Tag: entreprenuer

Speaking to Your Audience During COVID-19

I struggled on what to write this week. If I should write this week, and if I did, what would I write about? Because I’m sure, like you, my mind has been thinking about all of the things. But in opening Symbiotic Marketing up as a resource to all businesses and all individuals during this time has been a blessing to me. While many are struggling to find their footing and are looking to the only platform we have now – digital – and this is something Symbiotic Marketing was built on and uses daily. I’m saying we are blessed because we have the background and we have the knowledge, but by opening up our services to everyone, I have been able to continue doing what I love and that gives me great peace.

So, with that being said, this week’s blog is going to be focused on speaking to your audience right now on digital platforms, specifically your website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn pages. I will touch on some things and give you some ideas of what you can do. If you need help, reach out. Because while we are all scrambling, we can also pull our resources together and help each other out. I am going to try to be concise and to the point, but as we all know, that may or may not happen. If you need clarity, please ask because your audience is acting very differently right now and needs to be treated differently.

Restrict All Sales Speak

It may be tempting to drive traffic to your digital outlets when talking to your audience online right now – that’s what they were put in place for! But here’s the thing. Like you, many people aren’t working right now and don’t know when they can expect to return to work. For anyone living paycheck to paycheck, this is an incredibly trying time and the stimulus cannot come fast enough.

While some may be “lucky,” my family included in this lot, to have someone who is considered essential and life sustaining and with this pandemic.  Our finances are more secure, but at what cost? Our family members are out working every day with people who may or may not have this illness and may or may not bring it home.

And the overarching fear that we all have, no one knows how long this is going to last or what toll this is going to take on our health care system. The stories are scary. Trying to remain informed is scary. We aren’t sure who or what we can trust right now. Our very sense of security has been shaken. This is why toilet paper and food are being rationed. And this is why any attempt at sales will fall flat right now.

Drop The Pretenses

The fear is too great right now. Too consuming. In addition to this, many are feeling frustrated. Frustrated because they can’t work or because they must work. Frustrated by the closed stores and lack of supplies. Frustrated because we just don’t know. We need a sense of order for our society to function properly and that has clearly been upset.

We need something we can control to bring back a sense of normalcy. And right now, there’s just a whole lot that is out of our control. As business owners, we always have something that we can be doing. But individuals, they may not have that luxury (if you want to call it that). As a small business owner, you have resources available that you use to operate your business. Think about how you can transition what you do into how you can help someone. And this does not mean instructional how-to things, you also can help someone emotionally by bringing a sense of togetherness and community.  Think outside of the box. Again, if you need help, reach out.

With this, you need to drop the pretenses that everything is okay. Because it’s not. Whatever your personal thoughts on this matter may be, empty shelves at the grocery store say otherwise. It’s okay to talk about COVID-19 because it is relevant. It is on people’s minds. But your page is not the place to spread the fear and frustration. Focus on positivity, long-term vision, and helpful information. Now is the time to build your brand and you will have to let down some pretenses to do it.

Speaking to Your Audience During COVID-19

Website

It is imperative that your website be clean and easy to use right now. It must drive any traffic you have coming in, to their purpose for being there. While it is a personal choice to make any adjustments to your website in light of COVID-19, know that if they are coming, there is a reason for it and clear direction is necessary.

As this is an ever-changing event, it is your socials that will be of key importance. Take the time now to make any adjustments you want to your website, but the main focus should be on reaching your audience where they are right now, and that is all over social media. Currently, audiences are making adjustments on all of the platforms but their main intention, their main source of use, has remained the same. With that, let’s dig deeper into social media.

Facebook

Facebook has traditionally been “all the things” about life, literally, ALL THE THINGS. But it has maintained its focus on connecting people, getting to know one another, and communicating. While some have already used the platform to bring people together for a common good – look at all the new groups forming and informative pages. You must take the time to evaluate and reach your audience on this platform now if you are on it.

This can be done many ways based on your specific business and your options are really limitless. Status updates, shares, photos, videos, Facebook live videos, YouTube videos, Zoom meetings shared to Facebook Live. In these, everyone knows that most people are working from home right now and with that comes certain, shall we say, unexpected complications?

Everyone I have had a video chat with this week has had the opportunity to meet Sir Barnabas AKA “Barney,” my pug poodle mix. And it’s okay! Because that is life right now. A few weeks ago, this would have really bothered me but now, we’re all in this boat together. It’s okay. And know that while everyone is getting a sneak peek into what it’s like in your home, you are getting a sneak peek into what it’s like in their homes too. No one has their shit together. Drop the pretense and embrace the chaos.

Instagram

Like Facebook, Instagram is dropping some of the pretenses. Things do not need to be as polished, but it does need to remain positive and informative. Everyone is struggling right now so anything upbeat, helpful, and true insight on what you are doing to help yourself are all things being discussed on this platform.

How this transitions into what you can discuss on Instagram about your business, is just that – helpful, positive, and let people in. We are social creatures and need socialization to survive. This is where you can dig more into your why, what you do in your business, and why you do it and go personal. This is the time you can make a really deep connection with your audience.

Twitter

Twitter has remained news and opinion focused. If you use this platform, try to stay news focused, informative, up to date, and pay close attention to trending hashtags and how they may be used to support your brand. This platform may be very time-consuming right now and can easily start to affect your mental health. Be careful of the amount of time spent on this and any other platform. If you are starting to feel tired, negative, irritable, frustrated, hopeless, angry, or any other negative emotion, it’s time to hop off and do something less stressful. Bake some cookies, Netflix and chill, anything that can give you a sense of peace.

LinkedIn

Rather predictably, as businesses nationwide started to close and transition over to virtual platforms, LinkedIn’s audience behavior took quite a hit. Thankfully, with the small business loans and grants that are being offered, this audience is finding their feet again. Again, helpful and informative are what this audience is looking for. We’ve had a lot of shit thrown at us in a short period of time, so make it easily digestible.

Just Be Real

While this is a broad overview, the sentiment remains the same. We’re all in this together and no one knows what to expect. This is a time when the full power of what social media is and what it can do for us as individuals and us as business owners can be realized. The way we work may very likely be forever changed from this. At Symbiotic Marketing, we were already set up to be primarily virtual, we were set up to work from our homes remotely and we have resources we use to make this work for us. But many of you are struggling because you do not have this in place. Let us help you.

Our proverbial masks are being taken down. There’s no where to hide. And why would you? You are a business owner. You are born to stand out. You are born to make a difference. You’ve got this. Throw your cape over your shoulder and just be real. That’s all anyone is looking for right now.

Special COVID-19 Announcement

Special COVID-19 Announcement

I have been struggling writing this week’s blog. Not because what I had intended to discuss is difficult but because, right now, life is difficult. I’m struggling. And no, it most certainly is not similar in any way to some of the very difficult decisions my fellow business owners are being forced to make. But to pretend that everything is okay and write in such a way is something that I cannot do.

I simply cannot pretend that everything is okay, because it’s not. While my daily routine has not changed that significantly, my mindset has. And that has me struggling. I have not felt a depression this deep in a long time, but I am fighting it. I am fighting it because you are fighting. Because we all have something worth fighting for.

Ladies and gentlemen, your time to step up and show your community how much you care is here. It is your time to shine and each of you, in your individual ways are doing it. Those of us who can, are continuing to work from home, providing the services we need to keep things moving. Those of us who are needed on the front lines are out there, ensuring our quality of life. And those of you who have closed and will be closing during this time, you are helping lessen the curve.

So many of you are showing your community how much you care, and I am overwhelmed with love for you and for the wonderful community I live in. When I find myself pulling in and allowing the fear take over, I look at you and know that I am not alone. Because we are not. And I believe each of us on social media right now knows this to be true. Let’s be honest. It’s where we are.

Even if we have neglected our business pages, we are still on social media because it is how we can communicate right now. And I am seeing some very beautiful things. Just an incredible use of technology, I am in awe of what some of you are doing to bring some sunshine into our lives.

We are communicating more than ever and with this, we have the opportunity to help in so many simple ways that can make a huge impact. And with this, I am hoping that I may be able to give back to you the support you have given me.

Starting today and until further notice, the Symbiotic Marketing Facebook Page will host an AMA (Ask Me Anything). Come and ask your questions, from social media marketing and websites, to marketing in general. I will PM you with questions so I can fully understand your question and any details needed and then help you with find a resolution to your specific issue. Pick my brain. In addition to this, I will be addressing as many questions as I can in a general format to assist others who may also have a similar question. These will be specific posts because at times, answers can get lengthy.

I know you may be feeling very uncertain right now and probably downright scared, but I want you to know that you inspire me every day. I am incredibly honored to be a part of this wonderful group of crazy small business owners. Because we are crazy. And you are my people.

I sincerely love you all and we’ll come out of this better for having gone through it together. I firmly believe this.

See you on the other side, Ray.

What, How, When? Social media etiquette explained

If I have learned anything in life, it is that at times, it is going to be hard. Some of the most beneficial lessons we can learn come from a hard place and sometimes, it’s that hard pill that we need to swallow. And, this may be a hard pill for some to swallow. But it needs to be said. Ladies and gentlemen, I need to discuss social media etiquette.

I get it. It’s hard knowing how to get people to look, actually LOOK at what you are doing. Knowing that you have less than a second to capture someone’s attention is beyond daunting! Add in trying to increase your page following, because more must certainly be better, and it’s easy to become so frustrated and overwhelmed you aren’t sure what to do. And that’s just your business page.

As a business owner, you inherently will have two accounts on Facebook and potentially two on LinkedIn. What to post, where to post, and how to share are all important because they affect your brand awareness. Likewise, who you are friends with and who you follow on your personal page affects your brand. Whether we like it or not, as the owner of the business, we are the face of the business. How you interact with those you follow, and how they interact with you says a lot about you and how you run your business. With that, let’s get into those hard truths.

1. For the love of all that is holy, leave dirty laundry offline.

This may seem like a given, but dirty laundry presents itself, even when we do our best to filter it. This may be someone shooting off on your page, responding to a comment in an ugly way, or even a negative review.

If it is something directly related to your business, respond in a respectful way (even though you may feel very differently) and offer to take the complaint offline. Period. “I am sorry you have experienced this. I will call you to discuss how we may be able to resolve this issue.” Keep it respectful and professional and most importantly, take it offline.

If it is related to you personally, you should remain respectful in your response but take the conversation to a more private space if necessary. Something as simple as responding, “I’ll PM you,” lets those who can see that conversation know that you have boundaries of what you will accept publicly and what you will not.

We all have that one relative who just won’t stop. Redirect to a more private area and save some face. Know that no matter what, some dirty laundry is going to come out at some point. How you handle it matters because nothing just “goes away” in digital.

This is not to say that you should not have opinions and show them online but keep it in check and don’t go overboard. When you start to feel emotions coming up, get offline, regroup and then come back to address it. When you are frustrated and angry, the socials are not the place to be until you can respond in a logical manner.

2. Be aware of who you are friends with and who you follow.

This is such an easy one to fall into. The more people on your personal page, will transfer to more people on your business page, right? Not necessarily. And, it may actually hurt your brand. Here’s the hard truth, people create fake accounts to snoop. We all know someone who has done it or have heard of someone who has done it. But it is more than that, especially this year.

There are things called “bots.” These are NOT people but look like people online. They often have posts shared to their newfeeds and are tagged in the posts. They rarely post themselves, and when they do, it is primarily directed toward an overall theme. If someone looks highly stereotypical in the type of posts shared to them or they themselves share and do not post anything personal – no status update, it is most likely a bot.

We are going to see an increase of bots this year because it is an election year. These are “individuals” who post highly politicized posts and posts associated with those values. The issue with these is twofold. First, by friending a bot, allows it to work like a virus and send requests to all your friends. Others will be more likely to accept it because you have, so it must be legit, but it isn’t. This discredits your integrity. Bots happen on business pages. They shouldn’t happen to personal pages.

Secondly, who you interact with says a lot about you. While you should have a diverse list of friends, it should be reflective of who you are personally. In accepting a request from a bot opens you up to more bots sending requests. This is why people make Facebook sweeps and clean their friends lists. They want to see from the people they care about (this comes back to the algorithm) and if you are someone who falls victim to bots frequently (we can see who our “mutual” friends are…) you may become unfollowed and you would not know.

A good rule of thumb to follow, if you think you may have received a request from a bot, do not accept it right away. Look at their newsfeed and something seems “off” let it sit for a few days. It won’t go away, but it will give you time to think about whether or not accepting this request will be beneficial for you. Come back to it later and if it still doesn’t seem right, it’s probably because it isn’t a person.

3. Be careful with emojis.

Oh, emojis. Aren’t they fun…? Here’s the thing. Emojis are meant to enhance and complement text. They are meant to show the emotion behind the words typed. This is an issue that many of us have faced. How to transfer tone and emotion through text alone is difficult, because while we (the one who is typing) is trying to be effective in communication, emotions don’t always transfer through. What’s worse, is the reader (the person who is responding) to what was written, may respond in a very different manner than what was expected.

I am sure I am not the only one who has written an email that I thought was very clear and concise and to the point, to have it received differently than I expected. We first tried to combat this with self-created emojis – colon, dash, closed parenthesis for a smiley face or carrot, 3 for a heart. But this has transformed over the years into the emojis we know today.

Now we have hundreds of emojis to choose from. Literally, anything and everything we can think of, including poo. Even more so, we at times, choose to not respond with any text, but rather just an emoji to show our emotion. This completely acceptable depending on the situation. Other times, we intermix emojis with our text, and that is acceptable as well, but only in small doses. This is important, because when we are online, we are looking to read what has been written. This is the expectation.

When you mix emojis throughout your text, or use them incorrectly, it not only makes what you are saying difficult to read and more likely to be dismissed, it also reeks of dirty sales. This is a ploy that has been used by many multi-level marketers (MLM) to help sell their products. If you are an MLM and don’t mind being associated as such, go for it. Just be aware that your posts are difficult to read and may not be read. If you are not, you should stop NOW.

The issue with this, is that by presenting yourself as an MLM through your use of emojis, you are presenting yourself and your business that you are not professional and that you may not be in it for the long haul. Let’s be honest, we have all met someone who has joined the MLM bandwagon, sold the product for a bit, and moved onto another. This is not saying that all MLMs are bad, because they aren’t. But the expectation has been set, lots of emojis throughout a lot of text sends a message that you may not want.

This is what too many emojis reads like.

4. Business should start with business and transfer to personal.

This one also seems to be a given, but it’s so easy to share from your personal to your business page – what can be the harm? This comes down to a fundamental issue. You are the face of your business, but your business needs to stand on its own. You are more than just your business and that’s how people know you. The goal of branding is that people know your business first, that is your brand awareness, and you secondly. The brand you build is the business you will have.

This is incredibly important. If you do not focus on your brand, you will be perceived as mixing business with pleasure. That is not to say that you cannot find pleasure in your business, hell, you should! Why else would you be doing it? But with that, you should start with your business first, and then share to personal. With this, you should also be speaking to two very distinct audiences and using two distinct voices, your professional voice and your personal voice.

What I mean is this, every week, I publish this blog and share it to my socials. I start with the business pages first, because I am building on that brand. I want all the work I have put into building the brand to be associated with it. I also write to the specific page audience in a professional tone. Then I share it to my personal page, using a personal tone.

Additionally, if you are sharing information about your business to other pages (such as groups), see if you can join the group from your business page. Some, not all, allow users to be able to do this. Not only does it continue to build on your brand and brand awareness – because you will be again addressing the audience in a professional tone, but you will also be free of spamming your friends and followers. Here’s the hard truth, if you only share from your personal page to these groups, any friends who are also members of the same group you shared to, see that you posted to that page. Now, consider how many groups there are devoted to things happening in the area and how many of your friends may be following those pages as well. It adds up quickly. And if your friends and followers see you are personally posting about your business to these other pages, especially in rapid succession, it looks like spam.

 

5. Posting, Commenting, Sharing

Professional Voice on Personal Page

While it may be tempting to share every post from your business page to your personal page and simply adjust your tone for the audience, you want to be careful of overwhelming your friends. The truth of the matter is that you are a different person in the eyes of different people. Yes, you are a business owner and that is a large part of your life. But you are also a friend, a colleague, a family member and these are your friends and followers on your socials. They follow you because they want to see all of your aspects. Not just one. No one likes to go to dinner with someone who only talks about one subject, and that what social media is, a place to catch up and connect with loved ones. Don’t be that person.

Remember, you are speaking to two very different audiences on your business page and your personal page. What you post on your business page should be specific to building your brand and increasing your brand awareness. It needs to be different from what you share on your personal page because again, you are building a brand that should stand on its own. Let me say this again – The brand you build is the business you will have.

With this, share highlights of your business page to your personal page. Treat them as you would sprinkles. Sprinkles are great on any sweet treat, but you wouldn’t want them in your salad or on your burger. So, be picky and choosing what you share to your personal page from your business. By sharing the exciting stuff, people will be more likely to see what you have going on. Use this to drive them to your page if they aren’t already there. And if they are, then they are working for you every time they engage with your post.

Here’s the truth, every time one of your friends likes, comments, shares your post that you shared from your business page, it widens the overall reach of your initial post. This is how friends and family support your business online whether they are aware of it or not. Increasing your reach organically in this way increases the likelihood of an increase in your page audience and more importantly, a quality increase in this audience.

These are individuals who are interested in what you are doing, the more you can direct them to your business page, with highlights of what you have, the more likely they will be to interact with your page going forward. You want them there, give them a reason to go there.

Professional Voice on Business Page

As a business page, you can follow other businesses as your page. By following other businesses as your page, you are building on your brand awareness through their brand awareness. No small business owner succeeds in isolation. There’s a reason why we have our own community and this needs to be reflected online as well as in person.

Liking a page as your page and then sharing highlights from their page, not only shows that you care about your community, but also increases your overall page reach. Sharing events is an excellent way of increasing your page reach because they inherently can increase engagement through more options.

One may like, comment, or share but also mark interested or going, all of which are engagement and are weighted differently within the algorithm. Remember, these are the figures you want. Sprinkle in other’s stories within your own and your page will begin to show the diversity your personal page should already have and from this, begin to stand on its own.

In addition to this, you will want to post specifics about your own business. That is the point of having the page to begin with! In posting about your business, you will want to be sure that you are posting frequently enough that you are not overwhelming your audience with what you have to offer. Having specials, events, and sales are great, but be sure you do not undercut your brand to be able to do so. Your business encompasses more than sales, share about what you do but also why you do it. Give helpful tips that you have learned. Discuss topics that would interest your visitors and they will likely come back for more.

Personal Voice on Personal Page

This is where things can get sticky for many, especially right now. Not only are we in an election year, when tensions rise, but we are also facing a global health concern. Tensions are high and emotions are all over the place. Every SINGLE one of us has an opinion and right now, it’s hard to keep that opinion to ourselves because these topics are forefront on everyone’s minds.

Here’s the hard pill to swallow. If you choose to discuss these topics, do so knowing going in that you are setting up for a debate. You will need to be prepared because if you do this, you need to be firm in your stance yet open for discussion. You need to be ready to admit when you are wrong, because that may happen. You will also want to be aware of trolls because you will be opening yourself up to them. Let me be quite firm, DO NOT ENGAGE WITH TROLLS. YOU WILL NOT WIN.

Your safest bet is to take a middle ground or keep your opinion to yourself. Because in addition to this, you need to pay attention. People will be ready for an argument and sometimes, some rather unexpected results may happen. Try to put out fires when they are small and respond to each comment individually if possible. Fires spread quickly when emotions are high, and a small fire now can lead to pretty significant repercussions down the road.

These topics aside, what should you post on your personal page? Everything you feel you would want to share on your personal page, just be aware that portions will be reflected on your business. This returns to how you present your business in a positive light, if your business page is on point but your personal page says there’s something wrong, there’s something wrong.

Here’s the thing, we all have those not so great moments in life. And some need to be shared, but not all. Personally, since starting this business, I have seen a great deal of loss in my personal life, which I have shared in some capacity on my personal socials. I did this because this information needed to be shared. But not all information needs to be shared. Often, during these periods of loss, I was struggling with other stressors, both personal and business related. This information was not shared, because it was not necessary.

Friends and family will respect that you are going through a lot but do not need to know everything on your plate. Although your emotions may be all over the place, it does not need to show publicly. In these times of difficulty, it may be best to take some time off from digital. People will understand and accept that you may need to “go dark” for a bit to regroup.

Or, you may choose to regroup publicly, and find posts that speak to you in a positive way. You may see on my Facebook page, that during some of the times of loss, I posted a lot of motivational and uplifting memes and posts. These were as much for me as they were for my friends and family. There isn’t a one size fits all option, but both are acceptable. Just be aware that if you go dark, you will want to put a time limit on it because people will want to know you are okay.

Outside of this, post anything that speaks to you on a personal level. Share photos from your life, tag your friends and family, share status updates about what you are doing, share other’s posts that are meaningful to you. Tell people about you, who you are and what interests you. If they like you, they’ll want to know more about you and how they can support you.

 

For more small business marketing insight, check out our previous blogs and come back next week when I will discuss what we mean by brand awareness and how to use it effectively in your business no matter how small you are.

 

Creating a Marketing Mindset

The statistics of owning a small business are not for the faint of heart. The Small Business Administration (SBA) states that 50% fail within the first five years, 66% in the first ten years, and only 25% make it fifteen years or more. While there are many reasons for this, marketing always seems to be in the top five. It’s a bit of an ambiguous term, that includes a wide range of activities from creating print materials such as brochures and business cards to how you present your business and yourself in public and online. Marketing can be closely tied to sales but is different from sales in the approach. While both are needed, you will want to be conscious of the two and how they differ so that you can set yourself apart from the crowd and raise your chances to come out on top.

A marketing mindset is one of growth and prosperity. While there are many things needed, such as a logo that represents your brand visually, you will also want to focus on your brand’s presence. Whether your business caters to the general public or businesses, to succeed, your business should present that it is successful and will be around in the next year or years. This can be incredible difficult to do when you are trying to make ends meet.

Are you creating a sense of prosperity or scarcity?

Often, many find themselves falling back on a sales mindset to offset this issue. Creating a fast turn around sale or discount can help bridge a gap in the budget or help those on the fence jump for your goods and services but you should only use this tactic sparingly. Additionally, pushing customers to engage with your product, such as continually asking for a meeting so you can sell them on what you do or sell can be off putting for the customer and present that there may be a reason why you are so pushy; a reason you are trying to counterbalance.

Relying heavily on sales and sales tactics or not having proper marketing techniques in place, will make people wary of purchasing your goods or services. It presents that your business may be in trouble or may not be in it for the long haul. But it does not need to be that way. What’s great about marketing is that it can be adjusted and changed at any time but there are a few things to keep in mind when changing your marketing strategy:

  1. Listen to Your Customers: Your customers will tell you what they want and need. Rather than complaining that you are not able to reach them, ask yourself what you can do to reach them. Sometimes what they are asking is not something you currently offer but could possibly in the future. Explore what your customers are asking for and see if you can work it in to your current strategy. Sometimes adding in a particular type of good or service can help build your business and brand in ways you did not foresee.
  2. It Takes Time: In any marketing endeavor, it will take time. Time for people to realize the change, time for people to learn about what you are doing, how you are doing it, and decide if it is right for them. We tell our clients that it takes a good 3 to 6 months before changes start to happen, and even then, they may be small changes and it can take 6 months to a year to see how those changes are reflected within your business.
  3. Small Steps Make For Big Changes: It’s the little things that matter so ensuring you are updating your digital presence including any social organizations you belong to make a big difference. If you are finding that your business is not forefront in your friends and family’s mind or they are not active on your digital footprint, ask yourself if you could be doing more. While it may seem like a little thing to do when you are looking at a bigger issue, remember that creating a sound structure to build on is key.
  4. Marketing Should Reflect Your Values: Everyone who chooses to go down this arduous path does so for a reason, and for many of us, it is following a dream. Sharing that dream with others builds on your brand and provides a plan for your structure. Ask yourself why you started your business and how can you show that in your marketing. This shows your intent, your reasons why you keep going, and builds trust in what you are doing.
  5. Be Where Your People Are: This may be different for every business, so listening to and understanding your customers is key. While most customers are online, you will also want to ensure you are present in person as well. This can include attending networking meetings, learning series, community and service groups. Any time you are in public, you are representing your brand so finding organizations that support what you are doing and actively engaging with those groups can be a great way to increase your awareness. Think outside of the box, perhaps there is an organization that you can support through volunteering.
  6. Marketing Does Not Need to be Expensive: This is a common misconception for many business owners. Hope is not a marketing strategy. You need a plan of action, but it does not mean that with it, you need to break the bank. The most valuable thing you have is your time. Using your time effectively, from ensuring your digital presence is updated to volunteering your time to sit on a board are all means of marketing your business without costing you a dime.
  7. Think Big and Allow Yourself to Dream: When you find yourself stuck or spinning your wheels, it’s hard to break free. Running a business is hard work. At times, it feels as if you have the proverbial quiet toddler and you are bracing yourself for the havoc that may ensue. If you are always on edge and waiting for the shoe to drop, it will. Remind yourself why you started this, reflect on your values, and be grateful for where you are right now, because you have come a long way no matter how young your business is. Ask yourself where to go from here, how you can improve what you already have built, and yes, allow yourself to dream about what could be.
  8. Plan Your Execution: This is imperative to a change in marketing because it all comes down to presentation. Yes, sometimes change comes at us hard and fast but it does not have to appear that way. Planning out the details needed to support your change helps build on what you already have and the improvements you want to implement. Having a plan not only gives you a time frame to work within but also provides smaller, achievable goals to help you feel more successful during the transition. This not only helps you feel more secure, but also makes others feel more secure when working with you.

    Set Yourself Apart From The Crowd

Maintaining a marketing mindset, one of abundance, growth and prosperity is not easy, especially when you are focused on the daily tasks needed to operate your business. But it is necessary to maintaining what you have built and project for the future. While a sales mindset can be tempting, sales are meant to be short-term and scarce. When you rely on sales too heavily, you present that your business may also be short-term, your funds may be scarce, and that your business may not beat the statistics. Additionally, too many changes in too short of a time frame, can also have the same effect. If you have found yourself struggling to find your footing in today’s fast paced world, ask yourself how you are presenting yourself and your business. You may have lost the marketing mindset in the details of day to day but you can change your mindset, your approach, and yes, your business’s success by shifting focus from what is to what could be.

Resolutions

Many look to the new year as a time of renewal and change. We make resolutions to be more positive, healthier, to save more, to work on those aspects of ourselves we would like to change, and companies take advantage of this. How many commercials have you heard or watched about getting into shape or cooking healthier meals, losing weight? It’s common knowledge that we look to the new year as a time to resolve to work on ourselves. However, it is also common knowledge that by the end of the January, those gym memberships aren’t being used as frequently and that diet has long since lost its luster. Why do we do this to ourselves?

When we fail to plan, we are planning to fail

Often, it is due to lack of planning. As a friend says, “When we fail to plan, we are planning to fail.” This is key not only to us as individuals, but especially as a business, for us to be able to see success in the long run. Running a successful business is an endurance run, and there will be times when things run smoothly and times when tough decisions need to be made. There will be incredibly frustrating times and incredibly exciting times. But if you don’t have a plan for your business, these times may seem scary and unpredictable. The times when things are running smoothly, you may be waiting for the other shoe to drop and unable to enjoy the ride for what it is. Frequently, unfortunately when we are in this state, we will pull back from activities. While there may be many reasons we rely on when others inquire, it should be noted that when changes are made to downsize your efforts, it sends red flags to others that your business may be faltering.

The great thing about planning is it can be done at any time because we do it all the time. From the household budget to trips we want to take; we are always planning something so why not plan for your business and how you want it to operate?

While it is widely accepted that new year’s resolutions are short term and high turnover, allowing this mindset to follow into your business can be fatal. Owning a business is not for the faint of heart, and to be running your own business, you need to be strong and resilient, but you also need to make intelligent decisions for long term success. When creating a plan, you can prepare for when your business goes through lean times but more importantly, know and appreciate the times when things are going well. By planning, you can make more informed decisions and be more secure in those decisions.

This new year is special because it is not only another year the earth has gone around the sun, but it is also a new decade. This is an exciting time, and many are looking to take the lessons learned from the past year and past ten years and put the knowledge learned into action. This can indeed be a period of great change and growth but only if we allow it to be so. We wish you all the success you allow yourself in 2020! Happy New Year!

Reflections

All marketing takes time, I tell clients it will easily take 3-6 months to see a change, and even then, it may be a small change but small changes lead to big things. We had a client reach out last week, impressed by what we had accomplished for her on one of her accounts. It was an incredible high for me, because she could see a difference. But unfortunately, that high did not last nearly as long as the lows. It’s interesting, isn’t it? This got me thinking, in business, and in life, sometimes our highest highs are outweighed by our lowest lows.

This time of year, is a time when many of us reflect over what happened throughout the past year, myself included. Reflecting back, I can absolutely tell you my lowest low of the past year. But my highest high…that is not as easily determined. It isn’t that I did not have any highs this year, I did. Those times were when I reached goals for myself, my business, and my clients. But that low, it sticks with me. And at times, it haunts me.

I want to go into year three like a three-year-old in a Batman t-shirt

Next week, Symbiotic Marketing turns 3. This is a huge milestone for many businesses because according to the Small Business Association (SBA) only about half of small businesses reach the five-year mark. It’s a scary statistic but I believe in what we are doing and believe we will reach that goal. I want to go into year three like a three-year-old in a Batman t-shirt, confident in what has been built and ready to learn more. But how can that happen if I allow my lowest low to continue to haunt me?

While there may be a whole host of reasons why businesses fail in the first five years, I believe it comes down to the owner’s confidence in what has been built and the ability to learn from mistakes. As a business owner, and as an individual, mistakes are going to happen. It is what we do with them that matters. There’s an anagram that I love, FAIL = First Attempt In Learning. Because that is what we are doing and that was certainly what the first three years in business has been for me, learning opportunities.

 

Symbiotic Marketing has changed and adapted from what it was when I first started it to today. The business has grown as I have grown. But that could not have happened if I had allowed the lows in the last three years to question what this business means, not only to myself, but to those who we have been able to help in that time.

Small steps lead to big things

Reflecting back, I can now say that it is more difficult for me to determine the business’s highest high this year because we were able to reach many goals but rather than celebrating them to their fullest, I treated them as check-marks on a to-do list. As opposed to the lowest low, which continues to be at the forefront of my mind. I look at it as a learning opportunity, to do better, to be better. As, one of my favorite authors, Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” But it takes time. If you are also reflecting and the negatives of the past year outweigh the positives, ask yourself if you are giving the positives the power they deserve and remember that small steps lead to big things.

One final note, Symbiotic Marketing would not be where it is today without you, all our supporters, from clients to family and friends. Thank you for sharing in our dream of helping small businesses find their voice and flourish. We couldn’t be here without you. We wish you a happy and prosperous 2020 and look forward to what the new year and new decade brings.

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Chambersburg, PA