Marketing and Thought Leadership



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

Content Marketing: Ideas for Shaping Your Brand Story

Tracking Wonder - Your Brand Story


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.

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

The Long View of Marketing (for your book, business, & brand)


Creative Commons (Lynda Bullock)

No less than three people within the past week have asked me about best methods to market their book.

They usually understand but don’t like my response.

I’m thinking personally about this matter of book marketing, too. My recent poetry collection Coat Thief was released by Saint Julian Press on May 23rd, 2016.

I don’t see book marketing – or business marketing – in terms of attention-getting gimmicks or quick money-generating tactics. Many of my clients and many members of our TW Community are marketing professionals. They do know what works, and they have considerable integrity. So, I take nothing away from their expertise. But I do take the long view and wide view when it comes to marketing.

One person recently asked me if republishing her book in a new form would help escalate sales.

Another person asked on a forum how best to market his new book.

These people are accomplished, smart people. They each have written remarkable books.

But they each were seeking in my view immediate “techniques” to sell books.

Marketing a book begins 2, 3, 10 years before a book comes out. Here’s why. Read more

When to Update Your Website

Image: Sean MacEntee, Flickr, Rights reserved.

Image: Sean MacEntee, Flickr, Rights reserved.

To revise a website is an opportunity to dig in, check in, and get perspective. 

You get to dig into whom you’ve become. You check in on whom you’re engaging and elevating at your highest level. You get perspective on why what you do matters in our times.

Tracking Wonder’s Story constantly evolves as those elements – the founder, our community, our times – shift. 

So, too, for you one or more shifts might signal you to look again at the Story you or your business is living and how you are owning that Story through the way you communicate and engage your community, clients, and customers. Read more

8 Books for Your Best Work (+ Publishing Insights)




To be a business artist, you’re called to shape your hours and days in ways that support your taking regular action on the work that matters.  Whether you work from a corporate office, a living room table, a home studio, or a small business – your patch of the planet awaits. Stand up for them. That’s your quest in the coming year.

This coming year, thousands of us are taking a quest to do business as unusual.

I never venture on a quest without a book, and this coming year I am keeping several books in my questing back pack.  8 of them I share with you here in this first of a 2-part series.

More than book recs, I also give you perspective on the myriad publishing and marketing paths to help you foresee where publishing fits into your best year.  Read more

Tracking Wonder, Serendipity, & Creative Virtuosity on the Web

William Copperwaithe's tool set

William Copperwaithe’s tool set

The Cost of Creative Excellence

Take an experiment with me. First, consider this.

When it comes to production value, I’ve noticed we creatives can get trapped between extremes. By production value, I mean how well we execute and produce our final products, stories, designs, jewelry, services, presentations, or offerings – or even marketing.

On one extreme, we can get trapped in expecting perfection. On the other extreme, we can compromise and claim “authenticity” for producing mediocre results.

We deserve better.

Aiming for creative excellence does not mean perfection. Aiming for creative excellence is not about showing off your stuff. On the contrary, it often means working your tail off behind the scenes so you create something so seamless that it transports your peeps, even for a few minutes or an hour, to another place. You give them, in other words, what only you sensitive creative people can offer – a taste of transcendence.

Sometimes it means you obsessively follow your own creative breadcrumbs into the woods of your own making – and bring us along with you for the adventure.

Creative virtuosity is about honing craft and crafting an immersive experience for your patch of the planet. Tinged with delight, surprise, and wonder, the memories and feelings a creation elicits will outlast, with any luck, the creator’s personality.  Read more

When Marketing Kills Creativity


“I don’t want to make a list of influencers, connect with influencers, or even build a list,” the client said.

“Is it okay if after we go through these preliminary steps and launch the website,” she asked, “if I just more or less stay quiet with my writing, publish my writing on the site, and see what happens in the course of a year?”

How refreshing. I had to return to her center, not mine, not the market place’s. She didn’t want to advance an enterprise, expand her reach, or “become big” in the public eye. Not yet.

A retired minister, she wanted, instead, a website to catalyze her writing process and satisfy her existing followers who want to read her work. She’s not the only client with that intention. Established writers, start-up designers, and corporate executives dipping their toes in creative pools have approached me with similar aims.

Marketing matters to anyone wishing to build a business, advance a career, or become a viable writer, artist, or designer. You know that.

But in the wrong doses and with the wrong timing, marketing can kill creativity, thwart innovation, and stall personal and professional growth.

To treat website development as catalyst for creativity is legit, but doing so requires authentic strategy, and it demands putting marketing in its proper place. Read more