Posts

How To Build Consistency In Your Business In 4 Easy Steps

When you are consistent in your business, you provide a predictable experience for your customers and clients.  Consistency builds trust, which, in turn, builds business. How can you make sure you are building consistency in your business on a daily basis?  There are several ways to do it. You can rely on things like customer experience, branding, messaging, values, language, etc. Below we will explore how to make consistency a regular occurrence in your business in 4 easy steps.  

Step ONE: Set Standards and Expectations

Setting up a strong foundation of what people can expect from your business helps to keep you, your team, and your employees accountable for delivering an outstanding product or service.  When everyone clearly knows what is expected of them, how it is to be done, what the vision is, and what standard to achieve, the natural byproduct is consistency.

Step TWO:  Document, Document, Document

Document your process for everything.  When you can provide your team and/or employees with specific steps of how you plan on accomplishing regular tasks or projects, it organically builds consistency.  If everyone is following the same guidebook, the outcome becomes predictable. Where there is predictability, there is consistency.

Step THREE:  Build Systems Based on Step TWO

To maintain consistency in your business, design systems, both automated and manual.  Systems help to make your business accurate and predictable with desirable outcomes.

Step FOUR:  Measure Everything

Measurement will tell you how consistent you and your business are.  Measured outcomes will alert you to successes, issues, and will reveal where inconsistencies are occurring in your business.  The inconsistencies that reveal themselves will alert you to successes and potential problems, allowing you to pivot and adjust as needed.

Using the four steps outlined above will help you get a start in the right direction when it comes to making consistency a priority in your business.

Are You Working In Your Business Or On Your Business?

If you are an entrepreneur, a small business owner, or someone who is responsible for a specific business unit in your company, pay close attention. The difference between working in your business or on your business can make a HUGE difference in how successful you ultimately are.

Knowing the difference

Knowing the difference between working in your business working on your business is huge. Sometimes we can get trapped into thinking we are working on our business because of the level of importance we give an activity or task. When, in reality, we can actually delegate or outsource the “important” task or activity leaving us the creative space and time to breathe life into our businesses.

Key Clues That You Are Working “In” Your Business:

Working “in” your business ties you down with tasks and activities that can be easily automated, delegated or outsourced.

Examples of these types of activities include things like:

  • Payroll
  • Bookkeeping
  • Social media and content creation
  • Customer service
  • Some marketing functions
  • Answering phones
  • Answering emails

Many of the above tasks can be delegated to people like Virtual Assistants (VAs), freelancers, hourly employees and others can be automated

Working “on” your business centers your efforts, time, and energy around things that help your business gain momentum and move forward. Things like:

  • Developing strategies
  • Setting goals
  • Measuring successes
  • Creating plans
  • Ensuring focus
  • Investing in yourself (education, workshops, etc.)
  • Hiring the right people
  • Building systems
  • Leading a team to success

How do you determine whether you have been working in your business rather than on it? You probably already have a gut feeling. But, just to make sure you pinpoint it accurately, I recommend you do the following:

  • Grab a sheet of paper and pen
  • Divide the paper into 3 columns
  • Title 1 column “Tasks”
  • Title the 2 column “Delegate”
  • At the top of the 3rd column put your name
  • Under the “Tasks” column, list all the tasks you do on a daily basis. The best way to do this is to spend an entire week recording your daily tasks or “to-dos”
  • At the end of the week review the list
  • Put a check in the “Delegate” column for all of the tasks you could outsource, give to a VA, an employee, or automate (be realistic – not everything must be done by you!)
  • Put a check in the column with your name for absolutely every task that must be done by you.

Take a shortcut!  Download my worksheet HERE

Now that you have a sense of what type of tasks you can delegate or automate, it’s time to start! You may not be able to do everything all at once…that’s ok! Start with what makes the most sense, what you can afford, and then, grow from there. For me, the first thing I chose to delegate was bookkeeping! Bookkeeping was by far, my least favorite task to do – EVER! As a result of giving this one task away, my taxes are so much easier to prepare and my accountant seems to be a little happier too!

What are you waiting for? Go work ON your business!

3 Things You Can Do To Up Your Instagram Game

Instagram is gaining LOTS of popularity these days and with good reason! Many accounts are seeing huge successes, gaining customers, and increasing social engagement through this one social app. Since the major algorithm change Facebook experienced earlier this year, we have noticed a huge shift in how people are using social media. Some are abandoning Facebook altogether while others are spreading their wings and dabbling in different Facebook features, yet others are exploring social platforms they’ve never tried before. One of the platforms that is gaining a lot momentum is Instagram. Why? In a word…simplicity. With its simple interface, users are able to upload, edit, and caption an image in seconds, PLUS they get immediate results and exposure, making it wildly popular.

Get in on the social momentum!

Do you want to get in on some of the Insta-action? We have 3 tips/best practices you can use to “Up Your Instagram Game” in this week’s article.

TIP #1: Go for authenticity rather than photographic genius
Instagram is the one place where stock photos generally get overlooked. Part of Instagram’s appeal and allure is the fact that you get an “in-the-moment” look into someone’s life. The most viral images are those that truly stop a moment in time, intriguing the user to want to know a little more.

TIP #2: The perfect caption
Once you have captured the perfect moment, give the user the “more” they are looking for. Give a text written explanation of the picture you are sharing. Think of your Instagram post as a micro-blog. This is your opportunity to draw the user in, offering them just enough information to encourage them to engage with your post through a heart or a comment. Comments are gold and should be your main goal. Why? Comments are the start to some pretty good conversations and engagement.

TIP #3: Let’s get exclusive
A great way to get your audience engaged and keep them coming back for more is to set the stage for exclusivity. Give them a reason to follow you on Instagram (IG). Create offers, discounts, freebies, downloads that they can only find on IG.

BONUS TIP: Instagram stories
Start dabbling in Insta-stories. Video snippets of you, your product, and service. These glimpses into your business life tend to captivate audiences. Don’t go overboard with Insta-stories. 3-5 snippets per day is a good place to start. Any more than that turns into a real-time commitment for the user, causing them to drop off and not follow through to the end of your Insta-story sequence. Play around with stories and soon you will be able to gauge your viewers, how many snippets will work best for your brand.

The most important thing to remember when using Instagram is to have fun and be you! The more people can see the real you and authentic content, the more your audience will grow, connect and engage.

~ Local Lora

© April 7, 2018

9 Tips To Get Your Business Back on Track

Have you ever felt “stuck” when it comes to your business?  I mean really stuck… Like, the type of stuck that happens when your industry changes, you move to a new city, “life” happens forcing you to re-evaluate or change your business model.  How do you make sure you make the transition and make it a successful one? Well, you are in luck! Below are 9 tips to get you and your business back on track.

 

Overall Plan

This could possibly be the hardest step in the process especially if you are in a new city or you need to “reinvent” yourself.  Creating a new plan or changing a plan that hasn’t been working can be a daunting task, especially if you are unsure of which path or avenue to take.  When you are unsure of where you should go next, let passion lead the way. Discover what part of your business you are most passionate about. Then, create multiple streams of income around that concept or idea.  What products or services can you create around those passions? Start brainstorming ideas and then grow them from there.

 

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Once you have your products and services mapped out, assign S.M.A.R.T. goals to each product and service.  S.M.A.R.T. goals are those goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound. Following S.M.A.R.T. goals will help you stay in line with your overall plan.

 

Marketing Plan

Now that you have specific S.M.A.R.T. goals in place, it’s time to let the world know about the products and services you provide.  How will you market your business? Use a diversified plan, one that includes digital marketing, social media marketing (paid advertising on major social media channels) and traditional marketing efforts.  

 

Pop-Up Events & Workshops

Using special pop-up events and workshops are a great way to give people a taste of what you offer.  A great way for your pop-ups to get exposure is to get involved in through networking organizations, a local chamber of commerce, civic organizations, etc.  Offer to be a value-rich featured presenter.

 

Marketing Materials

Invest in leave-behind marketing materials.  These should be value-rich leaving the reader wanting more and compelling them to get in touch to learn more or get more information.  A great way to do this is to direct them to a website or landing page that captures their email information in trade for a download or access to valuable information.

Stop Working For FREE

Initially, this may be a good plan to get your name out there and to build a portfolio.  Now that you have some proven work, it’s time to collect your worth. If pro bono work is a part of your marketing plan, give yourself a budget.  Only allow yourself to provide X amount of donations (donations of time, products or services) a quarter or year. As you grow, your donations of time and talent can marginally grow with you.

 

Designated Workspace & Hours

This is so important!  It will help you stay motivated and focused if you have a dedicated area where you will work.  If you spread your workspace out all over the house, it will be difficult for you to stay organized and you will be easily distracted by tasks and household chores.

 

Invest In Yourself

The best way to grow your business is to invest in yourself.  Take the time to educate yourself, learn new things, and stay on top of trends.

 

Grow A Tribe

Use social media to reach your tribe.  Facebook groups are a great way attract like-minded people who are in search of your products or services.  It is also the ideal venue for you to interact and engage with them on a regular basis.

The above are the 9 things I turn to when my business needs a little boost as well as a positive mindset.

Why Video Is More Important Than Ever To Your Social Media Marketing Plan

We are a little more than 3 months into 2018 and have seen some drastic changes when it comes to social media.  Almost every major platform has changed its algorithm which has marketers, entrepreneurs, and businesses scrambling to figure out what the new social media marketing system is and how to automate it.  What was working in 2017 has come to a screeching halt due to regular algorithm changes.  This is why I believe video will be more important than ever to your social media marketing plan in 2018.

While people are scrambling to find the answers, I’ve been watching to see what has been gaining businesses the most exposure.  The one constant that I am finding to be an effective way of marketing in 2018 is video. Here’s why…

“To ensure you social media marketing efforts are a success, you must embrace video.” ~ Lora Shipman

Social media platforms are working hard to improve the user or audience experience.  They are looking for ways to keep:

  • Audiences or users on the platform for as long as possible
  • Users engaged and active on the platform for extended amounts of time
  • Audiences interacting with each other – the more they interact with each other, the longer they stay on the platform

The one thing that does all three of the above, is video.  People love to watch video, comment on it, react to it, engage with it and engage with other views.  The exact formula the social media platforms want. The more you use video, the more you will be rewarded with exposure by the social media platforms.

Before you get started with video in your social media marketing strategy, understand that not all video is created equal.  Before you can understand how video is weighed, you must recognize the 4 main types of video you can use on your social media accounts.

Social media video can be broken down into 4 types or forms:

  1. Pre-recorded video
  2. Live video
  3. Disappearing video (video that only lasts for 24 hours)
  4. Animated video (still images put into motion, looping video)

Each social media platform or channel views video differently and gives each type of video a score within its algorithm.  But, if I were to rank the various types of video, I would say the following pecking order would work well to get you the most exposure.  Why this particular order? In a word…ENGAGEMENT.  Engagement is always going to be the key in any algorithm.  The more people engage with a post, whether it be a photo, text, or video, the more weight it will carry.  Engagement tells the social media platform how important the post is to people. If it has a very high engagement rate, the social media platform will give it more exposure.

  1. Live video – While a live video may not have viewers at all at the start of the broadcast, the social channel will invite audiences or people you don’t even know to help you get more viewers.  The fact that viewers can have a conversation with the broadcaster through the comment section adds to the engagement rate. The more the audience engages with the broadcaster, the popular the video becomes.  Additionally, those who take the time to watch a video on the “replay” tell the social platform that the content is important and desirable.
  2. Disappearing video – This creates a fear of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).  When viewers see that a disappearing video is available, they will do what they can to see the content before it is gone (usually within 24 hours)
  3. Pre-recorded video – This type of video doesn’t have the same allure or sense of urgency as live or “FOMO” video may have which causes it to carry less weight.
  4. Animated video – While this type of animation or video may capture someone’s attention or “stop the social screen scroll,” it does not compel people to interact with the content as much as a live video or disappearing video might.

When creating a video marketing plan for your business, take the time to evaluate all the types of video you can use.  Create a plan that incorporates all types of video mentioned above so that your social channel is interesting, fresh, and exciting.  Above all, stay consistent with your plan. This is where most social accounts fail – lack of consistent content made available to their audiences.

~ Have a profitable week.

Lucky In Business? Nope! It’s A Business Plan!

Sometimes, doesn’t it seem that some people just seem to be extremely lucky with their business? They tend to be on the fast track to closed business deals, higher numbers, more clients, etc. It almost appears effortless.

I know their secret!

Their secret is not edgy, sexy, or mystifying. It’s the result of the stuff you don’t see…behind the scene. As a matter of fact, their “lucky” business is the result of something called a plan. And, the plan is probably the result of several years of plans getting them to where they are today. You just tend to see the result as of right now. To you, this success seems like an overnight phenomenon but it goes much deep than that.

“People are rewarded in public for what they practice in private.” ~ Tony Robbins

Now that we know the “secret” behind business success, what goes into a business plan? Honestly, it can be as complicated and detailed as you want it to be or you can make it simple. Simple to understand and simple to execute. I tend to go for simple and something that can be adjustable.

Some of the things I believe that are non-negotiable for business plans are:

  • What problem does your business solve and how do you solve it?
  • Who is your competition?
  • What makes you different?
  • Goals – where do you want to be in 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, 5 years, 10 years?
  • How will you get there? What does the roadmap look like to get you to your goals? Who makes up the team to get you there?
  • How will you market your business, product, or service?
  • What does your social footprint look like? How will you expand it?

How do you put it all together? Remember how I said I like simple? I have prepared for you a simple, one-page, at-a-glance business plan you can keep with you to monitor how you are progressing towards your goals. Download the plan by clicking HERE.

Make it your mission to be a goal digger and have fun crushing goals!

© Lora Shipman, Keep It Local, LLC, March 11, 2018, All rights reserved

Got A 2018 Networking Plan?

I LOVE when one year ends and a new year starts.  It gives me the opportunity to start fresh and create new goals. 

Networking is the most effective by-word-of-mouth marketing you can participate in.  This is why a Networking plan is the one plan everyone should have in place before 2018 hits.

What goes into a networking plan?

That’s a great question!  Some of the things you will want to layout for your networking plan are: 

GOALS:

Why are you networking in the first place?  What do you want to get out of networking. Once you know why you are getting involved in networking you can fill in the rest of your plan.

GROUP:

What type of group do you want to be involved in.  Do you want to network through philanthropic organizations, interest groups, or a traditional lead generating and referral group.

ONE-TO-ONES:

The best way to meet others is to set up weekly one-to-one meetings.  These meetings will help you to build relationships and help others.  The more relationships you have and nurture, the more referrals you can begin to generate. 

PRESENTATIONS:

When given the opportunity to present to your networking organization, what types of topics will you talk about?  My recommendation is to plan for one presentation per quarter. It’s always good to have a presentation in your back pocket just in case you are invited to speak

30-SECOND COMMERCIALS:

What will your 30-second commercials look like in 2018?  Have several planned out and ready to go.  The key to 30-second commercials is to intrigue your audience so that they want to talk to you after the meeting or schedule a one-to-one.  Remember, the 30-second commercial is not a sales pitch.

FOLLOW-UP PLAN:

This is where most networkers fail.  They fail to follow-up.  What is your plan and how will you follow up with your fellow networkers.  Will it be through an email campaign, social media, one-to-one schedule, etc.  Take some time to map out what that looks like. 

The above are just a few ideas of how you can make the most of your networking efforts during 2018.

Have a profitable week!

~ Local Lora

3 Social Media Trends That Will Take Off During 2018:

As 2017 draws to a close, it’s time to think about what your social media marketing plan will look like during 2018.  In order to plan appropriately, it’s important to know what the expected trends will be.

3 social trends that will take off during 2018:

  • Ephemeral content – a.k.a. Disappearing content:  Think Snapchat and the “stories” feature on Instagram and Facebook.  This type of content creates a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out), driving viewers to consume content before it’s gone.
  • Personalized content:  Consumers will want to see more content that is relevant to their needs and want.  This will increase the usage of “Feature” accounts on social media.  Feature accounts are those accounts that only focus on 1 specific service, product, interest and not your entire offering.  Gone are the days where all of your content lives under one umbrella on social.
  • Video!  This one area of social media has been on fire!  2018 is the year to harness it for your business.  Video gets more engagement than any other type of content on social media and will continue to do so.  Episodic content or a series of videos will be important to viewers in 2018.

How will these trends impact your social media marketing plan for 2018?  Taking advantage of the trends above will make a difference to your social media marketing efforts.  First, you need to determine if you:

  • Have the right tools
  • Know how to use video effectively
  • Need further training or coaching

One of the biggest investments you can do for you and your business is investing in proper training and education.  Identify where you need that help now and search out those who can provide the training you need.

5 Tips for Creating an Effective Cause Marketing Campaign

It’s that time of year again!  In your mailbox, between your favorite shows, at check-out registers and even outside your grocery stores:  “asks” for money.  Good causes doing good things for our neighbors, our community, and our world.  In fact, there are some 1.5 MILLION not-for-profits ($25K or more in revenue) in the US.  So the question begs, if my personal donation can do so much good, I wonder what my business donation could do?

The answer is LOTS – for both your charity AND your business.  It’s called “Cause Marketing” – aligning a for-profit with a not-for-profit (NFP) for a win/win.  Engaging with an NFP is not only good for your heart but good for your top line, too.

A good Cause Marketing campaign can increase your sales by 19%*.  Some 85% of customers will change brands related to a Cause they care about, 66%* will spend MORE for a product and 63%* will TRY a new product.  Just as important, 66% of millennials decide where to work and shop based upon a company’s Cause.  Hint, hint:  these same millennials will also share your Cause (and promote your business) through their own social media channels and 82% will tell friends and family about the Causes and companies they support.

Doing well by doing good also means doing it right, too!   Here are a few best practices for creating an effective Cause Marketing Campaign:

1. Do it for the right reason!  People are smart enough to see if your charity campaign has no passion behind it.  It’s not about you looking good – it’s about the Cause doing great.

2.  To go big, stay home! There are a great many national charities doing great things; however, a donation to a smaller, local charity could be literally a life-saver in serving your local neighbors.

3.  Choose a cause which aligns with your company.  Restaurant? Consider a food pantry.  A store or salon catering to women?  Think domestic violence, female veterans or local cancer support groups.  Ask your team, your customers, and ask yourself – where does their (and your) passion lie?  Most customers actually want to participate in your cause with a separate donation – they want to be part of a solution.

4. Choose wisely.  Reach out to the local charity.  Meet with them to brainstorm ideas for either financial or time donations (many need volunteers throughout their year for their own fundraisers).  See if their board members would be good partners for your business and your campaign.  Your “real estate” (meaning your social media platforms, office, retail shop, salon, employees, and customers) can expand their own brand in the community – giving them even greater access to donors and volunteers.

5.  Donate wisely.  Work within your own business model.  A % of the sales price or a specific amount for each sale? An hour of service for each sale?

Make it easy to sell BOTH your Cause and your Donation.

Cause Marketing can be a game changer for your business:  differentiating you from an increasingly competitive marketplace, building stronger relationships with your customers, helping to recruit new employees and engaging current team members.

As you build your 2018 Sales and Marketing Plan, consider adding a “Cause Component” to your business!

Editor’s note:  Your Keep It Local organization is looking to align with a Cause in 2018.  If you have any recommendations, please send them to Sheila@CatalystGetsResults.com

* All statistics come from various studies conducted by Cone Communications.

Thank you, Sheila Neisler for providing this week’s insightful article!  Sheila is currently working with Keep It Local in the capacity of Cheif Marketing Officer.

To learn more about Sheila Neisler and Catalyst – A Marketing Company, click HERE.

The LOST Art Of Following-Up – 12 Creative Follow-Up Ideas Inside

Could you be missing business and important connections because you fail to follow up?

Yes!  You are! 

It is not enough to show up to a networking meeting or event and shake hands and collect business cards.  It is what you do AFTER shaking hands and collecting business cards that matter.

Lots of times people get stumped about what to do next when they meet people who can really impact their business.  GREAT NEWS!  Below are 12 creative ideas you can use to follow up and re-connect with people after meeting them, shaking their hands and collecting their business cards:

  1. Call and get a one-to-one meeting scheduled on the calendar and start building a relationship!
  2. After your one-to-one meeting send a handwritten note to their office thanking them for taking the time to meet with you.
  3. “Like” their Facebook page and start engaging with their Facebook posts by either sharing valuable posts with your followers or write a positive comment on Facebook posts that provide value.
  4. “I saw this and thought of you!” Send a helpful article or white paper via email.
  5. Send an invitation to a useful workshop, non-sales-y presentation, networking event, party, or mixer.  This is a “no strings attached” invite.  Again, make sure it serves a useful purpose for the person you are inviting.
  6. Drop off doughnuts or bagels to their office along with several copies of your latest newsletter.
  7. Connect on LinkedIn and give an endorsement.
  8. Call to say hi and check in.
  9. Introduce and connect them with someone who is beneficial to their business.
  10. Write a review on Facebook or Google.  Be authentic.
  11. Add them to your holiday greeting card list.
  12. Offer to provide a free audit, sample, etc.

PRO-TIP:  Schedule another one-to-one to continue to build your relationship.  Schedule regular one-to-one meetings to continue to build and nurture your relationship.

The 12 ideas above will help you and your business remain memorable for the right reasons.