2014-04-21 09.04.20

Take a look at this picture. What’s the message this business owner is sending to her customers?

I was leading a strategy session with a group of Iowa educators recently and stopped in to a local coffee shop for a quick cup. I was greeted by the signs on the door you see above. This one greeted me at the cash register:

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I had some time to kill so I read the entire page, and basically it says, “I’m charging you extra for using your credit card because the big, bad credit card companies are too expensive.”

Two words: Boo hoo.

Credit card companies certainly don’t do small business owners any favors, but it’s also an amazing privilege in this country to let people pay for goods and services USING A PIECE OF FREAKING PLASTIC. (I think the benefits were lost on this business owner, though.)

She could take a number of steps to limit her risk and improve the in-store experience for her customers. (Dwolla, anyone? Or, as some of my Instagram followers suggested, why not just get a new door?)

But instead, she chose to put a legal-briefing-sized memo on the front counter of her shop and treat her customers like they belong at the Midvale School for the Gifted.

Ultimately, what you have is a frustrated business owner blaming people “out there” for her problems rather than taking responsibility herself.

I imagine her thinking being something like this:

  • If only the credit card companies “out there” would stop charging me so much, then I could be profitable…
  • If only people “out there” would be able to figure out our door, then I wouldn’t have to put signs up…
  • If only we had more customers, then I wouldn’t have to charge such a high prices…

I left the coffee shop knowing, without a doubt, I wouldn’t be back if I stopped in that town again. I don’t like getting yelled at, whether it’s in-person or through signs.

But I struggle with this often as well. Blaming others for business problems that are no one’s fault but my own:

  • If only Facebook would stop charging me to reach my fans, then I could get the traffic I need…
  • If only my payment processor would deposit funds into my bank account quicker, then I’d have cash to spend on other opportunities…
  • If only I had more time in the day to get some of this stuff done…

If only, if only, if only, if only.

Maybe Facebook, my payment processor, and hours in the day aren’t the problem. The problem, in most cases, is me.

No one is forcing me to use Facebook. No one is forcing me to use PowerPay. No one is telling me how to spend my time. They are all choices I make. Period.

The “If-Only” mentality is lethal because it’s so subtle. It can go undetected for years—decades, even. It takes allowing trusted advisors, friends, and mentors into our lives to root out eliminate the “If-Only’s.” (I know I’d still be suffering with mine if it weren’t for people like my wife, my business coach, and my mentor.)

I’m working with a few, select individuals who want to stop making excuses and build a new reality for themselves. We call it the Think Digital Masters Class, and it’s designed to help you craft the life you want. We’re taking applications through the end of the month. If you’re interested, click here.

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I’m hosting a FREE learning event this week to talk through the main reasons NO ONE cares about your church’s social media content.

It’s Tuesday, April 22nd at 7:30 PM CST. Click here to register for this free learning event.

Specifically, you’ll learn:

- How to use social media to attract new visitors to your church

- Why social media is your church’s new greeter (and what happens when you ignore this truth)

- How to set goals for your content and start generating real-world results from your social media efforts

- The ONE change all churches can make to see a drastic improvement in their social media results

I used to be a lot softer with my messaging. Do you know why I’m so blunt? Because the cost is too great and the time is too short.

Let me be clear:

The churches who do not utilize social media to connect to their community will not survive.

After studying the trends, talking with churches all over the country, and seeing the rapid adoption rates of social in all age brackets, the outcome is clear. It’s just a question of how fast some churches will (or will not) get there.

Just click here and to get registered for this free online training.

If you’ve ever been embarrassed by your church’s Facebook, or wanted more from your social media presence, you need to be at this event.

PLUS, if you register TODAY, I’ll send you my free audio teaching on the 3 must-have elements for social media success.

Just click here to register for the FREE learning event and the FREE audio teaching on social media success.

I hope to see you this week. I can’t wait to share this material with you!

Do you know what I love about Times Square? The buzz. The activity. The lights. The action.

Day or night, the half block in Manhattan is filled with people from all corners of the globe. It’s constantly moving, breathing, and shifting. For an extrovert like me, Times Square is bliss.

There’s a dark side to all the action, however. Do you know what it is? The non-stop influx of marketing messages.

The signs hanging above the Square provide a visual backdrop for the action. They’re “detached” advertising—almost serving as works of art.

But the “beauty” gives way to the street-level vendors selling their $2 tchotchkes and Rolex knock-offs. The in-your-face advertising quickly becomes intrusive, unwanted, and ubiquitous.

Many of our social media feeds are becoming the digital version of Times Square.

I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing a HUGE influx of scheduled or “buffered” links in the accounts I follow. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge fan of Buffer. They’ve done an amazing job at crafting a product, educating their community, and resourcing any and all comers.

The problem is not with Buffer. Or Hootsuite. Or Sprout Social. Or any other service that helps us strategically schedule our content.

The problem creeps in when we think scheduling a bunch of links will somehow, magically, create social media momentum for us. When we fill our social networks with nothing but scheduled content, we become digital tchotchke peddlers, adding to the noise instead of rising above it.

Here’s the thing: everyone is scheduling links now. It’s a commodity. Just take one look at your feed and you’ll see what I mean. The telltale sign is usually a shortened “buff.ly” link pointing to a blog post or website.

Either way, the scheduled content is on the rise (and I’m not convinced that’s a good thing).

The problem is not with the scheduling. I use this strategy often. I think you should too. The problem is when we go on autopilot for the duration of our flight.

Many of us schedule links, abandon our post for the majority of the day, and then come back disappointed at the progress. report:

“No new follows? No retweets? Why isn’t anyone liking my page? It’s Facebook’s fault for making me pay to reach my fans! ZUCKERBERG!”

The question you need to answer is this: “How am I going to stand out from the crowd?” A good way to ensure you rise above the rest is mix up your content. Follow this formula:

  1. 20% Curated Content. Content created by other people related to your industry or passion area. This can be scheduled.
  2. 20% Created Content. Content created by you or your team related to your industry or passion area. This can be scheduled.
  3. 60% Audience Engagement. Responding to the human beings in your online community and treating them like real people. This cannot be scheduled.

You won’t hit it all the time, but you’re much more likely to get there if you have a target to shoot for.

The last time I was in Times Square, do you know who got my attention?

It wasn’t the giant billboards people paid a gajillion dollars to be on. It wasn’t the crappy purse knock-offs some folks were selling on the street.

It was a man, dressed up as Spiderman, who saw I was with my son and came up to us and convinced us to come into Toys R Us and pay for a picture with him. Creepiness aside, it was his one-on-one engagement that landed the sale.

In the words of Gary Vaynerchuk, “You can’t automate the human spirit.” How, then, shall we proceed?

Finn got bashful, so yours truly got a picture with Spidey.

Finn got bashful, so yours truly got a picture with Spidey.