy) made a friend.

Moving forward, I was no longer just buying a coffee. I was also stopping in to catch up with my new buddy.

This is what branding can do; it can act as a lens to pull your team forward. It can be the banner that attracts folk of like mind. And it can be the gathering place where friends meet.

So make it human. You have nothing to lose, and only new friends to gain.

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How do stories create connection? https://dreamagainmarketing.com/how-do-stories-create-connection/ https://dreamagainmarketing.com/how-do-stories-create-connection/#respond Thu, 12 Dec 2019 16:23:43 +0000 https://dreamagainmarketing.com/?p=207860 Raf’s first language was Polish. He has a ready grin, and enough energy to power a small town. Today, he speaks in accented English, lives in Nottingham.

Writing doesn’t come easy He struggled with English and Creative writing in school. It all still frustrates him today.

Perhaps that was why he took up competitive wrestling. And was good at it.

Later, while still working at a restaurant, he spent his off days building up a coaching practice for team feedback.

Like anyone, he tasted the fun and fear and frittering that comes from taking a risk for yourself.

Very quickly, he realized that he needed stories. Lots of stories. Stories communicated ideas faster. They were stickier. More memorable.

Problem: he wasn’t a master writer.

But… he did have passion.

He outlined, wrote notes. Didn’t care if it read badly. Ran it through Grammarly. Asked friends and family for feedback.

And started testing them out on his audiences. And learned.

Today, his excitement is tangible. I can’t take any credit.

See, storytelling isn’t about writing. It’s about communicating. Connecting.

So while you’ve never wrestled or run a restaurant, maybe you understand how he feels.

We connect with the internal feelings of a story.

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Am I a Foodie? Not really. Doesn’t my marketing show it? https://dreamagainmarketing.com/foodie-not-really-doesnt-my-marketing-show-it/ https://dreamagainmarketing.com/foodie-not-really-doesnt-my-marketing-show-it/#respond Tue, 10 Dec 2019 17:56:35 +0000 https://dreamagainmarketing.com/?p=207821 On our drive down to visit family this last Thanksgiving, my wife said something like, “Everyone thinks you’re a total foodie.”

“Why?”

“Because you’re always cooking.”

Let’s clear something up. I’m no gastronomist. I do love cooking shows, but not enough to actually find my life’s purpose crafting baguettes and brioche and brisket.

It’s just something that happened after getting married. My wife was in poor health, so I went from boiling eggs to learning how to julienne vegetables, fry onions without crying, and make soup. A good recipe follower.

It’s a backhanded privilege, I guess, but apart from running my own business, I also make 3 home-cooked meals a day. No pizza, takeout, or cereal allowed. (Diet restriction stuff…)

Where is all this going?

My extended family thinks I’m a foodie, and not because I am. But because that’s what they see me doing all the time.

That made me think about business.

What are people seeing you do? What are you talking about?

It’s really likely that you’re being known for what you’re often seen doing. You’ll get filed away in the memory banks – which is normal. We all have limited headspace.

But are you in the right space?

So that’s what I’m doing now. Taking fresh stock of what I’m doing.

If my business is all about storytelling first, then I should post about that. More often than other things.

If you post about too many things, then we don’t know what key idea to associate with you.

Some would call it being strategic with your content.

I think I don’t want to be known as a foodie.

And now I’m heading off to make wings, fried zucchini, and fingerling potatoes. Don’t judge me.

What about you?

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How to Tell Your Story | Interview with Keri Roberts on ‘Ordinary People doing Extraordinary Things’ https://dreamagainmarketing.com/how-to-tell-your-story-interview-with-keri-roberts-on-ordinary-people-doing-extraordinary-things/ https://dreamagainmarketing.com/how-to-tell-your-story-interview-with-keri-roberts-on-ordinary-people-doing-extraordinary-things/#respond Mon, 09 Dec 2019 06:00:00 +0000 https://dreamagainmarketing.com/?p=207593

Thanks to Keri Roberts, I was fortunate to spend time talking about my favorite topic: storytelling and business.

“In episode 232, I chat with Dominic de Souza, who lived in various countries growing up and always had a love for writing and storytelling. Dominic talks about his journey getting into branding, the questions every business needs to ask itself to clarify their brand, how to better tell your story, and more by listening to this episode.”

Originally posted on March 11, 2019

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