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When to Take a Break From Blogging

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If something meaningful is driving you to write a blog – something more than racking up big numbers – then maybe, and I do mean the tentative “maybe,” it would be wise to break from blogging and the audience you’ve been building.

Now I’m not suggesting you get lax. I’m adamant about self-discipline, creative persistence, and organic systems to sustain creative momentum.

There’s a well known commandment in the blogger morality zone:

Don’t take breaks in blogging, or your readers will leave you.”

Read more

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Marketing and Thought Leadership

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Marketing matters to anyone wishing to build a business, advance a career, or become a viable author or thought leader. You know that.

But in the wrong doses and with the wrong timing, marketing can kill creativity, thwart innovation, and stall the very professional growth necessary for long-term or next-term success.

Ironically, too much reliance on marketing data at the wrong time and for the wrong reasons can create a brand or book that has the very qualities that lack authenticity and do not lead to brand loyalty. Read more

Tracking Wonder - Brand and Innovation April

Best Articles in Brand and Innovation for April

Tracking Wonder - Brand and Innovation April

Every month Tracking Wonder brings you some of the best articles from across the web that have stopped us in our tracks or given us pause to think and consider perspectives in creativity, brand, and innovation.

With help from Tracking Wonder’s research assistant Gianna Kaloyeros, I’ve gathered and curated some of what we deem the most relevant studies, stories, and news that will help you and your team excel at having the most impact and influence – all via storytelling, brand, and innovation. Read more

Tracking Wonder - Your Brand Story

Content Marketing: Ideas for Shaping Your Brand Story

Tracking Wonder - Your Brand Story

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If you can make people feel something you can generally grab their attention. Your brand story matters because your why is the powerful driving force getting you out of bed even on the days you’d rather roll over, ignore what needs to be done and binge watch Netflix.

It’s also a pretty compelling reason for other people to notice and ultimately invest in you, your book, your brand or business.

Whether it’s a personal story or the inspiration behind what drove you to create your business, story is what as humans, we’re wired to we resonate with deeply.

My work with clients involves lots of field research and study of models so we can iterate, emulate, and innovate. In a nut shell, see what works. Here are 3 surprising sources for inspiration for story I think you;re going to enjoy.

1. Johnny Walker

Yep, the bourbon. Actually, two German university students submitted this 90-second film on spec to the bourbon brand legend. Watch how it piques your curiosity, raises questions in you about the men’s relationship & who’s speaking, and where – if anywhere – they’re wandering.

The product isn’t the Story. The brand Story here is how the product is entwined in people’s lives, memories, and celebrations. Even the tough-minded are likely to shed a tear at the poetic script’s truth and beauty. In 90 seconds.

My questions to you: The next time you shoot a program or product video, how can you pique curiosity instead of being obvious? How is your product or program or service entwined in people’s lives for the better? You don’t need a 6-figure production budget.

2. Starbucks Upstander

Warning: There’s a not-so-subtle political drive behind these stories. Still, it’s an example of how real stories of real people can drive home a point. If your brand is justice-related or if you’re a social entrepreneur, take stock.

My question to you: How can you tell stories of “ordinary” people who are fulfilling a mission or the core values your brand stands for?

3. Jonathan Fields: One Author’s Quest to Plant 10,000 Trees

Jonathan combines his passion for nature with his quest for a good life in the “10,000 Tree Good Life Forest” Project. Here he tells the story of his book and his personal quest in a context that matters.

My questions to you: If you’re launching a book or product, what larger mission that might involve partnership or collaboration can you imagine? Tap into both your core values as well as the book’s or product’s content. Remember, your book is not your Story. It’s only a part of the brand Story you’re living.

If this blog speaks to you I invite you to join our The Tracking Wonder Quest Community. Our community is comprised of professionals, entrepreneurs, creatives, teachers, coaches, and consultants dedicated to doing Business As Unusual. I’d be pleased to have you join us.

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Use Writing to Discover Your Brand and Business

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Whether you tag yourself “writer” or not, writing can feed the ideas you’re obsessed with and the questions you’re living and that your brand and business is delivering on.

Writing can inform your brand’s integrity. And if you’re in transition – in life, business, brand – oh, yeah. Writing is an ally there, too.

Someone asked me recently about the work I do and how I help to  build brands and the brand stories they’re based on. The answer. I do build a brand the same way I build a life: An idea consumes me. I write, research, dive deep, create, test. Through that process, I unfold a brand and business. Read more

Tracking Wonder - Brand Story Strategy

Content Marketing: Lead With Your Story

Tracking Wonder - Brand Story Strategy

How a local clinic and an alpaca farm benefited from brand story strategy.

I see a lot of businesses (as well as online entrepreneurs) make the same mistake when they build a website and venture into content marketing and social media. Business owners unintentionally bring old assumptions about advertising & marketing to online content and social media.

Traditional advertising is about pushing your product or services onto customers or potential customers.

The ads might be clever to get attention. You pay a premium for advertising and invest in expensive print collateral, and you just sort of hope somehow by virtue of advertising’s messenger pigeons that the right person will get the mail and show up at your door.

So what happens when a business owner steeped in traditional advertising and marketing ventures into the brave new world online? Read more

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Guidelines for Crafting Story

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So who’s your Story about?

I generally feel a wee bit disoriented right after shaping a book proposal.

What’s it worth? I wondered. What if my agent rejects it? What if this is all a fool’s errand? What have I done with my life? Okay, I don’t go quite that far.

Last time this happened, my six-year-old peeked in my study. She wanted to show me her outfit – a summer skirt and a short-sleever atop a long-sleever.

“I just couldn’t wait any longer to wear summer clothes,” she said as she twirled around the study. And at that moment, I remembered again why I’m writing this book, why I’m building Tracking Wonder, why I utterly adore engaging readers. Read more

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Brand & Innovation Digest – February 2017

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During the past month, Tracking Wonder’s research assistant Gianna Kaloyeros has curated some of what we deem the most relevant studies, stories, and news that will help you and your team excel at having the most impact and influence via brand building, storytelling, and innovation.

– Jeffrey, Chief Tracker at Tracking Wonder

Four Reasons Every Startup’s Brand Needs Attention

From Forbes.com
With a personal account and wealth of advice from an entrepreneur and investor, Kumar Arora nails down the four biggest priorities for startups building their business. Don’t wait to start building the brand culture, he says, even in the infancy of the business. Among the four priorities is making sure your brand has a carefully considered name, builds customer loyalty, remains a source of inspiration, and sets your business apart from the competition. Kumar Arora @karora007

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Four Truths of a Brand Story

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People get confused about brands and branding. Some people think branding means pretty or sassy logos. Some people think branding means smarmy marketing. I have a different take. From my years of research, working with clients, and shaping Tracking Wonder’s own brand story, four truths have become evident.

1. Story bonds us.

After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” – author Phillip Pullman.

Story-based brands linger in people’s hearts and build stronger communities. We spend money on stories we want to be a part of.

2. Branding is personal growth.

Shaping a brand story can accelerate self-knowledge more quickly than a year of personal growth classes.

To shape the elements of a brand story requires deeper ways of exploring and problem-solving than simple writing exercises or “doing a website.” They require mounds of self-knowledge and confidence. And they typically require perspective from trusted colleagues or mentors or advisors.

The most valuable brands and businesses – including personal brands and personality brands – are not simply self-expressive. They are self-expansive. Read more

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Who Do You Take Your Biz Story-telling Cues From?

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Let’s assume that one thing you do for your business is you tell stories about your business. You or someone on your team tell stories about how your business originated and why, why it matters to your customers, and why it matters in the early-21st century. You tell stories about your customers and other related people who illustrate what your business does and about your business’s larger message.

Now let’s assume you want to excel at what you do, and one thing you do is tell stories.

Who are you going to take your cues from when you want to excel and how? Are you going to learn from your competition and from your peers? Or are you going to learn from examples way outside of your field and industry?

Your inclination may be to assume the former – the land of the familiar. That’s the assumption of a colleague of mine. A friend of mine offers marketing services to service providers – coaches, online teachers, consultants. He complained to me that much of the advice being given to this audience for content marketing drew from strategies that corporation-sized brand agencies and venture-backed start-ups use.

“Why is that a problem?” I asked.

“Because service providers don’t need those big concepts from those outsized companies,” he said. “They need to understand how to tell stories to their potential customers more intimately, more genuinely.”

Maybe. Maybe not. Read more