May 9, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Sometime back, I was attending an online event when someone asked me who my ideal customer would be and sadly, I couldn’t answer the question. I know, not what you would expect from a highly experienced marketer. The truth was that I was so busy trying to keep my head above water, that I would work for anyone. Big mistake, as I quickly realized I was a marketing ho.
I joke, but I had to take steps to really identify my target audience. I knew that if I focused my efforts, it would help me dramatically because I could solidify my messaging, target my efforts, and dig deeper into knowing my audience. Although it feels like I am minimizing my opportunities, I really wasn’t.
I believe I am not much different than most small business owners, as in trying to serve everyone and not really focusing on the sweet spot. So how do you find that sweet spot? The sweet spot for me was a client that is easy going to work with, had a great product/service to market, brings me repeat business, and is rich in revenue potential. Now, how do you figure out your own sweet spot.
I recommend starting with your current/past customer base. Ask yourself these questions:
- Which customers did you enjoy working with the most and why did you like working with them?
- Who was profitable and brought you repeat business?
- Did you have clients/customers that were singing your praise and referring you to friends/families/peers?
- What customers were easy to work with and extremely satisfied with your product/service?
- Which customer problems do you feel you can easily satisfy because of your knowledge, product/services, or past experience?
- Were their customers that were high maintenance and took too much time (setting revenue aside)?
Once you have gathered these answers, look for similarities. You want to look for the customers that were not only profitable, but also fairly easy to satisfy. Sure, you might have a customer who brought you a ton of business to you, but if you spent twice as long working with that client because the client was hard to satisfied, then the time spent may out way the money.
Let me give you an example from my own customer base. I had a customer last year, I have since fired them, that wanted every project done fast, I mean really fast. As I would get about three-fourths through the project, the scope and direction would completely change. “Oh, I know you have worked on this, but now our strategy has changed, and I need you to work on this instead.” Sure, I could bill him for my hours, but it became frustrating because he didn’t have a clear strategy and focus for his business, it impacted the work I could complete with measurable results. Over the four months I worked with this company, I had nothing to show for my efforts, but a lot of half-finished projects. On top of that, he always paid invoices late. Yes, I was making money from this client; however, it wasn’t worth the frustration of dealing with a high maintenance leader.
Once you have a clear idea of what your ideal customer would look like, start putting on papers. Don’t forget to ask yourself where you want to move your business, as this will help determine your target audience.
April 24, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Habits are hard to break and I am a habit kind of gal. I tend to do the same things over and over, whether it is ordering the same meal at a restaurant or watching the news with my morning coffee. I am realizing that many habits are deterring my productivity. It has become crystal clear lately that I need to do more in my day, which got me asking “how can I get more done?”
My challenges were around the many commitments filling my day – kids ready and taken to school, freelance projects, operational tasks, finding more business, running kids to practices, fixing dinner, homework, bedtime, so on and on. Between running a business and managing my kids/household, my days usually end with me exhausted and beating myself up for not getting more completed. Oh, yes, add a bit of stress and guilt in there as well. I set out to examine my daily activities and find ways to increase my productivity, so I turned to Tim Ferriss’ book 4-Hour Work Week. I read about Tim and his book in several articles, so I thought I would give it a try.
Currently, I am only half way through the book, but so far, I am absorbing useful information that gives me hopes that I can accomplish the same or more in less time. Under Step 2, Tim recommends taking a low-information diet by trying a one-week media fast. Scary, right? Well not necessarily. As I analyzed my own habits, I realized that I was postponing work by watching television. See every morning, I wake, let my dogs out, pour a cup of coffee and turn on the morning news. I listen while I feed the dogs, watch while I drink coffee, and often times, veg out. This wasted time could be anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour each morning. Then, I would retreat to my bedroom for a shower and morning ritual of getting ready. Guess what, I would turn on the TV while I prepared for my day. It turns out that it takes me twice as long to get ready when the TV is blaring. When I really thought about what I was getting from the news, it often was depression, aggravation, and boredom. (The media tends to repeat stories over and over and over without new details – just saying.)
During my day, since I work at home, I take breaks. Usually around 9:30 for breakfast and 1:30 for lunch. What do you think the first thing is that I do when I go into the kitchen? Yep, I would turn on the TV. Well, there is another 30 to 60 minutes wasted. Once I have something on, then I need to finish the show, even if I had seen it before. Sad, I know. Fast forward to my evening, I turn on the television to keep me company while I cook and then sit in front of it while I eat and pretty much veg the rest of the night, limiting me to really only 6 working hours per day. I am embarrassed to admit this to you.
As a result of my analysis, I identified 3 to 6 hours of reduced productivity at a minimum. Wow, in 3 to 6 hours, I could workout, which I am always complaining I don’t have enough time to do. I could work on my book that I keep saying I am going to finish, or I could just play a game with my kids and listen to how they see the world. Are you getting where I am going here? By simply cutting out a bad habit, I gained a lot of time back. Now this is not to say that I am never going to watch television again. Let’s face it; I am not going to miss The Voice or a Colts football game. However, with this nifty thing called a DVR, which I have two in my house, I could watch television in nearly half the time by cutting out the commercials.
After day one of my television diet, I went to bed feeling like I got more done than I had in weeks. Here is what I accomplished as a result of not turning on the TV:
- Read 30 more minutes of Tim’s book that I would otherwise not have read
- Paid a lunch balance for my son’s school lunches, which I kept forgetting to do for over a week
- Got showered, dressed and dolled up in half the time it usually takes me
- I had a lunch packed and ready to go to my client’s office an hour earlier than usual
- I arrived 30 minutes early for my day onsite at a client’s office and this was with the double commute time due to the snow storm overnight
- I completed my normal work tasks by noon, rather than 3; plus knocked off several other tasks that I kept putting off
- I worked out for one hour at the gym and got to sit in the sauna for a bit – love the sauna
- I brainstormed new ideas for my business and identified next steps
- I added two hours of additional billable hours
- Wrote this blog post
- I read my fiction book for 45 minutes, drank Only one glass of wine, and went to bed on time
Amazing. I increased my productivity greatly, just by turning off the television. I did catch myself reaching for the remote several times, but I immediately put it down when I realized that it was my attempt at fulfilling boredom or procrastinating from the to do list.
I challenge you to share your productivity tips in the comments below. Oh, and one more thing, if you are like me and want to know what is going on in the world for fear that you might miss something or seem unintelligent by not knowing, Tim recommends asking someone “anything important in the world today? I didn’t catch the news today,” and listening to what they have to say rather than talking about what you know. Good stuff.
How a Twitter Experiment Landed Me a Guest Writing Blog Opportunity, plus other meaningful tips on Landing Your Own Guest Writing Opportunity
March 28, 2012 § 2 Comments
I often read other marketing blogs. You never know when someone or something will spark your creativity or address something that you hadn’t considered. In my research I came across a blogger, Kelly Kautz, who writes a blog titled One Woman Marketing. Kelly has a great blog targeted to marketing savvy solo entrepreneurs. Perfect.
I sent a note to Kelly asking if she would be interested in my twitter experiment on ‘buying Twitter followers.’ Before long, I was off writing my first guest blog entry. Boy, was I excited when my post appeared on Kelly’s blog in late January. I felt good about it. It really wasn’t hard.
If you are considering guest blogging as an option to promote your business, I’ve gathered a few tips to help you jump into guest blogging.
Blog owners who are willing to allow guest bloggers to write for them will want valuable, well-written, original content written by a knowledgeable source. As a guest blogger, you are representing the blog through your own words.
To be an expert in anything, you have to know a bit about the subject. Just saying. I don’t know much about a lot, but I do know about marketing. I’ve been doing it for 18 years and it still excites me. The problem lies in that I write my own blog on marketing, so coming up with something original that I am willing to give to someone else to publish was difficult for me. I have enough problems coming up with my own content.
Coming up with my content ideas was just the beginning of the journey. I also needed to find a blog that was not only willing to take a guest blog article, but also interested in the same topic that I write about. At this point, I hope you are wondering how to get started with your own guest blogging opportunity.
Guest Blogging Tips
• Find blogs that up your alley. Start with the blogs you read often and find valuable for your business. Do they accept guest bloggers and would your expertise fit along their themes. Also look at the writing style. Would your writing fit into their style?
• If you are struggling to find blogs related to your particular topic, try this little Google search trick: ‘your niche’ + guest post or ‘your niche’ + inurl:”guest post”
• Before you send a note to the blog owner, read through their blog. Look at recent and archive articles. Take note on what and how the blog positions certain topics. Identify if you can add additional value and what might be an interest to the blogger. In my case, I chose something that hadn’t been written about specifically.
• Subscribe to the blog, if you haven’t already. Feel free to add valuable comments as it relates to the posts and don’t be pushy by adding a sales pitch. No one likes that.
• Once you feel comfortable with the blog, send the blogger a personal note. To break the ice, I try to compliment the blogger on something I liked about their blog.
• Just like any sales pitch, don’t talk about yourself right away. It isn’t about you; it is about the blogger and his/her readers.
• Once you get to the point of what you can offer, be sure to explain your idea in a way that won’t offend the blogger, but show how you can add value. Then ask if this might be an interest to the blog’s readers.
• Don’t forget to share links to sample writings. This is completely appropriate when you are trying to sell your writing.
• Once you have identified interest, be sure to identify specifics such as deadlines, content review options, and your bio preferences. Most bloggers will allow the author to write two or three sentences about themselves or business and a link to their own website or blog. This is important because this is what drives traffic back to your own site.
• Keep in mind that the blogger ultimately has the right to edit your copy and if you’re not comfortable with that, then this may not be a good option for you. I believe most bloggers will work with you and not step on your toes.
• Be sure to do exactly what you say you’re going to do on time. This is without saying, but thought I should mention it.
• Once your blog posting is accepted and posted, follow the comments and jump in when you can answer a question. Also, make sure you share the blog with your followers by using the sharing tools on the blog site. This will help drive traffic to the blog where your article appears.
• I probably don’t have to tell you this, but I will anyway. If the blogger chooses to accept and publish your work, that work cannot be published elsewhere. It needs to stay an original piece of work.
Guest blogging is great for a number of reasons. If you are toying with the idea of blogging, guest blogging is a great opportunity to get your toes wet without jumping completely in.
January 25, 2012 § Leave a Comment
As I wrap up this five part series on case studies, I want to cover a few more points. Before you throw budget dollars toward creating a vast number of case studies, take a few minutes to think through a few points.
Don’t forget to ask yourself:
• What do I want to get out of a case study project?
• Who is my target audience and how will I reach them?
• What are my goals or objectives as it relates to this project? How does that match up to my overall goals?
• What is my project strategy and how does this effort affect my overall strategy?
• What’s relevant to my market? What problems am I solving?
• How am I going to share the case studies? Online, Print, Email
• How am I going to measure success of the project?
• How am I going to share the case studies internally? (important thought that many marketers forget about)
Increasingly important, especially if you aren’t the top dog, is buy-in. If you management team isn’t on board or if your sales people don’t see the point, then you may want to think twice about starting the project. It sucks when you pour your hard work into a project that falls flat. Without buy-in, your project will fall flat. Start with building a strong strategy, outline your process, and share with many within your company. It is well worth the extra time to gain supporters.
Don’t Forget to Measure
Ah, the land of marketing now requires you to measure every tactical. In measuring any marketing effort, there are qualitative and quantitative measurements. For big corporations with large marketing budgets, they typically measure sentiment of branding and campaigns to determine the qualitative aspect along with quantitiative.
For the rest of us, our budgets are limited. This is what I recommend:
• Measure how many visitors view the case study page by creating a landing page rather than a PDF document. (You can also use a registration page, but I don’t recommend this unless you have proprietary information included.) Measure how long did your visitor stay on the page.
• Add a special offer that is not available anywhere else; this can help you evaluate how many prospects read the case study and took action.
• Review where website visitors go within your site after landing on the case study page. Do they go into the specific product landing pages that are highlighted in the case study?
• Talk to sales representatives or customer service reps about how often they share case studies and which ones are their favorites?
• If you include case studies as offers within your email campaigns or within e-newsletters, you can see how many clicks the links generate.
• Social media also opens up opportunities to measure. How many followers retweeted your case study link or shared it with others? After sharing the case study via social media channels, did you see an increase in followers?
With most of my posts, I look for related articles. I found two that reminded me to cover a few more topics than I originally thought.
5 Steps to Craft a Case Study’s Content Strategy
How to Measure a Case Study’s Performance
As always, feel free to share your thoughts on case studies.
Just tuning in, check out:
Part 1: What is a case study? Opening Doors for More Sales
Part 2: Creating Case Studies Starts with Research and Recruitment
Part 3: Case Study Process – 12 Steps to a Finished Product
Part 4: Case Studies – 15 Writing Tips for Effective Case Studies