High five! You’re pumped! Fresh ideas are necessary for business growth and development. It may sound nerdy (it is nerdy), but I love nothing than a brainstorming session with myself. I have notebooks and an app filled with ideas. I learned long ago to write the ideas down. I used to think a brain spark I’d have was so good that there was no way I’d forget it, but something else would creep into that brain space and POOF. So, now, all the ideas get recorded.
But how do you get an idea off the ground? Should you let it fly? What do you need to do to give it legs to run? If you have a few minutes, pour your cup of coffee and let’s talk.
I used to do something else too. I’d try to act on all the ideas. They were so great, I thought, that they all needed to get put forth into the world. Big, big mistake. Enter big-time overwhelm, messed up priorities, lack of follow-through, and in the end, a lack of profitability.
All ideas are good ideas, but all ideas are not good for now. -Geneva Maresma
Here are three ways to handle all the inspirational ideas you have to make sure they serve you instead of slicing into your goals.
Categorize your ideas- act now, put on the shelf, toss in the fun bin. Does your idea line up with your long or short-term goals? If you can say, “Heck yes!” then act now on developing it. Could it line up with your goals at some time but it needs time to possibly be aligned? Put it on the shelf of ideas to keep revisiting. Is it a fun or exciting idea but would take you a totally different direction than the goals you’ve established? Then, toss it into the fun idea bin.
Talk to a good business bestie about your idea. So many times I’ve had an idea that lights me all up inside, and when I’ve spent the time explaining it to a trusted business mind, I’ve found one of two things happen. As I’m explaining it, it begins to sound more and more complicated and is harder to articulate than it was to think about OR the other brain with whom I’m sharing “gets it” and jumps on my brainwave giving me affirmation. Ultimately, your business ideas have to excite others, so take your ideas to a trusted person or two, and you’ll get lots of clarity with what to do with it.
Research. There aren’t too many brand new ways of doing things, but there are many fresh ways to go about old ideas. See what others have done with a similar concept. Google and read the results of others. Not only will you see how similar ideas have served other businesses, but chances are you’ll refine your idea to something even better than the original!
Let your mind move and those ideas flow. Act on those that have gone through these three screening steps with flying colors, and embrace one of the greatest aspects of entrepreneurship- innovation!
Anyone who knows me well, knows I’m an over-the-top John Mayer fan, so he gets a blog title in honor of one of his great songs.
I have seen him three times in concert. He inspired the name of my cat, Olivia (check out his song “Something Like Olivia”). Seeing him sing and strum his guitar motivated me to buy my own electric guitar. It’s a thing of beauty from a small guitar company in Miami. It’s made of wood and is the most gorgeous teal. Back to Mayer, I own a couple concert T-shirts, and I’m quite convinced if I could find John Mayer underwear and pajamas, I’d add them to my collection. If you ever need to send me a gift, now you know.
This is a way different love affair than the one I had with Jordan Knight of New Kids on the Block, although I was crushing really hard a few years ago when I saw them in concert for the second time. I’ll tell you why I choose John all day over Jordan.
Words. Lyrics. Poetry. And oh, how that guitar sings those words.
So now I have to share something with you I’m a little embarrassed of. Normally, by brain is brimming with ideas for content. I am a writer after all, so I generally have 25 ideas that didn’t make it to paper for the one that did.
Last week. Fumes. Nada. Can I tell you how frustrating that was for me? I posted 3 days instead of my usual 4-5. I had gotten behind the couple weeks before on writing jobs and got out of my normal weekly planning routine. Sure I could have posted something, but no idea was hopping, so three posts it was.
I know you feel my pain, because some of you have told me how you are trying to post to your social every day (like “they” say we should do), or show up twice a day, but you’re struggling to find ideas, so you post something funny or share an idea your friend posted on her business page.
You made it a point to show up to the content party, but did your content enter dressed to the hilt?
Like your content would make other’s people’s content hang onto their men just a little tighter, as you enter the room.
You don’t write because you want to say something. you write because you have something to say.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Hold your cosmo and lean in. Listen to Mr. Mayer and Mr. Fitzgerald. Say what you NEED to say. Write when you have something to say. The point is not to just show up the party. You have to deliver at the content party. Consistency with content that takes their breath away is key. If you skip a couple days until you find inspiration, your true following will not vanish. Believe me.
If you can only come up with filler and fluff, like a little black dress, it’s standby party wear. It’ll do, but it won’t get you seen like the royal blue off the shoulder number. In fact, it could just get you overlooked. If you’re going to go to the content party, and you are going to put in the effort to show up, you may as well get some attention for your efforts.
Grab your mimosa and let me give you three ways to give your content ideas a nice spark.
Remember that some of the best content comes from stories. A story doesn’t have to be loooong or have to do with your childhood. You are creating story every, single, day. Look at the last 100 photos in your phone’s gallery. Find 5 of them you can tie to your business happenings, values, mission, or vision.
Grab a book but not just any book. I’m giving away a big secret here. Go to Target. Enter the calendar, planner, and journals aisle. Buy a journal that has daily prompts. There you will find 365 days of engagement content questions you can tweak for your audiences. My favorite one right now is A 5 Year Question A Day Memory Journal. I also love quotes for inspiration, and people love to like and share a good quote. Quotes are usually the framework of my weekly content, whether they are my own or something amazing that speaks to me to share. Another great book for content inspiration is Beautifully Said- Quotes by Remarkable Women and Girls Designed to Make You Think.
Use the heck out of Pinterest. I look up terms related to my business such as “writing tips for businesses” or “small business strategy” to find inspiration. You could query the same terms in Google, but with Pinterest you will get the added bonus of visual inspiration too. Think about your field and look up tips or questions people have related to your industry.
Ok, I know I said three, but you are going to get a bonus. Write down the top 10 questions your clients ask you, and each of those are super to show up to your content party, because they are exactly what your clients have invited!
Children love to listen to a story. Adults get hooked on Netflix shows for the storylines or devour books with good plots, relatable heroes, and villains who represent common evils.
Think of the best Superbowl ads. Whether they are funny or moving, they tell mini-stories, and you’ll wade through a football game even if it’s not your cup of tea to see the ads.
So why do we love a good story (Better question…Why should we use stories to connect to our audiences?)? I’ll give you three reasons that’ll hopefully tip you towards incorporating story in your sales strategy.
First, from a neurological standpoint, stories ignite visual centers of the brain that bring words to life. Think about a time you read an amazingly authored book. As you read, weren’t you able to vividly imagine the story as if there was a movie reel in our mind? In fact, not wanting to turn the stimulating mental movie off, might be what kept you sitting on your couch or at the beach reading cover to cover. Stories stimulate the senses, and the more senses involved with exploring information, the more likely we are to retain and act upon information.
Second, when people engage stories through your business content (lives, stories, posts, videos, blogs-stories can be told through many mediums), they don’t feel you’re fishing for a sale. They feel your business cares to bring relatable content to the relationship with them. This friendly and non-pushy feel pushes your know, like, and trust factor higher.
Last, a good story makes you human. Being human in today’s content cluttered world will help you stand out from all the other “noise” calling people to buy, click, download, sign up. A story will make your ideal client stop scrolling and still their minds long enough to take in the high quality content you’re delivering. They will feel served not sold or told.
You might be saying, “Yes, Geneva! I want to build more storytelling into my content, but I don’t know what to talk about.”
Let me give you 7 ideas that any business can use to develop this powerful type of content. I want you to be able to take the content in this blog, MOVE, and see how your audience responds. I promise you’ll be amazed at how people will latch on.
Tell the story of how you came into your passion/niche. What prompted you to start your business journey?
Tell about how you uncovered one of your brand’s core values. Why are you committed to accuracy, the creative process, your customer service? What happened to you that made this value so important for your work?
Let your customer be the hero. After all, we have no businesses if not for our customers. Tell a story of a customer/client and how you worked together towards a solution. Look at your testimonials and recall the stories behind them.
Tell about why you’ve connected your business to a certain organization or cause. Talk about what/how you were moved towards this cause.
Talk about your “behind the scenes.” You’ll allow them to know the care and time you put into each piece of your work. Tell about how you came up with a design, system, office decor.
Talk about a conversation you had with someone this week that really impressed upon you.
Describe a personal obstacle you had recently. Depending on the situation, use humor or deep emotion to tell your audience how you overcame and ask for them engagement.
These are just a few ideas. Stories can be long form content or very short. Use lots of “I” and “you,” so your listener. Remember, stories have a beginning, middle, and end. They bring your customer through a thought process that makes them reflect and connect. Your call to action and messaging does not have to directly link to your product or service. It may, but the beauty of storytelling is that you become memorable. The more memorable you are, the more business will come to you!
I hope you’ll give it a shot! Don’t say I didn’t tell you so, when you get tons of comments and dialogue back!