Updated: Nov 8, 2019
1. Design Design Design
Design matters. I am a designer, have a bachelors degree of fine art in design, and I live and breathe design every day. I've noticed over and over, when a product or website, etc... isn't designed well - i.e. is not simple, attractive, and intuitively easy to understand - people won't use it unless they're forced to, and nobody wants to be forced. Think of it this way, if you put a chunk of coal in a Tiffany's box and a diamond in a wadded up newspaper and present both to people without any explanation, which one will people be drawn toward? It's all about design, Less really is More.
2. Marketing is everything
So you've got the best damn product on the earth, but if no one knows about it, what good is it doing anyone? You have to tell people about it, and that's marketing. Marketing can be word of mouth (small reach), print ads (larger reach) or social media (largest reach) or any shade in between. You want to target your specific audience - talk to the people who want your specific product or service - therefore you have to research who they are, what they like, and what their pain points are, and speak to them in their language. That's all 'marketing' really is. Consider this: For small and medium size businesses, it's no longer an option to have or do social marketing: over 50% of the worlds population is under 30 years old, and 96% of Millennials have joined a social network, and 72% of US adults use these social networks. Watch the above video to see more statistics. Learned this from Coursera What is Social? by Northwestern University
3. Show your Work
Whatever you're working toward, showing your process and progress via social is important. This could be a blog, Instagram, Twitter, whatever. Make yourself known as an expert on a topic, let people take a peak behind the scenes, or show what you've been learning. In the future it'll show your own growth and expertise. Most importantly: pick a time (could be every day, every month, or whatever) to show off your latest stuff, and be consistent. It's better to under promise and over deliver, than the opposite, so stick to something that's super easy/simple for you to keep up with. Learned this from Show Your Work! 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon
4. Learn to pivot
You've done the items above, you've been marketing your stuff, but you feel like you're hitting a brick wall. It could be time to pivot. The above video from Tim Clark @TEDxPlainpalais talks about how every day you have the chance to change your life by testing your hypothesis, and learning to pivot. In your career or your business "The fundamental activity [...] is to turn ideas into products, measure [the responses], and then learn whether to pivot or persevere." Evaluate, measure, and tweak your approach based on your feedback, maybe even go back to the drawing board with what you've learned and change your perspective. You'll find maybe you're brick wall was a stepping stone instead. From The Lean Startup by Eric Ries http://theleanstartup.com/principles
5. Ideas are a dime a dozen
Starting my own business a few years ago, I'd been terrified someone somewhere was going to have the same idea and beat us to the punch, so my business partner set out to ask the entrepreneurship professors at the University of Houston their take on the matter. Their responses were: "ideas are a dime a dozen, execution is few and far between." The professors went on to explain that, if you walked into to a cafe right now many people would have business ideas - some similar to yours - but do you see that many business being established? No, because ideas are just that, people have more excuses in the world why what they want to do won't work. The above video from Larry Smith @TEDxUW, he enumerates the psychology of why so many people have great ideas and interests, but fail to see them through. And even if someone's already beaten you to the punch, it's actually good to have healthy competition, this means that people already know what you're product or service is, and are willing to purchase it. No one is going to have the exact same execution, therefore you have an opportunity to show off why you're unique and why you're product or service stands out, but this won't happen unless...
Credit Less is More photo by: https://www.flickr.com/photos/othree/