Of all the desired needs and requirements from business owners I have come across over the years it's been Business and time structure. The never-ending list of things that we all have to manage can be overwhelming. I recently heard a talk from Gerry Duffy at an event I attended and I loved how he built in accountability into his working week so I will mention that in this blog too.
Managing your day to day workload is a given of course but unless you commit time weekly to business development it can be left as a last resort. What has helped me over the last number of years is to devote time to "awareness" through various mediums namely radio, podcasting, going live, attending and speaking at events etc. I tend to use Social Media to support what I am doing elsewhere, rather than making it the forte or tip of my marketing remit.
As part of my ongoing growth plans I do a SWOT every 6 months. This accountability means I am always freshly looking at possible threats and opportunities too. Without keeping an eye on both of these, you're reducing your ability to build your business.
Goals are obviously a large part of your development, as they should be - but consistency and daring also matter when pushing you're business to the next level. Be uncomfortable doing what you do. Then you're always trying to achieve more.
Gerry Duffy suggested that you add a couple of accountability steps here during your week. The first step is to plan your week on Sunday evening. Work out what you need and want to achieve, people you need to reach and speak to etc. This would all be in readiness for Monday morning. The second step it then do a mid-week review, rather than at the end of the week when frankly it's too late to change it! By adding a 15 minute mid-week check you can see if your plans for the week are on target and still be able to make it happen before Friday.
Online or offline networking is as important as time management in my opinion. Why? Because if you're not widening and cementing your relationship with your audience you're essentially shutting up shop. If you're not listening to their pain points, how can you possibly understand how to support your customer. Also by networking you're hearing them express their pain in their language. This ultimately means you can express what they are feeling when you post online or write blogs. We all enjoy being heard and understood and this would be an exceptional way to do this.
So far all that I have mentioned is how your own business can help others but actually by networking you can learn how other businesses can help you too. By getting yourself out there you'll also learn about any deficiencies your business may have and find someone who can help you with that.
Over the years I have also found people that I can collaborate with or indeed sponsor - just from networking. Networking can also give you speaking engagements here or abroad as well. There really is no limit to what you may potentially be exposed to by simply meeting people.
As important as networking is though, it does have a cost to it. You'll have to incorporate not just time but travel, hotels, flights, sundries, clothing or perhaps hair appointments etc. So make sure you have a dedicated budget for this to make it possible and then do your best to stay within it as well.
Every business struggles with this at times, even I do. Sometimes it's because of lack of motivation, lack of what I think is important to say and other times it's because I'm not too sure where to start as there's been a lot happening.
One thing I have learned that's more important than any of that though, is what I want to say is less important than what my customer wants to hear. I may want to say I have got a special offer, I've won an award or had some amazing event coming up. However, this is all about ME. All my audience cares about is what's in it for THEM. So when you create content, swing it around to make it relevant to your specific avatars (customer profiles). Make them think about themselves and how they would feel. Give them an answer to a problem that only you can solve. Make THEM feel something, like being amused, supported, encouraged, etc.
Remember you can create one piece of content in many ways. You can sell the benefits of your discount through a Live or video, through a blog or social media post. You can create flyers, put it up in the local or national press. Also remember you can post and talk about it more than once. I would recommend posting about it 2-3 times a week and consider paying for ads online as well.
You may want to outsource the actual creation of your images and videos to someone else and believe me there are some incredibly committed and talented people out there. I use virtual assistants to create some of my imagery - especially for the Monday Morning Marketing Podcast.
I personally hate Sales. Yep - you heard that right! I don't consider myself particularly pushy and I hate being salesy - but as I am the only one on my team its' my responsibility to do it. As much as love helping people, it's actually really nice being paid to do something I really enjoy so much. So I've had to learn how to sell myself, even though I detest it so much.
Learning to value what I offer though was a hard lesson and over the years I have begun to understand how much others have got out of what I have been delivering. This has mostly come from customer testimonials and feedback I have been given. By customers telling me how they have been helped, has helped me bring to others what I offer.
Even if you have a team of people, you will still be responsible for selling yourself and your business and you will need to be able to echo what your customers are saying about you. Also to learn from any mistakes that any of you make.
Sales is converting the people who have found you through your marketing.
As mentioned above Marketing is all about building awareness. Networking is also awareness! However, marketing should be seen as something that is constant and repetitive. It means you get your business out there by taking your customer through a sales funnel and tell people about who you company is, what you offer and then giving them a call to action to follow. This last action is by far the least one shared by many companies I see online.
What I frequently see is companies will ask you to contact them or they may send the audience to a contact page. Why not simply ask them to BUY? They'll need to contact you anyway to do that. By simply asking them to BUY you will be getting a form of commitment and this tends to stop the tyre-kickers.
I know a lot of business owners will feel - that if given the opportunity to speak to their audience they will be able to cross sell, up sell and sell in general. However, by asking the customer to formally make a decision before contacting you, your work is over half way done when you pick up the phone.
These are probably the hardest and most demanding part of your 6 week cycle. Namely because they don't always make a lot of sense and unless you use a third party like Hootsuite or AgoraPulse, are (or can be) tricky to get into. You'll need to go into every platform you have and document what has and hasn't worked and very consistently.
It should also be noted though, analytics are also available elsewhere. You could also measure how many quotations you create, phone calls you receive, emails signups and drop offs you have too. Each of these help you develop a clearer picture of what your audience would like to get from you and where you should be spending more of your time and budget.
Analytics is not only affected by your strategy but by world events and by weather as well! My suggestion for you when looking at your analytics is to create a SWOT with the results of your analytics and that will soon tell you where you need to work on and what is working well.
Now your strategy will be so much easier as you have previously put in the work with the 5 other areas. Strategy is you pulling together the above sections and making time to continue doing each one of them IN your new strategy plus making a project (or goal) you want to achieve into pre-set and pre-considered tasks you need to do in order to reach that goal.
Most of the problem with a strategy in my opinion is the overwhelm that we put upon ourselves. If you asked your family member to clean an empty and neglected house, where would they start? Simply put, you would look at the whole and then break the whole down into parts that could be easily achieved with or without help. That is all a Digital Marketing Strategy is. There well maybe a lot of small moving parts to it, but you need only do what you can handle and it's fine to add other platforms at a later date. It's actually more practical and professional to do one or two platforms well than to do five or six very badly.
In the great words of some marketing gurus I know (Andrew & Pete), they suggest to Kill, Keep or Outsource as much as you can. You'll be surprised how much duplication you likely have in your processes and you'll probably be paying for more than you need. If that's the case, then simply stop doing it. The keep also needs some work on it as well. Why keep it? Is it actually saving you time or money? Really focus on it's worth to make the decision.
Finally outsource. Yes I know this can be scary and expensive. I have had all the same arguments you have had too most likely. "They won't do it as well as me", "They don't know MY business as well as I do", " It will be too expensive!". Let's address each one. First up
They won't do it as well as me...
There is that chance I will admit - but there is also a likelihood they do that subject more often than you, enjoy it more and are better known for doing it than you as well. So instead of being forced to do something you have to do or don't particularly enjoy doing. Give it to them!
They don't my business as well as I do...
OK, you've got me here. No one else will know your business as well as you do - but this can easily be resolved as well. You can explain to the person you're outsourcing to what your brand persona is (attitude, responses, fonts, colours etc), who your customer avatars are and finally what your ethos, mission and vision is. Or if you're outsourcing stuff like accounts they don't need to know any of that!
Once you have devoted some time to explain and left the door open to answer any questions they may have about your business etc, then all that's left to explain is the process itself. I can assure you, if you have picked a busy and well recommended Virtual assistant, they are mostly all over this system already and you need only explain your business.
It will be too expensive...
There is a case for this. You do tend to get what you pay for. To use a good VA here in Ireland can range from €30-50ph. I have used a couple here in Ireland but I now use an overseas service called iworker.co. I can get the same highly skilled and expert help for a fraction of the price. Well worth looking into.
So as you can see these steps are all easily achievable and some you most likely do already, just a bit of order needs to be put to them. You might find doing my Traffic Light System of Priorities and Building Your Strategy useful to go alongside this blog post as well.
All you have to do now is open up your diary and start your 6 Week Business Cycle! Remember to keep your cycle diaried and you might find it beneficial to get yourself an accountability partner to support you as well.
If you would like to chat with me about any of this, then please do not hesitate to contact me.