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Why you still haven’t launched your thing yet

business, digital strategy, process, productivity

I work with tons of people who are in the process of launching websites, online courses, and marketing campaigns, and consistently without fail, the one thing that trips everybody up? They try to go way, way, WAY too big. Like MAGNUM OPUS big. They want a website that has all the bells and whistles: sales pages, complex sales funnels, automation and integrations… before they even know what their product/service is, or even who their client is. They think they need to have an epic, polished, perfect, all-the-bells-and-whistles gigantic online signature course that tries to teach everything they’ve ever learned (even I’m guilty of this one!). They think creating their first online course is going to replace their client income, creating a new business model overnight. They expect their brand new business to sell 20x $2,000 coaching programs when they have a list/audience of zero. (an avg 1–2% conversion rate on a list of zero = $0) They want to build their own Marie-Forleo-style-“B-school” in a few months (without any experience blogging, list-building, recording videos, presenting, teaching, etc). I get it. There’s always so much focus on BIG. Going big. Dreaming big. Bigger and better, “build your 6-figure business”, “grow your team,” etc. The dazzling lights and 6-figure promises blind people to the work (and time, energy, experience) it really takes to make it happen. If you don’t break up the big dream/goal into an achievable plan, and aren’t aware all of the steps in between, it’s easy to get fooled into think you can pull of a 2, or 5-year idea in a few months. I know this because I see it all the time, over and over again. Failed, delayed, stressful launches, and launches that are completely out of touch with what customers really want. You can’t expect to build your idea alone, in secret, hoping to dazzle customers with a perfectly beautiful and polished digital product without getting...

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Discovering a Need And Filling–Twice: Podcast Interview on Tara Gentile’s Profit Power Pursuit

business, digital strategy

Join me as I speak very candidly with Tara Gentile about my journey into bringing products to life. We talk about everything from customer development, to self-doubt and imposter complex, to starting before you’re ready. Listen below: Discovering a Need And Filling–Twice–with Digital Strategy School & Doki creator Marie Poulin...

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Transitioning from Web Designer to Digital Strategist

business, design, digital strategy

In this episode of Divi Nation I chat with Nathan B. Weller about my transition from Web Designer/Developer to Digital Strategy and why more people might want to make the switch. We also talk about re-branding, what makes outside consultation valuable, and common mistakes WordPress web designers and developers make with clients. You can read the full interview...

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New Dates for Digital Strategy School Mastermind

business, design, digital strategy

Digital Strategy School is a design business accelerator that helps designers transition into trusted advisors to their clients. We help designers run better businesses, position themselves more confidently in the market, and help them create their own strategic process. In this online mentorship program, you’ll learn how to run a thriving business as a digital strategist. I’ll show you a complete “behind the scenes” of how I run my businesses, complete with real numbers, real strategies, and real results (the good, the bad and the ugly). With over a decade of experience working on the web with tons of successful clients and incredible project launches, I’ve seen successes + failures, epic launches, and massive flops. I’ve seen what works, and where there’s room to grow. Get ready to take on a leadership role with your clients, run your business with more confidence, and learn how to integrate digital strategy into your workflow. You’ll get a sneak peak at how other established business owners run their design projects from start to finish, with insights into building (and improving) your client base, managing clients, scoping projects and proposals, budgeting and scheduling, streamlining your work processes, and understanding how to position yourself in the market. Over 70 designers have gone through the program, and have been raving about their experience and results:     “Coming at projects as “business improvement” instead of “web design” was a revolutionary idea to me, even though it was how I was approaching projects already and not charging for it. Marie is not just changing individual lives, she’s changing the industry.” — Rachel “This is a course that delivers waaaaaay more value than you’re paying for. Marie is a wealth of creative ideas for how to look at all aspects of your business and even though the course content is already so deep, she seems to have a magical never-ending library of worksheets, podcasts, blogs or anecdotes that help with the exact issue you may be facing. One of my favourite...

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10 Ways Designers Can Add More Value to Their Client Projects

business, design, digital strategy

As a digital strategist, I help my clients grow their businesses through the use of digital tools, only one of which happens to be their website. On the whole, I’m looking at how their website and related tools, systems, products, and workflow support the greater ecosystem of their business. If you’re a designer looking for new ways to bring more value to your client projects, but don’t know where to begin, here are 10 ways to get started: 1. Customer Experience Mapping As most clients are not designers, they often haven’t planned how all of the different customer touch-points come together to create a cohesive customer experience. How many barriers are there to purchase? How many calls to action? How cluttered are the interfaces? How do customers typically move through the site? How do you want them to move through the site? Help your clients design their customer’s experience by helping them identify the gaps, streamline technical pieces, and creative cohesive design elements at every touch-point. From sign-up forms and payment pages, to email confirmations and client welcome documentation, make sure that your client’s have factored in all of the pieces that often get forgotten, and contribute to the overall customer experience. Think branding, copywriting, and overall flow. 2. Customer Personas I often challenge my clients to get really specific on their customer personas, so they don’t make claims that their audience is “20-50-yr old females who like food!” (aka, way too large a market segment). There’s a huge difference between a 20 yr old woman and a 50 yr old woman, and making generalizations in your marketing will only make it more difficult to connect with your audience. I typically help my clients identify a primary and secondary persona, and then make strategic recommendations based on those personas. For example, if the customer persona is not active on Facebook, I’ll recommend alternative ways to connect, some of which might even be in-person. Do some research into your client’s audience +...

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Chatting about what it means to be a more strategic business owner

business, digital strategy, productivity

Check out our chat over at the Freelancers’ Show. We talk about managing projects, transitioning from freelancer to strategic business owner, and making tough decisions in your business....

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The Collaborative Designer

business, design, digital strategy

If you want to survive as a designer in the new digital economy, you must take a collaborative role with your clients. Your job is to assist your clients in finding the most effective solution for them and their business. Over the years, I’ve worked with a lot of designers, and seen behind the scenes of a lot of client projects. One pattern that I’ve seen pop up again and again (and make no mistake, I’ve been guilty of it myself) is the designer becoming frustrated with their clients for making design-related requests. “But I’m the expert! Why is the client hiring me if they won’t let me do my job?”. The designer of the new economy must act as a facilitator, not dictator. A facilitator is someone who helps a group of people understand their common objectives and assists them to plan how to achieve these objectives. (Wikipedia) “Designer knows best” doesn’t work anymore (I’m not sure it ever did?), because no matter how sweet your design skills, you really don’t know what your client’s audience wants without doing your research. David Holston puts it best in his book The Strategic Designer: “Clients, once thought of as the spoilers of great design, are now seen as the source of creative ideas and an integral part of developing meaningful design concepts.” It’s essential to bring your clients’ insights into your work together if you want to contribute to meaningful work that solves real problems for real people. Your role is to facilitate the success of your client. It’s time to check your ego. Now of course, it’s true that most of the time your clients aren’t trained in basic design principles. And yes, there are times where a client will make requests for aesthetic changes that don’t do their business any favours. This does happen, and can be frustrating, but you have a few options when this happens: Educate yourself and your client. Find evidence that...

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The easiest way to find out what your audience needs

business, digital strategy

Whether you’re looking to craft a compelling opt in offer, or need to come up with an idea for your next product or program, how do you figure out what your ideal customer wants or needs? The answer is deceptively simple. The easiest way to figure out what your audience needs is by listening. Carefully. Fully. Intentionally. What questions have you received more than once? What comments/topics seem to keep recurring? (This could apply to emails received, tweets, Facebook posts from your ideal audience, or even comments people have left on your blog) Which of your blog posts have received the most engagement? Which keywords have led people to your website most frequently? What would be an absolute *miracle* for your audience? (you know that the whole, “if they had a magic wand” question. What would they ask for?). Some other questions you could ask yourself: What part of your own client services process could be more automated? Could you create a workbook, checklist, or educational resource from that? In Michael Hyatt’s podcast interview with Dan Miller, Dan explains that he would create a new product as soon as he received the same question three times, and it’s made him an extremely handsome sum over the years (It’s an excellent interview that covers recurring and leveraged income and growing your audience). I think often times surveys and gathering direct feedback can be a bit misleading (though I still think it has its place), and the best insight and information comes from listening to what’s happening between the lines. So, what is your audience really asking you for? Resources Hootesuite on Social Listening Shh…If You Listen Closely, You’ll Know What Your Customers Want You to Write Stephen Covey on the Power of Listening for Understanding “Listening is how you read people” – William...

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The importance of presenting your work to clients: A live chat with Dennis Field

behind the scenes, business, design, digital strategy

This week I had the pleasure of chatting with Dennis Field, a designer, micropreneur, educator, and most recently Enterprise Evangelist at InVision, an application that helps designers prototype and present their progress to clients. This interview was originally recorded for Digital Strategy School, but there were so many good nuggets here that I decided to share it openly, and to give people a sense of the kinds of conversations we have in DSS. We talk about the transition from pixel-pushing designer to strategist, the importance of presenting your work to clients, and selling your clients on your ideas. There were a few technical glitches, so the last little chunk of the interview is gone, but there’s still lots of goodness here....

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Digital Strategy School Scholarship Winner(s)!

business, design, digital strategy

Wow, I had no idea I’d get so many fabulous applications for the Scholarship (there were 42, and I read every single one!) There was no easy way to choose based on best fit or application, so I decided used random.org to level the playing field! There was however one absolutely STAND-OUT application, and in the end I decided to award her a full Mastermind Scholarship. SO, I’ve awarded 2 scholarships: 1 Full Mastermind, and 1 Go Solo. Winner (Go Solo): Amanda Schoolfield Congratulations! I’m so excited to meet you and have you along for Digital Strategy School 2015! I will be in touch with next steps! Winner (Full Mastermind): Mylène Sigrist Ueda She was the only one who sent in a video application, and the effort she put in was seriously impressive. It was also the first time she had ever recorded herself on video. She stood out, and was clearly so excited about the opportunity, I really wanted to reward her effort. Check out her application video below! I’m so excited to see what we can do for her business over the next 6 months!     Thank you everyone who applied, tweeted, and got creative – I so appreciate you!!...

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Full Scholarship for Digital Strategy School! (closes Friday Jan 9, 2015)

business, design, digital strategy

I would love to help a fellow creative kickstart their business in 2015 with a scholarship to Digital Strategy School. If you’ve heard about Digital Strategy School and believe that the program is aligned with the direction you’d like to take your business, I invite you to send in an application. Course begins on January 16th, 2015 and runs for 6 months. Criteria Anyone is welcome apply, but I will select someone based on a few criteria: Best fit for the program Financial need Demonstrated potential Interest or activity in the field Some self-employment experience Creativity in the application process Deadline: Friday January 9th, 2015 (5pm PST) Award: One student will be awarded access to Digital Strategy School (the Go Solo course) + a 30-min Mentoring Session via Skype (or Google+). How to Apply: Head over to: http://digitalstrategyschool.com/scholarship for more details. Fill out the form, and a random applicant will be chosen using random.org! Learn more about the program at http://digitalstrategyschool.com Hear what the students are saying about the course: Digital Strategy School is the best investment you can make for your design business Marie is that unique blend of person who has the chops and the knowledge, and is constantly furthering her own education and networking to benefit clients, but is also a person of deep integrity who finds her purpose in supporting others to grow professionally and personally. Perhaps her greatest strength is that she has been where many designers are – wondering why client relationships aren’t as rich as they should be, why specific problems crop up repetitively with different clients, and how we as the leaders of the process can change our tools, approaches and interactions for the satisfaction of both client and service provider. I have watched my DSS peers grow exponentially, and heard their voices change from harried and worried about everything from sideways contracts and fear of financial setbacks to purposeful crafters of their own destinies, and I’ve seen the difference to their bottom lines and their...

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