Creative techniques to strategically attract audiences.

Archive for the ‘Creative’ Category

Artists (Like You) Output

Posted by Alex Rodríguez

You are all artists in one way or another.

Through any form of expression available to you, you are most likely in tune with aesthetics (making things look/feel great).

…But that’s not the big idea here. Keep reading. 🙂

A key tenet of successful artists is to perform massive output.

Why? Because ideas often might seem great in our heads, but it’s not until they are tested with an audience that we become aware of how good these ideas really are.

If you look at most “visionary” artists who hit it big within a certain style, and look at their track record, you’ll notice a trail of true duds where they didn’t quite hit the mark.

But they kept trying different things they came up with, until BANG! They hit their groove.

Why do I bring this up?

I see many of you being extremely shy and reserved around your output.

You’re either doing the same thing again and again when you haven’t yet refined your message, or you’re just not making the effort.

That’s not how artists do it.

You will never hit your prime by practicing in your head.

You have to OUTPUT.

You need to package and SHIP.

You need to expose your ideas even though they might flop.

To tell the truth, I’ve flopped hundreds of times.

Who cares, though? Better an idea that flops than a safe lack of an idea.

While I’m on this note… Do you know something else successful artists do very little of?

Sit down and spend their day ruminating about other artists.

Why? Because the business of an artist is to PRODUCE, not to CONSUME.

I rarely waste my energy talking (positively or negatively) about gurus. I have way too much on my plate — current and future ideas in the works — to pay attention to someone else’s lab experiments.

Yes, we all have influences, and yes, we acknowledge those who came before us.

But as the author of your own message, it’s a mistake to think that the most important big ideas will come from eating popcorn and listening to that guru who has a million views on their YouTube channel.

No. The big idea will sprout from that space between your ears. 🙂

But you HAVE to output. Flush the mind every single day. Let these ideas fly freely.

Show the world what you’ve got, and either reap the rewards or suffer the shame.

Then you refine, tweak, modify.

And do it again the next day.

Be Original Vs Be Everyone Else Vs Be Both

Posted by Alex Rodríguez

Do you strive to always be original, or are you content to always follow the status quo?

The matter that trips people up here is the word “always.” There’s actually a time and a place for everything, and this shouldn’t be a binary decision.

My personal take is that there is no reason why you should always follow status quo; however, in some instances it is more cost/time/resource efficient to follow agreed conventions as a means to another end.

It’s simply not efficient to break conventions at all times. This is the only way cultures can strive: A critical mass of people agree to do things in a predictably common way in order to advance more fundamental matters of society.

At the same time, innovation takes a step forward when one or more individuals decide to engage in a radically different behavior pattern, but the key element here is that they do so *from within* the conventions, not from an outside position of utter chaos.

Pablo Picasso once said, “Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.” What Picasso didn’t say in this quote was that in order to “see what could be” and ask “why not,” he first needed to observe “what is’ at a given time.

You can see this clearly by following Picasso’s own evolution through many different styles, all the way until he turned into the pioneer we all remember him as.

When confronted with the question of whether you should be original or stay within what everyone else is doing, you can just safely reply “yes” and “both.”

You’ll have a much better chance of producing something truly meaningful.

How To Perform Quality Control For Your Brand

Posted by Alex Rodríguez

Most of us have spent our entire lives trying to be savvy when it comes to our finances. We might buy an SUV or a family van instead of a sports car, and book flights with JetBlue or Southwest because they usually provide a better deal than other airlines.

Yet, despite all of these practical ways to be smart about money, one thing still remains certain: Sometimes, you have to look at more than just the numbers. There’s no point in buying a cheap car if it’s going to break down in six months. The same concept applies to your brand. What you invest into developing a good image will yield much better returns than penny pinching at every corner.

Do the Math

When setting up a budget for your marketing, you have to consider a lot more than actual costs. When you spend money wisely, your digital marketing ends up paying for itself and maximizes profits.

Establish Viable Goals

In order to develop the most effective marketing strategy, you have to be fully cognizant of your goals (Aimed Towards Results). You can’t just cast a wide net and hope something will stick. Who’s your target audience? How do you intend to best address their concerns? Why do you think they’d be interested in what you have to offer? The only way to do this effectively is to study your market.

Having High Standards

Your standards should be as high as the quality of your services. Do not be a conformist for the sake of saving a few bucks (or even a few hundred or thousand bucks) here and there. If you want to achieve great accomplishments, you have to have exceptionally high standards. Every single successful entrepreneur has had them. And once you set them, make it a priority to consistently deliver.

Your business’ most valuable asset is its reputation. While erring is human, you will be better off over investing as much as you can afford, than going in the opposite direction. Be like Indiana Jones and choose wisely.

Why Market Research is So Valuable

Posted by Alex Rodríguez

Do you remember how cool Crystal Pepsi was in the early 1990s? No one does… because it wasn’t.

Despite the company’s attempt to make their product sound cool and healthy, it fizzed faster than the foam on your glass of soda.

You might have a product or service you want to launch. However, you probably don’t have Pepsi’s budget, so you can’t really afford for your brand launch to flop. The best way to determine whether your new business venture is a good idea or not, is to study your target market. Knowing what makes people tick is as important as the quality of your product.

1- Is there a market for what you have to offer?

You may have come up with a creative way to brew starfruit beer, or you may be an expert at fixing original Atari consoles; but if nobody’s interested in either idea, it won’t make sense to invest money, time, nor resources into those businesses.

2- If there is a market, why would they need your product?

OK, so let’s say Generation X kids do want to fix their Ataris. Nostalgia is a powerful thing, you know.

Do they want additional forms of entertainment? Do they have a void that only going down memory lane is going to fill? What, exactly is Xbox failing to provide that would make bringing back this console from yesteryear a hit?

Prioritize understanding their point of view. If you can provide exactly what they’re looking for, you’ll have customers eating right out of your hand.

3- Is there anything your competitors are not providing?

When performing your market research, figure out what is your competitions’ Achilles’ heel and fix it. Then market your solution to your target audience as if it were the answer to their prayers.

Think about your product launch as training for a marathon. You wouldn’t just show up at the start line and run 26.2 miles just because you happen to like tennis shoes. You have to train properly and eat well to maximize your performance.

The same concept applies to marketing. Place some effort into your preparatory tasks so that when that shot goes off, you are able to hit the track running.

Four Ways to Tell Your Story

Posted by Alex Rodríguez

As discussed in last week’s blog post, establishing a connection with potential clients is essential to stand out from the competition. That may sound like an easy concept on paper, but sometimes it can be slightly confusing as to how to get your story across, or how to make it really shine. Fortunately, there are several ways of presenting it to the world:

1. Your personal story

If you overcame any type of hardship or uphill battle in order to open or expand your business, or if you received an amazing insight that transformed your outlook on business, talk about it. People will more easily relate to you when they realize that you’re not a static figure that came out of the blue, but rather someone that has traveled through their own journeys.

2. Your company’s story

Not only is your personal story important for people to establish a connection, but your company’s growth can add some oomph to the mix. Take, for example, a business like Yankee Produce Company, a local business that started with $70.00 in cash and by making deliveries from a Toyota Tacoma, to now having their own warehouse, refrigerated trucks, and being the exclusive caterer for Steinbrenner Field, the spring training home of the New York Yankees.

People love stories like that. It’s like reading The Little Engine that Could all over again. Why would someone purchase wholesale from Costco or Wal-Mart when they know they can support a local, homegrown business?

3. Your employees’ story

Employees are important. If you treat them as a means to an end, you will have a high turnover rate; and if every time a client calls your office or stops by, they are greeted by a different person, it will reflect badly on your business.

If one of your employees reaches a new sales goal or signs up a prominent client, celebrate it. Include it in a blog post or newsletter, letting potential clients know about internal company success — with the added extra bonus of boosting office morale.

4. Other clients’ success stories

Be proud of what you do! If you’re an accountant, and you helped a client save thousands of dollars on their taxes from one year to another, talk about it! If you’ve won more cases than most other law firms in your area, let people know about it by sharing how your services made someone’s life better.

People will deduce that if you were able to help so many others, they can also benefit from doing business with you.

Sharing all of these types of stories says a lot more about you than just sharing your company background or your mission statement: It speaks to your commitment to excellence, how much you value teamwork, and that you celebrate other people’s successes as if they were your own.

It’s refreshing to see this happening in an age when people’s ego tends to take center stage. As the saying goes, “No man is an island,” and by implementing these suggestions, you display how being interconnected makes your business stronger.

Expanding Your Business by Sharing Your Story

Posted by Alex Rodríguez

Have you ever stopped to think about the moment when you first meet someone? You’ll notice that if they tell you a personal story you can relate to, you immediately like them, or at least remember them more easily. Isn’t that true?

Well, the same happens with businesses.

Anybody can parrot facts; and sometimes, within the same industry, there won’t be much that differentiates one company from another in terms of the terms and concepts they talk about. But if there’s a connection between you and your potential client, you’ll automatically stand out from the pack. You’ll also grab their attention from the beginning, instead of requiring several different touchpoints to do so. Once you have them hooked, you can share more about your solution, and what your business can do for them.

Explore your story through questions like:

Other great stories you can tell revolve around clients that have worked with you, such as:

Finally, my favorite types of stories are those that have to do with your customer’s own journeys, such as:

These stories give meaning and purpose to what you do. You’re no longer one of the millions of people who get in their car during rush hour in the morning just because they have bills to pay. You’re suddenly a person who became successful because what you do means more than generating revenue for your business. This will give you a competitive advantage, especially over bigger companies with unlimited budgets.

Sharing your story can also inspire people and call them to action. People will often tailor their behavior according to how they’re feeling. Also, stories are easier to remember. You can tell someone about all the acronyms and buzzwords in your industry, or you can tell them that because of your experience you know exactly how they’re feeling and how you can get them to where they want to be.

Telling your story is a component of conducting business that benefits both sides: You as a business, because you get to close on a sale or sign up a client; and the client, because they were on the market for a service or product and were able to obtain it from someone they connected deeply with. It’s also part of developing your social intelligence.

So, never forget to tell stories about who you are and why you’re here. It’ll pay off in the long run.

Branding, Applied to People?

Posted by Alex Rodríguez


More and more people today are convinced that in order to differentiate themselves in a crowded professional marketplace, they must apply the same principles we have known and used for many ages towards reaching the same exact goals in the product space: branding.

The idea behind branding can be boiled down, very simply, as the promise of a specific experience before an engagement.

Yet people still have many hesitations when it comes to branding people. They think the idea is cold, sterile, a dead concept applied to living beings.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Whether you want to or you don’t, you are already putting forth a brand for yourself. More than likely, people have already formulated an expectation of your values, your abilities, your skills, etc., through the things you say… and even through the things you don’t say.

For example, if I ever post about a very negative subject on social media, I undoubtedly will receive comments — usually private—telling me that that was out of character, that something must be wrong, that “that’s not you.”

Why? Because for many, many years, I’ve consistently stood for being positive in the face of difficult circumstances, fighting the good battle instead of complaining, and other stances I unwaveringly believe in.

Yet even in the face of this truth, most people don’t stop to think about what profile they’re projecting. Some feel it’s an egotistical act to think of oneself this way, while others feel that it’s just a waste of time.

However, the undeniable fact is that every single day we wade in the midst of a network of social connections, and what we say and do will absolutely have an impact on other human beings.

Therefore, when we don’t take a serious look at our personal brand, rather than being an egotistical act, it’s the actual opposite—as surprising as that may seem for many reading this.

It is actually very self-centered to refuse to pause and think about the impact our actions, words, and values have on others. On the other hand, to clear the airs and figure out how we fit among a complex web of social connections can become an act of empathy and compassion, provided we do so with the right intentions.

If you have never stopped to work on your personal brand, especially if you aspire to become a successful professional, I would sincerely recommend you do so.

In our day and age, capacity and merit are not enough to help you move forward, because guess what? School is over, and nobody is handing out report cards any more.

Nobody is keeping score on how well everyone is doing, and then giving the stand to the high performers. You sink or swim by how much your brand is able to cut through the massive clutter, where everyone at the surface just seems replaceable.

Your profile will rise to the extent that you can manage to be authentic, visible, consistent, and relevant to your industry and your professional goals.

Let’s Keep In Touch

Posted by Alex Rodríguez


People today are talking a whole lot about fake news… And there’s a ton of it, true… But mostly what I see when I check Facebook are people ripping their hairs out in outrage about the latest offense du jour.

And immediately after, 10,001 parodies, memes, and complaints about the same offense du jour.

And I am getting tired of it.

I got into social media to be in touch with my friends, to receive — and more importantly — to give value.

I couldn’t care less about 99.999% of what people are getting offended by these days, because:

a) Most times their “offense” stays right on social media, they never intend to change the world nor even their own selves because of it.

b) The source of the “offense” is so far out of their reach and control that they are just serving to further amplify whatever is supposedly offending them.

c) Their “sighs” and “eyerolls” are just a petty way to feel a bit of false excitement in the midst of a boring life.

d) It’s usually something not worth eroding social connections for.

All of this to say this: right now, I’m really missing the time when social media was about discovering other people’s thoughts, values, and attitudes.

It was a constant learning experience, we felt like world travelers… because, in fact, each mind is a new world.

I miss when we could discuss about a topic, but there was no FOMO, there was no competition for Likes — I mean, “Reactions” — nor a race to go viral. It was just pure connection with other human beings.

We built long-lasting connections, not frail “friendships” that get blasted upon the mere sight of an “offense.”

Our respect and dignity for one another was way above in our list of priorities over how we labeled each other, or even ourselves.

Our status rose based on the cool things we were getting accomplished, or how we managed to help one another, not on our level of sarcasm and cynicism and how much it earned Likes… I mean, “Reactions”.

We could discuss the news and give our opinions, yet we weren’t trying to skewer each other over our differences.

When one of us complained, it was because we sincerely hoped for someone to provide a solution, whether it was advice, a helpful thought, or to just hear “I know how that must feel” from another human being. The complaint itself wasn’t the substance of our message.

I really miss that social media… But you know what?

It’s still alive.

It’s right here.

I see glimpses of it when many of you message me privately and I see the real you.

I see it when — in the most unfortunate of circumstances — you post a heartfelt message when a loved one passes away, or when you raise awareness for a good cause you truly believe in.

I see it when you talk about someone you know that is in need, and ask for help.

I see it when we’re the weakest, when we must hold on to something true because the fake stuff just won’t cut it during those moments. It would be like grabbing onto floating sponges while the river carries us away and we’re drowning. No. At those moments, what we really need is a rock to hold on to, or someone to throw an end of a rope at us.

We need something real. Authentic.

And when I see those moments, that’s when I can still see the essence of why we were given these channels in the first place.

But you and I can keep it alive.

You know how?

By not sharing nor riding on whatever trend everyone else is talking about.

By making an effort to be unique and valuable.

By thinking about how our message can affect others.

By not being duped into thinking that words are just words, and on the other hand understanding that we have the power to write, post, share, or publish things that can seriously and deeply affect others.

By dropping our agenda to change people’s worldviews — it ain’t gonna happen through Facebook, let’s just accept it already — and instead letting others know what we sincerely believe.

So this is somewhat of a complaint, but not really. It’s more of a cry of hope.

Hope that we can sustain what we (you and I, you know, I’m talking to you) have built.

Let’s make this more about our wins and less about what we all hate anyway.

Let’s keep in touch.

Sure, go ahead and plagiarize yourself. Here are 9 ways to do it.

Posted by Alex Rodríguez


Fair warning: If you aren’t producing content of some kind, putting forth your best ideas in a comprehensive, tangible format on a consistent basis, this article might not make much sense to you.

On the other hand, if you’re already pumping out great ideas with one hand, and voraciously feeding your mind with spoonfuls of good content with the other, then it is you who I’m talking to.

Here’s something that I became aware of, almost accidentally: I recently passed inventory of content I’ve already put out, and was blown away at the sheer volume of ideas I’ve Gepettoed into existence. After years and years (over 12 years blogging, over 6 years podcasting, over 20 years producing video, I’m talking quite a few years here), I have built up a small library worth of ideas, many of them still out there, floating in the ether.

Now to be frank, some of these ideas absolutely suck, while other bits are outstanding —  if I may say so myself —  but in the end I have this a massive volume of thoughts that could fool anyone into believing that I don’t have real businesses to run, nor a family to support, but rather just jam away full-time at a laptop, at a beach, 24/7.

Not my case… but in any case, what I want to talk about here is how to scale up content production, without necessarily starting from scratch every single time.

You —  the Producer with a well-deserved capital “P” — are constantly racing to keep things fresh, to talk about new ideas, or at the very least, to speak about ideas that are new to a segment of your audience.

Yet at times we’re simply unaware of the massive amounts of ideas we already have out there, and that could perfectly be revived into newuse, aren’t we?

Now, in our ethical refusal to plagiarize others, we might mistake our situation to a degree where we look any other way than to the treasure troves of ideas that we’ve birthed. We fall into the mistake of thinking that every bit of content we produce needs to be created ex nihilo.

Now don’t get me wrong here. I’m absolutely not saying that you should pump out the exact same ideas over and over again. That would be the easiest way to burn out anyone consuming what you’re producing.

Indeed, I’m offering a path to produce the exact opposite result, through a much easier method.

Today, I want to give you permission to plagiarize yourself.

That is, draw from ideas you put out, copy them, reshape them, and bring them to new life. They are your ideas, so why feel guilty about using —  even re-using — them?

Here I’m going to give you 9 reasonable ways to plagiarize yourself without repeating the exact same stuff over and over.

Here we go:

1- Confirm a prediction

If you had foreseen a particular direction your industry would take through content that you had published, you can now publish about how right you were back then. By doing so, you’re not really boasting about being a human crystal ball. You were just correct, that’s all.

You can consider including reasons why you saw that particular outcome as the most probable, and this way ground your prediction as much more than wo-woo “psychic powers,” but rather a strong grasp on your subject of expertise.

2- Admit your prediction was wrong

As cool as it is to look like your industry’s fortune-teller, if you were in fact wrong, then publish about that too! You will show up as transparent and more human, and not as someone trying to hide their shortcomings.

More importantly, you can offer value by speaking about a) why your prediction failed, b) what the reality is, and c) what you were able to learn from the difference between reality and your prior expectation, which should give way to some pretty interesting learnings.

3- Recant on a previous position

Have you been known for a particular position, which you’ve realized no longer makes sense? Hey, it happens to everyone. With so many factors in play in a rapidly-evolving world, you’re more than allowed to change your mind.

Even thought leaders recant at times — remember when Seth Godin said that clicking on web banners was a way to give a virtual tip to websites? Wrong in so many ways, but at least he admitted it… and so can you.

4- Update a prior position

You don’t have to wait until you’re wrong in order to update your position on a subject. As times change, so can your stance adapt accordingly. You could have been absolutely correct, given the information and circumstances available at the time, yet new insight might have given you a reason to deepen your stance further and make it more relevant to current times.

5- Keep the list going

If your content is structured around a list of some sort — somewhat like the one you’re reading right now! — you can publish a new piece continuing the list further. “There’s more than one way to skin a cat,” as the saying goes, so if you talked about 10 ways to do X, I’m sure you can squeeze the creative juices to come up with a number of additional ways.

6- Niche your recommendations

If you published about certain advice or recommendations, you can now publish about how that advice can be applied by a specific audience niche.

Of course, the risk with this approach will be that you’ll lose interest from the audience segment outside of that niche; on the other hand, the huge benefit is that your relevance will drastically increase from people within the niche.

7- Spin it into another media format

Your content might have been great in the original medium you published to, so why not bring it back to life into a different form of media? For example, a text article can be re-published as an audio segment, an infographic, or even a chapter in an ebook.

People who prefer other types of media than what you originally published to might come into contact with those ideas for the very first time; yet even people who consumed your content originally very rarely complain from seeing it published into a different format, as long as the ideas are worthwhile.

8- Use it to guest post on other channels

Here’s a secret : Audiences really don’t care so much about how many other places your content lives on, only about what they’re consuming on the channel they’re on at the moment.

Most of my articles are usually re-published in several languages in at least 5 other digital channels — guess which ones! — and a few have even become magazine articles (yes, in printed form).

As a side note, don’t listen to so-called SEO experts jabbering about “duplicate content penalties.” It’s not what they make it seem, and it’s not related to this recommendation at all.

9- Translate it into a different language

I’ve hinted about this in the previous tip. It’s highly unlikely that your content will only be valuable in your native language, and there are population segments that are starving for solid insights. You can either set up a new platform in a different language (like I’ve done between here and here), or you can just guest post on someone else’s platform that is already in your target language — which has a side-benefit of speaking to an already-existing community.

If you don’t speak the target language, I strongly recommend you hire a capable translator for this task, and under NO circumstances ever use something straight out of Google Translate.

: : : : : : : : : :

As you’ve seen, there are many different ways you can re-utilize ideas that you’ve already published about, and still make something interesting to consume.

It first takes breaking from the idea that it’s wrong to do so, and then moving forward with one of these creative approaches.

On Making Our Digital Marketing More Human

Posted by Alex Rodríguez

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So many times, we fall into crass de-humanization when we market online to prospect and current customers. This causes us to treat people as soulless meatballs, rather than individuals with deep feelings, desires, aspirations, struggles, etc.

By doing so, we disconnect from the value of compassion, which puts us at risk in many ways:

I come from many years working in the ad agency and corporate worlds, where it’s quite common to say things like “when we launch this phase of the campaign, we’ll be in front of 500,000 eyeballs”.

Excuse me… “Eyeballs”? Mr. CMO, did you really mean to say “people”?

Now, at this point you might think this is just a rant on semantics, and that this post is way too hippy; however — if you haven’t yet dismissed me by this point—just think about it for a minute.

How many times in marketing do we use combative and demeaning language to refer to our current and potential clients and their experiences:

I know that many of these terms have at this point taken flight, and are even featured in marketing textbooks, so it may be too late to change the world…

…But I believe we can change ourselves, if we want to.

These attitudes influence our approach towards others, especially when we’re crunched in desperation mode —which happens to all entrepreneurs— yet I think we should be fully intentional with every action we take… including which terms we allow to be a part of our business vocabulary.

I’ve assessed the terms we use at our agency, and without realizing it we’ve solidified our own different internal vocabulary; we use “Product Staircase” instead of “Funnel”, “Velvet Rope” instead of “Tripwire”, “Objective Audience” instead of “target”, and “Persona” instead of “avatar”.

Oh, and we never refer to audiences as “eyeballs,” like it’s common for marketers to do.

We feel these terms help us preserve an awareness of our client’s humanity at all times, and allows us to serve them better, which leads us to develop marketing communication and experiences that aren’t annoying nor demeaning.

Listen, the world is already such a violent, aggressive place. There’s no reason why marketing should be viewed as a battle, rather than what it really is: an authentic pursuit to provide outstanding value as our chosen business.