This year’s Presidential election was quite an experience for many people regardless of their preferred candidate. As election night unfolded, anxieties rose about what many people thought was a ‘done deal’ for Hillary Clinton. There were many reasons Americans voted the way they did, which I won’t get into here. But what I think surprised Hillary Clinton supporters along the coastal states of this country, was that something they thought was so sure, well… wasn’t. What does this have to do with marketing and business development? A lot. Here are just a few take-aways:
- Nothing is a sure thing. There are times where you feel confident that you have connected every dot and secured back-up plans to your back-up plans to earn a piece of work. However, the outcome is very different than you expected. You scratch your brow, muttering, ‘how can that be?’ The reality is, if you are prepared from every angle, anticipate the possible hurdles and put your best foot forward, most times, things go your way. You hope for the best that all of the other pieces will fall into place. However, hope is not a strategy. It is a very singular experience. Business development is definitely not only about you.
- There is always an other opinion. Part of a good sales process includes doing your homework and trusting your instincts. What is overlooked in the sales process, is an open conversation with people to get perspective along the way. Ask someone you trust (but who may not see things the same way you do) to provide honest feedback on your sales strategies. Perhaps most importantly… take their input seriously and be willing to adjust if you need to.
- Keep on going. We all have moments when we need to stop and tend to our wounds, and we should honor those moments. In your reflection, remind yourself that you will lose sometimes and that is ok. But, most importantly, keep trying. If you lose a piece of business to a competitor, review your sales effort with a critical eye and look for ways to improve or adjust your approach.
As President Obama stated, “no matter what happens, the sun will rise in the morning, and America will still be the greatest nation on earth.” Likewise, if you keep striving to build the strongest relationships and genuinely help solve problems, you will be successful over the long haul and be the best version of yourself possible.
It is hard to believe that we are already a week deep into October. This is a busy time of year for many professionals. Unfortunately, the end of the year push sometimes translates into a drop in marketing initiatives. Resist the pull! I understand there are only so many hours in a day, but remember the mantra… the best time to market is when you are busy. Here are 5 days of ten-minute activities that help you hold on tight to the momentum you have built all year.
- Book 10 minutes on 1 day a week to contact people in your network. During that 10 minute slot, send out emails to check in, book coffee dates, schedule lunch meetings or have quick phone conversations. In 10 minutes, you have time to identify and send at least one email that will deepen your relationships. Aim to send out 2 each week.
- Book 10 minutes on 2 days a week to interact with social media. Set a timer for this one, as social media can be a time eater. Make sure you are using this 10 minutes to interact with your business contacts– this isn’t the time to be checking in on your kids’ social media activity. Go through Linked In, Twitter or Facebook feeds and check out what your business networks are up to. Like, follow, share and comment on a range of posts.
- Book 10 minutes on 1 day a week to connect with a mentor or colleague who can help you further your internal relationships, make connections or act as a sounding board.
- Book 10 minutes on 1 day a week to work on content. Jot down ideas, create an outline, draft a paragraph or edit something you wrote earlier.
- Rinse and repeat!
Each of these actionable items will help you incrementally further your marketing initiatives so that you build and maintain relationships and visibility for the long haul. If you break large tasks into small steps, you will find it easier to commit to and you will build a habit that helps you get results.
One of the biggest obstacles to marketing success is consistency of effort. At the end of the day, I have come to believe that we need to accept that the pace of life is crazy. The pressures come from every angle, both business and personal. However, this doesn’t mean that we have to be frantic every day. We need to prioritize our daily to do lists, making the best possible decisions with the information we have at that moment. This also applies to marketing our services. Prioritizing doesn’t mean we hold the “get out of jail free” card to stop marketing. What it does mean is that we need to break down marketing tasks into small, bite-sized pieces. So, how do you do that? Here are a few tips:
- Focus on one task at a time. Don’t try to peruse social media while you make a phone call to a referral source. Not only is it rude to split your attention to someone, studies show that productivity & effectiveness drop dramatically if you try to multi-task. Let’s face it, our brains just aren’t built to multi-task well.
- Use a calendaring tool to book appointments for marketing time. Book yourself out 3 months in advance, and keep those appointments as you would any other appointment. You will be most successful if you identify how much time you need to accomplish your marketing plan’s actionable tasks and then schedule accordingly. For example, if writing a blog post takes you 30 minutes, block out that amount of time on a specific date.
- Do you have someone who can help you accomplish tasks from your marketing plan? Do you have an assistant who is savvy with technology? Have that person be responsible for posting your blogs once they are written.
- Everyone needs to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Block out one of each per month (at a minimum) and invite someone to join you. Use this time to meet with clients, referral sources, your network and colleagues. Talk about your businesses together and brainstorm ways to help one an other.
- Social media is a great tool for marketing, but it can be a time-suck. Set a timer for 10-15 minutes a few times a week where you are solely focused on perusing your social media feeds. Interact with these networks in a meaningful way– like posts, share content, congratulate people and make new connections.
Taking time to maintain your relationships and visibility are crucial to long-term success. Marketing your services while you are busy is important so that you keep an even flow of work on your plate, avoiding peaks and valleys. That being said, don’t beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon– dust yourself off and start setting good habits. Remember, it takes time to build a life-long habit. Reinforce your habits by touching your marketing every day in some small way.