Collaborative Effort with Clients Reaps Economic Dividends
Recently, our marketing and advertising agency in Sioux Falls put a pencil as to how the clients we represent impact the local Sioux Falls economy. What we discovered is a multi-million dollar ramification that cannot be ignored.
In 2016, the combined trackable revenue growth among our just over one hundred clients was $6,306,893.91.
Additionally, if one assumes the typical business designates 1% of their profit towards charitable giving, that translates into $643,068.00 in donations among Complete Media clients. The typical client staff averages fewer than a dozen.
For over fifteen years, our Sioux Falls advertising agency has been working to assist our clients with all aspects of marketing, advertising, and business development by offering services including graphic design, copywriting, web development, video production, media services, public relations, campaign management, and event planning.
Several years ago, our owner and president, Matt Luke, recognized a certain segment of the local business community was being underserved when it came to marketing and advertising. Small businesses often do not have the luxury of hiring traditional agencies, so they either do little to no marketing, have only sporadic, piecemeal campaigns, or try to manage marketing efforts themselves, along with all of the other day-to-day business operations. Matt decided rather than continue to cater to any and all businesses, our company would focus on those businesses which needed marketing support and a feasible option by which to afford professional agency services.
Over the past several years, we have courted, attracted, and partnered with small- to medium-sized businesses, many family-operated, and all but a few locally based. Our agency focuses on trackable strategies providing the best return based on the client’s budget. This approach tends to emphasize online positioning and branding versus promotional product development and intermittent media campaigns — not to their exclusion, but rather implemented on an investment return basis and affordability to execute with necessary frequency. It’s a win-win for the business and the community.
Complete Media Inc is a Sioux Falls marketing, advertising, website design and web hosting company specializing in web design, maintenance and hosting services.
Marketing Objectives are defined as the group of goals set by a business when promoting its products or services to potential consumers that should be achieved within a given time frame. A company’s marketing objectives for a particular product might include increasing product awareness among targeted consumers and providing information about product features. Specifically, common marketing objectives include:
Introducing new products or services
Cross-selling more products or services to existing customers
Expanding into a new geographic market
Seeking out and securing new customers
Improving customer services
Increasing the average size of an order
Once the Marketing Objectives have been defined, you can create a focused Marketing Strategy for each one. Marketing Strategies have many potential tactics that can be utilized. Below are examples of Strategies with their corresponding tactics:
Market Share & Expansion Strategy: Develop aggressive sales & marketing tactics to expand your market. Examples of tactics include:
Positioning Strategy: Designed to affect how people think and feel (perceive) about your product or service. Examples of tactics include:
Advertising and public relations campaigns
Attending, exhibiting or presenting at trade shows
Enhancing and/or developing corporate communication and marketing materials (e.g. brochures, website, flyers, social media profiles, etc…)
Reminder Strategy: Reminds customers to make a purchase. Tactics include:
Postcards via direct mail with coupons
Free premium items with company’s information
Disseminate monthly newsletters
Communicate newsworthy information via social media
Determining which Marketing Strategies are necessary and important based on your business goals is critical to the success of growing your company. If done incorrectly, you will only end up wasting a lot of time and money on implementing the wrong strategies. Needless to say, my advice is to seek out a qualified Marketing Consultant who can assist you through this process.
With the proliferation of tools for both measuring and automating your marketing efforts, startups aren’t exactly wanting for real-time marketing data. But while spreadsheets and dashboards are nice, actually being able to prove your marketing works is far more useful.
Interested in how other startups are measuring their marketing efforts, I asked a group of entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneur Council to share how they currently track their successes (and failures). Their best responses are below:
“Now that high-quality content has so many benefits in the marketing world, it’s important to track all its different uses. For example, when you share specific pieces of content, use Buffer to track it. Or, when you send someone an email that includes a specific type of content, use HubSpot or Infusionsoft to track the results. It can be as simple as tracking the clicks on your recent post that’s in your signature line.”
2. Acquisition Channels
“We track every single acquisition channel through which our users register. This includes blog posts, press, organic search, paid ads, partnerships, etc. We do weekly meetings to review the data. It shows which channels convert the highest, generate the most loyal users and more. This data signals which channels to “double down” our efforts on and which to let die.”
3. Google Analytics
“We place heavy focus on margins to optimize ROI on Adwords marketing campaigns. We want to constantly optimize our spending and make sure we get the most conversions possible on targeted customer acquisition cost. We use Google Analytics to do this mostly.”
4. Iterative Testing And Strategizing
“We end planning sessions with different hypotheses to test and measure. Lean, agile marketing is baked into our process, and we’re always thinking about the goals of each action and variations of actions to be tested. Right now, analyzing data like open rates, click-throughs and social performance from content and formatting is shaping our email marketing strategy iteratively without slowing us down.”
5. Inbound Leads
“The biggest thing we use data for is tracking inbound leads. We experiment all the time. We change up our welcome email, give a phone call instead, attach explainer docs and then see which ones convert. If you don’t use data, you’ll have to guess without any evidence.”
6. A Marketing “Stack”
“Our marketing stack includes Segment.io, Marketo and Salesforce.com. We use Geckoboard to make the data available to anyone in our company and display it on screens around the office. My philosophy is that any number important enough to report to our board of directors should be available to employees all the time, and we have biweekly meetings to discuss trends in our key marketing metrics.”
“We’re using Salesforce.com to track the productivity of our marketing efforts, which are segmented into a variety of categories like campaigns, lead types, company types and more. Marketing really is the top of the sales funnel, and with Salesforce.com, we can create and share several dashboards and reports to use across the team. We can then follow the sales process from beginning to end and use the quantitative data to make improvements to our processes.”
8. Cost Per Acquisition
“Marketing dashboards can bog you down with extraneous data. CPM, CTR, impressions and impression share — it’s enough to bury you in numbers. The way that we stay afloat is the discipline of only looking at the king of marketing metrics: CPA, or the cost per acquisition. Ultimately, marketing exists to move the needle on acquisition. If you don’t know how much each new customer costs, you’re just throwing your money out the window.”
9. Customer Engagement
“Data informs almost every decision we make, and it allows us to communicate with our users in a way that is thoughtful and impactful. We recently launched engagement campaigns based on behavioral data, and we’re analyzing the successes and failures of those campaigns to create content that improves user experience while helping achieve our marketing goals!”
10. Customer Lifetime Value
“Customer lifetime value (LTV) is a great way to reveal the quality of customer segments. We segment our customers by referral source (ad campaign, social network, etc.) and look at their LTV. Just because an ad is converting doesn’t mean it will bring in high-LTV customers. Word of mouth and social network referrals lead to customer LTVs that are worth several times more than the ones that come from some of our ad campaigns, which is apparent when you look at the churn rate for each customer segment. Conversion rate can easily become a vanity metric, but focusing on LTV and churn are how you build a long-term business.”
11. Audience Opinion
“It’s important to track your marketing efforts so you can see what’s working and what isn’t. Our team collects information and suggestions directly from our customers. We want to go straight to the source to get quality feedback, and the customer using your product will have the best insight. Social media is also an indicator that can identify which topics seem to be sparking a conversation in your customer community.”
12. Data Collection
“In marketing, data is crucial — it’s how we find out if our creativity is actually delivering. We use what’s called dollar productive activity (DPA) metrics, such as how many calls/emails/meetings occurred and how many of those activities converted into a closed deal. There’s a very distinct difference between being busy and being effective. From these metrics, we can see if our activity is actually effective. If we notice that calls are working better than emails, we adjust. Also, if we know that it takes three calls to get one closed deal and our goal is 10 deals per week, then we can work that math into our goals and ensure that our sales team is making 30 calls per week.”
Source: Scott Gerber
Complete Media Inc is a Sioux Falls marketing, advertising, website design and web hosting company specializing in web design, maintenance and hosting services.
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Is it more effective to touch 100 potential customers once or 25 potential customers 4 times?
Reach and frequency are terms generally used when planning advertising campaigns. However, the concept of reach and frequency applies to any promotional activity you undertake: direct mail, direct selling, and even networking.
Reach is the number of people you touch with your marketing message or the number of people that are exposed to your message. Frequency is the number of times you touch each person with your message. In a world of unlimited resources, you would obviously maximize both reach and frequency. However, since most of us live in the world of limited resources we must often make decisions to sacrifice reach for frequency or vice versa.
For example, an air conditioning repair service who has decided to do a direct mail piece has to decide whether to mail the entire Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex once or to mail a quarter of the Metroplex four times. An attorney who receives many of her clients through networking may have to decide whether to attend one weekly networking meeting or four different monthly meetings.
When faced with decisions of reach vs. frequency remember this rule of thumb:
Reach Without Frequency = Wasted Money.
Marketing is the process of building a business relationship with potential customers. Have you ever established a lifelong friendship with someone you had contact with only once? Probably not. Generally, friendships (and all relationships, for that matter) grow as a result of frequent contact over time. Even when the potential to form a great friendship is there at the first encounter, it is unlikely it will grow without nurturing.
Seth Godin in his book Permission Marketing uses an analogy of seeds and water to demonstrate the importance of assuring adequate frequency in your promotional campaigns. If you were given 100 seeds with enough water to water each seed once would you plant all 100 seeds and water each one once or would you be more successful if you planted 25 seeds and used all of the water on those 25 seeds?
While intuitively and even conceptually we understand the importance of frequency to successful promotional and sales campaigns, somehow when it comes to actually implementing the campaign, we opt to sacrifice frequency for reach. And then we complain about the ineffectiveness of our promotional efforts. Undoubtedly one of the biggest wastes of marketing dollars is promotional activities that are implemented without adequate frequency.
When faced with the decision of mailing one direct mail piece to 10,000 people or mailing to 2,500 people four times think about the fate of those 100 seeds you can water only once. Unless you have water rights and can obtain additional water, opt for less reach and more frequency.
Knowing the media-consumption habits of a target audience can help a business owner create an effective marketing campaign. For example, if target consumers favor a particular media channel – such as a television station, radio station, magazine or newspaper – you can use that information to deliver your marketing messages directly to them.
Your target customers may enjoy a particular aspect or offering of the media channel. For example, they might watch a specific television program, listen to a particular radio show or flip directly to the sports section of the newspaper. Understanding media consumption habits in this respect helps you place your advertisement effectively within the media channel.
It also helps to know what consumers are doing while they are using a media channel. Suppose a car dealership decides to reach its audience by advertising on a radio station in the morning. Knowing that most people are driving to work at this time of the day, the dealership might design an advertisement that speaks directly to commuters by explaining how a comfortable car can ease the pain of sitting in traffic jams. Similarly, if the dealership knows target consumers tune in to the radio station while they are busy working or making dinner, its advertisement might use loud jingles and sound effects to catch the listener’s attention.
Business owners can hire a market research firm to help determine strategies for reaching a particular segment of the population. Market researchers draw on a large variety of techniques to study consumer behavior to create behavioral profiles and help advertisers tailor marketing campaigns to the consumption habits of their target audience. Researchers might use surveys, focus groups and questionnaires to generate a database of media consumption habits. They then use statistical methods to identify consumption patterns, providing valuable insights that help advertisers identify the most cost-effective strategies for reaching an audience.
Media Planners and Buyers
Media planners and buyers help businesses implement marketing campaigns. These experts can orchestrate complex strategies, such as airing television commercials in short bursts during periods when the target customers are likely to be watching. The alternative approach – airing commercials during every available period – would drain an advertising budget unnecessarily. While hiring all these marketing experts might seem expensive, the investment pays off if you can avoid wasting money on ineffective strategies.
Creating a target market profile and positioning statement is a process that helps business owners to identify and communicate with the prospects that offer the greatest chance of sales success. A target market profile is a concise description of the type of prospect you want to sell to. A positioning statement is a brief summary of the way you want prospects to perceive your product or service.
Define the target market for your products or services as precisely as possible. A target market profile identifies the characteristics of the prospects most likely to purchase from you. Use characteristics such as age, gender, location, income level or education to build the profile. Age or gender are important characteristics if you sell products such as clothing or children’s games. Focus on location if your products are only available in certain areas or if they are location-specific, such as hiking or skiing equipment. Income is important if your products carry a premium price.
Profile business customers by a different set of characteristics, including size of business, industry sector and location. Identify the decision-makers in target companies. The decision to purchase your product may involve business, financial or technical personnel as well as senior executives if the purchase represents a significant capital investment. An example of a business target market profile is medium-size companies in the manufacturing sector, based in the Midwest, with a turnover of more than $2 million.
Research the interests and preferences of your target market to find out what they feel is most important about a product like yours. Approach customers for feedback, asking them about important features and benefits. Consumers might consider factors such as “the product improves my lifestyle,” “it saves me money” or “it makes me feel healthier.” For business customers, identify the opportunities and problems that face different types of businesses by monitoring customer feedback or reviewing industry surveys. Challenges such as reducing costs, improving quality, speeding up time to market, or improving competitiveness are issues facing many types of business.
Build a more detailed profile of your target audience by capturing information on their interests and requirements on your website. Offer website visitors publications or special offers that they can download after completing a registration form. Provide a page where visitors can create and update their own profiles and request certain types of information from you. Analyze their preferences and record the information they request to build personalized profiles.
Identify the product benefits that represent the greatest value for your customers. Compare the important factors with the performance, features and benefits of your products. If your product aligns with the main customer factors, use those factors as the basis for your positioning statement. Compare your product with competitors’ offerings to assess how you can differentiate your product. Relate your differentiation to the most important customer values.
Create a positioning statement for each distinct customer sector. Use a consistent format such as “for this target audience, our product provides these important benefits that our competitors cannot match.” Use the positioning statement to create compelling messages to motivate the prospect to buy. Incorporate the key elements of the positioning statement in all your marketing communications so that prospects receive consistent messages at each point of contact with your company. Share with employees target market profiles and positioning statements so that they not only have awareness, but also going forward they are constantly reassessing the criteria used to define the target audience and how elements may influence that audience and what adjustments might need to be considered. It is crucial to the culture of any company that employees are keenly aware of who it is they serve: the customer. Who they work for is the boss.
What’s my target market? What should it be? How would I know? Here’s a list of five things that will help you figure it out.
1. Don’t try to please everybody.
Strategy is focus. Say you’re running a restaurant; which of these three options is easier?
Pleasing customers 40 to 75 years old, wealthy, much more concerned with healthy eating than cheap eating, appreciating seafood and poultry, liking a quiet atmosphere.
Pleasing customers 15 to 30 years old, with limited budgets, who like a loud place with low prices and fast food.
I really hope you chose one of the first two, and not the third. Because this is the essence of target marketing—divide and conquer.
U.S. census data divides into demographic segments.
2. Learn market segmentation.
It’s about segments, like pie segments or orange segments, except that in this case it’s segments of a total market. In my “divide and conquer” thought above in the first point, those are segments. In the illustration above, U.S. census data divides into demographic segments. Demographics are the old standards like age, gender, and so on.
3. Use segmentation creatively.
Don’t just settle for age, gender, and economic level. When I was consulting for Apple Computer, we divided the market into user groups:
I also liked a shopping center segmentation that divided its market into so-called psychographic segmentation:
Kids and cul-de-sacs were affluent upscale suburban families, “a noisy medley of bikes, dogs, carpools, rock music and sports.”
Winner’s circle were wealthy suburban executives, “well-educated, mobile executives and professionals with teen-aged families. Big producers, prolific spenders, and global travelers.”
Gen X and babies were upper-middle income young white-collar suburbanites.
County squires were wealthy elite ex-urbanites, “where the wealthy have escaped urban stress to live in rustic luxury. Affluence, big bucks in the boondocks.”
I knew a business that segmented its business customers into decision-process types as well:
Decision by committee
Decision by functional manager
Decision by owner
Any of these creative segmentations can help you set a target market.
4. Consider your own unique identity too.
Your business probably reflects who you are and what you like to do, as well as what you do best. Marketing to people you like is an advantage. If you like the feel of small business better than the big corporate giants, then you’re probably better off setting the small business as a target market.
As this business—Palo Alto Software, the host of Bplans—grew up, with business plan software, its founder (that would be me) was more comfortable with the do-it-yourself entrepreneur and business owner than the high end consultants, so we ended up targeting the do-it-yourselfers in business.
So, somebody who loves fine food, tastefully prepared and served, is probably more comfortable with an upscale target market than with price-sensitive young families.
5. Use strategic segment intersections.
For example, in the diagram here, the social media services that Have Presence offers are targeted to small business owners who:
Want outside help with their social media; and
Value business social media; and
Have budget to pay for the service.
Defining target markets makes your life easier. Do it well as soon as you can, and keep reviewing and refreshing as you go along.
The right target market increases your chances of success because you can communicate better with a well-defined group, and that holds expenses down and makes results better.
A carefully crafted vision statement is at the heart of every successful business. This statement clearly and concisely communicates your business’s overall goals, and can serve as a tool for strategic decision-making across the company.
A vision statement can be as simple as a single sentence or can span a short paragraph. Regardless of the individual details and nuances, all effective vision statements define the core ideals that give a business shape and direction. These statements also provide a powerful way to motivate and guide employees, said Addam Marcotte, vice president of operations and organization development with executive coaching and organizational change firm FMG Leading.
Why does this matter? Research shows that employees who find their company’s vision meaningful have engagement levels of 68 percent, which is 19 points above average. More-engaged employees are often more productive, and can be more effective corporate ambassadors in the larger community.
Given the impact that a vision statement can have on a company’s long-term success and even its bottom line, it’s worth taking the time to craft a statement that synthesizes your ambition and mobilizes your staff.
Vision Statement Versus Mission Statement
Before determining what your vision statement is going to be, you need to understand what it is not. It should not be confused with a mission statement. Those statements are present-based and designed to convey a sense of why the company exists, to both members of the company and the external community. Vision statements are future-based and are meant to inspire and give direction to the employees of the company, rather than to customers. A mission statement answers the question, “Why does my business exist?” while a vision statement answers the question, “Where do I see my business going?” Jamie Falkowski, vice president of creative and experience at the marketing communications firm Day One Agency, said, “a vision is aspiration. A mission is actionable.”
Who will shape your vision, and how will it be used?
The first step in writing a vision statement is determining who will play a role in crafting it. Brandon Shockley of consumer insights agency Plannerzone, Inc. recommends developing a vision statement through a series of workshops with key stakeholders who represent a cross section of your organization. Teams of people can craft alternate versions of the statement and receive feedback from the rest of the group.
“Think of it as ‘Shark Tank’ for your vision statement,” Shockley said
Falkowski added that individual stakeholder interviews offer another effective way to get real and honest feedback in which people won’t hold back on how they feel.
Additionally, a business should determine early in the process where its vision statement will appear and what role it will serve in the organization. This will prevent the process from becoming merely an intellectual exercise, said Shockley. “The vision business statement should be thought of as part of your strategic plan,” he said. “It is an internal communications tool that helps align and inspire your team to reach the company’s goals.” As such, vision statements should be viewed as living documents that will be revisited and revised.
How To Write A Vision Statement
Writing your vision statement is a time for creativity, ambition and fun, but the task should be approached seriously.
“There is a process to this, and it’s not usually quick or simple,” said Linsi Brownson, founder and creative director of business strategy group Spark Collaborative. “The best way to begin is to reflect on some of the most significant events or ideas that have impacted the company.”
A vision statement should also be concise, no longer than a sentence or a few paragraphs. You want your entire team and organization to be able to quickly repeat it back and more importantly understand it, said Falkowski. But a vision statement should be more than a catchy tagline, he said.
“[It] can be smart and memorable, but this is for your team and culture, not for selling a specific product,” Falkowski said.
To begin, Brownson advised first identifying core values of the organization when drafting your vision statement. Then, ask yourself, “What do we do right now that aligns with these values? Where are we not aligned with these values? How can we stay aligned with these values as we grow over the next five years, 10 years?” Those questions address your current situation and help identify the bigger-picture vision, Brownson said.
Next, ask yourself what problems your company hopes to solve in the next few years. What does your company hope to achieve? Who is your target customer base, and what do you want to do for them?
“Based on your responses to these questions, ask yourself what success will look like if you accomplish those things,” said Jené Kapela, owner and founder of Jené Kapela Leadership Solutions. “This answer should shape your vision statement.”
When you’re crafting your vision statement, dream big. Don’t worry about practicality for now — what initially looks impossible could be achieved down the road with the right team and technologies. Work on shaping a vision statement that reflects the specific nature of your business.
Shockley noted that there is nothing wrong with a vision statement being a little daring, distinct or even disagreeable.
“If a vision statement sets out a generic goal that anyone can agree with, it is likely to produce mediocre results,” he said. “A goal like ‘delivering an exceptional experience’ applies equally to a hospital, a bank or a fitness club.”
Tips For Crafting Your Vision Statement
Vision statements should stretch the imagination while providing direction and clarity. A good vision statement will help inform direction and set priorities while challenging employees to grow. The vision statement should be compelling not just to the high-level execs of your company, but also to all employees.
Based on our expert sources’ advice, here are some tips to keep in mind: • Project five to 10 years in the future. • Dream big, and focus on success. • Use the present tense. • Use clear, concise language. • Infuse your vision statement with passion and emotion. • Paint a graphic mental picture of the business you want. • Have a plan to communicate your vision statement to your employees. • Be prepared to commit time and resources to the vision you establish.
Your completed vision statement will give your employees a clear idea of your company’s path forward. Then, it’s up to you to nurture and support that vision and to inspire your employees to do the same.
If you’ve ever faced a significant crisis in your life you’ll have experienced the power of purpose to tap reserves of energy, determination and courage you likely didn’t know you had. Your mission was clear. Your goal was compelling. Your focus was laser-like. Your potential was tapped.The power of purpose is similar to the energy of light focused through a magnifying glass. Diffused light has little use, but when its energy is concentrated—as through a magnifying glass—that same light can set fire to paper. Focus its energy even more, as with a laser beam, and it has the power to cut through steel. Likewise, a clear sense of purpose enables you to focus your efforts on what matters most, compelling you to take risks and push forward regardless of the odds or obstacles.
Unlike animals, which are driven simply to survive, we humans crave more from life than mere survival. Without an answer to the question ‘Survival for the sake of what?,’ we can quickly fall into disillusionment, distraction and a quiet sense of despair. The alarming increase in rates of drug and alcohol abuse, depression and suicide, along with the growing reliance on antidepressant medications, seems to indicate many are doing just that. Likewise, a quick glance at employee engagement statistics points to a crisis of purpose and meaning on an unprecedented scale. Given we’re wealthier today than at any time in history, there is clearly a marked difference between ‘well off’ and ‘well-being.’
German philosopher Frederick Nietzsche once said, ‘He who has a why can endure any how.’ Knowing your why is an important first step in figuring out how to achieve the goals that excite you and create a life you enjoy living (versus merely surviving!). Indeed, only when you know your ‘why’ will you find the courage to take the risks needed to get ahead, stay motivated when the chips are down, and move your life onto an entirely new, more challenging, and more rewarding trajectory.
Certainly this has been the experience of Tom Hale, whose company BACKROADS will top $100 million in revenue in 2014. “My passion for bringing active travel experiences to more people has driven me over the last 35 years.” In a recent interview, Tom shared with me that in the first seven years of starting BACKROADS, he put in enormous effort for little return. “Given the hours I worked, I think I was earning about 35 cents an hour,” he joked. “However, while I knew we had to make money to grow, I was never driven by the money. Once I got clear that this was my life’s work, doing something else was never an option.” Tom’s leadership of BACKROADS from a small start up to a major player in the travel industry has created an organization whose employees are as passionate about his company’s mission as him. BACKROADS’ on-going growth – in both the range of experiences offered and the company’s bottom line profit – speaks for itself.
While there’s no one pathway for discovering your life’s purpose, there are many ways you can gain deeper insight into yourself, and a larger perspective on what it is that you have to offer the world. As I wrote in Stop Playing Safe, your ‘life’s work’ sits in the intersection of your talents, skills/expertise, passions and deepest values (see adjacent diagram). Reflect on the corresponding four questions below to help find the ‘sweet spot’ that sits in the intersection between what you care about, what you can contribute, and what will be valued most.
1. What makes you come alive?
The word inspire comes from the Latin, meaning “to breathe life into.” Accordingly when you are working toward things that inspire you, it literally makes you feel more alive. What makes you come alive isn’t referring to taking your dream holiday or watching your favorite team play football (unless you’re called to a career as a football coach or commentator!). It’s bigger than that. I’m talking about a why that moves up the food chain from being about you to being about something bigger than you. It’s about connecting with what you’re passionate about, knowing that when you focus your attention on endeavors that put a fire in your belly, you grow your impact and influence in ways that nothing else can.
You don’t have to declare at this point that you want to invent the next iPad, solve the world’s energy problems or cure cancer (though you might!). This is about you connecting to a cause that’s bigger than you are, but which is also congruent with who you are what you care about.
2. What are your innate strengths?
In The Element, Sir Ken Robinson says that our element is the point at which natural talent and skill meets personal passion. When people are in their element they are not only more productive, but they add more value and enjoy more personal and professional fulfilment. Accordingly, it’s also often where they also tend to make more money!
What are the things you’ve always been good at (sometimes wondering why others find it so hard?) Are you able to see patterns and opportunities amidst complexity? Are you creative, naturally adept at coming up with ‘outside the box’ solutions? Are you a natural born rebel with an innate ability to identify where the status quo is in need of a makeover? Are you brilliant in the details, naturally good at executing projects with a precision that some find tedious? Or are you a naturally gifted communicator, technocrat, diplomat, networker, leader, problem solver or change agent? For a free strengths survey visit http://www.viame.org/.
Of course, you can also be passionate about things you have no natural talent for, and talented at things for which you hold little passion. However experience has shown me that we rarely aspire toward ambitions we have no natural talent to achieve. As civil rights leader Howard Thurmon once wrote, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive, then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Indeed they do.
3. Where do you add the greatest value?
Doing work that you’re good at, but which you loathe, is not a pathway to fulfilment. That said, knowing your greatest strengths and where you can add the most value—through the application of your education, skills, knowledge and experience—can help you focus on the opportunities, roles and career paths where you are most likely to succeed and therefore find the greatest sense of accomplishment and contribution.
Too often we undervalue our strengths, skills and the expertise we naturally acquire over time. If you reframe the concept of adding value through the lens of solving problems, you can ask yourself what you’re well placed and equipped to help solve in your workplace, career, organisation or industry. You can also ask yourself what problems you really enjoy solving, and what problems you feel passionate about trying to solve. You’ll then be more successful at focusing on your natural strengths and those things you’re innately good at than trying to bolster or eliminate your weaknesses.
4. How will you measure your life?
People who don’t stand for something, can easily fall for anything. Deciding how you want to measure your life means making a stand for something and then living your life in alignment with it.
Ultimately, living with purpose means focusing on things that matter most. Ironically, the things that matter most are rarely “things.” That said, while some people are in a position to trade the security of a regular salary in order to pursue a passion, many simply can’t—at least not in the short term or without violating core values (like paying off debt or providing for their family). But following the money and following your heart don’t have to be mutually exclusive. By shifting the lens in which you view what you are doing now, you can profoundly shift your experience of it. No matter what your job, you can draw meaning from it and find greater purpose through how you do what you do. If you don’t think you’re the kind of person you’d want to work with, then consider that it may not be because of the job you do each day, but your attitude toward it.
Knowing your purpose may compel you to take on challenges that will stretch you as much as they inspire you. Just as a boat under power can handle any size wave if perpendicular to it, when you’re powered by a clear purpose, there is little you cannot do.
When you start a small business, you may have to focus on immediate sales to pay the bills and fund growth, but you also need to think long-term. Marketing for future sales involves a different mindset than short-term marketing. A wise small-business owner will dedicate some time and money to developing markets that can pay off down the road.
Relationship marketing is the opposite of transactional marketing. In transactional marketing, the marketer wants to close a sale as soon as possible. The focus is on getting the customer to buy. In relationship marketing, you develop an ongoing dialogue with a customer, taking time to get to know the customer’s needs, and establishing your business as the place that can solve those needs in the future. You also offer customer service that indicates you want to resolve any conflicts and continue to be worthy of your customer’s loyalty.
Long-tail marketing is a phrase that was coined by Chris Anderson, executive editor of “Wired” magazine. In the book, “The Long Tail,” he describes modern marketing for small-business owners as a type of niche marketing. Filling a small niche can provide you with loyal customers for the long term. You have to constantly position yourself as the business that best fills the demands of your niche. You actually sell to only a certain segment of the market, but sell repeatedly to them. This kind of long-term marketing can provide a steady income and even growth if you continue to offer new products to your niche.
Long-Term Online Marketing
If your website makes too many overt appeals to “buy now,” you will alienate a lot of potential customers. Web surfers have come to expect a lot of free information online. You have to offer articles and newsletters that appeal to people searching the internet to solve problems. These do not pay you, but they can attract viewers who think of you as a reliable source of information. As they return to you over and over, they will notice your offerings and may eventually become paying customers.
The Marketing Mix
Your small business needs agility to survive. Align yourself with long-term goals and review your marketing decisions in terms of their ability to get you to the position you want to be in for the future. While looking long-term, keep one eye on market changes and prepare to take advantage of them in the short term. Doing this will keep your cash flow up. Try to choose short-term objectives that can contribute to your long-term goals.