It is finally summertime in New England! The weather is warming up, the kids are out of school and people are talking about vacation plans. To many people, that is the perfect excuse to stop dead in their marketing tracks. It is unfortunate to hear that people avoid reaching out to clients in June, July or August because “they are all on vacation.” Last time I checked, people haven’t taken the entire summer off for vacation and so there is a whole lot wrong with this theory! It may take a few tries, but you will find your contacts available in the summer months. In fact, you may just find that they have a little more time to have a chat with you.
Hopefully you have created a solid 12-month marketing plan to guide you through the lazy days of summer. Don’t worry if you haven’t! Summer is the perfect time to reflect upon the first half of the year and start planning for the last half. Here are a few things to consider doing this summer:
- Get some writing done. Throughout the year, I often hear that there isn’t enough time to write an article. Since the summer months tend to have a relaxed pace, take time to plan a few article topics and get them written. Also, work on placement for those articles by reaching out to reporters who may also be enjoying a slower time. Try to publish one article this summer and then have one ready to roll for the fall.
- Build relationships. Continue talking and emailing your contacts to further develop your relationships. Build in your fall follow-up plans by taking a moment to personalize the interactions. Ask about summer plans and then see how it all went when the fall rolls around.
- Reward your relationships. Treat your contacts with tickets to a ballgame, outdoor concert or an ice cream social. Take advantage of the extended daylight hours and meet up after work outdoors somewhere.
- Try out social media. Take a few extra minutes on a quiet summer morning to set yourself up in Twitter or Linked In. Start tweeting and posting status in small steps. By fall, you will be a pro and can ramp up your content.
Don’t let the weather drive your marketing confidence. If you disappear during the summer months, you risk losing the momentum you gained in the first 6 months of the year. Even if you remain in ‘maintenance’ mode for the summer, you will still be ahead of all those people who hid behind the excuse that “everyone is out of town.”
Websites are here to stay. Long gone are the days when just having a site was enough to show you were in the game. Websites have become increasingly sophisticated tools for differentiating your experience and skills. How do you separate the best from the rest? Quality content. Google analytics proves that traffic spikes occur when meaningful content is added. The analytics tool allows you to uncover the types of information driving desirable visitor behavior. Once you understand what motivates your visitors to return, you may build more content into the site, making it a reliable resource that showcases your business prowess. A content-improvement effort builds credibility among clients, prospective clients and referral sources over the long run.
So, what should you think about when creating website content? Consider these points:
- People read web content 25% more slowly than they read print materials. Use shorter sentences within well-constructed paragraphs that cover only one idea. This doesn’t mean ‘dumbing it down’, it simply means skipping the legal-speak and citations. Transforming a piece from print to the web? Consider streamlining your print content by 50% before posting it onto a website.
- Readers on the web scan text, they do not read it. According to a study completed by usability expert Jacob Nielson, 79% of readers on the Web tend to scan or skim text rather than read word for word. Place the most important information you want to get across at the beginning of your material. Use tricks such as pull-quotes, highlighted text and bulleted lists to help scanners get the most pertinent material quickly.
- Readers on the web want what they want, and quickly! Studies show that we must grab someone’s attention in as little as 10 seconds. If we succeed, then we earn up to 45 seconds more to sell them. Deliver information quickly, or they will move onto the multitude of alternative websites to find the information they desire.
- Use more than words to grab your visitors’ attention. Use videos, images, tasteful animation and podcasts. These are all viable methods for attracting people and urging them to look for more information. All the same rules apply, though. Keep these components concise and attractive.
- Use social media to move visitors onto your website. Spark interest through social media status posts. Post on recent articles, events and external press coverage. Provide a link directly to your website from your posting.
Understanding and optimizing the way you create website content is the first step in enhancing visitor experience. Of course there are many more considerations for making websites useful, helpful and successful tools for business development. However, by starting with these tips, you will be well on your way to differentiating yourself from an overly crowded cyberspace.
Every day we are faced with multiple opportunities to make decisions. Some decisions are made without even thinking twice, but others are trickier. When it comes to business development, we sometimes struggle with making decisions. Insecurities get in our way… what will work, how will I be perceived, how often should I reach out to someone… the list goes on. This is common, but don’t let this paralyze you! The best thing to do in this scenario? Try the following few steps to get you jump-started:
- Define the objective– What is it you want to achieve through your business development initiatives? In your mind’s eye, picture the final results of your efforts. By thinking through your objectives like this, you will gain perspective that will ultimately shape the decisions you must make to get started.
- Collect relevant information– Now that you have an objective, think about the pieces of information you need to create actionable steps to reaching your goals.
- Identify your options– It is rare that a decision has a very defined answer at first blush. Think through your objectives and understand the options that will lead you to the end results. For example, if you want to build relationships with people who could refer business, there are a few approaches you could take. One option is to identify specific individuals and invite them out to lunch, communicate with them via phone call or email, or reconnect with them via social media. Alternatively, you can opt to join a committee where you may contribute to a team, building new relationships along the way. Either way, collect your relevant data on all of the options and weigh them against your resources.
- Make a decision– Once you have clearly defined your options, select one. Don’t stress over it! Compare the methods, pair up your resources (such as time, money and desire) and pick one path. When the option has been chosen, write it down with the appropriate actionable items.
- Implement and evaluate– Get to work! With a defined decision in front of you, now you can start working towards achieving your objective. Take it in small steps and commit to a specific timeframe for your implementation (for example, 3-6 months). When that timeframe has passed, evaluate your progress. By looking at your efforts and checking in on your successes and failures, you will confirm if the decision you made was the right one. If it is the right one, keep going by updating your actionable items. If it seems to need adjusting, repeat this process and try again.
Making decisions does not have to be torture. Ask someone to talk you through the decisions if it helps. When it comes down to it, if you make the wrong decision… so be it. Do the best you can to re-evaluate and start again. If you’ve made a solid choice, congratulations! Continue on your path and branch off into new directions when the time feels right!