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If You Aren't Where You Want to Be... Start Here (Vision 101)
One of the biggest pitfalls I find clients facing is that they don’t know where they are going. They know they want to be profitable, they want to keep the doors open… but they don’t really know where they are going or what it looks like.
I call this the short-sighted panic syndrome. Or SSPS for short. SSPS is deadly because it can sneak up on you. I have been managing marketing and strategy for over a decade, and still find myself occasionally struck down by a case of SSPS. What happens is that you see that you aren’t profitable the way you need to be, and you panic. You start to stress about getting business NOW and you start throwing darts.
How do you know if you’ve become a dart thrower? If you are jumping from Facebook to events to guerrilla tactics to grassroots and asking multiple times a day ‘what else can I do to get more business?’, you are probably dart throwing. What happens is that we can stress about knowing that we need new clients, we need new profit, and we go into crisis mode and try to employ whatever method we can in the cheapest, quickest way possible to get this need satisfied.
The problem is that this costs us dearly in the long run. Firstly, mindset is palpable. When a business is in crisis, the client can sense that. No one wants to work with a panicky business, it feels unsafe. You have to be calm and confident in the product or service that you provide. Secondly, while it’s true that Facebook ads, guerrilla tactics, sign spinners, direct mailers, essentially any marketing one-offs are cheaper and quicker than implementing a comprehensive marketing plan, you will end up wasting a lot of time and money because you are employing marketing tactics without knowing whether they will ever reach your audience. It’s the difference between wrapping a small net around qualified leads, and tossing a big net and hoping one or two prospects will be weeded out. Hence, you throw darts and hope one lands.
I have definitely been guilty of this. I needed to hire myself. I reached a place of panic and knew I needed to add more clients to keep my doors open. So I boosted some Facebook ads, wrote some blogs, sent out some direct mail, went door to door. Nothing was panning out. Then I had a moment of realizing- what do I tell all my clients? I don’t actually know what I’m aiming for. I know what I do, I know I want to help businesses with marketing, but I have no clear vision on what that looks like or who I am working with. I was attracting non-committal, wishy-washy leads because I was non-committal and wishy-washy. I was a dart thrower.
When I took the time to think through my vision and plan and get back to what it is I know how to do, not what it is other people do that seems to work (big difference), I was able to refine my messaging. I realized I’m not a full service agency, and even though I can technically do all of these things, I don’t want to. What I am really good at, is brand identity, marketing strategy, and messaging. I’m really good at evaluating whether marketing makes sense. And I like working with clients who are trying to sweeten the world with a new idea but need help translating that vision to an audience. And this was a huge turning point because once I was clear on what I do, I was able to attract clients who knew that was what they needed, and now clearly understood what it was that I did. That’s what good marketing is, not convincing the world they need you, but finding people who are looking for you and saying “Hey, I’m here. Let me make your life easier.”
It is infinitely more cost and time efficient to slow down and put the effort in up front to think through a comprehensive strategy. Instead of spending $50 on postcards, $50 on Facebook ads, $50 on an event, $50 on an email blast, $50 on another event, and hours invested into creating all of these (this especially applies to Social Media which takes hours, and while technically free, time is always money), you could have spent that 5 hours into putting together a really solid strategy, and pulled that $250 into one targeted medium. At the end of the day, consistency is huge for generating clients since any new client will need to be touched 5-10 times before they convert. I know it’s hard, but you have to fight through the stress and trust that putting in time now will pay off.
Business is a delicate blend of data and woo-woo. There are absolutely practical tools needed to run a business. There needs to be metrics, data, revenue, growth, clients, marketing channels, content, etc. But there also needs to be intangible things like vision, observation, alignment. If you aren’t where you want to be, chances are you haven’t sat down and thought through your vision. Here’s some questions to help you walk through this.
- What can I do?
- What do I want to do?
- What do I want my day to day to look like?
- What do I want my legacy to look like?
- How does this vision better the world?
- What will this vision cost me? Am I willing to spend that?
- What do I need to sustain this vision so that it sustains me? (financially and metaphorically)
Making it Real
- How can you sustain your vision?
- What do I need to work through this vision?
- Who can help me achieve my vision?
- Who has equally ambitious vision that I can walk with?
- What is my action plan for working through this vision? (S.M.A.R.T., S.W.O.T., GANNT)
Sharing Your Vision
- Can you explain your vision to a kindergartner?
- What pieces of your vision can others grab hold of?
- Who does your vision impact? How?
Evaluating Business and Tactics
- Does this align with my vision?
- Does something feel off in my gut?
- Does this align with who I am and what I’m good at?
- Am I still pursuing my vision, or have I adopted someone else’s?
- Is it time to adjust the sails?
- If so, what pieces of the original vision can I keep?
- Do I need other resources to achieve this vision?
- What are the results? KPIs/Data, is this vision still working for me?
Struggling to grab ahold of a vision?
Sometimes we need to cut the noise to hear ourselves think. Try these tips to re-center your focus.
- Get out of your head. Try clearing your head by meditating or taking a walk in nature. Maybe even take a little lake-side nap. I love to use my Idea Board- periodically, encourage yourself and your team to come up with as many random ideas as possible for your brand. This is a no judgement, no fear zone. This is not the time to evaluate whether something is smart, just throw it out there. Then you can pull from this database and decide if any of those ideas would be good strategies.
- Aromatherapy. Diffuse some essential oils (I love Eucalyptus+Tangerine, both of which are known to foster creativity).
- Get inspired! Talk to others about their vision, read articles, call a friend, join a networking group, invite someone who does what you want to do out to coffee.
- Get nostalgic- try to remember what fueled you as a kid and get in touch with that. You may change over the years, but your inmost you never does. Invite others in.
- Get help. Hire a vision expert who can help you put words to your vision and make it a reality.
- Hit the gym. Cardio does wonders against anxiety, depression, and blocked creativity. Get the adrenaline pumping and the endorphins flowing! (I love Orangetheory workouts for a great cardio kick)
- Color! Grab a sketch pad and a medium of your choosing and create something. God bless the adult coloring book for those of us who can’t draw for anything.
- Learn! Take a class, find something through a community college or Groupon/Living Social. Could be something you love or something totally new- art, cooking, a new type of fitness (POUND is amazing catharsis), coding, a new language…. Stimulate your intellect.
- Date yourself. I know it feels weird, but pour yourself a glass of wine, cook yourself a yummy and nutritious dinner, maybe even print out a list of questions, and spend some time talking to yourself. “Hi Self. What do you get passionate about? What do you miss doing? What do you feel like you’re really good at? How was your week? What did you feel were your wins and losses?” You may just discover a new love :)
- Dream. I’m all about the daydreams, giving way to imagination. But also about the night dreams. Like my girl Ariana Huffington says, ‘Sleep your way to the top!’ Make sure you get sleep, that lets you refuel and helps you with focus and clarity. Plus, you can live out your vision through your dreams. Our subconscious often knows things before we do. It’s a good friend to listen to.
Do you have any other favorite tips for gaining vision? Email us! We’d love to chat and share your ideas with others.