Author: ian

Digital Media Strategies for Brand Builders (and an invitation to 10X your Impact)

One of really key distinctions you can make in your directory building business is a super subtle one.

Rather than thinking of yourself as a directory owner (hi – I own -rather, try positioning  yourself as a digital media agency (hi – we own – we serve abc niche – and our properties include

It sounds silly at first – but it’s hugely empowering and quite a different mindset – both for you as the owner – and the audience you invite to participate in your platform.

I have a group of clients who are launching a new directory in a very high end niche/vertical/industry in late August – they are moving from an old Brilliant Directories style model to a very modern WP powered platform.  After a few months of marathon phone calls and meetings – and much debate on how to re-launch their new platform – when I heard one of the primary partners say to a prospect – “we are a digital media company that connects…….” rather than the previous pitches “we run and you are invited to…….” it felt like a major victory in tactics and tone.

A major part of this shift was the move to focus on “fully managed listings” as a high end brand building service, in which the directory piece plays only a single part.

I wanted to  share how many of my own readers can implement this on a much lower budget, using the MYLISTING theme.  (this platform is spending a ton of money on their site – closer to 10K – on a  heavily customized theme + version of the GeoDirectory Plugin – a battle I lost, as I wanted them to lean launch on Mylisting, instead – and save the cash for marketing.

(i’m hoping to get the two partners to agree to do a bunch of interviews on the re-launch, and how our time together has re-framed much of what they are bringing to the market when their new community goes live late Summer)

In any event – it’s been a very rewarding experience for all – and I think there is much to  take away for those who want to turn their own communities into a fully interactive, immersive, ecommerce ecosystem – with simple, off the shelf products – rather than bespoke solutions that most can’t afford.

This short PDF outlines a few ways to offer the FULLY MANAGED listing approach with MYLISTING, and we’ll dive much more deeply into the marketing mechanics in my new private community for digital media agencies –  and the upcoming 10X YOUR IMPACT (and income!) channel within it

Request an invite here, or just download the PDF and enjoy.






This Should Exist.

3 simple words.


And if you’re honest……

3 words that can make or break a big idea – or at least, clarify whether or not your attention ought to be shined in it’s direction.

It’s funny – when I run many of my late night, insomnia fueled inspired ideas through the filter of these 3 words, it offers an instant and insightful lens through which to acknowlege…..

i’d probably be better off trying to sleep 🙂

Some ideas sound fun, entertaining, inspiring and worth trying.

And they very well may be!

But when you ask – with fierce focus and ruthless honesty – in the service of maximizing the finite amount of time and attention we’re all hostage to –

Should this exist?

At least for me, quite often, the answer is no.

So what about you? What BIG idea are you chasing – in this micro moment – or in the larger landscape of your life?

Does that idea survive the scrutiny of these 3 words?

It. Should. Exist.

Try to dive in, dig a bit deeper and explore.

Why should it exist?

And for whom?

This should exist for busy moms.
This should exist for the kids in our neighborhood.
This should exist for the members in our community.
This should exist for divorced men over 40.

Applying the qualifier “for” is a great way of drilling down and getting super “niche-y” with your big idea.

I’m a huge fan of the “10% Happier Podcast” with Dan Harris.

And the “itch” that prompted writing his first book “How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story” actually fits perfectly into the “this should exist” paradigm.

A meditation book for smart, skeptical, cynics who from Dan’s perspective, would benefit immeasurably from mindfulness practice, but who, like himself, were put off by often new age nonsense and word salad of superficial silliness that often accompanies many books in the spiritual growth section.

He has since grown a thriving brand and business around an app, a second book and a curious community of new meditators inspired by his pragmatic yet passionate embrace of a very simple, life changing practice.

This. Should. Exist.

Keep asking. Keep looking. And stay honest. (the hardest piece for those of us who often get way over-enamoured with our own ideas 🙂

– Ian

PS – The inspiration for this belongs to the great “Masters of Scale” episode 22. A great, short reminder on how powerful this process can be.
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MyListing Theme Update: How to Make Landing Pages for Your Categories, Regions and Tags

Here is a quick video outlining some of the brand new functionality in the Mylisting WP theme (released July 12th) that will allow you to create super cool and creative “hero” style landing pages for as many categories, regions and tags you need. Don’t underestimate the power of this approach – it really allows you to create tons of value, both functionally and aesthetically, to your users, members and visitors alike.

(think of all the creative ways you can now create “recommended” categories for example – or “our favorites” – or “featured members” and have super sexy landing pages that allow your audience to drill down on JUST the “best of the best” in a category, or your community overall)

Very cool stuff – and ironically, when Listify first came out years and years ago – this was the 1 thing I emailed and strongly suggested this to the folks behind “Astoundify” to include – pretty much week 1 of their launch. (I think they ignored me – although that’s usually what happens, so you can’t blame them)


Grab the amazing Mylisting Directory theme here.

Join our community of brand builders, digital agencies, community leaders & enlightened entrepreneurs, here.

Brand Vs Mission?

What is the difference?  Is there a difference?  If so……how so?

Someone forwarded me an interview with poet Cleo Wade (on GoodLifeProject, Here) where she waxes poetic (no pun intended 🙂 about the differences in being brand focused, vs mission focused.

I think her wise words are well worth pondering – how much attention do we all put on the idea of our brands – and what does branding, at bottom, really do?  Is it the fine art of selling subtly – of persuading, prodding, preening or pretending to represent something that we *hope* our audience wants to emulate?

That may be a cynical approach of course, but I see that idea in much of my own casual thinking about branding – how can I create and then project an “image” of something that others may want to buy.

Mission oriented marketing feels much more evangelical – and more about serving and sharing and digging deeper into the underlying drivers that makes your ambitious aims worthwhile.

A mission seems denuded of the pretense and embarrassing airs that so many of us find ourselves foisting on others in the service of persuasion.   A mission feels good and right and transcendent in some important service oriented way – whereas a brand, at bottom, feels always about the benjamins.

Worth thinking about, anyway, as I find myself throwing around the “B” word quite a bit these days.  It’s a subtle difference in choice of words, and many conflate the 2 – but with some wisdom and insight applied, feels like a mighty big distinction indeed.


Ooops! (A Reminder Why The Path to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions)

Yesterday, I recommended one of my favorite books on body based, “somatic” meditation to my mindfulness list.

It was 1.99 on Amazon when I sent the email.

(which was pretty surprising, considering I paid much more for it many months ago)

Amazon prices are always flitting and fluttering and changing based on too many whims and motivations to possibly keep track of – and dependent on far too many factors and variables to even want to notice.

Of course, I woke up today to check my inbox – to see a bunch of unsubscribes – and a few nasty emails – all telling me that the 1.99 book I recommended they buy (The Awakening body by Dr. Reginald Ray) – was now 12.99.


It’s a steal of a deal at 12.99, too!  (it comes with hours and hours of audio practice instruction on a very esoteric tibetan practice – from a true legendary yogi (Dr. Ray) – but of course, I get the anger – and learned my lesson.

Don’t recommend Amazon books on sale before checking with Jeff Bezos.

They tend to go off sale pretty quickly.

So sorry everyone who thought that was a sneaky bait and switch move.  (It wasn’t – it was 1.99 – and no affiliate link was involved)

If you’re interested in the book – but can’t afford the 12.99 – feel free to email me – i’ll send you a link to the audio files that accompany the book for free – as they’re available on the Dharma Ocean website – you just need to know where to look.