How to Practice Intentional Marketing

How intentional are you?  Intentional is about knowing why you are doing what you are doing and making a decision to go in a specific direction.  It always comes back to our WHY.  Are you intentional with your business?  Intentional in your relationships?  Intentional in your finances?

African female executive at work

Intentional living defines your life before circumstances destroy it.

The quality of our lives should not be an accident or a mystery.  When we live an intentional life, specifically with our businesses, we don’t get as distracted with mishaps or detours.  We realize that we have been so intentional and clear on our WHY and DIRECTION, we know that we are still on the right path.  We treasure our moments and are energized with even the mundane activities.

As we begin looking at the end of the year, I want to encourage you to be intentional with your time, with your business and your marketing.

Below are some quick tips on being more intentional:

    • Set daily, monthly and quarterly goals
    • Use a calendar
    • Know what you want (many of us don’t know what we really want)
    • Write it out
    • Change your mindset
    • Practice Gratitude
    • Declutter your life
    • Master your mornings
    • Make an appointment with Lee Watts 🙂 

If you need clarity, have questions on how to be intentional with your marketing or want to set new goals for your business, email me. I’d love to help you!

Strategies for Making Time for Marketing

Woman with touch screen watchOne of the most common complaints I hear from entrepreneurs and brand owners is the lack of time they have for marketing and branding.  Marketing is so voluminous – I believe that many people get overwhelmed with the many aspects and options in marketing and its easier to become paralyzed and resort to inactivity, than to take one small step at a time.

Or we don’t understand what marketing truly entails and believe we don’t have time for “advertising” or “social media.”  However,  marketing is anything that grows your business or raises your profile.  This includes properly maintaining your referrals and building relationships with existing clients and customers.  This should be treated as a strategy for growing your business.

Yes, marketing takes time, however, it is absolutely necessary if you want to grow your business, create a brand and fill your pipeline.

Below are five points for making more time for marketing:

1.) Know what’s most important:  There are so many ways to market, brand and reach your clients. It’s important for you to be extremely clear on what works best for YOUR industry and market.  Advertising is not best for every industry; nor is social media, or events or cold-calling.  Do the research and know what works best for what you want to do and how your industry makes buying decisions.  This will eliminate random acts of marketing (i.e., being busy with marketing, but accomplishing nothing).

2.) Know what you want to communicate:  Marketing is about storytelling.  Your brand is the story and marketing is how you tell that story.  What is the story you want your audience to know about your company or organization.  What are the key points, value propositions that are important for your clients or customers.  This is not just what you want to tell or sell, but also what is important for your audience.  What are their pain points and how can you provide solutions.  Once you are very clear on this, it will save time on how you market your business.  You will be very clear on your message.

3.) Evaluate Your Tools:  So there are two schools here… either those of you who are not using enough tools and those who are using too many tools.  In this digital era, there are platforms, apps and tools for everything. Evaluate what you are using and notice if it can do more than what you are using it for; if you can eliminate a tool or combine it with something else.  Make your marketing tools work for you.

4.) Limit Your Social Media:  What?!? Yes, I said it.  At least limit how many social media platforms you focus on.  If you are giving equal amount of energy and time to more than 3, you are doing too many.  Go back to my first point.  And my second point.  Know what is most important and what is producing the best results for you.

5.) Use Your Timer:  There is something magical about hearing your timer go off and time to put your pencils down.  With some of your marketing tasks, set a timer for how much time you will devote to that task or initiative for that day.  Not only is this good for your moral and mental health, it also helps you focus.  Focus is a powerful thing.  Anything that can help us focus on the task at hand, is essential for your marketing strategy.

If you are interested in learning more about time management and marketing, please contact me directly for an upcoming course on strategies for increasing your marketing productivity.

 

Making Magic 9-5 and 5-9

The balance of employee vs. entrepreneur

I come across people every week that are trying to balance between launching their dreams and still working as a good employee.  How does one balance it all?  Do you abandon your dreams and stick with your 9-5? Do you quit your full-time job and go for it?

It is difficult to move the needle with your side hustle and still produce outstanding work for your employer.  But its possible.

Below are some practical tips on how to manage both:

Make the Most of Your Time:  If your primary job is from “9-5” – without question, youAfrican female executive at work must make the most of your mornings and evenings.  Most people will advise that you discover if you are a morning or evening person.  However, if you are an entrepreneur and an employee, it really doesn’t matter which time of day you prefer.  Early mornings are not optional; it is a must.  It sets the tone for your day and helps you to establish clarity.  Mornings give you the additional time and clarity to get work and strategy done for your passions and get a head start on your 9-5.  But evenings are important too.  Burning the candle at both ends may not be everyday – but at least commit to being an early riser or putting in an evening shift (weekends too) at least a few times a week or month.

Automate, automate, automate:  As much as you can, automate your life.  Anything that you can possibly automate, consider doing it.  This ranges from having your coffee brewing when you wake up, to your emails being sent throughout the day or social media posts.  Take inventory of your life.  Anything that you can remove from thinking too much about or having to manually do, try to automate.  I am a big user of Buffer and Acuity Scheduling.  Both help me to automate my life.

Calendar It:  This kinda goes without saying, but I am surprised by how many people do not use a calendar.  Or worse – they use too many calendars and have things spread out everywhere.  Figure out the best calendar for your personality: online vs. written, day view vs. monthly view, etc. Don’t rely on just your memory or your inbox.  Take that pressure off of yourself and use that extra mental energy for your work.

Write it Down:  Using a calendar is very different from having a “to-do” list.  It is important to create a to-do list each day.  I used to separate my lists from corporate job vs. side gig.  But now, I don’t.  For me, it doesn’t matter.  What needs to get done – must get done.  I put it all on a list and then prioritize my list.  Some things on my side hustle are top priority that day and requires me to take a moment out of my day or get up extra early to return a call or email, etc.  Get into a habit of writing your “to-do” list each day.

Get clear on your Why:  You will get tired and frustrated and wonder “why am I doing this?”  You must be very clear on your why.  Remember why you started and what you are passionate about.  If you don’t have a good why – then it will be very difficult to continue during difficult times.

Know Your Brand:   When you know your brand, not just your company brand, but your personal brand, it is much easier to know what to accept and deny in your professional and personal life.  When you know what YOU the product is focused on – you will have a better vision of where to spend your time and how to promote yourself and your business.  Knowing your personal brand brings clarity in all areas of your life.

If you need assistance with your personal branding or want more information on balancing your career and your business, contact me for a complimentary session to discuss more.

 

Client Service + Marketing Strategy

Great client service is what separates a good business and an amazing company.

Let’s face it.  Great marketing may get the people to your business or organization, but great client service is what keeps them coming back and telling others about you.

As I’ve stated in videos and other blog posts, the essence and heart of marketing is about building and maintaining amazing relationships with your audience.  Great relationships lead to more business, more referrals and more work.

Below are 5 reasons why client service should be incorporated into your marketing strategy:

1.) Client Retention:  If you want to keep your current clients, the goal is to make it difficult for them to leave you. How invested are they into your company or organization?  Are you aware of their needs and other concerns outside of the work you are doing for them?  If not, ask questions and maintain some type of system or file on each client.  If you are aware of their interests, how are you supporting your GREAT clients in their outside interests and objectives.  Build real relationships with the clients that really matter.

2.) Competition:  When deciding to do business with either your company and another company, for most people, client service can be the deciding factor.  This is true even with nonprofits or ministries.  Competition in every industry is fierce.  Excellent client service can set you apart from the others.

3.) Setting Expectations:  One part of great marketing and client service is to set clear expectations of the services and products you offer.  The goal is to not allow your client/customer to get lost in the processes of your business.  Are they aware of next steps and how they will transition in and out of phases of the relationship?  How do things wrap up or begin in your business?  Clients need to feel secure in their transactions and business with you.  Are you making their lives easier or more difficult? This is good client service.

4.) Brand Identity:  The type of experience your clients have with team members or others in the company, contribute to the overall brand of the company.  We see this with Chick-fil-a. It is very rare that you will see a rude or unhelpful employee at Chick-fil-a.  It goes against their brand identity and their values.  Does that same type of client service permeate throughout your company?  What is your brand promise and identity?  Is this reflected in how your clients are treated?

These are just a few reasons why client service should be an integral part of your marketing strategy.  If you need assistance with incorporating client service into your marketing or branding strategy, contact me for a 15 minute consultation.  I would love to help you!

Marketing Challenges for Entrepreneurs

As an entrepreneur, we can get pulled in so many different directions. There are challenges that will distract you on this entrepreneurial journey.  In this article, I will highlight just a few marketing challenges for entrepreneurs and new business owners.

  1. Not knowing your audience: So many people start businesses based on their watts marketing challengespassions and strengths.  This is excellent!  However, we often are so focused on starting the business that we forget to pay attention to who we are selling to, including their needs, desires and burdens.  We sometimes stop at just describing the demographics of our target audience.  However, there is more to knowing your audience than their age or demographics.  How do they purchase?  What keeps them up at night?  Where do they consume information? What do they follow and like on social media? It is critically important to know your audience.
  2. The wrong marketing platforms:  Many new businesses have the wrong marketing platforms.  They hear about so many social media platforms or new apps or programs and they want to start all of them.  There is not careful consideration of which platforms work for your business, target audience or which of them “speak” or sync with each other.  It is important to do an audit of your programs and make sure they work for your business and marketing strategy.
  3. Inconsistency & Lack of Clarity:  One of the keys to branding is creating a consistent story and selling that narrative to your audience.  This requires managing a lot of moving pieces and being able to stand back from your company and brand and decide on a consistent message.  This can be challenging. Often, this is the importance of having a marketing or branding consultant, to have an objective eye to look at your messaging and challenge you on your strategy.  Inconsistent messaging can cause distrust and ultimately hurt your brand and selling opportunities.
  4. Not Knowing Your USP:  Knowing your Unique Selling Proposition is key to marketing and branding.  You must know what value you bring to the table.  What is your differentiator?  Why should your clients and customers purchase from you? When businesses are unclear on this, they stumble through their messaging and how to sell and package their products and services for their clients.  Know your value.
  5. Underestimating Content Marketing:  Most small businesses don’t have the time or staff to work on content for their social media, blogs or website.  However, content marketing is key to establishing your brand and identity.  It is what will set you apart as a thought leader in your industry. No matter what you are selling, work on establishing yourself as an expert in your industry.

All these issues can be overwhelming, however, every business owner faces marketing challenges.  For assistance with any of these marketing challenges, feel free to contact me. 

 

 

Recharge Your Marketing for 2017

Time is moving so quickly! Can you believe we are halfway through the year? Where areMarketing goals
you on your goals for the year? Many of us may be disappointed with our progress, but now is not the time to get discouraged. Instead you have to get busy!
Below are a few tips in jumpstarting your marketing and branding efforts for the year:
  • Revisit Your Why: Why are you doing what your doing? It always begins with Your Why – the thing that moves you and makes you jump out of bed in the morning. If you are unclear on your Why – this may be the reason for your lack of focus or passion. Get the Why!
  • Network: Find an event in your area, in your industry and run elbows with those who are doing what you want to do. If you are mentally mature, this is always a good way to get our juices going and provide some inspiration. Have a goal to connect with at least one person and follow up with them after the event.
  • Stop Overthinkig It: Take the leap! Sometimes we wait until the moment of perfection to launch or release or do the marketing. Just do it. The moment of perfection may never come. Entrepreneurship is about testing, trying, failing and taking risks. It is about learning as you go. If you are uncomfortable with taking risks, this may not be the right avenue or the right time for you. Do your homework, trust your gut and take the leap!
  • Brain Dump: Often we are holding so much in our brain that it is paralyzing our activity. We have so many ideas and goals, but they are swirling in our head and we lack clarity. Take a few hours and get it all out. Write in a journal, notebook, chalk board, post it notes — something! Brain detox and the reset!
I hope these tips help you to recharge and prepare for a great end to 2017.  If you need assistance with any of these, please contact me or check out one my upcoming webinars!

Dazzle Them with The Experience

Do you provide great customer service or a great client experience?

Do you have a business, resimg_7967taurant or store that you enjoy visiting or supporting?  It may because of the products they sell, or it could simply be how the establishment makes you feel when you visit  Our emotions and our experiences play a huge role in branding and marketing.  As brand owners, we cannot ignore the power of creating a great and memorable experience for clients and customers.

Why is Client Experience (CX) Important? 

If a customer has a great experience with you, he/she will likely be a repeat customer and will tell others about your business, service or product. If they have enough good experience, they will be a loyal customer.

Customer experience is NOT customer service.  Customer service is often that point of contact your customer may have your business.  Customer experience embodies every experience, from digital awareness/media until after the transaction or service has been provided (follow-up or surveys).

Below are a few things to consider with creating a strategy for a wonderful and consistent customer service experience.

Keep It Simple 

Unfortunately, I’ve seen businesses or organiations make this too complicated, and then not able to maintain a consistent customer experience plan.  You have your core business – the service or product that you provide – therefore, be careful not to overthink providing a good client experience.  Think about your current client interactions on a daily basis.  How can you improve it?  How can you make it easier or more efficient for your clients or customers? Is there another small way that you can make them feel appreciated?

Ask Them

We often underestimate the power of simply asking our clients/customers how they feel?  If we remember that ultimately marketing is about creating and building relationships, we will keep in mind that in every relationship people just want to be heard and validated.  Are you listening to your audience?  Do they know you are listening and that you’ve heard them?  Are you addressing concerns and issues?  Ask. Listen. Respond.

Look at the Big Picture 

Be careful that you don’t judge your client’s experience on one touchpoint.  They may have a great interaction with you and your service or product, however,  the payment process may have been complicated.  Or they may have tried to order something from you online and it wasn’t clear.  Or someone from your accounting department was rude.  Be sure to step back and look at all touch points and the WHOLE experience of your clients/customers.

Don’t Forget Emotions

Emotions play a big role in marketing and branding in a myriad of ways.  With client/customer experience, you must know your audience and what is important to them.  When we know what is important to them, we understand more of the emotion to connect to and better able to make the the client experience relevant. Always know your audience and what is important to them.

If you need assistance with creating a client experience vision or strategy, feel free to contact me.  I would love to answer any questions that you may have or help you create an amazing strategy.

 

Building a Brand or a Movement?

Creating a movement or a brand-Starting a business is hard work. The hours can be grueling, along with the emotional and mental stamina needed to stay focused and innovative.  One thing that helps with turbulence and challenges of starting a business or organization is to understand if your business or organization exists for more than just paying bills.  It’s always exciting when you are brand is also a movement.  When the company or organization is more than about a product or service, but you are wanting to create change.
Brand vs. Movement
So what is different about creating a movement?  Movements are built on the things that make us human, which is ultimately that we want to be a part of something greater. Connecting to something to believe in and follow.  Movements are about creating a change.  This doesn’t mean that brands won’t do that.  However, the goal of a brand is about telling the story of your business, organization or product and allowing people to experience and follow that brand.  Movement is about transformation, where brands are often looking to dominate and compete in the marketplace. The goal of a movement is to change lives. Both are needed and critical, however the strategy and tactics needed with each are different.
Which are you doing?
If you are interested in creating CHANGE, if you have a message, if you want to go deeper, bigger and bolder, it’s important to see yourself as creating a movement. Movements build momentum and loyalty.  Movements offer hope…
 
Are you creating a brand or a movement?
Below are some key elements to creating a movement:
  •  Inspire.  You can’t get away from it.  If you want to create a movement, you have to inspire people to love something or hate something.  You have to tell the story in such a compelling way that you tug on the emotions of your audience.
  • Experience.  Stories are great; they keep us engaged and help us to think.  However, experiences make us FEEL something.  When creating a movement, you have to create an experience for your audience.  The experience you offer will depend on your industry and the vision for your company.  But don’t ignore it.
  • Live it. Whatever you are asking people to do, you have to be already doing it.  It needs to be ingrained in you and what you believe and do .
  • Create a call to action. What do you want your followers to DO?  Do you just want them to share the information? Donate? Follow? Attend?  Buy?  Whatever it is, tell them what you need for them to do and engage them to be part of the project. You have to show people how to follow.
  • Build a Tribe.  In order to build a tribe, you need to build trust.  Trust allows you to ask people to do some amazing things.  When creating a movement (or building a brand), you need trust.
Again, some brands are both.  They are about telling your company story, creating a following and proposing change.  Whichever you are doing, know the difference and tweak your business model accordingly.  If you need assistance in this area, feel free to contact me at lee@ashbyandwatts.com.  Or attend my next workshop Strategy & Stilettos- The Workshop.

Think Big, But Go Small

Developing a strategy is important in any business and marketing endeavor.  Often business owners or brand owners want to jump right into marketing, with very few plans and absolutely no strategy.

But, strategy is important. img_7842

Strategy is about creating an action plan and implementing it; a critical mistake with
planning is often going too big.  I know society tells us to “dream big” or “go big, or go home.”  I definitely don’t want to limit anyone’s dreams or plans.  However, creating big plans often paralyze or delay action plans. An effective strategy is to learn the skill of going small with your big plans, i.e. FOCUS.

I’ve seen it time and time again… the plans are so big, with no focus and action items. Below are some steps on how to still think big, yet go small with your marketing initiatives.

1.) Know your marketing goal for next 3 months. Choose just one marketing goal for the next 12 weeks and focus on that.  Try not to take on too many initiatives.  Just focus on one thing and know it inside and out.  If you do this every 3 months, you will have accomplished 4 marketing goals by the end of the year.

2.) Know your target audience.  We can never get around this. No matter what your business or organization, you must get serious about knowing your target audience.  This doesn’t mean you ignore others, but knowing your target audience helps you to develop a tone and voice, as well as plans on how and where to market to this audience.

3.) Develop keywords and phrases. Once you know your brand and your goals, it should be easy to develop the keywords and phrases that should be throughout your marketing materials.

4.) Know the value you bring and the problems you solve. Very critical when it comes to focusing and going small.  Don’t try to solve problems that are not your speciality or strength.  This spreads you thin and takes you away from “going small.”  Stick with your strengths and where you add value.

5.) Talk about your results. We could talk all day about ourselves or the business or organization.  Instead of spending too much effort focusing on yourselves, focus on talking about your results.  Testimonials are powerful.  Sharing client quotes or experiences with potential customers or clients are effective in creating a marketing strategy.

Thinking BIG is great!  We need big thinkers and dreamers.  But make sure you know how to go small and focus so that the big things get done.

For more information on creating an effective marketing strategy for your organization or business, contact me for a 10 minute complimentary session.

 

 

 

 

Finish Strong, but Start Stronger

We have all read so much information about finishing the year strong. Finishing strong is admirable and should be a goal for any business owner or leader. However, STARTING off strong should also be our focus. With just a few days left in 2016, our focus should now be shifting to how to start off strong and remain focused in 2017.

I believe in the power of momentum. What is in motion, often stays in motion. This is why morning rituals are so critical. It is often a predictor of how you spend your energy the rest of the day. The same theory applies with your year. Plan the first quarter of your year now, if you have not already. Create an undeniable momentum and see how your year takes off.

Below are 6 recommendations on how to start your year off STRONG in marketing your business or organization:

Develop Your Theme: Even if you don’t externally promote your theme for the year or the quarter, you should have it as part of your marketing plan for your or your team to remember. Having a meaningful theme helps to focus marketing efforts. Anything that does not help build or sustain your internal theme should be considered random acts of marketing. Discover your vision for the year, develop a theme that everyone can quickly remember and put your energy toward your theme.

Create Boundaries: This is a big one for me. I’m learning this as I’m type this blog. But I year 2017 written with sparkles, silhouette of a boy jumpingcan also write about it because I’ve experienced the detrimental effects when a business owner or leader does not create boundaries. In 2017, decide the type of boundaries you need to have a more successful and less stressful year. Will it require saying “no” more often? Refusing to work with certain clients that drain your time or energy? Creating specific work hours or days? One boundary I was proud of this year, is that I said no to work on Sundays. I broke that rule once and I felt horrible and somewhat resentful toward my client. She didn’t know and it was not her fault. It was up to me to establish that boundary. What are those things that brought you stress? Discover how to create boundaries around those issues.

Know Your Leads: If you are not focusing on leads, then you are not focusing on growth. Leads are your prospective clients or customers. Develop a plan on how to turn your leads into clients. Often we are so proud of our prospective clients or our followers, but we are not thinking strategically about how to turn them into loyal clients or customers. It is also important to know how long it takes your typical lead to make the decision to convert to a customer or client. For some industries and businesses, it may be just a few minutes, for other industries it may take several weeks. Normally the higher the risk or cost, the more time it takes to convert them. Know this and develop a plan.

Test and Measure: ROI (Return on Investment) is important. Sometimes it is difficult to measure, but think about what you can measure that will show some accomplishment or movement of some key goals. Marketing or branding is often hard to measure ROI, however, there are components that you can measure depending on your goals. For example, you may measure how your mailing list grows or the analytics of your newsletter. Are more people opening or clicking on the articles? How many people are calling per month? How many people have attended or visited your business or organization?

Don’t Discount… but Add Value: This was also a hard one for me. Discounts are sometimes necessary or can spark activity. However, don’t get into a perpetual cycle of discounting. This diminishes your value and sets the wrong expectations with your clients and customers. Some professionals never discount their services, the same with some products such as Apple. But, making sure you have value propositions is important. You can’t stand your ground on no discounts, but not add any significant value. The better you are, the more you KNOW how good you are, the fewer discounts you need to give.

Brainstorm Big: I LOVE brainstorming. When I meet with my clients, they will often hear me say “I’m just thinking out loud, you may not like this…” Brainstorming is not meant to perfect or right, but to expand your mind and take you down different paths. If something doesn’t feel right to you or you need a breakthrough….start brainstorming. I encourage you to kick off your year brainstorming and exploring the possibilities with your business or organization.

I hope this gets you started on a phenomenal year! Yes, end your year strong and do everything you can to feel proud of how you said goodbye to 2016. But don’t get too caught up on 2016. One of my favorite scriptures is Isaiah 43:18: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” Or another version says: “But forget all that–it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.” (NLT). The future is bright. Enter into 2017 with great expectations for your business or organization.