Do It If You Can Measure It

I had a good friend and colleague ask me my opinion the other day about attending a women’s expo sell a cookbook she recently published for sale.  She started to the conversation by first telling me she needed some business advice, then proceeded to ask me if I have ever been to an Ultimate Women’s Expo.  I have, I’ve been to one.  And I told her so.  I told her all the things they had readily available for the attendees including a panel of women experts to talk about health, workshops that spoke of expanding your income and giveaways throughout the event.  Then she asked me should she be an exhibitor at one.

My answer to her was “Do it if you can measure it.”

She went on to tell me all the things she’d want use the venue for — sell her cookbook, have little recipe cards ready to hand out, have her promotional t-shirts for sale, possibly do a giveaway and interact with other women there.  She continued by telling me all the things they had to offer for exhibitors at this two-day event.  I could tell she was excited about it because she told me it was “the perfect venue to sell, market and promote [my] recipes to active and enthusiastic women, all searching for great fashion, beauty, health, nutrition, fitness, financial planning, careers, home decor, direct sales opportunities and more!”

I said it again, “Do it if you can measure it.”

I don’t think she entirely understood what I meant when I told her that.  She replied asking if I could look into it for her and see if it’s something she should do.  I told I could (and I will) and let her know my thoughts once I delve into it.  But what I meant by “do it if you can measure it” is that I didn’t want her to walk blindly into something without having a measurable goal in mind.  If she wants to sell her books at the expo, then she would need look at the number of past attendees, see how many other vendors attended last year, how many of them sold their products, which vendors were similar to hers and figure out from those number how many she could aim to sell.  Yeah, it seems like a lot of work (the right way always is), but it’s better than losing out on a whole lot of money needlessly.

The same would apply to interactions and networking, since that was a goal of hers too.  I do this all the time.  Whenever I drag myself out to a networking event, my goal is to meet and keep in touch with 5 new people.  I don’t ever change that number, actually.  5 is a simple number to keep up with.  I can email 5 new people when I return home from the event, I can call 5 new people to schedule a meeting with, and I can share useful information with 5 new people.  And from those 5 new people, I can measure my success in building a relationships.  Even if only 2 or 3 people keep in touch with me afterwards, that’s a 40-60% of  new people addition to my network.  Not bad.

Do it if you can measure it.

Social Media Isn’t Your Problem

Social media isn’t your problem.  You think it’s your problem, but it really isn’t.  If someone sat you down and showed you how to set of a few platforms, upload videos and photos, schedule posts, ask for likes and comments, and return the favor, you could do it.  It is much simpler than what business owners imagine it to be.  Granted, it does require a little finesse, above average writing skills and time –obviously — but, social media isn’t your problem.  Knowing how to engage with social media… that’s your problem.

Be honest, how many of us thought that just setting up a Twitter account and a Facebook account was going to be enough for our business?  We thought if we had one or two pictures, the business contact info and a little somethin’-somethin’ about the business, people would visit and magically all on their own, convert themselves from visitors to customers.  How well did that work out for us?

First off, “enough” is the word we never want to use in business.  Businesses that are doing just enough are going out of business.  So, let’s unwrap our heads around this idea of “enough”.  Secondly, treat social media like a person.  A person who we are conversing with — well, in person.  Aside from the spam bots, there are people out there behind those profiles, likes and comments.  Talk to them as if they were sitting right across the way.  Social media and online marketing are such a staple in conversations for businesses that I feel like I’m beating a dead horse when I bring it up.  But so many business owners — home kitchen chefs, garage engineers, bathroom mixers, attic artists, and back yard scientists — are not even giving their ideas and businesses a chance because they’re failing to use social media the right way.

LinkedIn — Don’t just accept or extend an invitation to connect.  Communicate.  Yeah, we may have over 500 connections, but if you don’t message, endorse or share worthwhile information, then those 500 plus connections are meaningless.

Google + — Yeah, many of us have added someone or something to a circle, but what does that mean?   What makes that circle and those group of people special or relevant?  Get personal and personalize.  Not everyone wants the same thing even if it’s from the same company.

Twitter — Just about everyone and their mama has a Twitter account.  But it sucks when people start un-following us and we have no idea why.  Maybe you’re not conversing enough or at all!  Twitter is all about the conversation.  So get to talking.  Ask questions, answer questions, search what your customers are looking for and share — again — useful info.

Facebook — The Godfather of social media, right?  If that’s case, then this is the social media we should be crafty with.  Visually.  If we don’t know exactly what to share on Facebook, log on into our personal account and see what our friends are sharing and reading.  Then see what their friends are sharing and reading.  We’ll find memes, photos and videos dominate Facebook.  So, get visual but remain informative.

Social media isn’t the problem, it’s all about how well we use it for our business.  If you took the time to build the business, take time to market the business.

No Man Is An Island

Who Are You Lending On?

My grandfather — may he rest in peace — always said no man is an island.  No one person can do it all by themselves and succeed.  Everyone, even the self-made billionaires of our generation, have leaned on someone else for support and guidance.  This is not about delegating tasks and outsourcing work.  This is about genuine help.  Genuine support.  No, I’m not going to break into Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me” (although if you want to sing a few bars, I wouldn’t mind joining you), but he did hit the nail on the head.  There is no problem so unique that someone else hasn’t experienced or gone through what we have or are going through — a friend, a family member, a mentor, a colleague, a LinkedIn group member.  It’s not even about being weak or a failure.  It’s about knowing when to seek out help before it’s too late.

We all would like to think that we’re strong enough to endure the challenges and obstacles that’ll be hurling themselves our way.  If the Mark Cubans and Jeff Bezos can do it, why can’t we? But did they really do it all by themselves?

Should we?

You don’t need to know everything about marketing, creating a campaign, holding a conference, planning a networking event, branding your company, recruiting top talent or even writing a business plan.  Because there is someone you know who you can lean on and help.

“For no one can fill/ those of your needs/ that you won’t let show.” – Bill Withers

The Seahawks Won!

…and frankly I don’t care.  That’s not to say that I wanted the Denver Broncos to win.  It’s just that I’m not a football in the least and definitely not someone who clings every year waiting for the next Super Bowl.  There’s something about freely giving up my precious time to hours of inactivity — especially watching television — that produces no return that boggles my mind.  It’s borderline absurd to know that millions of people do this everyday.  Well, not watching the Super Bowl because that’s an annul event, but throwing time and money away.  The winning team gets the rings and the fans get to fight traffic or clean up the house.  Sorry, but that’s not the kind of return I’m looking for on my time.

Listen, I watch TV too, I understand the need to unwind and let your mind not be “on” for awhile.  I also understand that time is my greatest asset and money is not too far down the list.  And I’m not special when it comes to that fact.  Time and money is valuable to everyone.  So, how is it people are willing to spend thousands of dollars (if they’re out of state, think of the travel, board and food as well as the tickets) to see a game in which no matter what team is the victor, they gain nothing –expect for being there. I’m not trying to be condescending here, I really want to explore what makes people give up — willingly, mind you — two very important aspects of their livelihood for nothing in hand.

Seahawks

I’m gonna simplify this in a manner that any football fan will hate my guts for — oh, well.  Deal.  What is the Super Bowl?  What makes the event so exciting that there’s buzz before, during and after it’s airing?  People will be talking about the game for weeks.  But why? Because of another wardrobe malfunction or Illuminanti suspicion? No.  Honestly, I think it’s because everyone wants to be a winner, even vicariously.  How many times have we heard “my team won” or “my team lost”?  Nobody I know owns a sports team unless they happen to know Mark Cuban, in which case, some elbows need to be rubbing right about now.  But attaching ourselves to a team or an organization gives a sense a victory when they win.  We see ourselves as winners too.

So how does the business owner rally fans like a Super Bowl team?  Do we have to create a buzz  or find well-known brand ambassadors?  Or do we simply just share our victories with our supporters?  Every time we win, our clients win, our customers wins.  Our employees should win too.  Success is shared.  Kicking butt is always fun, but so is winning.  And that’s what people gravitate towards — being a part of a winning team, winning by association.

But even the teams that don’t make it to the Super Bowl have fans.  Because they’re favorite — over another team, over another state — what have you.  Their fans believe they possess something no other team has and it’s more than the potential to win.

Be a favorite, rally fans and share your victories.  It seems easier in writing, but so does going to the Super Bowl, right?

Write Outside The Lines

There is no trick or secret to blogging for your business.  There’s no formula or magic keywords or tags that will make your business blog be the most searched source on the internet. But it isn’t hard to blog either if you got something to offer and something to share.  Normally, I would say practice till you get it right, but sometimes it’s best to hire a freelancer or someone with much more experience.  And if you’re not a strong writer, don’t know your voice yet, or don’t have the time — someone else can do it for you in the meantime, right?  But if you wanna take a crack at it, review all the rules you’ve heard before: blog at least once a week, blog consistently and spread the word around through your other social media platforms.  Sounds easy enough.  But don’t forget the add-ons — the extras that make a blog a bit better: include video, photos and links whenever you can and appropriately, share more information that can help your customer or client rather than yakking it up about how great your company is and include links to your website.

But just like the tech companies, out there, there are some rules you should break —

  • Blog inconsistently consistently — What does that mean?  I try to blog every week, up to 3 times a week.  But I don’t have select days of the week when I blog.  I blog when I have an idea, or the time to devote to an entry.  Being flexible without a set schedule also allows me to add information as I get it — event dates, the latest news or what have you.  Decide how many times a week you’d like to blog and then go from there.  Your time should dictate when you have an opportunity to blog and share, not the calendar.
  • Play with the titles.  You’ll hear copywriters discuss the importance of a good headline or tag… I say, have fun with it.  Personally, I love innuendos for titles.  There’s something about misdirecting the topic that I enjoy all too much.  A (sexual) innuendo is more likely to stop people long enough to skim the article you wrote than a straight forward boring title.
  • Trade shoes when you write.  Think of the person who you are writing this blog for.  Think about what they would to get out of it, think  from their point of view.  Then give it to them.  Be that irate customer who doesn’t understand why the store won’t take back his purchase after 31 days even though his receipt says no returns, refunds or exchanges after 30 days.  Give him solution or a loophole to working with businesses and people like yourself.
  • Vent.  Here is that opportunity to tell the world about the awful no-paying-on-time client that won’t stop calling you whenever they feel like it. Here is the chance to spill how you (and most likely every other business owner) feels about that annoying client.  You can say it all, get it off your chest, be brutally honest without ever saying their name.  Think of it as a form of therapy.  Whoo-sah!

Blogging is the content marketing your business is going to need to keep it’s edge in 2014.  Anybody with a laptop and internet can blog, which means anyone with a business too, should be blogging.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t write outside the lines when you do.

 

 

 

Size Matters

‘It’s not about the size of the boat but the motion in the ocean!’ 

Ha! How many times have we heard that one?  Well, I hate to break it to all the guys out there (and gals), but size DOES matter!!  Small has always been compared to big.  And for good reasons.  Bigger has more experience; smaller has more momentum.  Bigger has more reach; smaller has more flexibility.  There are thousands of bigger, but there are millions of smaller.  And if you think I’m talking about what below a man’s belt buckle, think again — think BIGGER.

Size Does Matter

Think business, big business.  Think of the Amazons, the Apples, the MicroSofts and all the big corporations out there that employ 500 or more employees.  They too started out small.  We’ve heard the stories — started out in a basement, at the kitchen table, the night stand in the bedroom, as a side gig — wherever.  Regardless, they were small, too.  Our businesses are smal.  They may feel much more bigger than where we were when we first started out, but they’re still small.  And as our ambitions and goals grow, so does our business.  And we have — if we desire so — to take our small enterprises and turn them into big businesses.

Is bigger better when it comes to business, though? Does it mean we’ve arrived and have reached the pinnacle of success?  Do more rewards and accolades follow when our business gets bigger?  Or do we have to incur more challenges as we grow?  Are we making ourselves more of a target for liabilities and costs as we get bigger?  But no one wants to be a big fish in a small pond forever.

So, how do we decide what size our business should grow to? After all, in business, size does matters.  Expansion is everything, even if it isn’t in the physical sense.  Innovation, Creativity, Productivity — these are the results of growth — of getting bigger (in some fashion or form).

How big do you want to be?

The Tortoise and The Hare

You’ve heard of Aesop’s fable of the tortoise and the hare.  The hare was faster but cockier and the tortoise won because, as the moral of the story pointed out, slow and steady wins the race.  Let’s think about that for a second.  Slow and steady.  Really?  Slow and steady wins the race?!  I don’t know what Olympic 100 meter dash Aesop ever watched, but slow and steady never got anyone the gold.  But, fast and reckless usually gets you no where quick, so which of the lesser evils is really worth our time?  What’s the method here?  Fast and reckless or slow and steady?

I don’t necessarily believe in those overnight successes.  One day a couple of friends had a great idea for a business and the next day, there in the millions with revenue.  Wow, right?  Not saying it isn’t possible, just highly improbable.  Look at Amazon and how long it took Jeff Bezos to get it where it is today.  Yet, working at an even pace, opportunities are going to pass you by because you’re too focused on maintaining speed — “maintaining”, when the core of business is anything but.  The tortoise didn’t win the race because he was slow and steady.  He won the race because he was persistent.  He never deviated off the path.  When the hare stopped to shoot the breeze — yeah, I’m paraphrasing here, I know — the tortoise kept going.  He never stopped forging ahead.  I’m taking the fable and making it more cliché, I know, I know, but go back and re-read the story.  Google it online.  When did the tortoise ever stop?  When did the tortoise ever get side-tracked or goof off?

Tortoise and the Hare

Better yet — let’s look at this from the hare’s perspective.  Yeah, he didn’t win because he knew he could and was kind of showing off.  I think he even took a nap while the tortoise was catching up.  And as a result, he lost.  But that’s not to say he didn’t finish.  He got to the end of the race too, just last (you really can’t call is second place if there’s only two participants).  He had the speed, the capability and plenty of time. He just didn’t manage them as wisely (how often do some of us do that, HELLO!). I’m gonna keep reiterating this.  The tortoise won, but the hare finished.   Technically, it can be said that both finished.  The prize for winning was just getting there first.  But what the’s point of being first?  MySpace came before Facebook, yet who’s number one now?

Decide if you’re more like the tortoise or the hare.  Some of us know we got the chops to get the job done, we just don’t always discipline ourselves well enough to be ahead of the game.  Fair enough, we need better will power, we can admit to that.  While the rest of us are path-driven.  We know where we’re supposed to be and where we need to end up.  That’s all that matters.  And as long as we focus on staying the course, we’ll get to where we wanted to be.  It’s a bit of a tunnel vision problem.  But, then what?  We’re first.  Doesn’t mean we’re the best or that we even matter?  We’re just first.

So, again, are you the tortoise or are you the hare?