The approach that changes everything: Outcomes Thinking

Outcomes thinking is starting with desired results before focusing on techniques, and then building techniques to hit those results more directly and effectively. (How’s that for laying it all out?)

Typically, when we (as in the royal we) get to planning anything, we start by making a to-do list.

To picture this, imagine you’re throwing a party to celebrate a new product or service. Your event planning list might look like this:

Email about that
Buy this
Pick up the thingy
Rent a do-hickey
Call so and so

Sound familiar? We’re not knocking to-do lists, but if they’re the whole of your planning system, you’ve found yourself a colossal culprit for why you’re feeling busy in your business…but not always productive.

Outcomes thinking helps you break this vicious and blind planning cycle.

Here’s your alternative: Practice outcomes thinking and start by making a list of the change you want to create, not the methods you plan to use. As we mentioned in our Why You’re Stuck guide, it’s not about focusing on what you need to do but instead what you want to have accomplished.

If you put this approach into play, here’s what a list of desired outcomes might look like for that same event you’re planning:

Desired Outcomes:
Clients: feel appreciated for their patronage
Clients and potential customers: had fun
Potential customers: want to learn more about my offerings
Potential customers: know how to learn more about my product
My business: has 50 new email subscribers

Wow. Suddenly that to-do list you are about to make just got a lot more focused! By zeroing in on desired results first, you create a much clearer picture of more related and valuable tasks that must happen to achieve them. This is how you avoid planning blindly, wasting resources, and hoping for the best but with little control of—you guessed it—the outcomes.

Next time you do anything for your business (like plan a party, craft a proposal, write a tough email, whatever), determine your outcomes first. You’ll stop the busywork and start to make real progress toward getting what you really want.

In our Brand Strong course, we teach the art of outcomes thinking through our secret-weapon planning tool. Everything from why and how the approach makes such a huge difference to the exact steps for using it powerfully every time. But you don’t have to take the course to start making this big shift. Start now and you will immediately notice a difference in the results you can achieve.


Stop Headline Hunting (and get what you really want!)

When it comes to media coverage, notice that bizarre events, celebrities, and political figures are just three examples of what can go from yawn-worthy to headline magnet with the flick of a wrist.

So what does this mean for you, your small business, and getting press coverage? The answer isn’t to become magnetic (or polarizing, for that matter). Instead, it’s about deciding whether headlines are what you need in the first place.

Divert your eyes from the media coverage machine when you’re feeling disheartened that your amazing, effective, and quality product isn’t getting you the kind of attention and buzz you deserve. The broadcast circus, filled with sensational events, inflammatory figures, and celebrity spottings, remind us that the media aren’t the only judges of what’s cool, on trend, or effective.

When you’re looking for attention from your audience, oftentimes, you’ll be more effective with other approaches for attaining the same outcomes.

Here’s how to think differently when you find yourself saying, “I need press.” First, stop! And instead get specific on what results or change you want for your business if you were to get a story. Would you want: A larger audience of potential clients who know about the results you help create? More butts in seats? More sales of your gorgeous product?

Saying “all of the above” is not an option. We want you to get laser-focused on one highest priority right now.

Now that you’re more clear on what you want, ask yourself, “How can I make that desired outcome happen?” Sure, press coverage could be great. But chances are, there are other paths you can take, too, where you have more control than sending out a pitch and hoping to get something in return. Brainstorm paths in all directions and then decide.

Here are some actions you could take to get similar results to what good press can generate:

  • Participate in a trade show or event to get your product in front of more people. Approach the organization putting it on and see how you can be featured in their blog, social media, or marketing materials.
  • Gather testimonials from existing clients for your website to help create social proof for your product or service. If you already have some, get better ones, targeted to what you want to highlight about you or your company.
  • Use the time and other resources you would have put into press coverage to barter or offer a discount to a few people so that they can try your product or service. Ask them to share about their experience in exchange for the great value you provided.
  • Attend a conference where you will meet loads of bloggers who follow your industry.
  • Build out your strategy for collecting more online reviews from sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, or Angie’s List.
  • Focus on getting some press in smaller publications where your market hangs out, like community newspapers or blogs with smaller (but active) followers.
  • Pair your product or service with a complementary but not competitive business to get in front of a new audience.

This list is by no means exhaustive and will likely vary from industry to industry, between businesses who have a product vs. a service, and depending on what you’re looking to share at the moment. So use it as a launching point for discovering your best path, given your desired outcomes today.

Back to the press. We’re not saying it’s a bad thing or unattainable.

Press can be great when you’re ready to tell a story, talk about ways you’re innovating, or share something new or exciting.

What we are saying is that if you find you want more people to know about what you do, pitching to outlets and journalists shouldn’t be where you start. Start with your desired outcomes to get to the best methods.  

By then focusing on finding the most effective ways for you to reach those outcomes (and not a silver bullet of “press coverage”), you’ll generate more creative and resonant methods and growth and, ultimately, more interest in your product or service. Yes, even from reporters.

This will free you from blindly longing for fame for fame’s sake.

If you want to learn more about outcomes thinking, join us for the Brand Strong course this fall. We’ll teach you how to get laser-focused on the change you want for your business, use your time more productively, and generate amazing results.

Grab our Why You’re Stuck Guide to join our list and start shifting your business in big ways!