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The Paradox Of Shrunken Comfort Zones

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Get Out Of Your Comfort ZoneWe Like Comfort.

Comfort is safe. Comfort makes us smile and feel happy.  We think our Comfort Zone is safe.  A good place.

We Don’t Like Change.

“I used to have a comfort zone where I knew I wouldn’t fail. The same four walls and busywork were really more like jail. ”  ~My Comfort Zone

Change introduces us to the unfamiliar.  Unfamiliar stuff  makes us uncomfortable.  Uncomfortable makes us frown and feel crappy.  We don’t want to feel crappy, we avoid change and embrace the comfortable familiar.

While we languish in the faux-safety and goodness of our familiar Comfort Zones, by the hour, change roils and swirls around us.  Attitudes, beliefs and politics are changing.  Behaviors, expectations and values are changing.   Knowledge, opportunities and possibilities are changing. Conversations are changing. Distribution is changing.  Technologies, tools, methods and competition is changing.

When things around us change and we don’t, things previously done comfortably don’t generate enough of what we need to be comfortable. Ut-Oh.  Our Comfort Zone begins to shrink.  Shrunken Comfort Zones become uncomfortable.  Paradoxically, the very things that made us comfortable, begin to make us uncomfortable, unhappy, frowny and feeling crappy.  Avoiding change actually shrinks our Comfort Zone.

The Shrunken Comfort Zone Paradox

“How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress” ~Niels Bohr

The only way to expand our Comfort Zone is to shove ourselves uncomfortably outside our Comfort Zone, embracing and engaging in the very change that makes us uncomfortable.  I know.  It sucks.  But there you have it. Now that we have met our Comfort Zone Paradox, what should we do?  How do we progress?

The “Fail Faster To Succeed Sooner” Solution

“No, no, you’re not thinking; you’re just being logical.” ~Niels Bohr

The question is, how do we progress?

First reaction, “Do Something”.  [That is correct.]

Second reaction, “Let me think about it.  Let’s be logical.  Let’s think about it some more. Let me research it.  Let me get ready to get ready, to get ready, to get ready….”  [This is incorrect.  This is Creative Avoidance. Avoid Creative Avoidance like the Swine Flu or Herpes, or the bi-polar ex. ]

Russell Shaw has a great post titled, “The Secret To Becoming A Top Listing Agent”  Russell sums it like this, “The secret to becoming a top listing agent?  First become a really crappy listing agent.  Become a really crappy one, then a bit less crappy, and so on.  That is the actual path.  There is no substitute for “stage time”.  None.  Fail.  Fail more and go right on doing it.”

David Kelly, CEO of IDEO said it like this, “Fail faster to succeed sooner.”

David and Russell are both right.  Are we ready to get started?  If not, why not?  What will happen if we don’t?  We are surrounded by cataclysmic generational change, what happens if we don’t?

Two Master Keys That Unlock Success

1.  Untended Comfort Zones shrink.  Paradoxically, doing uncomfortable things expands a Comfort Zone. Therefore, in thought, deed and action, we must embrace and engage in change.

2.  Don’t over think it.  Don’t employ Creative Avoidance.  Instead, Ready, Fire, Aim.  Do it now.  Do it crappy, fail faster, learn faster, do it less crappy, do it faster, learn, do it better, do it faster, succeed, grow your Comfort Zone, get uncomfortable, change, do it crappy, do it faster….Rinse, Lather, Repeat.

If It Was Easy, Everyone Could Do It

You can’t have winners without losers. Yin-Yang.  Pain and Pleasure.  Happy and Sad.  Passion and Apathy. Rich and Poor.  Smart and Stupid.  Surprised and Disappointed. Etc.

Whata we gonna do?

Photo Credit:  Get Out of Your Comfort Zone by ~slickwilly5891 on deviantART

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Thanks for reading:-)

Business Is Change

Ken Brand - Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors. I’ve proudly worn a Realtor tattoo for over 10,957+ days, practicing our craft in San Diego, Austin, Aspen and now, The Woodlands, TX. As a life long learner, I’ve studied, read, written, taught, observed and participated in spectacular face plant failures and giddy inducing triumphs. I invite you to read my blog posts here at Agent Genius and BrandCandid.com. On the lighter side, you can follow my folly on Twitter and Facebook. Of course, you’re always to welcome to take the shortcut and call: 832-797-1779.

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Joe Loomer

    June 1, 2009 at 8:30 am

    Excellent Ken. Sometimes we get mired in the day-to-day and forget to get out there and fail some more. Years ago I’d take every listing even if the Seller and I were tens of thousands away on what the list price should be. Because I failed to sell them, I don’t take them any more.
    “Doc, it hurts when I go like this”
    “Don’t go like that.”

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  2. Lani Rosales

    June 1, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Ah, I SEE! The secret to business success is that there is no secret…

  3. Brandie Young

    June 1, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Hi Ken,
    I like to think that’s why *some of us* have big butts … it doesn’t hurt so much when we fall flat on ’em!

  4. Ken Brand

    June 5, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Joe – No kidding right. If it stings, STOP. Classic.

    Lani – Yahtzee, no real secrets. Like Yoda said, ‘No try.” “Do”…or something like that.

    Brandie – I like big butts and I cannot lie….. No harm in falling as long as we get up right? Cheers.

  5. Mark Eckenrode

    June 5, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    @ken: i sort of follow the “sink or swim” idea of getting out of the comfort zone. just jump in, if you want it bad enough you’ll figure it out. however, i still catch myself sticking my toe into the water to test the temperature sometimes 😉

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Business Marketing

The secret to crafting consistently high-converting emails?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Email may seem too old to be effective but surprisingly it’s not, so how can you get the most out of your email marketing? Try these tips.

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Email marketing

Email marketing might seem archaic in comparison to modern mediums like social media, blogging, and podcasting; however, it actually remains one of the highest converting options marketers and small businesses have at their disposal.

But Why Email?

Hopefully you believe in email as an effective marketing channel, but in case you have doubts, let’s hit the reset button. Here’s why email marketing is worth investing in:

  • Email is one of the few marketing channels that you have total control over. Unlike a social media audience, which can disappear if the platform decides you violate their terms, you own your email list.
  • Email is considered very personal. When someone gives you access to their inbox, they’re telling you that you can send them messages.
  • From a pure analytics perspective, email gives you the ability to track behaviors, study what works, and get familiar with the techniques that don’t.
  • The ROI of email marketing is incredibly high. It can deliver as much as $44 in value for every $1 spent.

5 Tips for High-Converting Emails

If you’ve been using email, but haven’t gotten the results you’d like to, it’s probably because you’re using it ineffectively.

Here are a few very practical tips for high-converting emails that generate results:

  1. Write Better Subject LinesThink about email marketing from the side of the recipient. (Considering that you probably receive hundreds of emails per week, this isn’t hard to do.) What’s going to make you engage with an email? It’s the subject line, right?

    If you’re going to focus a large portion of your time and energy on one element of email marketing, subject lines should be it.

    The best subject lines are the ones that convey a sense of urgency or curiosity, present an offer, personalize to the recipient, are relevant and timely, feature name recognition, or reference cool stories.

  2. Nail the IntroNever take for granted the fact that someone will open your email, and read to the second paragraph. Some will – but most will scan the first couple of lines, and then make a decision on how to proceed.

    It’s critically important that you get the intro right. You have maybe five seconds to hook people in, and get them excited. This is not a time to slowly build up. Give your best stuff away first!

  3. Use VideoEmail might be personal, but individual emails aren’t necessarily viewed as special. That’s because people get so many of them on a daily basis.

    According to Blue Water Marketing, “The average person receives more than 84 emails each day! So how do you separate your emails from everyone else? Embed videos in your emails can increase your conversion rates by over 21 percent!”

    This speaks to a larger trend of making emails visually stimulating. The more you use compelling visuals, the more engaging and memorable the content will be.

  4. Keep Eyes MovingThe goal is to keep people engaging with your email content throughout. While it’ll inevitably happen with a certain percentage of recipients, you want to prevent people from dropping off as they read.

    One of the best ways to keep sustained engagement is to keep eyes effortlessly moving down the page with short and succinct copy.

    One-liners, small paragraphs, and lots of spacing signal a degree of approachability and simplicity. Use this style as much as you can.

  5. Don’t Ask Too MuchIt can be difficult to convey everything you want to say in a single email, but it’s important that you stay as focused as possible – particularly when it comes to CTAs and requests.

    Always stick to one CTA per email. Never ask multiple questions or present different offers. (It’ll just overwhelm and confuse.) You can present the same CTA in multiple places – like at the beginning, middle, and end of the email – but it needs to be the same call. That’s how you keep people focused and on-task.

Give Your Email Marketing Strategy a Makeover

Most businesses have some sort of email lists. Few businesses leverage these lists as well as they should. Hopefully this article has provided you with some practical and actionable tips that can be used to boost engagement and produce more conversions. Give them a try and see what sticks.

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Business Marketing

What entreprenuers can learn about branding from trendy startups

(BUSINESS MARKETING) What’s the secret of focused startup branding, and how can you apply it to large enterprises?

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A set of wine from Craft Hugo, showing off pleasing branding in labels.

Think of your favorite brand. Is it the product they offer or the branding that you love? Exactly – brand ethos reigns supreme, especially with those trendy, aesthetically-pleasing startups (I never thought Glossier had good makeup, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t visit their website once or twice a month).

So let’s break it down.

Co-founder of Red Antler – a company that assists startups in creating successful branding – Emily Heyward believes in a few branding truths.

Firstly, you have to make sure not to market your brand as a single product or experience. Doing so, she says, will pigeonhole you and thus truncate your ability to expand and offer new products and services (she gives MailChimp, known almost exclusively for email marketing, as an example).

What Heyward does say to do is instead market an idea. For example, the brand Casper (one of Antler’s clients) markets itself as a sleep company instead of a mattress company. By doing this, they kept the door open to eventually offer other products, like pillows and bedding.

Heyward states that this “power of focus” is a way to survive – with countless other startups offering the same product or service, you have to position your company as offering something beyond the product. Provide a problem your customer didn’t know they had and offer an innovative solution through your product.

Ever used Slack, the app-based messenger? There were other messengers out there, so focus of Slack’s branding is that regular messaging is boring and that their app makes it more fun. And customers eat it up.

How can this logic apply to mid-to-large enterprises? How can you focus on one specific thing?

Again, placing emphasis on brand over products is essential – what is it about what you offer that makes your customers’ lives better? It’s more cerebral than material. You’re selling a better life.

Another thing to remember is that customers are intrigued by the idea of new experiences, even if the product or service being offered is itself not new. Try not to use dated language that’s colored by a customers’ preexisting feelings. Instead, find an exciting alternative – chat solutions are desperately trying move away from the word “chat”, which can bring to mind an annoying, tedious process, even though that is in fact what they offer.

Broadening the idea of focused brand ethos to a large company can be difficult. By following these tips and tricks from startups, your company can develop a successful brand ethos that extends beyond your best product or service.

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Business Marketing

The rise of influencer marketing and its effect on digital marketing

(BUSINESS MARKETING) More businesses are planning to invest a larger part of their marketing budgets on more relatable, branded content and influencer marketing.

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Influencer speaking to camera for marketing segment.

The digital age has created more savvy consumers, and the barrage of advertising on top of the plenitude of content online can be a lot. Many consumers have learned to hide ads or they simply scroll past them to their content of choice. Most business owners know that digital marketing is a crucial part of any ad strategy, and branded content and influencer marketing continues to grow in the market, because consumers see that it’s different from traditional advertising.

Hardly anything stayed the same in 2020, and traditional advertising also has shifted. Advertiser Perceptions reported on the trend for 2021, based on a survey from late 2020.

“More than half of advertisers using paid branded content and influencers say doing so is more critical than it was a year ago. Throughout the second half of 2020, 32% increased spending on branded content and 25% spent more to back influencers. They’re now putting 20% of their digital budgets into the complementary practices, which is more than they put into any other digital channel (paid search is 14%, display 13%, paid social 12%, digital video 12%).”

The benefits of branded and influencer content are that you are speaking to the consumer where they already are, when you choose an influencer. The people who follow their accounts are more likely to trust that the influencer would only share something they like or use themselves. The best matches are when the influencer marketing fits nicely into the kind of content, the voice, and any specialties they already deal with.

The word “influencer” as well as the concept rubs some people the wrong way. Marketers see the value, though, as influencer marketing can be effective if done well, and the cost to hire them is often less than a traditional ad campaign. If I want to know about food in a city, I’ll follow the hashtags until I find a local food blogger or micro-influencer whose style I like. Then I’ll seek out those restaurants when I visit. Sure, some of the meals are comped, but the truth is that food bloggers and influencers like to share their food recommendations. I have been influenced this way more than once, and not only for food. I am not alone in this, either, which is why it’s an important part of a marketing strategy.

In influencer marketing, the content creator is then given free rein to create within their own style, voice, and persona. They need to connect with their audience in an authentic, familiar way without creating a dissonance for their followers between their public page(s) and the brand. The level of trust is fairly high with influencer marketing, and many influencers realize that promoting something crappy or something outside of their area of expertise or recognition hurts everyone involved.

The power of storytelling comes into play here, as with all good advertising. Branded content is specifically all about the story, often the story of the business’s philosophy or some lifestyle aspect that goes with the brand’s vibe–or is so off that it goes viral. Some branded campaigns join into or build off of conversations already happening in the wider world. The purpose is to have people engage with the brand, with the content, build awareness, encourage conversations, sharing, comments, all with the long term goal of fostering a positive image of the brand so that down the line, they will become consumers.

Think of 2004 Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign, based on a study showing that around 2% of women saw themselves as beautiful. The widely studied, award-winning campaign featured women of all backgrounds and body types, without airbrushing and Photoshopping them into a narrow vision of “beauty.” While some people hated it, many loved it and applauded the brand for treading into traditionally uncharted waters. Among haters, fans, and people who weren’t sure what to think, the Dove Real Beauty branded content campaign generated conversations. The campaign also encouraged women to feel good about themselves and lift up other women. One could argue that the campaign you could argue that the Real Beauty campaign was a forerunner to the currently popular body positivity movement, which started gaining traction around 2012. Dove increased sales by at least $1.5 billion in the first ten years the branded content campaign ran.

The goal of branded content is to raise awareness of the brand, but the path from point A (creating the content) to point B (brand awareness, ultimately leading to better sales) is not a straight line. Brands are paying attention to grabbing attention, aka building brand awareness via more upper funnel marketing than lower funnel.

One thing that marketers are looking for now, however, is almost eliminating the funnel. With the mind-boggling increase in e-commerce since the beginning of the pandemic, clickable sales capability becomes important in any kind of marketing, including influencer and branded content. It pays to listen to customers, to find an influencer who meshes with your brand’s purpose, and to create thoughtful branded content that isn’t out of line with your core product or service.

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