Marketing Is NOT Actually the Solution You Are Looking For

Marketing Is NOT Actually the Solution You Are Looking For

As a successful entrepreneur and small business owner/CEO I know a few things about you:

  • You are passionate about your business idea and the products and/or services you offer.
  • You are most likely a visionary — with lots of ideas and the ability to see the amazing possibilities.
  • Marketing and/or sales either comes naturally and has been your primary focus as you have created, developed, and grown your business.

All of these are excellent traits for an entrepreneur to possess and fundamentally are a key component to your success thus far. But in almost every small business there is an inflection point.

This point of inflection is fairly easy to identify for the owner as they start feeling stuck.

Stuck at a particular income level instead of consistently growing.

Stuck doing the same “boring” tasks instead of working in their zone of genius.

Stuck carrying all the burden of the business instead of enjoying the elusive entrepreneurial freedom so often touted.

Feeling stuck is your business trying to tell you that something is wrong (or maybe several somethings).

When most entrepreneurs feel stuck, their go-to solution is marketing. More ads, more posts, more offers. New tactics, new products, new programs. But, it is rare that the business’ marketing is actually the problem. So marketing will rarely help and in some cases will actually make things worse. 

Instead it is time to look at the business’ operations. 

I use the acronym GEARS for the parts of your business’ operations:

  • Goods – Products and services you sell
  • Effectiveness – Personal and team productivity, business leadership
  • Accountability – Prioritizing what is important and taking consistent action to reach goals
  • Resources – People, money, equipment, technology, and similar
  • Systems – Processes, routines, and reporting

Most entrepreneurs are not operationally inclined; it is counter to their visionary gifts. So operations get overlooked or put on the back burner until an issue becomes critical. And then it  gets addressed quickly, in a “make do” manner without lots of consideration for longer term effectiveness. 

At the point of “stuck”, all of the patches, quick-fixes, and band-aids are no longer serving the business and the internal gears of your business are about to break. Your business has hit its operational capacity limit. 

Unfortunately, what got you here (stuck), will rarely get you there (unstuck).

If you are feeling stuck and not sure where to start, sign up below to download your GEARS self-assessment, or click here to learn more. In just a few minutes you will identify which GEARS need to be addressed and how to prioritize your efforts for maximum benefit. Optimize your GEARS and you will be unstuck and moving forward before you know it!

5 Teaching Lessons We Can Learn from Groundhog Day

5 Teaching Lessons We Can Learn from Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day has always been one of the “strange” holidays celebrated in the US, passing each year mostly unnoticed until the release of the 1993 movie by the same name. Suddenly, the day had a whole new meaning. What would you do if you kept repeating the same day over?

Since its release, Groundhog Day has been one of my favorites – I have watched it so many times, I can practically say the entire dialog along with the movie. Although it’s a comedy (possibly Bill Murray’s best), there are still many great lessons tucked away among all the laughs and one-liners.

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How to be more productive in your work

How to be more productive in your work

You start your day feeling excited about a project you’re going to work on for your business. You start working, and after a little while one of two things might happen:

    1. You get stuck on an idea and you’re not sure where to go with it; OR

    2. You get some sort of interruption in the middle of your working time (email alert, phone ringing, your kid needs something, etc.)

Is this scenario familiar to you? What happens NEXT?



Understand your losses

At this point, you fall down a rabbit hole of distraction. You check your email, answer the phone, browse Facebook “to get some ideas,” or even just get up and switch the laundry or start lunch because you think you need a break.

You are actively working against your own success.

You have lost time, twice:

  • The first amount is the time it took you to actually give in to that distraction (20 minute phone call, 30 minutes on Facebook, 10 minutes checking email, etc.).
  • The second amount is the time you lost switching back and forth between two tasks; this is the actual time your brain takes to catch back up when you force it into a state of context switching.

Though you might understand the first loss, it’s my guess that you didn’t even realize you were losing that second block.

 

Get clear.

This table illustrates Todd Herman’s research on context switching:

Time Lost to Context Switching
No matter how much time you have to complete any given task, you automatically lose more than half of it just by adding another task into that time frame. The extra 20% goes to your brain, to allow it to mentally shift gears. As you can see, adding more tasks doesn’t grow in even amounts; the amount of time you lose to context switching increases exponentially every time you add another task.

Let’s say you have one hour to write a blog post. If you give in to 5 interruptions during that hour, you’ll actually only get 3 minutes to work on that blog post out of the whole hour, and you’ll lose 48 minutes of it to context switching. No wonder it feels like you never have enough time to do your work!

Improve your Focus.

How can you solve the problem of context switching?

Make it a habit to turn off your phone, close your browsers, and tell your family members not to interrupt unless there’s an emergency when you’re working. Give yourself the time you need in order to really do your work, and you’ll be amazed at how much more time you feel like you have, because you didn’t lose it to context switching!

 

How will YOU give yourself the time and space you need to get your work done? If you’d like a weekly reminder to focus on your priorities and take action to move you toward your goals, sign up below for my Weekly Course of Action e-mails. Let’s tackle this, together.

Meet my Content Creator

Meet my Content Creator

Some of you may have “met” my assistant, Jess, on this blog before. Today she’s here to talk about her new role in my company: Content Creator. If I’ve convinced you this month that it’s time to up your content game, Jess will show you one option for making that happen!


Hi everyone! I’m Jess, and I work for Gwen and a handful of other creative business owners to create the content that serves their audience. Today I get to take over Gwen’s blog and explain how that works, and how YOU can leverage the power of a Content Creator for your business.

What

A content creator is exactly what it sounds like – it’s my job to create content: blog posts, e-mail newsletter, website pages, ebooks and online class materials. I have a background in this area: once upon a time I was a high school English teacher and a freelance writer, and I have degrees in English and Education. So it’s in my blood to write the content pieces that educate, inform, and (I hope) empower Gwen’s audience members; this is the stuff that makes me geek out.

Why

Gwen is busy. She runs a business that involves traveling to teach, serving her customers through 1-on-1 consulting sessions, and creating products and services that will help small business owners grow their confidence and their businesses in order to achieve the type of success they most want for themselves. Like most small business owners, she simply can’t wear ALL the hats in her business – her growth would be limited if she tried to do that. So she hired me to help her create the content to engage her audience, so that she can spend her time on tasks that really require her specific expertise and personal touch.

On my side of things, I do this job because I believe that there are small business owners out there (Gwen included!) who have something really awesome to share with the world, and I want to help them spread that awesomeness around. It’s my privilege to craft the stories they want to tell.

How

The “how” piece is slightly different for all of my content clients, based on their needs and the needs of their audience members. In Gwen’s business, this is how it works:

Gwen is an extrovert – she loves to talk, and she needs to process her ideas out loud. That’s why it can be difficult for her to express herself in writing, because there’s no direct interaction with another human being in that process, and it’s from those direct interactions that she draws her energy. (If you’ve ever had a consulting session with Gwen or met her at an event, you know what I’m talking about: her energy is infectious!)

Blog Posts & Emails
In order to feed on this energy, Gwen and I chat via Skype a couple of times a month. During one of those sessions we’ll lay out the plan for her blog posts and e-mail newsletters for the upcoming month. Gwen will explain what she wants to cover in those pieces, and I’ll furiously type notes while she talks. Then I take those notes and I polish them up and turn them into the blog post format you’re reading right now.

Educational Content
We have a similar process for the study guide content for the Small Biz Book Club – I send Gwen an email each month asking her about the study guide we’re preparing (this happens several months in advance of when we actually read the book with the club members). I ask her to break the book into weekly segments, to lay out for me the most important points she wants to be sure to cover, and to list the questions she wants to ask the group members. Then I pick up my copy of the book and, using Gwen’s notes as a guide, I flesh out the study guide content for that book. Our other team member, Holly, reads it for any errors in grammar or clarity, and then Gwen reviews it for a final polish before it goes live to club members.

Gwen and I have timed it, and because of my background in writing, education, and curriculum, it takes me a LOT less time to write her blog posts than it would take her (about 20% of the time, actually!). So even though she’s paying me to do this part of the job, she’s actually saving money in terms of the time spent on the tasks, and freeing herself up to do the work that brings in even more income, like consulting and training.

Who

Hiring a content producer isn’t necessarily the best decision for every small business owner – if your business IS content creation, then maybe you don’t need someone else to do this for you. However, if your business is anything else, then you can free up valuable time and improve the quality of the content you produce if you invest in hiring help with your content. Whether you just want someone to come in one time and polish up your website content, or you want ongoing support to regularly craft emails and blog posts – that type of help is available!

If you struggle to create content that truly serves your customers and tells the story of your business the way you want it to be told, maybe it’s time to get some help! Click here to visit my website for more information.

And if you’d prefer a DIY solution, you’ll find loads of great information on content in Epic Content Marketing, our Small Biz Book Club pick for June! Enter your information below to read along with us:

Is your content worthy of its readers?

Is your content worthy of its readers?

Have you ever read an article or listened to a presentation and thought – Well, that’s 20 minutes of my life I’ll never get back! Is your audience thinking the same thing about the content you create?


If you’ve ever written an important paper for a school assignment (no matter – ahem – how long ago that might have been!) then you know: it takes research, planning, and time to create something of quality – something that deserves an A+. So… how much time are you putting into the content you create for your business (blog posts, sales pages, newsletters, and more)?

Your audience is inundated with content every single day. If the content you produce isn’t A+ quality, they’re not going to stick around to finish it.

Here are some ways you can improve your content to make it worthy of the people you’re trying to reach:

Share your Wisdom

Just like in school, it’s time to hit the books! Read articles, books, and blog posts on your topic. Educate yourself, and then pass that knowledge along to your audience members. A well-informed audience is more likely to make the decision to buy what you’re selling down the road, so invest the time now to educate them!

Teach a Skill

A type of content that’s usually guaranteed to get good results is the one that teaches a valuable skill. Think about what your audience members would typically type into a search engine, and then write an article or film a tutorial that walks them through the process of learning that skill!

Explain the Why

Last week I reminded you that you can’t sell a solution without first getting your customer to understand that she has a problem. The content you create is a great place to explain to someone WHY they might need the products you sell – to guide them toward an understanding of the problems they face, even if they don’t know it yet.

Assess the Value

How much is your content worth? If you were offered the chance to pay for the information or skills you’re sharing, would you spend money on it? If not, then it’s not very valuable even if it’s free! If you seek to always create content that’s worth paying for, then your customers will feel like they’ve gotten so many freebies from you already that they’re happy to pay you for the “next level” content you want to sell. They will believe in the value of your gated-entry paid products and services because they’ve experienced that value first-hand in your free content.

Pro Tip: The value in your content should be for your audience, not yourself! YOU are most likely NOT a member of your own target demographic. (A classic example: if you sell handmade quilts, the value of the quilt should be the price a non-quilter is willing to pay for the skill that went into it! It’s not the value as perceived by someone who could make their own quilt.)

Listen and Serve

When you give someone a gift they don’t like, you can see the disappointment on their faces. The reverse is also true: when you’ve done your research and purchased that perfect item someone will love, they light up when they receive it. Your content is no different – it should be a gift that you hand-selected for your audience, based on their needs, desires, and pain points. Make it a point to listen to your customers, and always deliver content that solves the problems they’re having in the moment.

If you’re not regularly taking the time to create high-quality content that serves your audience and brings in new business, why are you wasting any time or money creating it in the first place?

If you know your content is lacking and you’re ready to do something about it, join us in June as we read Epic Content Marketing with the Small Biz Book Club! We’ll learn how to create high-quality content that serves our readers and helps them see the value in what we have to offer the world. Enter your information in the form below to join us for the book club: