Starting in 2009, I took it upon myself to develop a Business State of the Union. My company had been growing since its inception in 2008, and with the way technology was changing all the time I felt I needed to have everything in one place. I needed to have information available to me or someone I trusted in case something were to happen to me. Articles have been written that touch on pieces of what was going through my mind. In fact, there was an article from the The Atlantic about having a social media will.
But it is not just about social media. Think about your entire business. The infrastructure, the access, the passwords, the chain of command. What happens to all of that if something unexpectedly happens to you? Who has access? Where are the passwords?
Setting up your own State of the Union (SOTU) is an essential part of running your business. I am on my 10th year of doing so, and remind everyone annually at this time. So let’s go through the basics of what you need to do in order to set up your own personal SOTU.
Step One: Collect all the data.
- Business Systems – what technology do you have in place that is a vital part to running your business? Is it a specific software or database? Who has access? Where are the passwords? Does someone else understand how it works? A common one that comes to mind is Quickbooks. But this can also include any type of industry software that helps you run your business.
- Social Media – As it stands, Facebook will not give you access to your loved one’s account when they pass. They will “memorialize the account” so only confirmed friends can see and still post. Now for most people this may not be that big of a deal, but what if you have a lot of Facebook Ads tied to this account? Pictures? You cannot access this without the name and login. There are types of legislation the will assist in certain cases, but why not avoid it altogether and have your login and password accessible to the person that will need it? This of course also applies to Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, you name it. Gather your logins and passwords to all the social media sites you frequent and list them on your SOTU.
- Email – Where is it hosted? What are the passwords? Do you have access to all of the machines, such as home or work laptops, phones, iPads, etc. where you can log on to the email?
- Websites – Again, where is it hosted? What are the logins and passwords? How many domain names do you own, and when do they expire? Where did you register them? This is especially true if your livelihood is tied to your brand and website.
- Internet/Back Ups – Gather your logins and passwords to deal with our internet account. Do you know your wireless network password? Do you have a guest account with a password? Do you have a Time Capsule or other back up hard drive that is password protected? You need to know what these are!
- Cell Phone Accounts – Again, having access to logins, passwords, and plan information is vital. It is extremely rare that anyone has a land line any more, so you need to be able to get on the carrier’s website and adjust whatever is necessary.
- iCloud/iTunes – Apple is typically very helpful in retrieving someone’s music if they have passed, but if you have access to these accounts and can relieve a lot of extra work and aggravation.
I could go on and on with the list of different programs, products, services like PayPal, Amazon and various people like lawyers and insurance agents, but you get the idea. You also need to know that Hulu and Netflix accounts cannot be changed. If those accounts are set up under you, a new account will need to be created.
Step 2: Where To Store It
Now that you have all of this technical data in one place, what do you do with it? First, I recommend using an encrypted system to store all of your vital passwords. I use and recommend Passpack. Passpack.com is a password management system that will allow you to manage and organize your passwords, create accounts for family members or team members, and it is all encrypted and secure.
Next, it is time to create the official SOTU: a Word document or Excel spreadsheet that lists the physical location as to where to find your important documents, such as wills, life insurance policies, bank accounts and so on, and then also include your Passpack account information. This document can be as simple or as thorough as you want it to be. Then you find a place to put it.
Last year I even placed everything “in order of importance” to the best of my ability, just to make it easier on my executor. I have placed my SOTU onto Dropbox, which is not only accessible to me and my executor, but makes it easy to update the information. I also have a printed copy that I keep with the wills in a safety deposit box – just because I am anal like that.
Step 3: Update on an annual basis.
For me, that just happens to be every July or August. Set a date on your calendar – one that you will stick to. It only takes me less than an hour to go over any changes to passwords, business systems, bank accounts, etc. Just a small amount of time can really save you a lot of grief and struggle in the long run.
The SOTU is very personal since everyone utilizes technology and social media in different ways. Honestly – you don’t need to be a business owner to have one. Everyone should. Get your info together and then pick a person in charge. I make all of my Accountability Program clients do this.
So consider this your annual reminder! How many of you have a SOTU? Am I the only one? Did I get your wheels spinning? What are your thoughts?
I recently picked up a book again that I had gotten away from. It is called Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert. For those of you who don’t know who she is, she is a well-known author probably best known for her book Eat, Pray, Love. In Big Magic however, she was talking about how to have more energy in your life. Although she was referring to someone personally, it made me think: where am I spending all of my energy in my business?
It is so easy to get caught up in what we think we are supposed to be doing. We read articles, blogs, and books. We watch videos and take online classes. We typically listen to whatever catches our eye and spend time coming up with plans based on the latest and greatest promotions and methods. I have a radical idea here.
Stop chasing what everyone says you are supposed to be doing and really evaluate WHAT WORKS FOR YOU.
I know you are thinking, how do I do this though? Sadly, there really isn’t a quick and easy answer. I don’t care what anyone says. In order to know what really works for you, you have to come up with a plan of attack based on what you do best and what your target market really is looking for. Develop a marketing plan on how you will educate people that you are the person to give them what they are looking for, and then TRACK AND MEASURE your efforts. (I recently wrote a post about this.)
That is why this is not a quick and easy answer. Tracking and measuring takes time. You need to be consistent with your approach and your methods at a minimum of one quarter. You cannot try something once and give up. You have to be consistent with how you are marketing yourself, what you are promoting, and then providing whatever that is. When that is all said and done, you do what is commonly called a “Monday Morning Quarterback” recap where you assess what went right, and what went wrong. Once you have this data, you can make a decision on how to move forward. Then you look at the next step.
Did you enjoy it? Was it fun?
Most entrepreneurs start out with excitement and a fire in their belly because they love what they do. But all too often they get caught up in those latest and greatest ways to promote themselves and they start to loose sight of why they started their business in the first place. Running your own business is supposed to be fun! A lot of work, yes, but definitely fun! If you are finding yourself dreading getting out of bed to go run your business, then the time is now to re-evaluate. Just because one method is working like gang busters for someone else does not mean it will work that way for you. Maybe that method is correct, but you just need someone else to carry it out while you focus on something that YOU love to do. My coach and mentor, Michael Port, often says he wants you to have a mad love affair with your business. He could not be more correct. If you don’t even remember why you became an entrepreneur then it is time to stop the madness and focus on where your energy is going and if it is doing you any good. Again, the only way to know this is to TRACK AND MEASURE, and then have a brutally honest conversation with yourself to determine if you had fun. And for heavens sake – if it is a task you hate doing, then DELEGATE. It is not a dirty word!
Just Say NO
In the last two years, I made a conscious effort to step down from every board position I had. As this has been going on, I find myself getting questioned thoroughly as to why. And I simply told them the truth: it was time to say YES to ME. I run my company, I am a Mom of two adorable girls that are in the throws of finishing high school and needing a lot more of my attention to prepare them to leave the nest, and I am wanting to explore new interests and don’t want to be in charge of anything that is not necessary for a while.
The response was amazing to me. Not one, but EVERY woman that heard my response was in awe. They all called me courageous and were so proud of the example that I was setting for other women in business. This made me feel good, but at the same time, made me very sad. At what point did we get labeled “SuperWoman”? Why do we, as women, feel if we are not “doing it all” then we are somehow failing ourselves and our families?
I for one, am not going to let the fear of saying one little word cripple me any longer. I am going to start really looking at my responsibilities and prioritizing better. Of course it is a great idea to donate some of your time to worthy causes, but one of the worthy causes that gets your time SHOULD be your family and your livelihood.
“When you stop chasing the wrong things, you give the right things a chance to catch up.”
So I ask you: what are you spending your energy on while running your business? What can you let go of and do differently? What will make you fall in love with your business all over again?
Helping entrepreneurs get clarity and focus is one of my favorite parts of my business. If you are looking for some guidance and are interested in learning how I can help with customized strategy sessions, contact me today so we can make 2019 your best year yet!
Admittedly, this title is a bit harsh. Sometimes the truth hurts. But even in its semi-extreme “crassness” – it is 100% accurate.
I am referring to your marketing. I know a lot of people tend to groan when I even bring up this word. It is a rather large, all encompassing task. Marketing can mean a million different things and it can be done a million different ways. There are also a million different books, blogs, newsletters, and magazines all about it. But no matter how you slice it, it really all comes back to one thing:
Are you tracking where people are coming from?
If the answer is no, then you are wasting your time and money on all your efforts. You may as well take some scissors to your money.
I wanted to write about this topic specifically this time because I have seen a consistent pattern with my new and prospective clients as of late. None of them are tracking where their new people are coming from. This is imperative to your marketing plan. If you don’t track, you have no idea which method is working. You have no clue where to keep spending your marketing dollars. So I have come up with a short “best practices” list for tracking your efforts.
1. Front Line Personnel
They represent your company. They are your first line of offense when new people walk in and/or call. I have spent countless hours training my own staff as well. Your front line must understand it is IMPERATIVE to their job that they ask, “How did you find us?” Unfortunately, this is often overlooked or simply not done. We all know there are forms to fill out when we go somewhere new. There is always a line on that form asking “How did you find us?” Quite often it is not filled in. Then it becomes your front line person’s responsibility to ASK. Their job is to make sure all the information on the form is filled out. ESPECIALLY THIS LINE. Make sure your staff knows it is a priority. If new people stop coming, so does their paycheck. If you don’t have a front line – then guess who this person is that needs to ask? YOU!
2. Keep Detailed Records
You have to keep the information about who they are and where they came from in ONE PLACE. This can be done a multitude of different ways, but the important thing is to keep up with it and stay current. In the beginnings of my business, I used a simple spreadsheet on Excel. I made tabs at the bottom, one for each month of the year, and typed the person’s name in the first column and then where they came from in the next column. At the bottom, I would list the totals. Over time, I began to see a pattern of where they were coming from. This information was invaluable! I knew exactly what types of marketing were working for me and where to keep spending my time and money. Obviously, this is pretty basic. You can use various CRM softwares like zoho.com or Hubspot for small business that also have other features that will help. But once again – you have to keep up with it. It will pay off, trust me.
3. Code All Your Materials
QR codes are not dead. They are easy to make and easy to link to wherever you need them to go. Just make sure you make one for each type of marketing material you are creating. For example, put a separate code on your brochures, on every ad you send to a newspaper, every direct mail piece or flyer, coupons and so on. If you don’t want to mess with codes, you can also try using email. Constant Contact is what I recommend and they will track how many people are opening your eblast and where they are clicking if links are included. If you are setting up a web based promotion, set up a specific landing page on your website and then use Google Analytics to track who is visiting that page.
4. Measure Your Mentions
There are free tools on the web that will make you aware of when you or your service are being mentioned. Track your company’s name, your product, your promotion, your service, whatever it is and set up a Google Alert. Then any time someone is searching for what you are selling on Google or Twitter, you will know about it.
5. Cost of Conversion
How much did it cost to run that campaign? How many people came from it? How much money are they spending with you? If they are not spending enough to cover the cost of the marketing campaign and turn a profit – then you need to re-examine that method. You have to track not only the amount you spent, but the time, and other ancillary costs like website fees and labor involved.
Bottom line is – you cannot manage what you cannot measure. If you are not doing something to try to keep track of where your new clients are coming from, then all of your efforts are a waste of time and money. Find a system that works for you, and be diligent on keeping up with it.
Got questions? Need implementation help with this or any other marketing? Contact the Queen Bee today!
It is safe to say that 2018 was quite the year for everyone. Whether you are focusing on politics, pop culture, the economy or simply your own life, I am sure if you take the time to take a look back at your calendar or some of your emails you could refresh your memory on some major events and life lessons that help to make you who you are today. For entrepreneurs, this is a very important task. If we are not learning – we are not growing. We must do what makes us uncomfortable in order to grow and thrive in our business. So I did just that. I took a look at my emails, and my social media posts and here are some great reminders – that I often say to myself – that I think everyone should say to themselves as they embark on the New Year.
Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle. — Abraham Lincoln
This is so true. All too often we get caught in a routine or the new normal. We are stuck in a rut of just doing what is on the schedule and and we lose sight of a goal or a dream. A lot of people have ideas or vision – but not nearly as many actually take the time to get out there and find out what it takes to accomplish that vision. My advice? Time will pass regardless, so why wait on achieving your vision? Right them down your goals and post them in your office. Start at the end and work your way backwards. Get help. Ask questions. Study those who have done something similar. Hustle means, well HUSTLE.
Don’t cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it. – Dr. Laura Schlessinger
I think a lot of entrepreneurs are guilty of this one, including myself. I know it is easy to become gun shy when you mess up. All of the sudden that is the only thing you can focus on and then you spend all of your time focusing on how not to do THAT again. I am here to tell you – don’t waste your time with that. Mistakes are an important part of learning. It is just as important to learn what NOT to do as it is what TO do. When you start to focus on the negative, all you are doing is putting the energy out there that will attract more negativity. Mistakes are simply part of life. Don’t let them hold you back.
A strong spirit transcends rules. — Prince OR Either I will find a way or I’ll make one. — Philip Sidney
This one is one of my favorites. I have built my entire company on finding a way. When I first started helping people with social media, very few businesses were using it to promote their companies. I had to make up processes to manage it all as I went along. I was literally learning as I went. Think about how far these platforms have come in the last ten years and you can understand why I was flying by the seat of my pants most of the time. I had to learn as I went, come up with programs and packages based on what my clients needed, and find a way to make money at it. Was it scary? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes. I have written about this before: the answer is always yes, and then you find a way.
Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow. – Carrie Fisher
Courage and confidence does not mean there is an absence of fear, but rather there is something more important than the fear. Heard that somewhere, but it is very true. My coach Michael Port always said “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” A little fear never hurt anyone, and I am certain that many successful people still operate with an element of fear. But this quote could not be any more poignant. Just do it. Confidence will follow or possibly a mistake – but you will learn and grow.
You can reach your goals a hell of a lot faster when you have help. — Lou Bortone
Love this one from my friend Lou. And he is so right. I, myself, was once afraid to ask questions. I was scared to reach out for help. Once I signed up with my first coach, all of that disappeared. If you are waiting to ask someone for help – then STOP IT. Not one person on this earth can possibly know everything, but for some reason I continually see entrepreneurs trying to do everything themselves. INVEST IN YOURSELF. Invest in your education. Whatever it is you need help with, then go get it. Maybe it is mapping out the steps to your next big thing. Maybe you just need some motivation or a slap across the face. Whatever it is – just do it. This is exactly why I created my Accountability Program. Contact me to learn more. Even if it is not me – just contact someone.
The key to success is learning how to monetize what you had to learn the hard way. — Danelle Brown
Every entrepreneur I know has to learn something the hard way. There is no definitive map to success. It is full of twists and turns that you have to overcome and learn from. Whether it is figuring out how to launch a new product to the masses, writing a book, coming up with a new program, or simply paving the way on something that does not exist yet – if you have the knowledge, then figure out a way to package it and sell it to people that want to do the same thing. Life is full of mentors who went on to teach others how to do what they had to struggle to learn. You could be next.
I could go on and on with inspiring quotes, but I believe you get the idea. 2019 needs to be a game changer for you. I am excited for all of us. So share with me and my readers – what is the next big thing for you? Post it in the comments and let’s all cheer each other on.
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. — Aldous Huxley
If you are going to become more successful – you have to face what isn’t working in your business. Over the years, I have coached a lot of entrepreneurs and the one thing that is consistent with all of them: DENIAL. They are stuck, they don’t know how to grow, but when you dig deeper you find they are just in denial of what they already know to be true – something they are doing is just plain not working. But instead of dealing with it, they are in denial over it. They think if they keep their head down and keep pushing forward everything will turn out fine. This couldn’t be further from the truth. So let’s break it down.
“Doing more of what doesn’t work won’t make it work any better” — Charles Givens
A big piece of denial is, in a word, fear. It is based on the notion that something even worse than the current situation not working will happen once they stop doing what they are doing and take action to fix it. Change can be scary and very difficult, but the definition of insanity is to keep doing what you always do and expect a different result. It takes courage to look at your situation and truly assess what worked and what didn’t and then make the proper changes. Just because you were taught or told to do something a certain way does not necessarily mean it will work. You have to get over the fear – you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. (This was a major piece of advice my coach and mentor told me ten years ago.) The good news is, the more you face uncomfortable situations and deal with them, the better you get at it. Then being uncomfortable just becomes part of your life as you grow more successful.
Shit or get off the pot. –Emil Rombach
Okay, so we know we need to change. The next thing I see once people accept that something needs to change is what I call analysis paralysis. They start looking at different ways they can be doing things and then get overwhelmed with all the options. This freaks them out, which leads back to fear, which leads back to not facing what is not working. The world is full of flat squirrels who couldn’t make up their mind to cross the street.
If you have done your homework, and looked at the numbers, whatever it is cannot possibly be that bad. So what if trying something new doesn’t work? At least you learned what doesn’t work – you faced what wasn’t working and tried something else. Now you know two things that don’t work. However – what if it does? It could be the best thing for your business but you are too stuck analyzing to death every detail and hesitating to pull the trigger to find out. Get over it. Make a decision.
Okay – we need to face what is not working. So what do we do now?
Commit To Take Action
There is a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results. — Ken Blanchard
Make a list of what is and what is not working. Ask your staff or your team members what their opinion is. Gather your information. How can you improve? What action steps do I need to take in order to make this change? Once that happens – you have to be 100% committed to those action steps. See it through.
Get Help If You Need It
Because so often when we say we’re unqualified for something, what we’re really saying is that we’re too scared to try it, not that we can’t do it. — Jen Sincero
Another part of fear is fear of the unknown. But you have to move past that fear. If you don’t know how to do something to change your situation, then ask for help. Call a business coach, hire an accountability partner or other professional who does this every day. Enlist in a class that will teach you how to do it. Attend a training – whatever it takes. I guarantee there are tons of training programs online that can assist you in whatever you need to learn if you are wanting to do this yourself. But remember: DELEGATE is NOT a dirty word. If someone else doing what needs to be done gets the ball rolling – then for heaven’s sake hire them. Stay focused on YOUR core genius – what you like to do – and let someone else handle what you don’t want to do.
Yes, it is true it takes a lot of courage and a big leap of faith to face what isn’t working. So tell me – when is the last time you faced what wasn’t working? What action steps did you take to get past it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Who doesn’t want a thriving business? For the small business owners I coach, there are always three things that I preach that get you to this goal. If you follow these three things, you will achieve success.
The first one is DISCIPLINE.
You and I both know there are certain tasks that must be done daily, weekly or monthly. If you don’t do them, your situation can quickly spin out of control. I understand this can be hard for a solo-preneuer. For myself, I have a schedule that I follow to the letter. Every day, week and month I have a deadline of some sort. And I follow it. I figured out what represented my company the best and I ran with it. For me, this is STILL networking face to face, social media/email blasts and treating the people that know and love me with respect to keep the referrals coming. That is the discipline. But I am a crazy, super Type A individual and actually enjoy this level of organization. I am not not normal.
What do you do if you have some discipline, but simply not enough hours in the day. I totally get this. It happens. I am no saint, sometimes I am late on the marketing deadlines I set for my company. I hear excuses from my clients and colleagues all the time as to why something is not getting done. Excuses and whining WILL NOT GET YOU THERE. Yes, I said it. STOP WHINING. If you want something bad enough, you will find a way to make it happen.
(Delegate is not a dirty word people.)
The second one is CONSISTENCY.
All the tasks that I was referring to above require some form of consistency. Rome was not built in a day. You have to have patience and perseverance. Test and measure. Take the time to understand why something did not work and try again. You cannot expect your business to grow if you are one of those people that throws things at the wall and waits to see what will stick. Have a plan, and work the plan over time. Consistency is a big key.
Being disciplined and consistent also means knowing your limitations. No one can do everything. I delegate plenty. If you can’t be the one to get them done – then you have to delegate.
The third one is ACCOUNTABILITY.
In order for a small business to succeed, you need to have someone holding you accountable. This can be a business coach, peers, virtual assistants, etc. who will not only help you accomplish tasks, but push you to the next level.
Want a thriving business? Formulate a plan, name the goal you are trying to accomplish, devise a strategy and timeline to achieve your goal, and determine who is going to do what and when. Then have someone hold your feet to the fire. This type of DISCIPLINE, partnered with CONSISTENCY and ACCOUNTABILITY is really the secret to any business’ success.
Final thought – don’t get caught up on hiccups. Life is full of hiccups. Roll with it. Don’t let delays, failures, or flat out not knowing how de-rail you. Find someone who can help you. Google it. Do whatever you have to do. Just get back on the horse. I believe in you – you should too.
As you know, I am a big fan of collaborating with other authors to bring my readers valuable content that will help them build their business. Today’s guest post is from Wendy Dessler. Wendy is a super-connector who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized blogger outreach plans depending on the industry and competition. Here are some of Wendy’s thoughts on some quick and actionable SEO tips that will help improve your visibility!
Cover All Your Bases
There is more to online content optimization which utilizes search engines than its simple creation. You want content that is the right length, that has been properly structured such that it is visually appealing, that concerns topics about which target markets seek information, and includes useful data.
You want your content to have links which go to your site, as well as other resources that don’t compete with yours, but which may simultaneously assist your clientele. Pictures are a great idea, so are video links and clips if you have the ability to include them.
Something else you want to do is include anchor text as well as keywords. The two differ but slightly: keywords need not necessarily have anything that links beyond the content being read. Keywords are sort of an “anchor point”, if you will, for a search engine. Meanwhile “anchor texts” are anchor points for the reader.
The right anchor text will be amenable to search engine algorithms, and will lead clientele directly to your home website. But if you don’t choose the right anchor texts, you’re wasting your time. According to Linkio, “A tool should automatically filter out links that don’t matter.” The right kind of anchor text selection tool will give you the best possible choice to build your article around.
The SEO Behind The Scenes
Something else you’ve got to consider when it comes to marketing online is the coding which hides behind the scenes. There’s a thing called “meta tagging”. Basically, this is a fancy way of referring to HTML code which hides behind “the veil”, as it were, of your site’s interface.
In HTML code, the way you title things will make a difference to search engines where a query might be entered in. It can be complicated to properly optimize meta tags, but this is a core tenet of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) protocol.
Something else that is core to SEO is the continued production of content. If you want to be absolutely sure that your online marketing campaigns lead to the results you seek, then you want continuous creation. Ideally, you want content pieces that are at least 500 words. It turns out that longer content actually tends to be more effective.
If you’ve got content of this length, you want about fifty original pieces produced monthly. That comes to a minimum of 25,000 words. Over the course of a year, that comes to about 300,000 words of content. That’s quite a lot! It’s doable internally, but if you’re not doing it right, you could be doing a lot of work in vain.
Guest Blogging And Professional Assistance
Something you can do to bolster the effect of your online content is to utilize guest blogs and to repost content that is relevant. For reposting purposes, you should strive to design content that has an evergreen quality which can be continuously reposted. In terms of technology this may be difficult, but it’s not impossible.
For example, new tech requires new writing; but that which concerns trends—like Moore’s Law—can be evergreen. If you’re unfamiliar, Moore’s Law predicates that computational ability doubles on itself at regular intervals.
Getting The Help You Need
It’s easy to see why working with the right developer of online content makes sense. There are many variables to consider, and while it’s certainly possible that you’ll get the hang of it eventually, it’s unlikely you’ll retain “cutting edge” affiliation with trends as they develop; and the learning curve with content can take years to master if you don’t know what you’re doing.
That said, content marketing using SEO and other techniques which utilize the web can be exceptionally effective. If you have yet to look into this, you should. If you have already, it makes sense to work with professional purveyors in order to see the greatest return on the most minimal investment. Remember: time is money—if you’re wasting hours on something that’s futile, you’re wasting money. Professional solutions will help you avoid this.
Business leads are always at the forefront of every business owner’s mind. This is where your website should be doing most of the work for you. How does that work? By offering something of value to your target market. Easier said than done, right? Well, not really. I am honored to share a guest post from Victoria Greene that spells out some simple ways to effectively draw in the people you are meant to serve by implementing business lead magnets into your online marketing strategy. If you have questions, I can help you get started!
A solid lead generation strategy is a critical part of any business plan, yet if you are new to the marketing game, you may find yourself wondering just how your competitors manage to generate so many leads with such consistency.
Happily, the trick to successful lead generation is no eldritch mystery, or closely-guarded secret. All you need are some effective lead magnets to draw potential customers to your website, where you are better positioned to engage and convert them.
There are numerous lead magnets you could try out, but a few in particular are tried and tested strategies that have worked well for many businesses already. That’s not to say you couldn’t come up with something completely different that works just as well…but here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. The Ebook
At some point you have almost certainly come across a business page offering a free eBook or PDF download. Perhaps you even have a few saved for later perusal. The point is, a high quality document, packed with useful and relevant information can do wonders for your conversion rates.
Of course, creating interesting, original content in such a lengthy format can be quite an undertaking, so this strategy is not for everyone. However, it can be a fantastic way to advertise a longer publication, or body of work, or to showcase your knowledge and insights on a particular topic.
Just be careful not to create an unoriginal document, hashed together from recycled material. Not only will this make visitors unlikely to bother with your content in the future, it could discredit your business as a whole.
Image Credit: Screencap from HR Magazine
2. The Freebie
Whether it’s a piece of software, a free trial, or even a complimentary consultation, offering some form of freebie is a great way to get users to sign up on your website. In fact, you can even deliver on this particular lead magnet by advertising free content, such as videos, podcasts, and infographics, which is locked behind a sign-up requirement.
The draw is that your visitors feel like they are receiving something useful and valuable at no cost to themselves. As such, don’t be afraid to state a value for the freebies you are offering, to increase the impression that you are offering something worthwhile. You might want to A/B test a variety of different freebies to see which one is most popular with your target audience.
Image Credit: Screencap from Delicious Magazine
3. The Exclusive Deal
Similar to the freebie, the exclusive deal takes advantage of the user’s curiosity, and encourages them to find out more about the product or service you are offering. Most people can’t resist a bargain, especially when it is backed up by exclusivity marketing.Image Credit: Screencap from The Icelandic Magic Company
Placing a time limit on your lead magnet deals, or placing them behind a mandatory sign-in, gives users the sense that they are one of only a few to benefit from that deal, increasing its appeal. This particular lead magnet can also be used to advertise an upcoming product, or even push early sales, as in the example above.
4. The Webinar
Brand authority counts for a lot, increasing the trust customers have in your business, and even boosting your ranking with search engine crawlers. As such, it is important to ensure that your audience can see that you know what you’re talking about. Better still, you want to be the source they turn to when they have a question about your niche.
Webinars, like this one from Freedive Wire, provide an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge, offer helpful insights on a topic, or even to showcase a product. It also enables you to engage more directly with your audience, by adding a level of personality that is absent from written content.
Image Credit: Screencap from Freedive Wire
5. The Case Study
Including case studies on your website is fantastic way to showcase what you do, and give potential customers an insight into your greatest successes. Case studies act as proof of your ability to meet a client’s needs, and to deliver a high quality service in accordance with their specifications.,
By showing off your business’ greatest achievements, you can inspire visitors to sign up for more information or even a consultation. From there, you are in an ideal position to act upon that interest, and secure a new client.
6. The Quiz
Sometimes, a bit of fun can be an effective way to win over your target audience. A quiz or survey is a fantastic means of engaging visitors on your site, and learning a bit about them in the process.
A great example of this can be found at Beardbrand. Their quiz is short and entertaining, providing an amusing description of the user’s beard style at the end. But more importantly, this result is followed up with a range of associated beardcare products.
Interactive elements of this nature are a great way to persuade people to spend a little longer on your site, giving you more time to win them over. And even when these elements are humorous in nature, they can still be used to offer a more personalized user experience, and to drive targeted sales.
Fun content like quizzes are especially useful for product-based businesses and can be used as part of your ecommerce advertising campaigns. Just make sure that your online store has robust content features, or use a plugin like WPQuiz to automate the process.
Image Credit: Screencap from Beardbrand
7. The Cheat Sheet
If you like the idea of an ebook, but don’t have the time or resources to put together something of that length, you can do just as well with shorter-form content, such as a cheat sheet or swipe file.
The reason this type of content makes such a successful lead magnet is that it is generally quick and easy to digest. This means the on-the-go communities within your audience can benefit from your knowledge and insights, without having to sit down and pore over a lengthy document.
Cheat sheets provide clear, concise, actionable information, in a streamlined and attractive format, making it a solid choice for many businesses when planning their in-house content strategy.
Image Credit: Screencap from Cravings Crusher
8. The Toolkit
With a little extra work, instead of providing a single ebook, or cheat sheet, why not compile a few helpful pieces of content into a toolkit? You can even include some existing resources or repurposed content. As long as the whole provides more value than its individual parts, you don’t necessarily need to start from scratch.
Take a look at this offering from Live Your Legend; they offer a collection of four PDFs and two posters, providing a range of insights on becoming an entrepreneur. All they ask in exchange is for readers to join their online community.
Image Credit: Screencap from Live Your Legend
Local online lead generation is often far more effective than equivalent offline strategies, so it is absolutely worth putting some time and thought into developing some effective lead magnets on your website.
It can take time to get the ball rolling, and unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to acquiring leads. As such, you will need to weigh up the above suggestions, and your own ideas, against the specific needs of your business and its target audience. Furthermore, when you settle on an option, it is important to be patient, and give it time to work before simply moving on to another strategy.
Always remember to keep an eye on the backend data for your website, so you can see which strategies are working best for you, and continuously optimize your lead generation tactics in order to get the best possible results for your business.
Victoria Greene is a branding consultant and freelance writer. On her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, she shares tips on how brands can improve their reach by making the most from their marketing strategy.
How many of you seem to get caught up in daily life and get pulled in a million directions? Before you know it, the day is over and you have not accomplished half of what was on your to-do list? This is is a pretty normal situation for small business owners that don’t have an accountability partner. All it seems to take is one phone call or one email to derail the entire day’s agenda. The to-do list just keeps growing because you put things on the back burner that really need to get done.
But the fact of the matter is you have to get all of those things done. You have to focus on all the tasks at hand – especially the revenue generating tasks. The ones that have the potential to push the business onward and upward. Often these are the tasks that get pushed back the most. They are usually time consuming, and possibly expensive, and sometimes even scary.
I bet you thought that when you went into business for yourself you would never have to answer to anyone. That is simply not true. There is a reason larger companies have a board of directors or some sort of management – the business needs structure and accountability. There has to be a person, or group of people, to be there to nudge you in the right direction when you are not accomplishing the projects that should be your main focus.
But how does one go about creating an accountability plan or finding an accountability partner? In the past when I am asked to speak for organizations, I have explained to my audience specifically about forming your own Board of Directors. This is true of any business, not just small ones. However it also does not necessarily need to be a large group. It could be one or two people. However you decide to set it up, you will want to focus on some key elements:
- Choose someone or a few people who are not afraid to tell you the truth – no matter how painful.
- Book at the very least a monthly accountability session with them.
- Find someone who has strengths where you have weaknesses so they can guide you where you need the most help.
- Take a look at the systems that run your business. Are they helpful or disruptive and expensive.
- Determine what is not your skill set and either learn what you need to become better – or delegate and MOVE ON!
- Work with them to establish SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely)
- Establish a DEFINITIVE timeline AND deadline for those goals.
- Create fair consequences for not achieving those goals. Punishment is not necessary – but there are ALWAYS consequences.
Accountability is a must have for every small business owner. So get comfortable with being uncomfortable. The longer you run from someone holding you accountable, the longer it will take for you to achieve your goals and put your business in the position you want it to be in. I, personally, have someone who holds me accountable because I practice what I preach. I also provide accountability services for my clients.
As entrepreneurs, the end of the year or the beginning of the year is typically the time you re-evalutate what is working and what is not. You think of trying something new and you get excited about new prospects, or say good-bye to what didn’t quite work out the way that you wanted. If you are like me, you probably have a million ideas in your head about what to do next and can get what is commonly called “analyzation paralyzation.” Don’t let this happen to you. Call me today so we can get you on the road to achieving your goals.
My mind has already been on 2018. What did I learn this year? What can I do better? What did my marketing efforts of 2017 actually accomplish? I ask myself, and my clients, all of these questions as I sit down to prepare what I plan to take on for my marketing content for 2018.
First step: Get your calendar ready. I prefer to keep things simple. I have a very simple spreadsheet that outlines the twelve months of the year and I brainstorm different events or anniversaries that make sense for me to comment on. It is basically a “big picture” approach about the kind of content I feel would be relevant to my readers and clients. I take that information and formulate the various blog posts I want to write about that make sense with certain times of year. I am always open to move topics around to adjust to current events and moments in time that have events where the need for a little shuffling is in order. Always remain flexible and have the ability to capitalize on current events.
If you are not into spreadsheets or documents, another great place to organize your calendar is on Trello. I have mentioned Trello in the past. It is a FABULOUS online tool that multiple people can log onto and all of your team members can brainstorm content for the following year. This is a great one if you have a team, or if you want to share it with your business coach. **hint hint***
A lot of my clients – and other business owners – like to put their topics and ideas on their actual calendar. Having your due dates in front of you when you can glance at it and prepare for it weeks in advance allows you to prepare for it so you are not running around at the eleventh hour trying to meet a deadline. You can either color code your online calendar, but quite often it is even very useful to do it the old fashioned way – with post its and stickers! Below is a the folks at CoSchedule who make a WordPress plugin for an editorial calendar, and they are still using sticky notes! Whatever works for you – do it!
But what does one do when they sit down to a calendar and come up with nothing but a blank piece of paper? One resource is from Authority Hacker entitled 13 Creative Ways To Find Blog Post Ideas.
Another list I will highlight my favorites from is a great resource called CopyBlogger, and their article “50 Can’t Fail Techniques for finding Great Blog Topics” but make sure you click here for a the full list.
1. Google alerts – setting an alert with some of your industry’s key words. This can give you an endless supply.
2. Riff on a popular post. Post your reaction and thoughts to a popular blogger’s thoughts and a hot topic and you can gain some power packed link benefit!
3. Try a new medium. Check out YouTube videos, podcasts, or one of MY personal favorites: watch some TV for inspiration. Shark Tank is one of my favorites!
4. Do an interview. Do you have a favorite person you like to follow online or connect with at networking groups? The answer is no unless you ask them for an interview! I am sure they won’t mind the free publicity!
5. Take an entire day off. I love this one. Recharge your brain for a whole day by doing something you love. Go focus on your hobby and enjoy yourself. Giving your brain a break may be just what you need!
6. Do a product review. Is there something in your business you use every day that you just LOVE? Write about it and spread the love with your readers! My husband, who runs an IT company, does a great post every December on his picks for Holiday Technology Toys as an example.
7. Recruit a guest. When all else fails, call for back up and schedule a post of someone you respect that you can feature on your blog. Make sure their content is what your readers are looking for and it makes sense with the overall feel of your blog. But don’t get lazy and rely on them every month!
Lastly, you will want to set some sort of alert and an accountability system in place so this task actually gets completed. If alarms work for you, wonderful. If you need an accountability partner to make sure it gets done, then set that up. You will be amazed how much you get done when someone else is watching!
So I want to hear from you! What is your preferred calendar method and where do you get most of your blog topics?