Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan. More than a cliche’…

Time to Plan
Time to Plan

Well, here in the U.S. the July 4th holiday is over, and so is the first half of the year. That was fast! Way back at the end of December last year and the beginning of January this year, we were excited for the promises of a new start, new opportunities, and new goals! Now that the 2nd half of this year has started, it’s time to ask ourselves: How did we do? Where do we go from here?

Those are exactly the questions you and your team need to answer right now, today, before you get busy with the day-to-day operations and projects of your business. On the one hand, planning takes a lot of time, but on the other hand, proper planning actually saves time in the long run.

You have a choice for how you can manage your planning process: on paper in a paper planner, on a whiteboard, or digitally in an app or on your digital calendar. What is important is that you revisit and refocus your goals as needed, set achievable targets, and then make action plans to achieve each of your goals. What should your action plan include?

Key initiatives and actions that can actually be completed and directly relate to your goals. The operative word here is “key”. Remember you can’t do everything.

Your budget. You should be hard-nosed and realistic here, and your budget should consider the amount of both your money and your time that you can afford to commit. Both are finite.

Please, don’t ever be “too busy to plan”. Planning now will save you much time and money later, and the ROI (return on investment) will be worth it.

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Pamela Hilliard Owens is a former teacher, former college instructor, and former corporate and network sales leader and manager. Now a freelancer and business owner, Pam started her first company in 2008, Writing It Right For You (WIRFY), offering copywriting and editing services to individuals and businesses. After working with several authors, Pam and her husband and business partner started a second company in 2011, Detroit Ink Publishing DIP), to work with authors for ghostwriting, editing, and manuscript preparation. DIP is an independent publishing house that publishes books by Pam and Keith and also many for the authors they work with. In 2013, Pam added yet a third company, Your Business Your Brand Creatively, through which we offer branding and marketing services and online training specifically for creative professionals.

My team and I know that “It Matters How You Say It,” and I would love to talk you about how I can help you achieve your copywriting, editing, marketing, publishing goals. Please feel free to contact me via email: phowens@teamowens313online.com, or by filling out the form on the contact page for any one of the three companies.

Three Reasons to Blog for Your Business

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What is a business blog and why should you have one? The most important function of a blog is to serve as a platform for you and your business; a blog is a way for you to easily, quickly, and consistently tell your story to prospects and current clients or customers.

Whatever your creative or business endeavor, you can be sure that there are thousands or even tens of thousands of other people or businesses like yours. So how do you stand out from the crowd? Writing and publishing regularly on your own blog will help to get you noticed and established as an authority in your field.

1) Establish Relationships with Your Readers

Unlike most “push-type” ads that only allow for one-way communication from you to your prospects, a blog allows you to have a two-way communication venue to actual conversations between you, your prospects, and your customers or clients. Building actual relationships with people helps to build your brand and your reputation.

2) Bring Traffic to Your Website

Publishing regular posts on your blog is a fantastic way bring attention and traffic to your website. (You DO have a website, don’t you?) As you become more proficient in your blogging efforts, you’ll learn how to use relevant keywords for your niche or industry, learn to share on your social networks, and to link to other similar blogs for greater exposure.

Sharing your blog posts via social media is accomplished in two ways: 1) you share via your own social networks when you publish your post, and 2) your readers share your posts via their social media outlets. By ensuring that your blog posts are shared far and wide, you will increase your visibility and your authority.

3) Generate Leads for Your Business

Each of your blog posts should include a CTA (“Call To Action”) that encourages your readers to sign up for your email list, contact you for further information, or “Like” your Facebook Page. Your email list will be one of your most valuable items, so getting contact information for your prospects and customers or clients will be so much easier from a blog post that also gives your readers valuable and interesting information.

A blog for your business is different than the personal blogs that many people have for journaling or family and friends. Your business blog is an invaluable tool for growing your company. If you would like help in setting up your business blog on your business website, we would love to work with you! Contact us!

Three Reasons Why Brand Management Is Important

Branding Word Cloud

Your business is defined by its brand. The brand is how your clients or customers recognize your company, evaluate your service, and perceives your reputation. The loyalty and attachment to you and your company by your clients or customers are associated with the products and services you offer. By properly developing the marketing activities of your business, and by keeping control of the message of your brand, you will:

• Enhance the recognition of your company

• Differentiate your products and services from your competition

• Protect the reputation of your business

The recognition of your company’s brand is enhanced by the marketing and promotional activities that cause your clients and customers to think of you and your company first when they are ready to buy your products or invest in your services. The #1 way to maintain brand recognition is to be consistent with the photo and/or logo you use for all of your marketing materials, including your e-signature, your blog, your newsletter, your press releases, and all other forms of communication you use in your business.

Who or what is your direct competition? Every business has competition, and knowing who you are competing against can help you to grow your brand as well as your business. Knowledge about your competitors will not only help you to keep the customers you have, but it can also help you to improve the quality of your own products and services. One of the easiest ways to keep tabs on your competition is to set up Google alerts for your industry or business model. Remember to also set up a Google alert for your own company so that you can see what is being written about you.

When you work to protect and control the reputation of your brand, you have a two-pronged goal: 1) to ensure that your company promotes and maintains its “good name”, and 2) establishing continuous and positive online and offline visibility. Some branding techniques to put in place to monitor and improve your brand’s reputation include: Keeping your website updated so that it is listed near or at the top in search engines. Having a comprehensive and responsive social media marketing strategy, including Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Developing an online community that encourages two-way communications between your company and your clients and prospects.

Managing your brand should be a strategic and foundational goal for you and your company. Your brand and the messages it gives to clients and prospects will determine whether they will become your loyal customer base and help you to grow your business.

The branding and marketing professionals at the Writing It Right For You Companies can help you to develop an effective branding program for our small business or solo practitioner company. Contact us for your free 15-minute consultation; together we can assist you in determining the branding goals and objectives for your brand.

Mise en place

Mise en place: Putting everything in place FIRST
Mise en place: Putting everything in place FIRST

Mise en place [FR mi zã ‘plas] is a phrase which means putting in place, and is primarily used in professional kitchens to refer to the practice of organizing all of the ingredients for a recipe or meal beforehand. If you have ever watched a cooking show on TV, you notice that the chef has everything needed already separated, chopped, measured, etc., and kept in little bowls within easy reach.

Mise en place is a very essential system for preplanning that can be adapted to your workday; it will greatly increase your productivity.

Think about what could happens the minute you arrive at your desk at the start of your day if you implemented mise en place:

  • Instead of starting your day checking your email, answering voice mails, or other activities that puts you in a reactive mode from the very start, start instead with a brief planning session with yourself.
  • Take an inventory of your entire day and put into place everything you need to accomplish your most important tasks and activities that day.
  • Make sure that your workspace is organized so that everything you need is within arm’s reach, and whatever you do NOT need is out of the way.
  • Make an actionable list where every task starts with a verb.
  • Do your most difficult tasks the first thing, and save the more menial tasks (the “clean up”) for later.

Try implementing a mise en place approach to your work day and your work space. Like chefs everywhere, you may find that you become more focused and more productive by starting each day by putting everything in place first.

Prospect, Lead, or Opportunity?

It's A Deal!

 

Many freelancers and small business owners don’t think of themselves as “salespeople”, but unless your company is big enough to have a dedicated sales team, you are the “sales team”. The old adage: “Nothing happens until something is sold” is still true today. Before you can close the deal and sign the contract, you have to move people from prospects, to leads, to opportunities.

Ed Gandia, the co-author of The Wealthy Freelancer, and founder of the International Freelancers’ Academy, encourages solo practitioners and freelancers to understand the difference between the levels of people who may one day (hopefully soon) buy your products or services:

  • prospect: a person you have identified as a target for your marketing efforts and activities. This is your largest group of people; you should pre-set your criteria for prospects so that you are not just scattering your marketing to the wind or anyone  who is breathing.
  • lead: a prospect who has indicated a certain level of interest in your products or services. These are people who have signed up for your e-newsletter, or “Liked” your Facebook Page, or joined your LinkedIn Group, given approval to be on your blog post distribution list, or otherwise expressed interest in keeping abreast of you and your company.
  • opportunity: a lead who is ready to give you a chance to present your services, to discuss up potential project, or submit a formal quote for your products and services.

It is important that you develop a system to keep up with your prospects, leads, and especially with your opportunities. Once “opportunities” award you the project (and signs the contract!), then and only then do they  become clients and now “it’s a deal”! Congratulations!

If you are a freelancer or VSB (very small business), how do you manage your sales opportunities? Let us know in the comments!