Six Ways Reading Fiction Makes Us Better Marketers

Six Ways Reading Fiction Makes Us Better Marketers

Business owners and entrepreneurs are always doing research behind the scenes to get a leg up on the marketing tools and strategies that will help them reach more people. We comb the internet for insights on the next big social media platform and what kinds of content are performing best. We have our favorite trade publications and podcasts to keep up with industry trends. We also fill our bookshelves with the newest thought leadership in sales and marketing, productivity, business strategy, leadership and whatever else is abuzz in our networking circles. While all of these resources get at important information we can use to make better decisions for our own projects, they have their limitations.

 

Pure storytelling, also known as fiction, often gets pushed down to the lowest priority in the TBR list. We wait for a literal rainy day or an airplane trip to “read for pleasure.” But diving into those made-up worlds of fantasy, romance, mystery and suspense (or a character-driven classic) will make more of an impact on your marketing skills than you might expect. In fact, we have a few readers on our team of marketing nerds!

 

Successful marketing is all about telling an interesting and relatable story through the various mediums at your disposal; reading more fiction will help you sharpen the communication tools in your marketing toolkit.

1. Growth Through Creativity

First of all, there are a ton of work performance and life benefits to be gained by simply letting our minds wander. But with the help of a well-written story, you can learn more about human interaction, visit faraway places and pick up turns of phrase you’ve never heard before. By seeing the world (even a made-up one) through someone else’s eyes, your subconscious mind gains a deeper understanding of how others outside of yourself interact with the world and each other.

2. Improved Communication

As you plow through a work of creative writing, your brain absorbs new ways to communicate more clearly. You may expand your vocabulary, discover more precise ways of stating ideas or create more connections between related concepts. Each of these benefits creates neural pathways that will improve your own written and verbal communication. As you develop an appetite for good books, you may notice your speech patterns shift and your written communications coming more easily, in a more concise fashion. 

3. Developed Cultural Awareness

You’ve probably noticed that empathy is becoming just as much of a hot topic in marketing as authenticity was just a few years ago. Reading works by authors of different backgrounds featuring characters with different identities and personalities is an effective way to socialize yourself with points of view that are different from your own. You may even catch glimpses into historical and cultural perspectives that still play a role in society today. If you’re more of a fantasy buff, that’s valuable too! Reading about dragons and wizards may not directly emulate reality, but allowing yourself to understand a completely different culture will open your mind to other possible experiences. With each read, your muscle memory for empathy will grow stronger..

4. Better Concentration and Focus

One of the first things we develop as young readers is a greater attention span for concentration and focus. That benefit still applies for adults! As a business owner, you are constantly bombarded by notifications and distractions that can keep you from working on the important things—like client work and your marketing materials. Regular reading will strengthen your defenses against the day-to-day noise so you can stay focused and do higher quality work in less time. The best stories will pull you in and keep you spellbound until the very last page; when you can work with that kind of dedication, your clients will notice a difference!

5. A Stronger Connection with Others

Reading brings us closer together with others who share similar interests and read the same books! No matter what genres or authors you gravitate to, chances are you will find others sooner or later who share that appreciation. Imagine kicking off a conversation with “I was just reading this great detective novel...have you read any good mysteries lately?” instead of the same old “What brings you to this networking event?” You will find yourself having more interesting conversations and getting to know people on a deeper level to ultimately build stronger relationships. Last, your new connections might be more likely to remember you for your insightful comments!

6. Becoming a Better Storyteller 

The bottom line is that reading more stories will help you become a better storyteller. As you read, you will experience different ways to be engaged as a reader and you’ll be able to emulate those strategies with your own storytelling. Just like watching presentations and going to conferences can inspire your own public speaking skills, reading fiction can help you create content that tells a more compelling story.

 

Marketing is all about telling a story that makes your audience feel something strongly enough to take action. So to be a successful marketer, you need to be able to tell your story in an appealing way, connect with your audience, focus on your clients, understand their point of view, communicate clearly and be creative at the same time. Reading books by master storytellers will teach you those things in a fun and interesting way, with all the benefits of relaxation and daydreaming. So, what’s the last book you read for fun?

 

This article originally appeared on Forbes.

 

BONUS Fiction Reading List for Entrepreneurs

Compiled by the @ revenue team

 

Animal Farm - George Orwell

Dune - Frank Herbert

The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

Siddhartha - Herman Hesse

The Fountainhead - Ayn Rand

The Circle - Dave Eggers

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Robert M. Pirsig

The Old Man and the Sea (or really any Hemmingway) 

The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho

The Hobbit or LOTR - JRR Tolkien

Ready Player One - Ernest Cline

Ender’s Game - Orson Scott Card

Watership Down - Richard Adams

The Taming of the Shrew - Shakespeare

Murder on the Orient Express - Agatha Christie

About A Boy - Nick Hornby

A Study in Scarlet - Arthur Conan Doyle

If On a Winter's Night A Traveler - Italo Calvino

The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Life of Pi - Yann Martel

The Prince - Niccolo Machiavelli

Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervantes

Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

Word Virus - William S. Burroughs

The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Mohsin Hamid

Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern

A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L’Engle

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith


Productivity Tips for #EntrepreneurLife in 2020: Eat the Frog

If we could sum up 2020 in one quote, it might be this one by Herbert Hoover: “About the time we can make the ends meet, somebody moves the ends.” This feeling of endlessly chasing a moving target, treading water or running in place was already a familiar part of the entrepreneurial experience. As a marketing and sales agency that works primarily with small businesses, we’ve picked up some tricks over the years to create structure out of chaos and forge ahead into productivity. 

2020 has taught us some new things about doing business in uncertain times, but when it comes to productivity, some of our tried-and-true basic principles have come through with the best results. Our answer to Herbert Hoover’s pithy proverb is this one by Mark Twain: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” This is our classic antidote to procrastination at the @revenue office, and we pride ourselves on being adept and graceful frog-eaters. But in the time of big pivots bringing a deluge of new and daunting tasks, sometimes we find a few more frogs hanging around on our to-do lists than usual. Can you relate?

We’ve seen many successful entrepreneurs and business owners adapt this frog-eating concept into a philosophy that keeps them on track and focused. So how does it work? For me, it gets broken down into these simple steps:

Step 1: Create a list of to-dos. I am a major list creator, so much so that I sometimes have lists of what lists I have. Each morning, as I set out to start my work day, I create an all-encompassing list of things to do. This list is primarily focused on the goals for that day, but often includes larger projects that I can complete in stages. The key is to make your list as comprehensive as possible first.

Step 2: Prioritize your list. Once your list has been created, you want to take a few moments and prioritize it. I generally categorize my list into things I can complete today, those that are deadline focused, those that are in stages and those that arenʼt deadline focused but would be great to accomplish as soon as possible. Once you have a priority in mind, you know where you need to spend your time.

Step 3: Read your list. Read it, and as you do so, mark the items that make you groan vs the items that are relatively simple to complete and donʼt bother you much.

Step 4: Biggest Groan = Frog. Inevitably, there will be one item on your list that you simply do not want to do. Perhaps when you were reading your list you were trying to imagine ways to procrastinate it. You will know what that one thing on your list is. For me, it’s often something to do with cash flow. I just simply hate reviewing accounting and financials. Iʼd much rather spend my time on fun marketing projects and writing.

Step 5: Eat the Frog. As Twain said, the key to having a positive day is to eat a frog first. That biggest groan on your list—do it first. Get it out of the way and the rest of your list will be no big deal.

Mark Twain knew what he was talking about! We use the frog-eating method every day to stay on task. The feeling when you accomplish that thing you were dreading is a natural high that keeps you going all day. Just take a few minutes every morning to prioritize your task list, and when the frogs come to call, you’ll know what to do.


Your Values, Your Business. Yes, You Can Build A Dream Business Based On What You Value Most.

When we begin a conversation with a client, we’ll typically ask: “What type of business do you think is right for you?”

Mind you, it’s not that we expect that individual to have everything figured out. Some people may know what they want, but may not look at the reality that accompanies that. Others aren’t sure at all but do know they want to control their own destiny. No matter where you’re coming in, we’ll typically take a more introspective approach and encourage you to ask deeper questions internally about your lifestyle before choosing a business.

Now, why do you think we would be so interested in what you value and the life you want to have? Yes, these are important but what does that have to do with owning a business?

Know The Business Behind The Business

Think about this: If you’re going to be a successful owner, you’re going to be heavily involved in that business for at least the next 10 years and probably more. If the organization doesn’t match up with your values and lifestyle, you may have some buyer’s remorse.

To illustrate how buyer’s remorse could happen, let’s say that you’re intensely passionate about a product or service – we’ll use dogs as an example. Since you have such a love of dogs, you figure that owning a pet store franchise is your true calling.

Sounds like a terrific fit, doesn’t it? Not so fast.

You may have a love of animals, but we still have to talk about what you will be doing as a business owner. In this case, you may be spending a great deal of time involved with inventory management, stocking shelves and a host of other responsibilities that take you away from playing with the puppies.

Doing what you love has to align with business responsibilities, which makes it crucial to take a hard look at each franchise opportunity to ensure your perception meets reality. This involves a series of deep questions that can force you to give careful consideration to why you want to become an owner and what you want out of the business. Because once you’ve addressed these questions, you’re ready to pursue an opportunity on your terms, based on what you value most.

4 Deep Questions Before You “Jump”

  • What are your strengths?
    When you think back to times in your career where you’ve been promoted, why was that? How did that happen? Was there something about that type of work that energized you?
  • What type of work environment and style do you prefer?
    Do you like working with people or independently? Are you a teacher? An organizer? Are you motivated by sales? Do you dread event planning? Do you believe you can thrive in a customer-facing role or do you see yourself as more of an operational leader behind the scenes?
  • What do you like to do most?
    Believe it or not, one of the areas we look to as evidence of what you enjoy is your prior education. What did you go to school for, even if it’s nothing to do with what you currently do today? That shows a degree of passion.
  • What does your family situation and schedule look like?
    Make no mistake – this is a big one. If you have a spouse and children, how would owning a business change your current situation at home? What are you willing to give up?
    Is your family on board with this commitment? There’s going to be a ramp up period to get the business running strong enough that you can pay yourself the salary that you want, including minimum expenses. It may take 12-24 months to turn a profit – are you comfortable with that? If so, is it because your spouse is working and can take some of the pressure off? Is it based on savings that you have or through an SBA loan?

You know your strengths, your work style, your greatest passion, and have a loving family that’s got your back for the next 12-24 months to pursue the next exciting chapter of your career in business ownership. That’s great – but there’s still one more vital component to your success that we can’t neglect – an outside perspective from a highly experienced franchise consultant who can help guide you to the right franchise opportunity that aligns just right with your values. That’s where organizations like On Pace and @revenue come in - we’re here for you!


Top Tips For Entrepreneurial Growth

@revenue works with so many talented business owners, and they bring so much wisdom to our lives.

Here are their top tips for entrepreneurs!

The best possible ways for entrepreneurs to go far fast are:

1. Make sure your product or service actually meets the needs or wants of a sizable market.  This means understanding the need, who has it, why satisfying that need matters to them, and how many potential buyers make up this market segment.

2.  Secondly, is the need being met by other providers?  How well?  How can you differentiate your own solution?  If your competitors are well established and comprise a sizable market share, you will have to differentiate your solution and communicate in a way that sells!

3.  Surround yourself with a talented but diverse team. You cannot do it all alone in the window you will have to show traction. Align the right acumen with the vision you have and watch the growth!  Too many entrepreneurs do not have the well-rounded talent to handle all aspects of achieving revenues fast and keeping the back office rolling effectively. Your success is truly measured by your ability to engage the right resources early.

4.  Marketing and growth are paramount, especially if you're looking for funding to grow fast. Sources of funding are interested in whether you have the revenue to show NOW, that you have a solution that matters to a large enough demographic, and that the business model is profitable.  Sales are king in the beginning, NOT perfection.   And sales don't happen unless you can reach your tribe of raving fans.

Trisha Squires

Empowered Leadership Cultivation

www.empoweredlc.com

The single best advice for any Entrepreneur is to “know your numbers” by reconciling your bank account.  How do you know whether your business is succeeding or failing?  How do you know whether things are getting better or worse?

Those numbers are all about the CASH that it takes to operate your business.  That cash reflects the Sales, COGS and Net Income of the company.  It reflects the Inventory you’ve purchased and the Payroll that you’ve paid.  It represents by the checks you’ve written and the deposits that you’ve made.  You’ve all heard that Cash is King.  Well, it’s absolutely true.

Most owners see financial statements.  But I’ll bet most of your eyes just glaze over when looking at the row upon row of numbers.  The best way of understanding how cash is used in your business is to do your Bank Reconciliation.  Think about it.  All of your cash moves through your bank account.  You will see every deposit and expenditure.  Reconcile that account every month without fail, and you will have a clear handle on how much money is coming in, where it’s going to, and how much is left to use next month.

Larry Chester

CFO Interventions

www.cfointerventions.com

The single best piece of advice I have for entrepreneurs looking to accelerate their business is to collaborate and find other people in the same space to learn and grow with.  It isn't about the competition but rather how you can help and be helped by others in your industry or market.

Becky Feinberg-Galvez

Corporate Textiles

www.shop4ties.com

Hire people smarter than you and learn from them. As entrepreneurs, we are all in business because we are great at something, but that in no way means that we are great at everything.  Allowing experts to show you the shortcuts to success, that they often spent years learning for themselves, will give you the ability to grow your business quickly but don't just delegate and walk away. Learn as much as you can so that you can own the process and make the best parts of it a part of your daily practice.

Kristy Dilworth

Smart Dogs Training and Lodging Facility

www.smartdogstraingingandlodging.com