“Cobbler’s children have no shoes.”
This adage is all too true in my own experience. I help clients tell their story, connect with their audience, and build their reputation. I tell them with wide-eyed enthusiasm how blogging regularly can crush any whizbang, one-time SEO wizardry. I assert that winning the SEO battle and being found is all about content.
Then I hop over to my own website and I see my latest post was more than six months ago. Ouch.
(For those of you concerned about the welfare of my own children, thankfully, we are able to afford shoes for them. Whether or not they are able to locate them is yet another question.)
It’s all about workflow.
What I’m coming to realize is that I’m subject to all of the same dysfunction that I observe in my clients who also run small and growing businesses. I make sure to stress to them how a growing footprint of on-message content will help them build their visibility and reputation – both online and in their local marketplace. We talk about workflow, planning, and delegation. Back at the ranch, in my own business, I’m juggling projects, deadlines, expectations, marketing, administration, and everything else that makes my business tick.
My business is not at all unsuccessful, but there are things I ought to be doing that just don’t get done. I’m not suffering from ignorance. I have no lack of enthusiasm. But I am often hamstrung by a lack of organization in my workflow. It’s the classic tortoise and hare example. As a creative professional and small business person, I find it very easy to dive into a task with which I am enthused. I usually have a variety of projects in motion, so this avoidance is quite easy. Not feeling very inspired on a logo project? No problem…just shift gears and spend some time on that book layout job. Feeling the tedium of a communication and form design project? Easy fix…just pick up the sketchbook and start brainstorming ideas for that event promotion project. I can run as fast as the proverbial hare, but I often make precious little progress.
This policy of striking while (and where) the iron is hot is not a completely bad idea. At some level in any successful organization, the leadership needs to be able to deviate momentarily from long-range strategic objectives to pursue an unforeseen near-term opportunity. Whether you are running an international big box retailer or a mom and pop restaurant, you have to have the ability to recognize and harness opportunities that hadn’t presented themselves when you were planning your strategy. However, too much of a good thing is too much. When you are so “agile” and “responsive” that you yourself don’t know when a certain project will be finished or when you will have time to deliver on a promise, you are probably a victim of a poor workflow.
Despite my relative dysfunction, new business keeps on coming.
In the past several months, I have had promising conversations with three new clients/prospects. Two of the three found my website by searching graphic design greenwood sc or graphic design abbeville sc. The third new prospect was referred to me by a colleague who has done freelance web design in the past. He recently took a full-time job and will not be able to continue doing web projects on the side. I’m thrilled with the potential that these new relationships bring! All three of these new relationships came as a result of my marketing efforts over the past six months to a year. I developed the lion’s share of my website in early 2012. I networked with that colleague at a bi-weekly networking event in the fall of 2012.
What’s the lesson here? I haven’t blogged as often as I should. I also haven’t been able to participate in as many networking events as I would like. But past blog posts and long-forgotten lunches led to three new projects. That’s the great thing about quality marketing efforts. There is a durability to reputation, for better or for worse. Sure, no blog may be better than a stale blog. And making no impression may serve you better than making a poor impression at a networking event. But if you emphasize quality over quantity and focus your efforts, they will bear fruit over time.
Over the next couple of weeks, let’s both take a look at our workflow. There’s no way we can achieve perfection, so let’s cut ourselves a little slack. Relax. Inhale. Ahh…that’s better!
With that out of the way, we can think a little more clearly. Line up your priorities and ongoing projects according to urgency and importance. If you’re not already using a robust project management system, might I suggest Wunderlist?
Be realistic with how long things will take to get done. If you bill time in your business, this is doubly important. Slice up your workload into manageable chunks, and see if there is anything you need to delegate. Broken promises can poison and undermine your efforts to build your reputation, so keep your promises at all costs. I use Zoho Invoice and Zoho Mail to keep my ducks in a row.
After you take care of what is already on your plate. maybe there is one action step you know you need to take to improve your website or your marketing…publish that blog post, attend that networking event, or plan that direct mail campaign. Maybe you need to make weekly or monthly space to execute that growth-related action consistently. Add it to your calendar and build a habit.
We can do this. It’s not rocket science; it’s just business. And if you need a hand with your marketing efforts, don’t hesitate to give me a call at (864) 554-5061 or contact me online. As I told one of my good friends who recently became a client, I don’t currently charge anything for writing emails or talking on the phone.