Being inconsistent when it comes to marketing your business can be a recipe for disaster. Nothing is more irritating to a potential customer than inconsistency.
When we consciously create consistent messages, brands, systems and communications, our customers begin to relax and know that we are trustworthy and reliable. This consistency enhances our marketing messages and fuels our marketing machine. Perception is everything. And, how you do everything, from completing projects on time, to returning phone calls is critically important when trying to build a strong brand.
What can you do on a consistent basis that will rev up your marketing efforts?
1. Clarify your target market or niche. Your target market, also known as your niche, is the group of people to whom you wish to market your products or services. It is vitally important that you have your target clearly defined so that you aren't wasting your time doing activities that will not produce the results you're looking for. When you have a clearly defined niche, it's easier to craft marketing messages, materials, seminars and articles that will serve your clients and build your business.
2. Set up a time for returning phone calls to clients. It's really important, not only for your personal sanity, but also for creating a sense of consistency around your business operations, to set up a clearly defined time for returning telephone calls. First, from a personal energy standpoint, it's much easier and time efficient to return calls at one or two time intervals each day, than to react and respond to calls as they come in. You can "train" your clients or potential clients to understand how you operate, by simply leaving a message on your voice mail that you will return calls promptly twice per day. Of course, you can alter the schedule to fit your needs, but then you don't need to feel overwhelmed or overburdened reacting to every ring of the phone.
3. Create folders to handle email. Most people will agree that handling email is one of the most time consuming tasks. To deal more efficiently and effectively with the volumes of email you may be receiving, create email folders within your email program to handle the mail sorting. Almost every email program contains the ability to design custom email folders which email is automatically sorted into as they are received. You can create folders for your clients (by client name), vendors or suppliers you deal with, family members, as well as for newsletters or other frequently received materials. Whether you choose to categorize folders by names or subject matter, email folders will cut down the time consuming process of wading through one long list of emails.
4. Schedule email handling. Similarly to handling your telephone calls, it's important to set aside regular times to answer your email. It is so tempting to keep checking your email to see if you have any new mail or surprises! Unfortunately, that activity wastes your valuable time and is distracting to your mental energies. You may find that answering your email first thing in the morning, immediately after lunch and then at the end of the day (allocating no more than 30-minutes at each sitting, if possible) works well. No matter how tempting it might be, discipline yourself to look at email only at these times unless there is an overriding circumstance. Just like in the case of returning phone calls, this will allow you to keep your mental energies focused on the work you have to do.
5. Use a calendar system. Scheduling your activities, while it might sound dull or boring, is actually the best way to ensure that you are operating in an optimal way! To do lists are wonderful, however, to do lists get done faster when they're actually integrated into your calendar. Giving yourself due dates serves to motivate you and pull you forward to accomplishing things. When putting items from your to do list on your calendar, make sure you break each of these items in to smaller items which are easier to do. Completing shorter, smaller tasks will give you a sense of achievement that will help motivate you to move to the next step. Also, make sure you build in slack time by either scheduling it or taking each task and blocking out more than enough time to get it done.
6. Schedule creative time to balance your energy. You may have heard the phrase, "all work and no play makes us dull". Dull is not a quality that will lead to business success. Creative time gives you the space to re-vitalize your mind, body, and spirit - its playtime! Having time to balance out your energy is critical to your business success. It's important to have new ideas and points of view to keep your business perspective fresh. Using the calendar system described in Tip #5, make sure you schedule in creative time at least once per week. Creative time can mean different things to different people. Your creative time might consist of taking a walk, enjoying a bubble bath, reading through magazines or books for pleasure, or even listening to music.
7. Hire a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant or a VA, as they are commonly referred to, is a wonderful addition to any business operation. They can be just as valuable to a new businessperson as they are to one who is experienced. If you are feeling overwhelmed, or you don't have a skill in a particular area, instead of spinning your wheels and wasting valuable time, find someone who can help you out. A virtual assistant can be hired by the hour or by the project or even by some other creative arrangement. You don't need to hire a full-time assistant or consultant to get through some of the challenging issues in your business.
8. Use technology to your advantage. Technology tools will make your business operations much easier. One excellent tool you can use to save a lot of time and energy is auto responders. An auto responder is a system that allows you to automatically send information to your clients. Let's say that you have a free special report that you want to be automatically sent to anyone who requests it. Instead of manually processing each of these requests, you can actually set up an auto responder that automatically emails the report for you.
9. Creation in bulk. What do you do in your business that you do a lot of? Do you write a lot of articles, or marketing letters, or do you have a monthly newsletter or weekly eZine? In order to make the most of your time and ability to concentrate your energies, try to do many things at one sitting or over a one or two day period. We all know how hard it is to get started on a new project! It is a lot more efficient to write several months of newsletters or marketing letters in a single sitting than to do them at separate times. You'll feel great when you can sit back and see that you've accomplished a year of work in a day or two. And, don't forget to schedule this time in your calendar!
10. Consistent messages. Communicating a consistent message in your marketing is important to your business success. For example make sure you website, your email signature and your business cards and stationery all have the same look and feel. The fonts and styles and colors should all be similar. If you are serving different marketing niches, make sure that you have separate and distinct materials for each, including a separate website. Don't confuse your potential clients by communicating things that are inconsistent. If they are confused, then more than likely, they'll think that you are!
© Copyright 2004 by Alicia Smith
Permission to reproduce granted if all attribution & contact information is included.