December 1, 2013 marked my first anniversary as a business owner. Yahoo! I knew that I would learn so much about running a business, leveraging social media, and about me, personally; all driving forces behind launching ShoeFitts. I wanted to experiment, push around some boundaries, and continue to explore what others need and want from a marketing organization in the financial services arena.
While there are huge projects that I want to tackle in the coming year, I realize that the berth of knowledge I’ve gained in Year One is worth sharing—a sizeable task in its own right. I want to take a moment to reflect on what I learned in 2013. I hope to explore these touchpoints in greater detail in the coming weeks and months.
• Tell the Story with Clarity. When ShoeFitts begins working with any firm, the foundational work starts with creating a positioning statement and a messaging map. What the heck are these? I constantly advise clients tell stories that will connect them to their clients and prospects and that they work diligently to help translate complex concepts into understandable ideas. Yet, initially, I had not taken these critical steps to provide clarity within our own processes.
• The Perception of a Brand. This past summer, at the National Speakers Association event, I met a successful business consultant who values companies for M&A work. I bought him a drink so I could pick his brain a bit. I asked him this: “Does branding add value to an organization?” His answer: “No, however, branding is the perceived value of a firm and its offerings in the eyes of its customers.”
• Different Silver Bullets For Different Folks. What works in one situation may not work in another. Experimentation and creativity will win the day every day. When I formed ShoeFitts, one of the immediate branding linchpins I identified was, when it comes to solutions, one size doesn’t fit all.
• Better Input, Better Output. The more I can get out of my experience and into my client’s world, the better consultant I can be. Asking relevant and seemingly stupid questions helps my team and me learn more about the nuances of each firm’s special offerings. (A basic premise of consultative selling.)
• Focus is a Muscle. We are tethered to our phones, Facebook, and our very digital lives. Let’s face it: Some days those dreaded cat videos threaten to get the best of us. Focus is not always an intuitive skill, but it can be established and increased. This year, I learned that concentration, like stamina, could be strengthened through consistent, good practices.
• GPS: Metaphorical Marketing Plan Direction Tool. Marketing is my game, so I’ve always known that a well-mapped plan is the key to successful execution. This year, I learned that starting at the envisioned final destination and working one’s way backward, is a savvy way to craft marketing and social media strategy that works. And, in the interest of beating a metaphor to death, recognize that the plan can change at any time; you can always recalculate, recalculate, recalculate.
• Rituals help guide my day. Structure has been a mainstay toward keeping me on track. I wake up early. (How early? I’m having conference calls with East Coasters when their sun is just rising, sometimes.) My dog, Aboo, and I hike up Mount Tabor almost every morning. It starts my day the way it needs to; it gets my mind ready for the day ahead.
Routines, all throughout my day have reinforced my productivity, and I’m always challenging myself to find more ways to up my game. (I’ve recently started meditating each morning. Check out this handy app.)
• There is no finish line. Most importantly, as we progress into a new year, I’m ready to apply all that I’ve discovered this year toward some really exciting new projects. There are always more things for us to learn and there will always be new ways to enhance our crafts. It’s a captivating space to be standing in; I’m thrilled to be here in 2014 and I’m ready to get to work!
If you’re looking for financial advisor marketing tools and business development savvy, I’m your gal. Get in touch, and I look forward to helping you achieve your marketing goals in 2014!