Monthly Archives: August 2011

One Day at a Time Marketing

By Gail Z. Martin

I’m a big believer in having a marketing plan, especially when it comes to being clear on your number one goal and your key target audience.  It’s also important to have a vision for where you want your company to go, so that your marketing can help you build toward that dream.  Being clear on the big picture is important so that you can make sure your efforts are all building toward a common end point.

But in other ways, marketing is a one-day-at-a-time activity.

When you attend a marketing event and chat with the people you meet, you’re making a marketing impact.  The same is true when you send out an email, write a newsletter, or make posts on social media.  Yes, your message should align with your big-picture goal.  But at the same time, at a grassroots level, your marketing adjusts with the needs of each person you talk with or interact with online.

You’ve got to keep your balance between now and later in order for marketing to do its best work.  Without keeping your eye on the long-term goal, you’ll never get where you want to go.  At the same time, achieving that goal will come as the result of the accumulation of day-to-day achievements, messages, connections and proposals.

Planning is important, but a single day can upend the best of plans.  A major announcement by a large company in your industry can completely change the playing field.  Natural disasters can wreck supply and distribution lines, manufacturing facilities, or retail outlets, forcing you to re-think what you say and how you say it—and whether you can deliver your product at all.  A scandal or crisis can hijack your news cycle, or, if it’s your crisis, completely derail your marketing message.  What a difference a day makes!

On the plus side, inspiration strikes when it will, not according to plan.  Tomorrow might be the say you get your million-dollar idea, or an insight into a brilliant marketing approach.  On any given day, you might meet a new client who places a huge order, discover an amazing new online marketing tool, or find a new supplier who can make magic happen.  So make your plans, but be open because marketing is always a day-to-day adventure!

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Filed under Gail Z. Martin, Marketing

Decluttering Your Marketing

By Gail Z. Martin

You hear all about organizing your office and your closets, but when’s the last time you decluttered your marketing?

Over time, many businesses hang on to marketing strategies that they’ve outgrown, or stick with advertising contracts long past they outlive their usefulness.  Like the clothes in the back of your closet that don’t fit and are out of style, marketing clutter ties up space that could be working harder for you.  Not only that, but outdated marketing probably isn’t representing your business at its best, and might be giving an outdated impression of your services.

How do you begin by declutter your marketing?

Start off with a check-up on your top business goals.  Make sure that they’re in line with your current vision for the future.  Now think about who the best audience is to help you reach those goals.  Which of your marketing actions are helping you reach that audience with an up-to-date message?  Those are the actions to keep.  If you have other marketing that is no longer serving your goals, save time and money by canceling those actions and reassigning the effort and budget to more productive activities.

Now think about any marketing actions that may cost more than they’re worth.  Look hard at special events, which can be a huge waste of staff time.  For example, do you know how many hours it really takes to put on your annual golf tournament?  How much are those staff hours worth in dollars?  Does you break even in the amount of new business gained from the tournament?  If not, it might be smart to retire the event and look for a new outreach.  The same is true from tradeshows that you’ve been attending year after year.  Do a cost/benefit analysis to see if the event is earning its keep.

Get rid of brochures with outdated addresses, business cards without email addresses or with incorrect phone numbers, and product information that is not longer current.  Pitch out-of-date photos, video cassettes, audio cassettes and old trade show booth materials that don’t represent the modern version of your business.  Purge your files of multiple copies of magazines and ditch old clipping files except for a few big national placements.  Free up space on your hard disk by purging old client files, especially audio, video and photo files that slow down your system.

Start off the Fall with a clean slate by decluttering your marketing, and watch your results soar!

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Filed under Gail Z. Martin, Marketing

Take it Out of High Gear

By Gail Z. Martin

How much time did you spend relaxing this summer?

Many entrepreneurs—in fact, I’d say most of us—get so busy building our businesses that we forget to take time off to nurture our souls.

The dog days of August are a good time to kick back for a few days and schedule yourself some free time.  You’ll be surprised at the payoff.

Busy people tend to look at downtime as a loss or a waste.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Downtime can be incredibly productive, but in a different way from the daily grind.  Here’s how I reap value from my downtime.

  • Strengthen your base.  Our jobs take a toll on our families, between long hours, travel schedules and distracted attention.  Use your downtime to nurture your bonds with the people you love most by switching off and unplugging to give them total attention.
  • Dream, vision and fantasize.  Are you too busy to daydream?  If so, you’re cheating yourself.  Skipping sleep?  You may be missing out on some of your brain’s best ideas.  I find then when I step away from the full-court press of daily business, I start to be aware of more intuitive things like ideas, connections, and possibilities.  When I relax, my subconscious kicks in and gives me my best ideas.  The same is true when we get deep, REM sleep.
  • Renew and restore.  No resource on Earth can give continually without taking in nutrition.  Your work requires physical and psychic energy that creates an enormous drain.  Without time to relax, renew and restore, you will eventually deplete your reserves.  How do you restore yourself?  Everyone is different, but I love periods of silence, good books, permission to do absolutely nothing for a while, good food, and the company of people I love.  Other people like to hike, dance the night away or do other activities.  Just make sure whatever you pick leaves you feeling renewed and restored and not just tired.

Give yourself permission to unplug and see the difference in yourself and your business!

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Filed under Gail Z. Martin, Personal Transitions

Low Hanging Fruit

Sheryl Eldene, MA, MBA

I live in the Northwest where we have lots of wild (annoying) Himalayan Blackberries. While I was walking the other day, I spotted a large, juicy, very ripe berry about eight inches off the ground. As I was reaching for it, already salivating with anticipation, a picture from a few years ago flashed in my mind.

I used to have a loyal Beautiful Abyssinian cat that would follow me around.  I just adored him and loved hanging around outside with his company. One day, I was picking blackberries in the field next to our house, and he backed up and sprayed everything his little sprayer could reach. With that picture in my head, I decided to leave that low hanging fruit right where it grew, thank you very much.

It made me think about the recommendation that we hear so often to pick the low hanging fruit first. Yes, it is the easiest to get to, takes the least energy, but is that really the best use of time?

Had Bill Gates chosen to pick the low hanging fruit, he probably would still be picking easy fruit, and wondering where his Big Dream disappeared to. What are the visions that you have that require you to stretch? Maybe that would be more fun, taste sweeter, and support your business better that the easy target?

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Filed under Business Planning, Motivation, Passion & Potential, Sheryl Eldene

Too Busy for Opportunities

By Gail Z. Martin

Opportunities are the life-blood of entrepreneurship. Yet sometimes, we work ourselves into situations where we are too busy to seize opportunities that fall into our laps. I was talking with a client who had several tremendous opportunities sitting in front of him—introductions to large potential clients, chances to build a profitable downstream of sales, and ideas to lock in substantial passive revenue, including the implementation of an automated payroll system with the help of professionals. He knew he should be pursuing all of these opportunities, but he was just too busy with the day-to-day operations to get to it.

Busy is good—except when it makes you sell yourself short.

Whether your challenge is finding the time to market your company or clearing room on your calendar to land a new business deal, you’re shortchanging yourself if you aren’t putting your priority where it belongs—on the things only you can do.

Entrepreneurs hate to delegate.  We’re a hands-on bunch, and because that worked in the early start-up days, we hesitate to let go of the reins as the company grows.  But when you become the bottleneck in your own company, you slow the growth that you can attain.  When you realize that opportunities are slipping out of your grasp, it’s time to delegate.

Does that mean hiring full-time staff?  Not necessarily.  Today’s economy offers a wealth of highly skilled contract workers who can work in-office or virtually.  Figure out the number of hours it takes you to do a job that isn’t the best use of your time (like filing, filling out forms, doing research, updating databases, updating your web site, etc.)  Factor in some extra time at first for your new hire to get up to speed, and make sure to allot some of your own time for educating and handing off the task.  Failure to fully explain what to do and what is expected is a recipe for failure.

Is it scary to hand off tasks to others?  Yes, at first.  Will mistakes be made?  Probably—but you make mistakes yourself, and you’re likely to make more of them when you’re stretched thin.  Soon your new system will be working so well you won’t know how you functioned without it.  Not only does it free up time for you to pursue opportunities, but as those opportunities land, you’ll have more projects and more work for your new team to help with.

Free yourself by learning to delegate and watch opportunities turn into reality.

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Filed under Business Planning, Business Transitions, Gail Z. Martin

Swimming Against the Tide

By Gail Z. Martin

When I was at the beach a few weeks ago, I had the chance to take my chair out into the surf and watch the waves come in around me.  I love to feel the water swell up over my feet and legs, and watch it glimmer in the sun as it rushes back out.

As I watched the sun make patterns in the surf, I noticed the small silver fish who were swept in with the water.  I love to see these little minnows swirl around my ankles when I walk in the surf, but I noticed that they were doing something curious.

They were struggling mightily against the tide.  Not only where they fighting the entire power of the ocean, but the tide was struggling to save their lives.  The fish only knew to swim onward, but “onward” would have mean beaching themselves in the sun to die.  And I realized that I know a lot of business owners like those fish.

How many people do you know who are committed to moving “onward” but who aren’t really paying attention to what would happen if they arrived at their supposed destination?

I know people who want to be famous, or who want to build a national franchise, or who want to land a huge national contract.  There’s nothing wrong with those dreams, but it’s important to understand where your version of “onward” is taking you.  Like the minnows, you might succeed in fighting the tide only to end up beached in the sun.

Here are some things to ask yourself, to avoid ending up like those minnows:

  • Why do I want this?  (Is it to impress other people, or for a valid business reason)
  • How will my life have to change to make this happen?  What might be the stress points or ramifications of those changes?
  • Can my support structure handle the stress?  (Your marriage, your family, your employees, and others to who depend on you.)
  • Have I laid a foundation sturdy enough to support  the level of success I’m seeking?  (Many people achieve their goal only to lose what they’ve gained because they didn’t lay a proper foundation capable of sustaining the activities required to maintain success.)
  • What will it take to strengthen my personal and professional support structures to lay a solid foundation for the success I seek?  What can I begin doing immediately to start to make that happen?  How long will it take to achieve?
  • When I achieve my goal, what then?
  • At what point will I be satisfied?  (Warning—if you really believe that “too much is not enough”, you are headed for trouble.  Dream big, but know when you’ve reached a point of sustainability that permits both personal and professional satisfaction.

We Americans love the rebels that swim against the tide.  But before you invest enormous energy in fighting the power of the tides pulling on you, take a few moments to make sure that you’re headed for a healthy destination.  Let go of the compulsion to move “onward” for the sake of moving, and chart your own course and speed.

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Filed under Dreams, Gail Z. Martin

Got a Backbone?

Sheryl Eldene, MA, MBA

Remember those cute minnows swirling around Gail’s feet yesterday? They have intact backbones and really aren’t succeeding. Neither are the jellyfish stranded on the sand in the outgoing tide. Many people understand that BACKBONE, will, drive, Hard Work and discipline are critical to success.

As we look at obstacles to business success, consider the obstacle of no WISHBONE – no time to set vision, create focus and intention. Yes, we talk about annually an quarterly stepping back to create vision and specific strategies, but have you considered bringiing that practice into the month, the week, the day, or even the next hour?  Setting vision for the day or the hour, is more like setting your intention for this day to be _______(productive, nurturing, energized, giving, fulfilling – fill in the blank) and holding that intention as you take on your action steps for that day.

What I see happening so often, is sitting down at my desk, with a carefully prepared list of action steps that may or may not match my strategy, then working very HARD with all my drive, will, discipline until my neck hurts, I’m cranky and I know, from my work on professional burn-out, that I’m on my way down that path, fighting the tide and finally ending up as food for the big players. [OK, that’s a little dramatice, but you get the point].

To bring joy, success, as well as long term contribution in my field, I engage both bones. Here’s my check list:

  • Is what I’m about to do consistent with my intention for the day?
  • Is what I’m about to do consistent with my strategy for the quarter?
  • Do I have the energy to do this with my full attention and my full heart?
  • Can I do this from a place of power and energy, or from a place of just surviving?

No to any one of these questions may suggest that I’m driving and striving, just like those little minnows and maybe I’ll still be fighting the ocean when the day is done.  As you look at what obstacles may be limiting your success, consider the marriage of both your will and your self-discipline (BACKBONE) with your visioning, your intentions, and your heart (WISHBONE). This is the essence of linking the Law of Attraction to the Law of Action – and that marriage real Olympic Gold.

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Filed under Business Planning, Dreams, Intentions, Sheryl Eldene, Strategy, Uncategorized

Corporate chameleon or modern-day maverick?

By Olga Sheean

We could learn a thing or two from birds—the feathered variety. They’re up at the crack of dawn every day, singing their little hearts out, and never worrying about where the next worm is coming from. They’re not moody and they don’t get depressed when it’s raining. (I’ve never seen a bird sulk—have you?) They add value to any natural environment, with zero negative impact. They stick together and they trust in nature’s rhythms. They’re true to themselves and they fly where their inner guidance takes them.

Humans, on the other hand, tend to be filled with self-doubt and insecurity—despite all our resources, skills and creativity. We have difficulty trusting ourselves or the natural order of things. We mask our fears, put on a brave front, and do whatever we can to impress others, in the hope that they’ll find us acceptable.

In life as in business, this insecurity cramps our style. It hinders our authenticity and the power that comes from being naturally, quirkily ourselves. In striving to make ourselves acceptable, we actually diminish our value. If we lack strong, healthy self-acceptance—as so many of us do, due to early negative programming or insensitive upbringing—we don’t believe we’re worthy of love, success or approval. As a result, we make compromises in the hope that others will like or accept us. We say yes when we really want to say no; we over-extend ourselves in our work because we want to prove our value; and we go along with what others want, to avoid conflict, disharmony or rejection.

Yet to be powerful in business and relationships, we need a strong sense of identity, healthy self-worth and the ability to embody our personal values in everyday life. Now, more than ever before, we’re being called upon to say what we mean, mean what we say, and practise social, moral and emotional integrity. When we do, we make a powerful impact. In the midst of all the hype and hard sell, authenticity is as refreshing as a cool shower on a blisteringly hot summer’s day.

The only thing that stops us from being more powerfully authentic is the fear of rejection. We’ll do almost anything to avoid that. But catering to this insecurity often brings us the very rejection we fear, whereas being brazenly authentic makes us attractively compelling. When we dare to be ourselves, to speak our minds and to express how we truly feel, we become magnets for good stuff.

Being authentic not only breaks long-standing cycles of conformity; it also gets people’s attention, as well as their respect and admiration. I’ve experienced this in my own work and life. When I say what I think/feel (despite anticipated negative reactions), I feel good about me—and that, in turn, generates some other positive outcome that matches the healthy self-worth I’ve demonstrated by being true to myself.

Finding true success and fulfillment is all about practising the very qualities that are so often missing in our early conditioning—respect, honesty and the ability to communicate with presence and transparency. These qualities are often missing in our business dealings too, as we’ve all been programmed to cater to the needs and expectations of others, rather than trusting in the value of our unique insights and contribution.

If you want to thrive in business or in love, dare to express what you really think; be proactive, rather than catering to existing circumstances or market forces; follow your instincts and find your voice, even if it means disagreeing with the boss; let go of the need to be accepted by others and focus instead on being true to you—the person you’ve got to live with for the rest of your life. Only when you give yourself the approval, acceptance and respect you’ve been seeking from others, can you really take off and fly.

Olga Sheean is an applied kinesiologist, therapist, relationship counsellor and empowerment coach who teaches a unique system of holistic self-mastery. Author of Fit for Love—find your self and your perfect mate, she offers in-person and online coaching/consultations worldwide. / /

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