Friday, September 5, 2014

How big are you?

Do you have a growth problem? No really, how big are you?

I mean, do you believe your company has reached its pinnacle and can go no more? Are you so proud of your company, brand, marketing efforts etc that you are so elated and don't really see the need to plan more?


I recently read the transcript of an interview with the President of a major women's organization. This President, we'll call him Mr. X, stated that he did not see the brand evolving or growing much more because he believed everyone knew about the brand and that its reach was fantastic.

Fail, again.

Knowing this brand and organization personally, I can say that prior to six years ago (or so), I couldn't tell you the difference between IT and its major competitor. And to be honest, I don't think 98% of the US population could tell you the difference or would even care to know what the organization is...even though it is a major resource to thousands of young women across America each year.

The failure here is that this organization's leader was not (or did not seem to be) strategically planning for the future. There seemed to be no sense of urgency, need for marketing, or need for development from the head honcho! However, if you ask the number of women involved in the organization, they would have at least 1000 ideas ready to submit in minutes.

Your business should always be growing. Your brand should always be evolving. You constantly want your facebook page, spokesperson, and media efforts to be engaging and developing. A flat, stale, stagnant business is doomed to fail.

Here is what I do to propel vision, growth, and development with my own companies:
1. Get a planner
Don't download an app, seriously get a planner from the Dollar Store and a pencil. Start penciling things in for the year. What would you like to do in December? Maybe a holiday sale? Ok, so that means you may need to start your marketing efforts in November...? Pencil in dates that you will send promo emails, create images and Instagram them, etc. What about in a year? Do you know you want to nab that major contract in September? So does that mean you need to start planning in February? Plan it in!

KEY: By putting your thoughts down on paper, you are taking the first step to making your dreams and goals into a reality.

2. Talk to myself
Ok, not literally (maybe sometimes) but I have to ask myself to honestly assess where my company or brand is. How many people know about me? How many events do I attend and what is the return on investment/attendance? How many connections did I make this month and how many had a positive return? Etc.

I then need to talk to myself some more - where do I see my business or brand going? How do I expect to get there? What is my vision? What is my model? What is my plan to get there? I jot these down and make a plan of action...and then I get cracking!

KEY: make yourself all about vision! Where are you going and how are you going to get there? Honestly assess where you are and where you want to be - make the plan of action, set goals and target dates, set measurements to test your success against and do it!

So my question is: Really, how big are you? How big can you become? What are you doing to turn your growth problems into growth successes? Comment below, I want to know! 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Real-Time Responses

I have been contacting this particular company I want to do business with since April 2014 - 6 months ago. I have emailed four different people and even reached out to someone I know who personally works for the company. Yes, I am persistent because I want to do business with this company, but it made me wonder how many leads a business can lose everyday just because no one was able to write a quick email response, return a voicemail, or follow up with someone.

I know I have done it before - we get so busy with our work life + personal life that our inboxes just seem like bottomless pits. I myself have two company emails, an email for my other job, an email for an organization I volunteer with, and a personal email (heaven help me, I know). Most days, combined, I have over 1000 emails to scroll through and choose from. Do I get to all of them? No. Do I want to get to all of them? Sometimes. Are there important things that I miss? Most definitely. Do I regret it? You bet.

On another note, I'm addicted to my phone. Between facebook, five emails, snapchat, and text messages...I'm surprised I have a husband sometimes. All in all though, I'm working on a few things:

  • Real time responses are quintessential in business. 
    • Even if you just shoot back a quick email saying "received, will send full response later" or "received, will follow up" or whatever - take the moment to respond instantly. People respect that you are attentive to them and know they are on your list of "important people" or "people to respond to".
      • Note: make sure you go back and mark the email as unread or flag the email so when you have the time to respond, you do it.
  • Set aside time daily for touching base with people.
    • You can even break it down. 
      • For example:
        • 12:00-12:30pm Listen to voicemails, take brief notes, list in order of urgency
        • 12:30-1:00pm Return all calls or respond to their inquiry/need 
        • 1:00-1:30pm Check all social media outlets, create posts, respond to comments/questions
        • 1:30-2:00pm Make all important calls that I need to make
        • 2:00-2:30pm Check emails, make responses
    • I know this is easier said than done. I will try it tomorrow and every day after that though. I believe if you schedule in your response times, people will see you care. They don't need to know your schedule but at least they know you are consistent and will respond between the hours of 12-3pm daily. Consistency matters!

Even if it is a quick "received" message in response, people want to know that there is a human on the other end of that voicemail message or email address. Prove to your customers that you care, value them, and want their business. And don't forget that this can extend into your personal life as well - by scheduling ourselves correctly, we can ensure a healthy balance in life and work. And after all, that's what we all crave, isn't it?