You do everything touted to bring success: you network, you read in your field, you do social media, you work early and late and grab opportunities as they come your way. So why is it that you still feel behind?
How do you explain the sense of overwhelm and helplessness when you confront your Monday “To Do” list?
Why do you know in your gut you could take it to a new level?
When is it your turn to have “it” come easily?
These are the questions I regularly field from solopreneurs during workshops.
While some report unprecedented successor general vagaries about how well their business is now doing, my experience is it’s been a tough year.
The economic challenges combine with a learning curve spelled c-h-a-n-g-e.
I missed the Mark Zuckerberg 60-Minutes interview, but you can check out the highlights from Mashable. What an example of real-time media. Zuckerberg discusses changes to the Facebook platform to “better serve” the greater good. Do I hear “continuing learning curve?”
Facebook isn’t the only challenge. I know some who opt out of all planning, using the speed of change as a reason to quit. “What’s the use?” they say. “It’ll only change anyway.”
Have you looked at your upcoming year and determined priorities? Do you have a game plan? Because some plan increases the likelihood of goal achievement. Whoops. I forgot a question: do you have goals?
A small group of business owners agreed to meet to review and revise and activate their business marketing. The benefits include:
Commitment – each of the group signed a contract stating their intent and promising to do the work outlined
Alliance – working with like-minded individuals facilitates networking, offers opportunities and encourages support.
Synergy – thanks to small group interaction, ideas get a sounding board, suggestions create discussion, focus increases effectiveness and plans move from thought to action.
Staying “on top of your game” implies you have a plan, you’ve thought it through, and most importantly, you’ve begun a series of actions calculated to move your business forward. Magical.
Where are you in the process?
NOTE: Contact me if you’re looking for the accountability of a small group.
Today’s blog post concludes a challenge begun October 1, 2010. The content outlined in 42 posts promotes the Six Week Marketing Master Plan, an e-book written for businesses overwhelmed with today’s marketing choices.
I started this series of 42 posts on a whim, promising to dedicate the information to the Smart Marketing Series, a class I was presenting for the University of New Mexico Continuing Education. As I complete the series, I find I’m excited about the completion, proud of the accomplishment, and just a little surprised about the ease of the project.
It’s my experience the real value of any program lies in action. Use comments from some of the class participants to fuel your own action:
In Julie’s words, “I’m determined to learn enough to direct the experts.”
Ann put it another way: “Wow. Just the resources you offer put me ahead of the game I was currently playing.”
Robert said, “I was hired to update a website that has no traffic. This gets to the heart of the problem.”
The principles discussed and content presented in these posts are not new. But the perspective may be.
Here’s what Karen said:
… “helped me develop a better marketing strategy and incorporated social media/networking into my overall plan. …provided valuable insight and worked in a creative yet methodical way that was unique.”
Congratulate yourself on what’s working in your business and create more of that. This program will help you.
Yes, it’s pushed me to a new level. Based on feedback I’ve received, this content will be incorporated into the second edition of the Six Week Marketing Master Plan. It may become a special report. (There’s ongoing work to be done.)
Meanwhile, I downloaded Michael Masterson’s new book, “The Pledge” on my Kindle today and can’t wait to begin that program.
What action will you put in place?
Need a different approach to your marketing? Today’s topic is the final day of a 45-day step-by-step marketing master plan. Choose to take your business to a new level topic by topic, day by day, with specific actions, based on clear worksheets. Act now to maximize your time and return on time invested. As a result, you’ll be in an entirely new position this time next year.
Save time and ensure accuracy when you establish a digital master file. Such a file contains formatted and standardized items, as well as the latest logos and graphic elementsyou’re your brand. Produce and manage items such as these in your master:
- Logo – high resolution as well as web quality
- Stationery/letterhead template
- Copyright statement
- Standardized footer
- Standardized header
Documents and templates
- “About our company” paragraph
- Bio – in three versions – 150 words, 250 words, 500 words
- Business cards
- Contract template
- E-book template
- Flyers for appearances, workshops, special events
- Handout template
- Invoice template with logo
- Press release template
- Product descriptions
- Proposal template
- Special report template
- Statements template
- Product photos – high resolution as well as web quality
- Headshots – high resolution as well as web quality labeled with properly spelled names
- Power point template and slides
For your convenience – and to stimulate even more thought, I’m including a free download of the PDF Branding Audit presented in my e-book, The Six Week Marketing Master Plan. Enjoy! A little pre-work to eliminate branding inconsistencies is well worth the effort.
Need a different approach to your marketing? Today’s topic is day forty-one of a 45-day step-by-step marketing master plan. Choose to take your business to a new level topic by topic, day by day, with specific actions, based on clear worksheets. Act now to maximize your time and return on time invested. As a result, you’ll be in an entirely new position this time next year.
Complicated? Not necessarily. Thorough, is a better choice of words.
For example, if you get strategic with your website content planning, you’ll actually do more with less effort. Let me explain:
A designer interviews experts in a series for her membership site. Each month she talks with a different professional, key to the design process. Her strategic outline could look like this:
Topic: Increasing importance of design for mobile and tablet viewing
Potential Guest: Award-winning designer and author
Topic: What does your choice of fonts say about your business?
As experts are identified and scheduled, each month’s topic gets promoted on the home page.
Once the outline for the next twelve months is complete, the content can be leveraged for other usages and visibility during the month. Consider these nine additional communiqués produced from a single content expert:
- Press release about upcoming interview
- Email announcement, tweets, online invite, general info about interview
- Podcast of the event archived on the website, with announcements driving visitors to find the event
- Newsletter featuring highlights from the interview, perhaps a picture
- Slide Share summarizing “best of” tips from the interview
- Blog post discussing questions, comments or controversial suggestions from the interview
- Facebook or forum discussion from the ongoing conversation
- Tip Sheet with supporting information, resources, expansion of ideas presented available for download
How many different ways can you think of to get the word out? Doesn’t it make strategic sense to concentrate on and leverage one specific topic for the month?
Need a different approach to your marketing? Today’s topic is day forty of a 45-day step-by-step marketing master plan. Choose to take your business to a new level topic by topic, day by day, with specific actions, based on clear worksheets. Act now to maximize your time and return on time invested. As a result, you’ll be in an entirely new position this time next year.
“If you use the p-word one more time, I’m going to vomit. I hate planning!”
You may feel differently about planning. Yet, something else could elicit a negative response from you.
When you have a powerful reaction to something, stop. Think, what’s pushing my buttons? What else?
If you allow yourself to think quietly about the resistance, a revealing answer may surface.
Does fear play a part in your reaction?
Are you afraid of failure?
Do you fear the limit you create if you commit to one thing? After all, what if it’s the wrong thing?
Why does playing large scare the crap out of you?
Plans, like railroad tracks, provide a framework to support and guide progress.
All manner of railcars – from luxury sleepers to utilitarian cargo boxes – use the tracks. The tracks facilitate trips, carving out one pathway to a destination. You can change the path. You can travel more quickly or more slowly. You can adjust your rail track to suit. What’s key is that you have a track.
If you’ve begun to think about your upcoming year, use this analogy to support your efforts. Build a track to your destination.
Sample Question: How will you use a track to plan for your blog posts? Here’s one exercise:
1. Decide how often you will post (2x weekly equals 104 posts per year)
2. List 10 blog categories
3. List 10 topics per category
4. Voila! You have a general outline for your blog posts for the year
Get strategic with your content planning. Leverage your time. Generate greater results. How does your track look?
Need a different approach to your marketing? Today’s topic is day thirty-nine of a 45-day step-by-step marketing master plan. Choose to take your business to a new level topic by topic, day by day, with specific actions, based on clear worksheets. Act now to maximize your time and return on time invested. As a result, you’ll be in an entirely new position this time next year.
When you choose to adopt an editorial calendar for your own newsletter, you’ll simplify the planning of that publication. Best of all, you’ll stimulate the production of additional ideas and topics for that newsletter.
Without a plan, life gets in the way. Newsletters fail to write themselves. Inconsistencies arise for any number of reasons. Here are just a few examples from my own experience:
One coach is waiting for inspiration. She’s not produced a newsletter in four months.
A client called to say they have decided to downsize to a quarterly newsletter. NOTE: This year’s monthly actually published three times.
The proliferation of information can cause overwhelm. One friend ceased publication of her daily newsletter after 10 years. Although the daily had produced fodder for two books, it was no longer fun to find a daily topic.
Avoid these traps with pre-planning. It’s not just for the “big guys.”
You might find it easy to work with a quarterly theme. List your four themes, add three supporting topics, and once again, you’re prepared for the year. Example:
Quarterly Theme: Cold calls
- My best cold call conversations start with
- Three “warm-up” prospecting ideas
- Five tantalizing voice messages to create response
Instead of quarterly themes, your newsletter calendar could consist of 12 expert interviews or 12 books that might serve as resources. The possibilities are endless.
During week three of the six week marketing plan, you listed 50 potential topics for your blog. What a great start for an editorial calendar. Review your list and pick the 12 best topics. There. You’re set for the year.
Once you create a general outline, add information on each topic to its file.
Without pre-planning, your newsletter will wax and wane when it needs consistency in order to create a strong following. Begin now with an editorial calendar. What are you waiting for?
Need a different approach to your marketing? Today’s topic is day thirty-eight of a 45-day step-by-step marketing master plan. Choose to take your business to a new level topic by topic, day by day, with specific actions, based on clear worksheets. Act now to maximize your time and return on time invested. As a result, you’ll be in an entirely new position this time next year.
In a recent post I asked if your marketing suffered from shiny object syndrome? Several people identified with the analogy.
Just as a buffet overwhelms willpower with temptation, too many marketing choices divert a loosely structured plan. Faced with hundreds of choices, some do nothing and others do too many non-related things.
How can you simplify?
I advise clients to begin with the end in mind.
“What do you most want to do?”
Whether you want to sell your consulting time, book speaking engagements, or increase traffic into your store, you must decide on your outcome. Form your answer.
Then, begin to layer tactics systematically so as to keep your funnel full. Outline what might work for you segment by segment. I lump every option into one of three segments: advertising, networking or external segments and internal outreach.
Includes but is not limited to direct mail, magazines, team sponsorships, trade shows, yellow pages, radio or tv advertising, and more. Dozens of media channels vie for your dollar.
Networking/Alliances/Events – external segments
Your community involvement falls into this category. There’s no shortage of options for you to spend your time and time becomes the primary currency in this category. It’s wise to consider dollars as well, because luncheon expenses and membership dues add up. Before each event, make a conscious decision about the return you expect. “I plan to make three quality contacts at this meeting,” for example.
What promotional outreach do you conduct to follow up on your advertising or external outreach? The answer can range from a free consult to thank yous to a special business card. Or, you might choose to apply for awards that then enhance your credibility in other areas. Your work in internal outreach will ensure synergy throughout your efforts.
As you brainstorm your year, write commitments on a calendar. One client uses a giant erasable calendar for the year in order to visually remind her of the commitment involved.
Building a promotional plan can generate rewards such as increased focus, employee buy-in and better organization all of which contribute to the synergy and success of your business.
How will you structure your plan?
Need a different approach to your marketing? Today’s topic is day thirty-seven of a 45-day step-by-step marketing master plan. Choose to take your business to a new level topic by topic, day by day, with specific actions, based on clear worksheets. Act now to maximize your time and return on time invested. As a result, you’ll be in an entirely new position this time next year.
Ever watched a child play? Toys are strewn about, discarded when a flash of brilliant color or a special shape or a new sound captures attention. It’s shiny object syndrome. And it’s not just for kids anymore.
Consider the current shiny-marketing-object of social media. BIG attention. Little planning.
In my experience with local clients, the all-consuming Facebook page dominates thoughts. Instead of strategic questions, the owner asks:
“How many fans did we get today?”
“Are we at our goal of 500 fans yet?”
“Did you post on Facebook this afternoon?”
It’s not much different with Twitter. Again, I hear non-strategic comments:
“Build a following. We’ve only got nine people.”
“Did anyone retweet your comments about Black Friday?”
If there’s an owner question at all, it’s this one:
“You don’t think our audience is on Twitter, do you?”
Informal tests conducted by my mastermind group confirm audiences spend more time planning a vacation than planning their marketing.
We avoid planning because we don’t know how to plan. No one teaches the art of planning. No one encourages you to hold the enthusiasm, get the plan down. Instead, the word “plan” causes a freeze in thinking and analysis paralysis sets in.
I think of plan avoidance as shiny-object syndrome. Playing with a shiny object is far more gratifying than planning, at least on a short-term basis. It’s easy. It’s entertaining. It’s fun.
A shiny-object, like a new app, makes the present all-consuming, and lets one avoid thinking about the end result, the consequences of current actions.
While a plan doesn’t provide all the answers, it certainly outlines a path and lets you measure and track success or the lack of it. Your plan could begin as a series of milestones, fairly detailed for the next month or two, less detailed for the following quarter, and merely outlined after that.
Give yourself permission to avoid shiny-object syndrome. Build a simple, one-page marketing plan.
This seven sentence Guerrila Marketing plan from Jay Levinson, the father of Guerrilla marketing offers some good choices:
- What is your marketing asking people to do?
- Which benefits are you going to stress?
- What is your audience?
- Which marketing weapons will you use?
- What is your niche or positioning in the marketplace?
- What is your identity?
- What is your marketing budget?
Take just a moment to reflect on your last 12 months of marketing. Suffering from shiny object syndrome?
Need a different approach to your marketing? Today’s topic is day thirty-six of a 45-day step-by-step marketing master plan. Choose to take your business to a new level topic by topic, day by day, with specific actions, based on clear worksheets. Act now to maximize your time and return on time invested. As a result, you’ll be in an entirely new position this time next year.
Author David Meerman Scott coined the term “Online Media Room.” He describes it:
The online media room (sometimes called a press room or press page) is the part of your organization’s Web site that you create specifically for the media. In some organizations this page is simply a list of news releases with contact information for the organization’s PR person. But many companies and nonprofits have elaborate online media rooms with a great deal of information available in many different formats: audio, video, photos, news releases, background information, financial data, and much more. A close cousin to the online media room is the online Investor Relations room that many public companies maintain.
Scott, a marketing and leadership speaker, wrote the modern business classic, “The New Rules of Marketing & PR, now in its second edition.
As he explains, the online media room serves buyers, not just media.
Most small businesses simply ignore the opportunity to showcase news and information in a media room.
- WESST in the news, the default option, showcases current press coverage. Under each headline is the publication, date of the story and the first paragraph. Visitors can expand each item to see the full story.
- Press Releases lists news from inside the organization. Again, a small intro on the listing page expands to the entire release. Unfortunately, the last press release is now six months old.
- Media Center presents seven different ideas for the media, each encapsulating a portion of the extensive content on the multi-page site. The Media Center page offers the following introduction:
WESST maintains a strong commitment to the media and can provide quick-turnaround for any media request. Below is a list of quick links within this site that are likely to be of interest to the media. If you’re a member of the media looking for specific information not included here, please email Wally Drangmeister, Director of Client Services, or call him at 505-246-6935.
WESST’s Nina Anthony, an SEO and copywriting specialist, gets credit as chief architects for this website. Thanks, Nina, for a solid local online media room display.
Disclosure: I teach and consult for WESST on a contract basis.
Need a different approach to your marketing? Today’s topic is day thirty-five of a 45-day step-by-step marketing master plan. Choose to take your business to a new level topic by topic, day by day, with specific actions, based on clear worksheets. Act now to maximize your time and return on time invested. As a result, you’ll be in an entirely new position this time next year.
I find it more difficult to upgrade a website than to start over. For that reason, I scheduled a day in the Six Week Marketing Master Plan in which participants look at their website content and outline the changes they intend to make.
Instead of tackling this project on your own, I suggest you look at your site with a trusted advisor, expert vendor or good customer. An opinionated colleague who has done well with online marketing makes a good choice. Key to the success of this project is new, objective information.
Expect questions such as:
“What does the visitor get from your website?”
“Why do you have…?” In one case, the critic asked, “Why do you have a duplicate signup box for your newsletter?” The client hadn’t even noticed.
“How come you’re giving so much space away to Facebook when you aren’t offering something particularly useful to the reader?”
“Why doesn’t your photo show on ‘About Us’?”
Look for this kind of input:
“Your menus don’t display properly. When I scroll over them I don’t see the whole word.”
“I like the examples you give in your testimonials.”
“You need a better sales page. Why do you introduce your products? If a buyer is already there, let them see what’s available.”
Get the good, the bad and the ugly in 30 short minutes.
Following your conversation, list each item noted for change, estimate the time to rewrite and re-do and establish a deadline for completion.
Put this outline in a spreadsheet. Then, prioritize your work.
Still waiting? It’s not too early to review your website.