There are several versions of this quote floating around and finding an original source ended being a lesson in futility but I like this version best. A goal without a plan is just a wish. If you want something but don’t have a plan to get it you are just wishing you had it, which is fine, but rarely gets you what you want. If you truly want to go after something come up with a plan. As you set your goals and plans use the S.M.A.R.T. acronym to help you along.
- Specific – Being too general with your goals makes them harder to achieve. Make sure you break giant goals up into more specific goals.
- Measurable – If it’s not measured it’s not managed. Measuring is the only way to be sure you are making progress.
- Achievable – Do you have the resources to do it? If not you need to rethink your goal.
- Relevant – Does it apply to you and your life? Is it part of your overall ambitions and needs?
- Timely – Can it be done in a reasonable time frame. Longer-term goals are harder to accomplish, consider breaking the timeline down into smaller time frame goals.
There you have it. Out with the easily breakable New Years Resolution and in with the S.M.A.R.T. goals for a better year.
I have never liked New Years Resolutions, mostly because of the negative baggage attached to them. I was told as I grew up the only purpose of a New Years Resolution was to see how long it took to break it so from an early age I made goals. Sometimes I achieved my goal, sometimes I didn’t but since I could keep going towards my stated goal I hadn’t broken a promise, it just took longer than a year to accomplish it. The last couple of Years I had heard Dr. Larry Hass talking about what he does for the new year and it seemed very affirmational and useful so I have adopted it to my practice of goal reviewing each year. Mind you I set goals all the time but the first of the years seems as good a place as any for a goal review. Here are the 3 questions Dr. Hass writes down.
- What are my Achievements from last year?
- What Commitments Should I make for this Year?
- What are my Goals for this year?
Make sure to write down your answers because an unwritten goal is just a wish. Make sure to use the S.M.A.R.T. method when writing your goals to make sure they are good ones. That is to make sure your goal is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. Make sure to send me a note or give me a call if you need help with your business goals this year.
Market research is vital to the survival of a business. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to break the bank and likely you are already conducting it without knowing you are. Here are some easy market research methods that won’t break the bank though for many of them I do recommend bringing in a marketer or coach to run them for you. If you do it yourself beware of Confirmation Bias (you really need to look this up) as it can be very costly and make your hard work useless or even damaging to your business. Here are 6 ways to conduct some easy market research.
See what your customers are already saying. This is an easy way to see what is being said in the open market about your product or service. Use reputable sites to get a feel for the mood around your brand but go with an open mind, reviews can be harsh.
ASK CUSTOMERS FOR FEEDBACK
Just ask. Find some loyal customers and some new customers and ask them directly what you are doing well and what you can work on. Use that feedback to ask better questions next time as well.
FORM YOUR OWN FOCUS GROUP
Focus groups can give you great insight especially into new possible product launches or new services you want to offer. Be careful they don’t turn into echo chambers as that can be costly and of no use to you.
SURVEY YOUR CONTACTS
Talk to people you know but not necessarily do business with. They can be a great outside eye for your business. Networking groups and alumni groups are perfect for getting a second opinion.
There are sites where you can get random strangers to weigh in on your product or service. If you don’t want to spend the money on guaranteed responses you can always go it alone using social media or just stand on a busy corner working the crowd with surveys.
Many platforms allow polls and you can boost many posts to reach outside your typical audience. You can also just do keyword searches to see what people are complaining about related to the industry you work in. It’s a treasure trove of data to be found.
One way to boost your sales is to provide free samples to potential customers. We have all see the people in the store handing out free tastes of various products but the sampling game can go much further than that. If you are in the food industry it is the perfect way to get customers to try your product and typically sees a 23-30% conversion rate, well worth the expense. Tastings can turn a “satisfied customer” into a “highly satisfied customer.” The difference here, according to a wine tasting study is “she (or he) is likely to spend an additional $10 buying an extra bottle of wine (with a probability of 93 percent), and to re-purchase wine in the future (92 percent probability).”
It’s not just for food. A yoga mat company sent out small examples of its economic and environmentally friendly Yoga Mats and in response to a mail-out of 500 samples, the company received a whopping 300 phone calls.
Here are some tips to help you get your sample game going.
1. Produce small samples of your products. – If you are in the restaurant business, they could be bite-size portions of a new product. Retail shops can purchase sample-size products from distributors to hand out to potential customers.
2. Attach a coupon, business card, or flier to your samples to further advertise your business. -This will provide an incentive for consumers to come back and purchase a full-size version of your product. This also increases the longevity of your marketing effort. When they see your card or flyer they will remember the goodwill created by giving them the sample.
3. Hire employees with good customer service skills to stand by the entrance of the business to pass out the samples. – Be sure they are friendly and can answer questions about the product. Having someone who doesn’t know the product as they give out samples can be disastrous so don’t skimp on the training.
4. Make note of what consumers say about your products or business as you’re handing out samples. – This is an opportunity to find out if you need to make any adjustments in price, appearance, taste, or effectiveness. Converting customers plus market research, it’s a win-win.
I see a lot of marketers scrambling to get as many Twitter followers as possible as quickly as they can. A large emphasis is placed on how many thousands of followers they can get so they can be seen as an influencer or so they can monetize their Twitter account faster. Of course, I see a lot of those marketers ending up in “Twitter Jail” as well and it doesn’t surprise me. The techniques used to get massive followers in a short time are shady at best and in a lot of cases outright dishonest which Twitter does its best to stop. I shake my head, make sure I am not following such accounts and I move on. My personal Twitter is coming up on the 1,000 follower mark and I am very proud of that number since it represents hard work and a well run slow growth campaign. The biggest difference between the slow and fast methods is the audience engagement. Fast growth only cares about the numbers slow growth cares about the people. I have close to 1,000 people following me that I didn’t have to chase and beg for them to be a part of my Twitter experience, they want to hear what I have to say. Original content delivered on a schedule about relevant topics. That is the secret formula for a slow growth Twitter campaign. Except it really isn’t a secret. It’s hard work over a long period of time that delivers results. If you decide the numbers are important and you just MUST have as many followers as possible as soon as possible then I am not the right coach for you but if you want followers that listen, let’s talk.
Email marketing is the cornerstone of a good content marketing campaign. If it’s done right the ROI is one of the best in the industry. If done wrong it’s a colossal waste of time. Out of all the tips I am giving this week the two most important are to be consistent and to be useful. People should know when your email will be coming and they should know there will be at least one piece of new and useful content. That is how you build your list and how you prevent subscriber drop off. Here is an infographic with more tips for you.
Networking used to be all about the face to face meeting but oh how times have changed. While the in person networking is still the optimal way to go, technology has opened up new ways to network. Here is a list of my top 5 networking apps (find me on all of them if you like).