December 18, 2012


Stop aheadWhen we make plans or resolutions, we think about what we're going to do. Unless our days and/or weeks expand, we face the hurdle of finding the time.

We can put new items at or near the top of our priority lists. Other items will drop off for lack of time — unless we're told to squeeze them in too.

Clear The Clutter

We develop habits and stop noticing how they drain us, unless we pay attention. Where is your time going now? Consider using time tracking tools. Ask others where they think you’re misusing time.

Now, decide what you'll no longer do in your personal and work lives. You then free up time for the new. More important, you free up mental energy.


courtesy of Marta Dragonfly | click to view the Marketing Reflections archive
As a supplement to this blog, I've been sending out a free monthly newsletter, Marketing Reflections. The goal is to help you pause, reflect on your marketing and then act. Each issue had links to five articles worth a (re-)read.

I didn't mind creating the issues and readers liked them. That's still not a win/win because of the hours consumed. Also, the newsletter stopped serving a marketing purpose since I already share content via social networks.

The final issue, #42, shipped last week.

Stopping is more difficult than continuing. Even when I decided, I had misgivings. Yet, I felt lighter. That's a sign of a good decision. I knew many readers through past corporate work but we haven’t stayed in touch. The newsletter was maintaining an artificial connection.

A simple newsletter was sapping my mental energy. I didn't know until I stopped.

Your Case

Don’t you do things that make little sense today? Can’t you make better use of that time?
You could stop what seems unnecessary and see if anyone notices. That's cowardly compared with announcing your intention. Give your reasons and you might get commended for being proactive.


What might you stop? Here are ideas.
  1. Stop waking up to news: feel good instead
  2. Stop checking email before breakfast: get ready first
  3. Stop meeting for the sake of meeting: review the need, frequency and format
  4. Stop checking email all day: focus instead
  5. Stop disruptive multi-tasking: even if you’re a great juggler
  6. Stop responding to fake rush requests: you encourage poor planning
  7. Stop putting out fires: find ways to prevent them
  8. Stop taking on projects without proper time estimates: be realistic
  9. Stop being a bottleneck: you're more valuable when you enable and empower
  10. Stop feeling guilty on vacation: the world will survive
  11. Stop using two calendars: pick paper or electronic
This is the final post of 2012.

Best wishes to you and yours during the holidays.
May 2013 be the best year you've seen!


PS Don't stop reading blogs!

December 11, 2012


which way?What you do may be clear to you but not to others. Don’t blame them. Life’s busy and attention spans short. Refresh your positioning instead.

The Challenge

Positioning is tough. If you say you’re a coach, you’re easily stereotyped even though you’re unique (at least until cloning). If you pick a clever title (e.g., “Angle Coach”) and tagline (e.g., “Changing By Degree”), what you do may not be clear. If you’re given the opportunity to explain, you’re stereotyped again.

What you do may have evolved since you positioned yourself last time.


I've been calling myself a Marketing Actuary for years. That’s reasonable because I own (this website) and have helped entrepreneurs market better. My last official title in the corporate world was Director of Advanced Marketing.

While I have a personal website,, some people have trouble remembering or correctly spelling my name. In contrast, Marketing Actuary is easier to remember and leads directly to me.
The only drawback is confusion.

My real work involves life and health insurance (education, reviews, sales). I’m really an “insurance actuary” but don’t show up in a web search with those keywords.
I started calling myself an Insurance Actuary last week.
I changed my tagline from “actuary to the wealthy” to “actuary | advocate | blogger” earlier this year. My new title gave me a better idea: “promoting insurance literacy”.

My name is spelled “Promod”, which is usually pronounced “pro-MOD”. The correct way is “pro-MODE” (which rhymes with “commode”). “Promote” has a similar sound and positive connotations.

Financial literacy is a big problem but the battle focuses on investing. Who’s talking about the more specialized world of insurance? I can align myself with “promoting insurance literacy”. It’s even true, since I started a financial wiki in 2006 (Riscario) and blog in 2007 (Riscario Insider).

Clever, huh?

Your Turn

Your positioning may still make sense to you. What I've done might suboptimal. That’s okay. There’s value in making changes even when they’re less than perfect. You get closer to the ideal.
You don’t need fresh business cards while you experiment. Instead,
  1. Make the changes on your LinkedIn profile.
  2. Modify your “elevator speech” or commercial.
  3. Gauge the reactions and make adjustments.

Getting Ideas

You may have trouble figuring out better ways to position yourself. As a start, ask the people you know how they’d describe you. Take notes. You may not get a flash insight but you’re gathering data. Think about what you’re being told without over-analyzing. My process took several weeks.

If you’re stuck, ask for help. Look for someone who specifically does positioning.

One Small Step ...

My changes are minor but I'm already getting good responses to Insurance Actuary | Promoting Insurance Literacy. I've also got an untapped niche, a “blue ocean”.

When you reposition yourself, you get fresh perspectives. You see yourself differently and others do too. You may think your new position isn't far from your old one. It is.


PS If you say you do more than one thing, you’ll look like a generalist.

December 4, 2012


admit one
Big business can afford to host free events and advertise them. They often have their own facilities. If not, they have the budgets to rent space and provide refreshments.

You may not.

A free-to-attend event is not free to run. If you don't have a good estimate of how many will show up, life gets stressful.


You can use an event organizing system like Meetup or Eventbrite to collect RSVPs (LinkedIn Events shutdown last month). You still won't have a good idea of how many will really attend. If you host events regularly, you'll develop estimates. Perhaps 70% attend. If your room holds 70, you can overbook and allow 100 registrations. Airlines and hotels have mastered this process.


click to readThe difficulty arises with newer or less frequent events. Attendance might fluctuate even if you registrations are relatively constant. As an organizer, the waiting gets nerve-wracking. If you have free speakers, it's unfair to them if the attendance is low.

I’ve organized events. My most embarrassing experience was with THE Social Media Workshop in 2011. The speakers were excellent. Since members prepaid for the year, they could attend for free. Yet attendance was low. The speakers say they forgive you --- the right people attended. Maybe that's true but low attendance is embarrassing just the same.

The Solution

You've probably guessed the solution: charge in advance. You then get solid facts. If you're going to be disappointed, you might as well find out early. Even a small ticket price boosts the commitment level. Otherwise, excuses like the weather get in the way.

You could have different prices:
  • early bird: limited quantity, limited time [could be 2 for 1, rather than a discount]
  • regular: ending 1-2 days before the event
  • at the door: have a surcharge to entice pre-purchases
You then encourage early registrations --- a nice way to reduce stress. Eventbrite and Meetup let you show how many have registered and how many tickets remain. There are costs for using those services but peace of mind has value too. You could boost prices, to offset the service charges.
If you don't sell enough tickets, you have advance notice to cancel or reschedule.


Free events raise suspicions. What are the organizers selling? Even if the answer is nothing, you may get too few of the right people (and too many of the wrong).

Besides increasing commitment, charging increases the perceived value. The ticket price needn't be high. If you're not aiming to make a profit, you could use the money for catering or donations. You could even give refunds at the door.

If you're worried that paying attendees will expect a better event, good. You'll now have even more reasons to give attendees value.

Refund Policies

If you cancel the event, you'd give refunds. If a registrant cancels, do you refund the ticket price? Maybe not. Make the ticket transferrable instead. That way you maintain attendance numbers. Isn't that what you want?

Why Bother?

Why are you organizing events in the first place? Maybe you team up with other organizers to create bigger happenings. Isn’t that a win for all?


PS If you're creating a big special event, you can use Picatic, crowdsourcing for events. Besides collecting money, you’ll gauge interest early.