Category Archives: Blog


Great Reads for Marketing and Business-Minded People

Recently I did a seminar on Brand Strategy & Story Marketing.  After my talk, a young woman approached me and asked if I had a recommended reading list related to marketing and business that would be helpful to someone building their business.  I had to stop and think about it.

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I queried some business leaders I knew in a mastermind group to get their input, and between their input and my own, here’s the list we came up with.  Keep in mind this is by no means exhaustive, but if you desire to move ahead, you won’t go wrong reading any of these titles.

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The Purple Cow by Seth Godin

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Good to Great by Jim Collins

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Start With Why by Simon Sinek

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The On-Purpose Person by Kevin McCarthy

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The E-Myth by Michael Gerber

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Your Marketing Sucks by Mark Stevens

Permission Marketing by Seth Godin  

The End of Competitive Advantage by Rita McGrath

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Eat that Frog by Brian Tracy

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Who’s Got Your Back by Keith Ferrazzi

Inbound Marketing by Brian Halligan

How to Become a Rainmaker by Jeffrey J. Fox

No Man’s Land by Doug Tatum





COMING SOON: A compelling book that sheds light on a dark problem…



Made in the U.S.A., by Alisa Jordheim, is a compilation of five true stories of adults (4 women & 1 man) trafficked as children. Each story is preceded by an overview of the type of trafficking the story addresses and followed up by a statement from the survivors themselves. The purpose of the book is to provide insights on how American children are taken captive and often coerced to remain in a lifestyle of commercial sexual exploitation. All profits from the book will be distributed to nationally recognized agencies providing either preventive or
restorative service for child survivors of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking.


Want to pre-order a copy? Click here.


Going Small to Get Big

We live in a world where “Big Data” is becoming the buzzword for marketers.  As technology allows us to crunch increasingly large amounts of data with increasing speed, companies are taking advantage of the possibilities.  I remember when we stopped referring to data storage in terms of megabytes in favor of gigabytes.  Now we have terabytes of data.  And in the field of “big data” crunching we are talking exabytes, which for the uninitiated is a million terabytes of data.  Yikes!


However, the point of all this massive amount of data-crunching is still to be able to mine ever more refined, smaller market segments in order to more precisely tailor our marketing messages in a way that is more on target with our audience.  In short, all this data analysis still boils down to our desire (and ability) to hone our messaging with precision to connect with smaller and smaller market segments.


Most of us are not AT&T or Exxon Mobile, so our audiences are simply not that large (but then, neither are our budgets).  The challenge for us in terms of making authentic connections with our audience is still about really knowing them — knowing their likes, preferences, habits, longings, fears.  The more precisely and compellingly you can appeal to those longings and fears, the more effective you will be in connecting with them and earning a new customer.  How do you do this?  Call me old-fashioned, but here are some simple “low-tech” ways you can develop an understanding of who is in your market and just as important, what will make them buy.


1.  Talk to them!  Not in an email or a Tweet, but actually show up at conferences where they hang out and spend a portion of your time engaging in conversation with your buyers.  Host a luncheon or free product preview but spend more time listening than pitching.


2.  Thank them!  Call people who have recently purchased from you and thank them for their business.  While you’re at it, ask them a few questions about how they use your product or service.  What made them decide to give it a try?


3.  Survey them!  Find out which customers are merely “satisfied” and which ones are “raving fans” — you know, the cheerleaders who tell all their friends about what you offer.  If you can isolate the difference between the raving fans and your rank and file customers, you are on to something.


Yes, you can engage people in social media and monitor “likes,” “retreats,” “click-throughs,” etc.  These are valid and important.  But don’t let these options take the place of more direct interpersonal contact with your audience.  Be willing to be present with your audience and ask probing questions and LISTEN.





Nathaniel’s Hope is Working to “Make ‘m Smile”




If you happened to be near downtown Orlando on Saturday, June 7th, you had a special opportunity to make some very special people smile.  One of our clients, Nathaniel’s Hope (, hosted their annual “Make ‘m Smile” event.


What began as a tragedy has turned into a triumph.  Life is often like that. Back in 2001, Tim and Marie Kuck were dealing with the unthinkable. Their young son Nathaniel, who was born with significant physical challenges, passed away after years of hospital visits and medical struggles. But from the depths of their personal pain, Tim and Marie founded an organization that they aptly named for their son, called Nathaniel’s Hope.
Nathaniel’s Hope partners with churches and organizations around the country to provide parents of special needs children with much needed support, encouragement, and training. In addition, once a year they host an event at Lake Eola in downtown Orlando, Florida called Make ‘m Smile.  The event partners up adults, teens, and children from the local area with special needs kids to put on a fun outdoor event that includes free food, entertainment, prizes, and a chance to visit exhibitors that sponsor the event.   The Make ‘m Smile event not only brings smiles, hope, and encouragement to families with special needs kids, it shines a much needed spotlight on the many practical ways all of us can work together to “share the love” with others.


In the coming months, HigherLife will be releasing Tim and Marie’s story, and through that story doing our part to “make ‘m smile.” Every day we make choices — hundreds of them, even thousands.  So today, make the choice to make someone smile.

When Food Is More Than Just Food

Change This World (CTW), is a beautiful example of an organization using

something as simple as a bag of food to make a huge difference in
someone’s life.  Change This World partners with businesses, schools,
churches, and other organizations to gather people together in a fun
atmosphere to pack meals of food that are shipped by container all over
the world to feed people.  For many of the people receiving these
nutritious (and actually quite tasty) meal bags, Change This World meals
may mean the difference between life and death.


I recently had the privilege of visiting Honduras with the leaders of
Change This World.  I saw firsthand how something as simple as a
nutritious meal brought entire mountain villages together.


However, while CTW is most known for packing and shipping food, they don’t see
themselves as being in the food business.  They see themselves as being an
agent of change.  Change is what they are offering the people they serve.
Food just happens to be the vehicle they use to help bring sustainable
change to people hoping for a better life.


What is it that you sell?  Maybe you think you’re in the financial
planning business.  But are you selling financial services or peace of
mind, security for your future, a legacy for your children?


If you are a dentist, do you sell dental services or the confidence that a
bright smile brings?


This week, try to step back from your daily grind and ask yourself, what is the
most salient, helpful, meaningful thing that you do?  Invite others on
your team into this discussion.  You may discover that you’ve been focusing
on the wrong thing.  Maybe instead of celebrating your product or
services, you should be celebrating the impact you are having on your
customer base.


May this week be filled with meaningful impact for you and from you.



The Art Of Getting People To Give You Their Money – And Their Business! 

I recently read a profound little book titled The Spirituality Of Fundraising by Henri Nouwen. In case you’ve never heard of this author, he was a distinguished thinker and theologian, a professor who taught at Harvard, Yale and Notre Dame.  He passed away in 1996 but his writings are still impactful today.  If you lead a charitable organization, this little book is right up your alley.  But I found the principles shared in this book applicable to my own business, and probably yours too.  Yes, the writing is geared towards a distinctly Christian audience so if that’s not a river you prefer to swim in, you may have to look past the scripture references.  But Nouwen’s message is profound and I believe applicable to not only those who raise funds but any of us who provide a valuable product or service.


Here are five key points I gleaned from Nouwen’s writing:


  1. Generosity begets generosity.  In short – you go first.  Live generously in terms of how you treat your donors and clients.  Give them more than they expect and you’ll find in many cases they do the same for you.
  2. Fundraising is not about asking for money but rather, inviting people into your vision and mission.  If you believe what you are doing, what you offer has value, then asking people to come along should not be a chore or a duty but a joy.  If you feel awkward about asking for a donation or a sale, maybe you’d better check your motives.
  3. People are more drawn to what you believe than what you do.  Simon Sinek in his book Start With Why supports this principle as well.  Be willing to share why you are doing what you are doing.  That is often a more compelling story that the “what” or the “how”.  People are willing to give of their resources if they believe in your mission and vision.  So how clearly and compellingly do you share that with your potential clients?
  4. Money and relationships go together.  People give to and support people they know.  Are you willing to form a relationship with your donors and customers?  Do they sense that?  You have to look past the money in their hands to engage their heart and mind. Most people don’t talk about money (or part with it) easily.  You have to earn their trust before they do.  It’s a trite phrase but applicable; people need to know how much you care before they care how much you know.
  5. You have to be willing to ask.  You can present all the arguments, all the benefit statements, articulate your value proposition and unique selling point till you’re blue in the face.  But if you don’t ask for the order, the sale or the gift, don’t expect it will come.  Yes, there is an art to how and when to ask, but ASK!


There is more to chew on that is appropriate for this brief blog post.  Sometimes it helps to have an objective outside perspective to help you see your own blind spots when it comes to how you present your value proposition. If you’d like my help with that, feel free to ask.


P.S.  You can order the book from Upper Room Ministries or





Something’s Fishy –




fishingEarlier this year I met with Jody Crain, one of our clients who heads an organization called Assist Network International, or ANI.  ANI goes into remote places around the globe to bring economic growth, community development, and disaster relief to communities often overlooked by those of us living in the west.  For example, Jody went to the Philippines this year where he and his team delivered fishing nets to help 400 villagers who lost everything in the Typhoon Haiyan disaster that struck those islands.  It’s amazing to think that something as simple as a $150 fishing net can help provide a sustainable livelihood to a family who has lost everything. How cool is that! If you’d like to learn more or even contribute, go to




Begin to Get Endorsements

Endorsements are a big deal unless you’re already quite famous. Most of the people you want to reach with your message don’t know you, so why should they drop $15-$25 bucks to purchase what you have to say? Sure, your title and topic (hopefully) grabbed their attention, but we all have a built-in skepticism — especially of people we don’t know. By publishing the endorsement of others, ideally people more well-known than you, you’re helping to allay that skepticism and break down the barriers that might keep someone from buying your book.


A couple key points to consider:


1. Get endorsements from people who have a larger sphere of influence than yours.


2. It’s fine to get endorsements from people who are thought leaders in different domains of culture. For example, work to get an endorsement from someone well respected in the business world, the political world, sports, entertainment, education, philanthropy, religion, science. Just because your book may be about cooking, doesn’t mean all your endorsements should be from other chefs.


3. Even if you don’t know any famous or well-known people who you can ask to endorse your book, just getting endorsements from others who have read your book (or at least skimmed it) and who are willing to say that it’s a helpful message will help you.


I like to see several pages of endorsement published right in the front pages of a book. If you have a particularly strong endorsement, it may be wise to print it on the front or back cover of your book.


If you need help in gaining endorsements, or how best to use them, call us. We’d be glad to help.




Abner Suarez’s new book Creation Reborn is now available as an E-book on Amazon!


If you would like to shift into a greater dimension of God’s purpose, plan and presence, if you long for a greater passion for Jesus and to see more of His favor and divine power flowing through your life, then this is the book for you! In Creation Reborn you will catch a vision of what’s possible, not just for the church at large but for your life!  Each chapter opens with a compelling narrative of what could happen to a community when God’s power is poured out. In addition you will receive keen insights on how you can personally tap into that power in order to begin living a more fruitful, blessed and supernatural Christian experience.


Want to know more about Abner or buy the E-book? Click here!




publicity strategy higher life

Establish a Publicity Strategy

Strictly speaking, publicity doesn’t sell books. It’s not one of your four main sales channels. But publicity is incredibly important in terms of creating awareness of you and your book and is a very effective strategy to incorporate into the overall mix of your marketing and sales efforts.


In general you want to use publicity for the following:


1. To make people aware of your book’s message and how it will help them


2. To establish you as a credible “thought leader” about your topic



The results you want to see from your publicity efforts should be:


1. An endorsement or plug for you or your book (e.g., a positive book review)


2. A forum to talk about your message and the benefit it brings the reader (e.g., an article quote, a radio interview, a television interview, a speaking engagement)


The best way to get significant publicity for you and your book is to hire a publicist or publicity firm to work with you. Most typically a publicist will want a 4-6 month engagement to bother working with you. At HigherLife, we’ve vetted several top publicity firms and can set you up with one that will meet your needs and fit within your budget.


Some publicity strategies may focus on generating internet connections for you, getting popular bloggers to write about your book or excerpt your book as a guest blog. Other publicists are stronger in getting radio and television interviews set up for you. Still others specialize in generating newspaper and magazine articles about you and your message. Ideally you want to get as much publicity as possible.


One key to remember though … in every media engagement you get, always make sure you have a strong call to action. Make sure you do or say something that will motivate the audience to respond. Just because you are interviewed on Good Morning America or some major media outlet, no matter how charming or engaging you are, if the interview doesn’t motivate people to call in to order your book, or go on line to order it, pick up a copy at the local bookstore or download the eBook, then all that publicity, while great for your ego, doesn’t translate into book sales!


photo credit: Grey World via photopin cc




Speaking of a call-to-action…


Consider partnering along with the Ryan and Jamie Smith Foundation as they seek to elevate the attention of poverty, lack of education, and prevalence of disease in a small village named Siteki in Swaziland, Africa. Their book Trailer Cash will not only give you the tools to create exceptional wealth but hopefully it will inspire you to share your wealth with others. We may all find satisfaction in our financial success, but we will most certainly find joy in our generosity.



Not sure where to start? Join Ryan and Jamie and others as they serve the children of Siteki. Your tax-deductible donation can give a child the chance to succeed.


Visit Ryan and Jamie’s website to learn more about them, order their book, or donate to their cause.



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Buy Multiple Domains

Even if you already have a personal or professional website, it is a great idea to purchase multiple web domain names for your book. You can then develop multiple micro-sites that each share content from your book or you can have one primary website with multiple URLs that point to that same site. Depending upon your topic and strategy, either can work. You want to make it as easy as possible for a potential buyer/reader to find your book and you.


Buying website names is both easy and challenging. The actual process of searching and purchasing a website URL is easy. At HigherLife we can do this for you or you can go to a website such as to purchase your domain names. At the same time, getting the right domain name is challenging because you may quickly discover that “all the good ones are taken.” Well, all the “good” ones aren’t taken, but most of the obvious ones are. It is time to put on your creative hat again and get brainstorming.


Think of all the creative ways to incorporate your book title, as well as your message, into your domain name. Don’t forget to think not only of the title of your book but the message and benefit of your book. For example, if you have written a book about goat farming, is likely taken. But how about or or or or You get my point.


It is possible to buy a domain name already owned by someone else. If you just know in your heart that you have the perfect domain name, but someone has already purchased it, all hope is not lost. Many people purchase domain names in bulk speculating that someone will want it down the line, and be willing to pay for it. Generally, the shorter names are more expensive, while longer, more convoluted are less expensive. First, go to the website. If it is a genuine business that is currently in operation, you are likely out of luck, but if you don’t find an actual business, then find out who owns the domain ( and approach them with an offer. As with any business transaction, approach it with discretion and a reasonable amount of caution.


photo credit: r0bz via photopin cc





Author Debbie Hardy


Domain names are key to helping people find your website and what they’re searching for. Debbie Hardy’s simple and short domain names help lead people to her site where she shares her story through her book Stepping Through Cancer.


Check out her personal website here.


strategic marketing and branding higher life

Develop a Strategic Branding and Marketing Plan

Often I meet an author and ask them how they plan to market and sell their book. You’d be surprised how many times I hear a response something like this: “Right now I’m not thinking about that. I am just focused on getting my book published!” My response is always the same — “Well, you need to be thinking about how you are going to sell your book!”


No matter how compelling, people today are busy, distracted, often overwhelmed. Your message is competing for their attention and unless you’ve got tons of money to burn in attracting the attention of your reading audience, you need a plan.


Right now, while your book is still in development and your release date is still probably a few months off, take time to draft a strategic marketing plan!



You will sell your book in four main ways:
1. Through the internet
2. Through bookstores
3. At events where you may be present as a speaker or exhibitor
4. Through other non-bookstore retail outlets or organizations.


As a starting point in your strategic marketing plan, take time to work out these areas:
a) What will be the price points at which you sell your book
b) What is the central benefit your book offers the reader. You need to be very clear in presenting this through all your marketing efforts
c) What special offers or incentives can you offer your reader that will motivate them to stop what they are doing and order your book right now, rather than waiting until later.
d) Define who will be your most likely reader — your target audience.


Once you have your answers, then you can begin to start thinking through and listing all the things you plan to do to get your book in front of your potential readers.


If you need help developing your marketing strategy and plan, call us. We can help you move from general ideas to specific strategies that are both executable and measurable.


photo credit: Ybot84 via photopin cc




Want more business tips and advice?



Jerry Ross shares some practical business insights in his book Business Shorts. Click to order it today!



playbook higher life

Insider Report

As you begin your publishing journey, make sure you stay on track by establishing what I call a “Publishing Playbook.” This is a summary document where you outline basic information about your book, your audience and your message.


In your playbook answer these questions:


1. Why am I writing this book?

Answer candidly and date it. It’s important that you have a clear handle on your motivations for writing this book. What will determine if you are successful? The fact that you wrote it? If it sells a million copies? If your mother loves it?


2. Who is your intended audience?

Describe the typical person to whom you are writing. What is their age, gender, ethnicity, social/economic status? What are the common areas of influence that bind them together? Even if your message will have appeal to a wide segment of the population, for this exercise, identify who you think will be the most likely reader of your book. Don’t think about a generic, general audience of people. Think about a specific person.


3. What is the central benefit to the reader?

Your focus here is not on what’s in your book or what your book is about but how your book will help the reader. How will your message help make their life better? Will it make them smarter, sexier, thinner, happier, or richer? You need to be very clear about what your book promises to do for the reader.


4. What is the unique message of your book?

What you are going to say that hasn’t been said a thousand times before or how are you going to say it differently? How are you going to make your book compelling to read?


5. What marketing opportunities do you bring to the table?

Nobody — not your publisher, not your publicist, not your best friend — nobody should be more passionate than you about seeing your message get into the hands of the people who need it most. You must be your greatest cheerleader for your message. So decide right up front that you’re going to do whatever it takes to get your message out into the marketplace.


photo credit: opensourceway via photopin cc







Social media can be a great way to spread the word about your book and get your message into the right hands.  One of our clients, Donald Clinebell, recently reached over 5,000 “likes” on the Facebook page for his book The Service Driven Life! 


Check it out here, or go to his website to learn more about his book or order a copy at