The year is almost over. For businesses and organizations, this means brainstorming new ideas for 2020. Before you jump into planning, I suggest you do a little thinking. When you THINK strategically, you ask yourself questions, and questions lead to ideas, solutions, and innovation.
Take some time to reflect on the four key questions outlined below. These questions will help you examine and critique your marketing plan while allowing new ideas and strategies to emerge.
Let's get started!
I want to share a story with you...
The summer I turned 14-years old, my dad decided he was going to designate the task of cleaning windows to me. I was to go around the entire house and clean every window from the inside of the house. He would clean them from the outside.
So, I began. Mind you, by age 14 I had pretty much everything figured out, especially when it came to cleaning our house because I already had a solid 5-years of experience at it. I imagined sparkling windows and my dad giving me huge praise for doing such a stupendous job. Instead, I got streaks, white spots, and lots of fuzz from my rag. The windows were getting clean, but lacking the desired results.
As I cleaned, window after window, my dad kept telling me to use newspaper instead of a rag. I rolled my eyes every time. "How in the heck would newspaper do the job better than a rag? He must be making it up. There goes dad again, trying to tell me how to do everything HIS way." I certainly did not need anyone telling me how to clean, of all things...
Have you ever witnessed a firefly show? I grew up in the Midwest. It's an understatement to say I am fascinated by fireflies. It is much more accurate to claim that I am obsessed.
Fireflies are cool for many reasons. I've studied their habits informally for many years; from behavior patterns to the energy-efficient light they give off. That light is now being studied formally at UC Berkeley to see if they can recreate it.
It is the firefly's incandescence that mesmerizes us. That subtle, consistent blinking light is the way this little bug communicates with other fireflies. If you've had the pleasure of witnessing them, it is a beautiful, subtle, dance of survival. They NEED to attract other fireflies to mate and proliferate. This communication is delivered with precision and then a whole community of fireflies will blink their light in unison, as if proclaiming..."I've got your back, I'm here for you, and you are not alone!" It's quite inspiring. I realized when I was forming my business almost 11 years ago, that fireflies shaped my philosophy on communication and marketing, hence the namesake Firefly Strategies.
Not long ago, I was struggling to keep my head above water, trying to manage WAY too much. Unfortunately, this predicament isn't something that happens to me only. I know MANY businesses, organizations, and individuals that are currently under incredible stress, and exhausted due to juggling too many hats.
Sometimes it seems there just isn't a way out of the chaos. Hiring someone is not feasible. There's no time to recruit an intern. And volunteers, though great, just don't have the right skills.
So what CAN you do when you are on the verge of "drowning?" Create systems! With the right systems in place, you can eliminate quite a bit of reinventing the wheel. Also, systems provide a framework for hiring someone or recruiting an intern or volunteer. There is a clear expectation of what needs to be accomplished, and less time spent orienting because documented systems can serve as training material.
Here are the top 3 systems I recommend you put into place as soon as possible...
I consistently get asked what is the 1 most important marketing activity to do. People ask "what is that 1 thing I need to do in order to get customers?"
My answer usually is that there isn't. There is no 1 thing you can do to gain customers or more sales. People are complex human beings. We like to receive and absorb information differently depending on the time of day, season and how we are feeling on any given day.
Yesterday, I read a report by MarketingProfs, a leading marketing research, and management company. One of many organizations dedicated to studying and reporting on marketing and communications findings.
The report they published showed what major marketing departments across the U.S. are utilizing and spending their money on to get their message across to their target markets...
I've been working in and teaching marketing now for over 18 years. At this point, I have practiced and preached all forms of marketing methods, processes, strategies, and plans.
I am well versed in the textbook definitions of branding, marketing, promotions, and sales. I've been fortunate to discover some amazing insights as I've applied, taught, tweaked, and finally created my own method for marketing. Through it all, I discovered something so extraordinarily mind-blowing and humbling. I've learned what marketing really is and, unequivocally, what it is not.
It comes down to a fundamental human skill, one we use every day, every waking moment of our lives. Let me start off by telling you that we all have the capacity to be marketing masters; that is why I want to share what I've discovered. I hope you take a minute to read it, take it in and if compelled, share it with others. I want this to spread far and wide.
This is my most important marketing advice ever...
I am a huge advocate for reviewing your marketing plan every few months. At the very least, every 6 months. The end of July is right around the corner, and this is a perfect time to closely inspect all of your marketing efforts to determine what is and is not working.
Most of my clients get stumped over which information to analyze when making decisions on spending more money on something or stopping it altogether.
I'll make it simple for you...
The rules of business have changed. You can see it, sense it, and maybe even know logically that things are evolving in the modern landscape of business and economy. But like many, maybe you haven't made the changes yet. This is primarily due to two things. 1) You don’t know what it is exactly that you need to change. 2) You haven’t broken your habits of operating the old way.
Awareness is the first step in changing. So, let’s start by revealing what needs to change immediately. I say immediately because continuing to operate in this way will absolutely lead to failure. You must allow your strategies to evolve...
Engagement can seem hard, especially when it comes to social media. How do you engage and build relationships with large numbers of people you will never REALLY know? Well, let me say that the hard part is not the engagement. A few tips from me and you can become great at engaging your fans and followers. The hard part is finding time and motivation to do so.
My goal with this tip from the tip jar is to help you shrink your social media marketing tasks down to a few minutes each day. You might even save time and do it all over a few days. Whatever you choose to do, I intend on helping you make it a little easier. You do, however, have to do some work upfront that may require an hour or so...
I'm often asked, "Rubina, what is the one thing I can do to get clients." Or "What is the one thing I can do to get people to donate to our organization." My answer is always, "There's no ONE thing." Many people don't want to hear this, but it's true.
We are all regularly and constantly consuming massive amounts of information from a variety of sources. Rarely do we run out and buy something or get compelled to give right when we consume that information. It's when we are ready to buy something or ready to give to a cause or organization. One or two brands or messages will actually stand out.
We can recall these specific brands or images more easily. Why? Because we saw the brand and/or message enough times through various channels and they stuck with us. This is called accomplishing top of mind status. If you did just one thing it would be very hard to achieve this status. Therefore, a variety of methods are recommended, even if you are a small business or organization...