Maximizing Marketing Productivity

Maximizing Marketing Productivity

Marketing on a (Time) Budget

Maximize Marketing Productivity without Disrupting Your Business

 

You’re busy. You get 800 emails and calls a day, have a constant tidal wave of paperwork flowing in and out… I get it. You don’t have time to spare to make sure you are driving traffic to your website or to check your emails’ open rates, or for that matter,  even have emails going out to your customers.

The primary deterrent from marketing is a lack of time. My customers consistently share they would like to put more effort into their website, customer emails and content but lack the time. I know what it’s like as a business owner to wear many hats and to place marketing last on the list of priorities. Many people think of marketing as a disruption to your business, but it doesn’t have to be. There is a way to market your business on a time budget. You can market your company without disrupting your business by following some simple suggestions to improve your reach and keep in better contact with your customers.

 

 

SET GOALS, AVOID THESE MISTAKES

First you want to lay a foundation to help you create a plan that will help save you time.

 

Step 1. Prioritize your goals

You HAVE to identify what your business goal is in order to avoid frivolous dollars and time in areas that don’t align with your end goal. For example, I work with some businesses who their goal is to grow their company by a dollar amount or by an increase in customer numbers. They would focus on different platforms and venues in order to reach more prospects than another company who is primarily concerned with customer retention and re-engagement. This step will help you focus on where you should spend your time and money and keep you from going down a road that will waste your time.

Step 2. What’s it worth to you?

Determine the value of each new customer and retaining customers. This helps you quantify how much you would be willing to spend in time or money to achieve your goal. If a new customer is worth $5,000 in revenue annually, spending $10 per new lead doesn’t seem out of proportion. It is helpful to compare your market budget in relation to your business goals so that you also have an idea of how to measure your results.

Step 3. Take a look back.

Which marketing tactics have been working? Sometimes you just need to take time to evaluate where your business is coming from currently or how you have found retention to work best in your current business. You will be able to identify the most successful pipelines for your business. This doesn’t mean you are going to abandon the other venues because you still need to nurture leads through social media advertising or email campaigns. It gives you insight on what is working and where you could maximize the results by putting more time and effort into those areas. This can save you time by doubling up your efforts in areas that have proven successful in the past.

Step 4. Identify resources.

This could be tools, a person, or a company to help you maximize your marketing efforts to reach your business goals quicker and more efficiently. Is there an employee who would be great at coming up with social media content? Or, maybe there is a better email marketing tool you could use to make it easier to generate campaigns and will give you better insight into how your emails are doing. You may decide an outside marketing service is necessary. I work primarily with companies who need part-time marketing support and don’t have the bandwidth in-house to tackle all their marketing needs. Or they have someone in-house but they are new to marketing and need some coaching and guidance to get them going.

Step 5. A plan of action and accountability.

You will need to have a game plan but then the discipline to follow through. It can be extremely helpful to have others help you stay accountable. This could be a monthly meeting with a co-worker to discuss marketing projects and progress or an outside marketing coach or professional you hire to assist you. Establish deadlines for each project to create some urgency.

Some people like worksheets so I have put together one you can use. This can be a good starting point to at least help you organize and prioritize where you want to start.

DOWNLOAD YOUR WORKSHEET

 

 

“The more you eliminate the inefficient use of information, the better it is for productivity.” – Mitch Kapor

 

 

NOW, HOW DO I FIND THE TIME?

You have a clear goal and plan. How are you going to execute it? What does that look like on a daily/weekly basis?

Now, the biggest barrier is overcoming our misconception that there isn’t any time to execute the plan you just put together.

 

BREAK UP YOUR GOAL into smaller tasks

Identify your top goal(s) and then decide how you can break that into projects or tasks that can scheduled out. For example, if you are looking to re-engage with customers who haven’t given you much business lately, this could be broken up into calling 5 customers a week or into sending them a monthly email. These individual tasks are more manageable and can be assigned out to others to help you achieve these steps.

CONNECT EACH DAY with your goal & tasks

We all need a system of connecting with our goals or else they won’t stay a priority. So, each week, and each day if possible, we can reconnect to our goals. By writing my goals daily on my agenda, it forces me to ask myself, “How are my priorities and actions today going to move me closer to my goals?” This literally only takes a minute or two each day and ensures I’m staying on track. Make a quick note in your agenda about what your overreaching goal is and it will give you the extra fire to tackle your day’s tasks.

(TIP – I don’t recommend putting them on the wall unless you are going to re-write it or update it each week. How many of us have a picture of artwork up in our office? And when is the last time you can remember looking at it? I certainly can’t remember the last time I looked at mine. That’s because once it is there for a while, your brain will ignore it. This is why putting your goals on the wall isn’t as effective in my opinion.)

TIME MANAGEMENT to prioritize your agenda

Time management is what you do when you prioritize your agenda for the day. The way you schedule your day is key to maximizing your productivity. If you aren’t scheduling your day, you are probably being pushed along by urgent matters that pop up rather than intentionally working on certain goals. My productivity increased dramatically by doing a daily agenda. The key is to just START and then continue doing a schedule each day until it becomes habit. Be realistic about how you structure your time and your day. The time of day that you schedule tasks can also make or break your plan. The wee hours of the morning are my prime time for doing creative work where you may find a later time more suited to you.

ATTENTION MANAGEMENT to minimize distractions

This is an essential skill for maximizing the few minutes you have allocated to marketing your company. Minimize distractions. According to University of Irvine study, it takes people and average of 23 minutes to get back on task after getting distracted. So, what we think will be a quick reply to an email can snowball into more and before we know it, we have spent all our allocated time. Obviously, things pop up that are unavoidable in your business. However, we can also let ourselves be distracted by tasks that are not urgent.

EAT THE FROG FIRST, preferably in the morning

What is the main marketing task you have been avoiding and know you need to do? Starting an article can be the hardest part for me. Once I get going, the creative juices start flowing and I have a great time. Scheduling this task early in the day and just starting by writing down a rough title and bullets gets me over the initial hump and the frog is eaten! Tackling a task you’ve been avoiding helps your overall mood and productivity and sets the tone for the day.

PUT YOUR PLAN into action!

Do it today!

– Establish a marketing meeting with your team
– Or, ask me how to maximize your marketing productivity!

Erika DeBlasi is the TranStrategy Partners’ Marketing Coach and has worked as a marketing executive in freight brokerage and financial services industries. She drives the marketing, branding, advertising and communication activities for a variety of companies in addition to providing a broad spectrum of marketing and communication training.
>> Schedule Your Complimentary Marketing Review with her

At the Cusp of Greatness

At the Cusp of Greatness

“Borders are always tricky, intriguing things.” -Daniel Quinn The Story of B

For many entrepreneurs, there are steps along the path to success that are more difficult than others. Whether the move from $3M to $10M, or from $20M to $50M or even the steps beyond $100M in revenue, the methodologies of each requires new thinking and a change in behavior.

The steps across these thresholds are either simple strides of confidence or great leaps of faith – often revealed in the truths of perspective. Approaching a fundamental shift in mindset is both uncomfortable and difficult to achieve and much is predicated on the power of one’s belief in the goal. Defining what $50M in revenue looks like (with personnel, technology and leadership) helps to define the actions necessary to reach $50M. The clearer the vision, the clearer the steps necessary to achieve it.

However, if the goal is ambiguous, like ‘more’ revenue and ‘better’ processes, the threshold becomes stickier, causing the leaders to get mired in contradictory priorities with a lack of both clarity and focus on the actions necessary to achieve it or even to know whether it is actually achieved.

Visions must be simple to express and impactful to receive. Often, the numbers themselves ($10M or $100M) serve only as a measurement. The true motivation behind the numbers can act as the catalyst and collaborative force in achievement:

  1. $10M in total revenue allows us to provide quality health care benefits and 401k options for our staff;
  2. $3M in gross margin allows us the opportunity to make an impact on the lives of 100 people served by the homeless shelter in our community;
  3. $50M in revenue guides us to support our business’ Feeding America and Blue Star Mothers initiatives;
  4. Our 30 employees place us as one of the top employers and ‘business of choice’ in our county

How do these numbers make a noticeable impact on actual lives? Answering that question brings realism to an otherwise economic discussion. Whatever the impact that you want to make, clear growth goals, guided by purpose, can meet both the extrinsic and intrinsic motivations in your people (and yourself).

Naming the Good that is expressed by the goal attainment becomes the driving force behind ‘why’ your business exists and the purpose it is poised to achieve. The ‘what’ you choose to do and the ‘how’ you choose to do it follow directly from the ‘why’. The ‘why’ provides the context that allows a common focus from everyone that accelerates the actions to bring about the reality of the vision.

Be clear on your vision, share that vision, show how the vision positively affects others and you will be able to move more confidently across challenging thresholds of growth towards a more impactful future.

The Value of Professional Development

The Value of Professional Development

Knowledge and skills development are vital to the health of any organization. We live in an information age. Therefore, an organization’s ability to manage and process information plays a key role in its overall success. The people within the organizations must have the skills to organize, disseminate and retain information.

Training is one of the chief methods of properly utilizing this intellectual capital. Every employee should have the opportunity to increase their knowledge and skill level in order to become more efficient, more effective, and more productive in their job. This produces many benefits for them personally as well as for the overall organization.

It is common for organizations to think of training strictly in terms of an on-boarding process for new employees. Although this is a valuable and necessary function of training, it should not stop there. Often times, employees are left to continue learning on their own – by watching other employees, asking questions, or through trial and error. The most effective organizations however, will provide some type of ongoing training, continuing education, or professional development program in order to maximize the employee’s potential.

Here are some typical benefits of a Professional Development (PD) program:
1. PD ensures that your employees maintain and enhance the knowledge and skills they need to deliver professional services to your customers, clients, and the community.

2. PD helps your employees stay relevant and up to date. The pace of change is faster today than it’s ever been. If you stand still, you get left behind. Therefore, it is mandatory that employees keep pace with the current trends, directions and standards in their industry.

3. PD allows employees to increase their knowledge base. As this happens, they become more effective. This, in turn, will help them advance in their careers by moving into new positions where they can lead, manage, and influence others in a positive way.

4. PD opens employees up to new ways of thinking. Experience is a great teacher but it often means continuing to do the same things in the same way. PD will help them discover new ideas and methodologies that may prove to be faster, more efficient, and even more cost effective.

5. PD will enhance a sense of team in your work environment. As people begin learning the same content, they begin thinking more cohesively, speaking the same language, and augmenting each other rather than miscommunicating and running over each other all the time.

6. PD will boost employee satisfaction. When employees can do their jobs more effectively, they grow more confident. This new level of confidence leads to an overall increased level of satisfaction with their job, which leads to an increased level of retention within your company.

7. When you offer PD opportunities, you are enhancing your overall reputation as an employer that cares about and invests in its workforce. Remember, your employees are your brand ambassadors. When they receive PD, they will reflect all that’s good about your organization.

8. Having a well-developed PD program will attract quality candidates. If applicants know there is the potential to raise their skill level and compensation at your company, you are more likely to attract top level candidates.

9. PD programs will help enhance your company’s culture. Along with creating a greater sense of team, continuing education exposes employees to new experiences and keeps them engaged in their work. This building of enthusiasm among staff will engender a sense of loyalty that greatly affects the work environment in a positive way.

10. PD programs can help the development of future leaders in your organization. If you are interested in the possibility of promoting within, helping people to grow through a professional development program can be a good way to see who rises to the top.

If you are unsure of how to develop a professional development program in your organization, here are a few ideas:

Coaching
Coaching involves a more experienced or skilled individual providing an employee with advice and guidance intended to help him or her gain new skills, improve performance and enhance the quality of his or her career. The hallmarks of coaching are that it is personalized and customized, that it has a specific business objective, and that it is usually accomplished one-on-one over a period of time.

Mentoring
Mentoring matches less experienced employees with more experienced colleagues through formal or informal programs. Formal mentoring programs can reduce turnover, enhance recruitment, and improve performance and the work environment.

Effective mentoring programs do the following:
• Match mentors and mentees based on skills and development needs.
• Outline and track goals.
• Designate minimum time commitments.
• Monitor the mentoring relationship.
• Hold both parties accountable.
• Link mentoring to talent management strategy and goals.
• Link mentoring to business strategy and goals.

The 9-Box Grid
The 9-box grid is an individual employee assessment tool that evaluates the employee’s current and potential levels of contribution to the organization. The grid is most commonly used in succession planning as a method of evaluating an organization’s talent pool and identifying potential leaders. For performance appraisal purposes, the 9-box grid provides a visual reference that can include appraisal and assessment data to allow managers to view employees’ actual and potential performance.

Cross-Training
Cross-training refers to training employees to perform job duties other than those normally assigned. Cross-training can be a short-term or ad hoc fix, or it can be an ongoing, planned process. Cross-training usually does not result in immediate advancement, but it does indicate that an employee is interested in learning new skills. This skill diversity may help him or her meet qualifications for future career advancement.

“Stretch” Assignments
On-the-job training projects and “stretch assignments” give employees a chance to learn while doing real work. Developmental assignments allow employees to develop new skills, knowledge and competencies necessary for higher-level positions. Here’s some things to keep in mind when using stretch assignments:
1) Identify a developmental experience that will challenge your team member in a new way.
2) Make sure the challenge and the employee’s skill levels align, so that there’s good flow.
3) Provide a rich context for the employee to grow.
4) Make sure that goals are clear and understood by both parties.

Here are some examples of stretch assignments:
• Manage a volunteer or intern
• Execute a new or important company project
• Participate in the company’s strategic planning process
• Turn around a failing project, department or operation
• Organize and lead an important company event or meeting
• Lead a high-profile initiative
• Conduct a customer-needs analysis
• Write a policy statement
• Facilitate change in the way a business or a process is conducted
• Fix a preexisting problem
• Evaluate a training program
• Join a team dealing with conflict
• Create a customer satisfaction survey
• Negotiate a new customer contract
• Re-launch a product or service that previously failed
• Lead people from different cultures, gender, racial or ethnic backgrounds
• Influence and oversee people or processes for which one has no direct authority

Job Enlargement and Job Enrichment
Job enlargement involves expanding the employee’s job by adding more tasks and duties, typically at the same level of complexity. Job enrichment builds more depth to an employee’s job through more control, responsibility and discretion.

Job Shadowing
Job shadowing requires more than just having an employee follow a colleague around all day. Shadowers view the organization from a different perspective and learn firsthand about the challenges facing workers in other departments. This perspective helps employees realize the impact their decisions have on other groups.

Job Rotation
Job rotation is the systematic movement of employees from job to job within an organization. Rotation programs may vary in size and formality. Though larger employers are more likely to invest in a formalized job rotation program, organizations of all sizes might consider implementing a job rotation program. Typically, formal rotation programs offer customized assignments to promising employees to give them a view of the entire business. Assignments usually run for a year or more.

Succession Planning
Succession planning identifies long-range needs and cultivates internal talent to meet those needs. Succession plans typically focus on a one- to three-year process of preparing employees—not preselecting them—for new roles in the organization.

Assessment Centers
An assessment center is not necessarily a physical site, as the term might suggest, but a program of tools and exercises designed to assess an employee’s or job candidate’s suitability in relation to a particular role. Centers may be used for selection or development purposes.

Corporate Universities
Corporate universities focus primarily on on-the-job skills, company-specific proprietary knowledge and branding, and certification. At a corporate university, the focus is on learning that will benefit the organization, not just the individual. Benefits of the corporate university format include strategic alignment with company goals, consistent quality and uniform messages that reach all learners. A corporate university is also a tangible symbol of the organization’s commitment to learning and growth.

When employees become more efficient and productive, your entire company becomes more productive. This allows for new innovations, bringing new strength to strategies, products and your company’s capacity to adopt new technologies and methods. All these factors will contribute to increasing stability, sustainability and your bottom line.