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control your time

The fallacy of “time management” is something business owners have been pursuing since the beginning of time. But it’s really difficult to manage your time. So you have to reframe your view of time.

You’ve probably heard the money management and budgeting phrase – “you’ve got to tell your money where to go”. The same thing applies to time. You have to tell your time where to go.

How do you do this?

Step one is to have a plan for the following day or following week. What do you want to accomplish? What are the steps you need to take tomorrow to move your business forward? And you have to be honest with yourself. You have to understand yourself well enough to know what you actually WILL do … not what you think you SHOULD do. Tony Robbins is famous for the quote “shoulding all over yourself”. The premise of this is that you should focus on what you will do, not what you should do. Otherwise, you end up shoulding all over yourself.

The second step, after creating your plan for the next day, is to assign each task to a specific time. For example, you will make cold calls between 9:00 am and 10:00 am. From 10:00 am to 11:00 am, you will follow up with prospects. From 11:00 to 12:00, you will work on a marketing piece for your business. From 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm, you will return any missed calls. You get the idea. Tell your time where to go for each hour of the day.

The third step is to turn off your cell phone when you are working on a task to avoid interruptions. This is a hard one for most people. But it is actually a courtesy to anyone who calls. By having a set time every day for returning phone calls, you can give whoever is calling your undivided attention without distractions when you return their call. Click here to check out a related article in Fast Company magazine about task switching.

Also, consider this … if you are working on Project A and you take a call concerning Project B, it takes time to get your mind focused on Project A again. So you lose that time. Over a period of a full 10-hour day, that could mean another hour or more of unproductive time that you can’t get back. And as I mentioned earlier, you can give your prospect or client your undivided attention when you return their call.

Oh and one more thing. Avoid falling into a “digital hole”. We’ve all done this. You are working on a task that requires you to do some research online. You open your browser and there is a news story you are interested in. You click the link for a quick read and then before you know it, you are reading another related article, then another. An hour later, you are asking yourself where your time went. This is what I mean by falling into the “digital hole”.

I hope you will consider the steps above to take control of your time. Think about it this way. If you lose an hour a day fielding calls during a 5 day workweek and allowing people to interrupt your day, it could add up to five hours per week or 260 hours per year. That is 6.5 weeks. This is over a month and a half of wasted, unproductive time.

Almost everyone struggles with having enough time. Think about what you could do with an extra month per year.

 

 

seo getting found online mike coleman blog

Getting found online is key to your success if you are depending on your website, social media, and other online collateral to help market your business. Unfortunately, when it comes to creating a web presence that is search engine friendly, it can seem like you are trying to hit a moving target.

But if you follow a few simple rules, you can hit your target and win the game of SEO. Here are seven for your consideration:

1.  Create great content on your website. Google is always looking for “relevant” content, and a lot of it, so when someone searches on a keyword phrase, your site is found to be more relevant than your competition. This will also decrease your bounce rate, which is another key factor in your ranking. Change your content periodically and have a blog on your website that you update on a regular basis.

2.  Create profiles on the main social media channels – Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, Pinterest. Make sure you place your domain name in each of your profiles.

3.  Place short (less than one minute) how-to, instructional, or informational videos on YouTube and Vimeo. Place your URL as the first thing in your video description and write a good description using your keywords. Also, use your keywords in the title of your video.

4.  Use your keywords in your domain name and in the title of your blog posts.

5.  Optimize your images. Use image editing software, such as Photoshop Elements or Gimp, to decrease the size of your images. This will also decrease the load times of your web pages.
Make use of and populate the “ALT=” tag on your images.

6.  Promote your website, both online and offline, on all your materials – business cards, store signage, networking events, direct mail, your social media channels, etc. Something as simple as driving more people to your site can improve your SEO.

7.  Use Google Analytics and Google  Webmaster Tools to track your progress and monitor your results.

Doing the things listed above will not “guarantee” your success, but doing all of them will increase your chances of being on the first page of the major search engines when someone searches for your business.

There are many other elements to developing a good SEO strategy for your website, such as link-building, but the steps listed above are a great place to start.

Remember, it does take time to develop an SEO strategy, so don’t get discouraged if in a couple of months you are still not on the first page of Google or Bing. There are a lot of factors involved, and it takes consistent, ongoing effort to make it work.

Sometimes less is more.

You don’t have to try and fill in every bit of white space when writing sales copy, designing a business card, or creating copy for your website. White space is a good thing. It gives room to “breathe” as the reader is going through your copy.

Even when writing a long sales letter, it’s best to write short paragraphs and give the reader short bursts of information. And double space between those short paragraphs.

Another place where less is more is when working with clients or making sales calls. You should talk less than you listen. Whether on the phone or in person, less is more in these situations.

Have you ever been in a conversation with a sales person who seemed to not take a breath leaving you no room to join the conversation? How did that make you feel?

Blogs should be kept to 250 words or less. Even a few short sentences in a blog will work if it gets your message across.

We live in a world that sometimes gives us too much information and too many options. Ever go into a restaurant and read through their 8-page menu trying to decide what you want?

Make it easy for your prospects and clients. Keep it simple, and keep it short.

Adhere to the less is more rule.

In keeping with the tone of this newsletter. That’s all I have to say this week.

It is a tough job market out there and a lot of people are spending a lot of time looking for a job. Maybe it’s time for a change.

It may be time to take a step back, and take a look at what you really have to offer the marketplace. Is what you have to offer only needed within the structure of a corporate environment? Or do you have skills that can be marketed to the “right” audience and turned into a viable business?

So many people never take the time to evaluate the skills they have that could be turned into something profitable without the “security” of a job. Or even worse, they sell themselves short and don’t think they are – smart enough, pretty enough, young enough, slim enough, blah, blah, blah – to do anything.

I also hear a lot of people say, “I’m too old to learn anything new.” What they are really saying is they are too lazy to learn anything new.

Please don’t fall into any of these traps. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking any of these things, or telling yourself any of these things. As I have written in previous newsletters, your self-talk is extremely important.

Take a realistic look at your skills, abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. There are several resources available to help you with this, such as the DISC assessment.

If you want to improve your economic status, it may be time to invest part of the time you are spending looking for a job on starting a business.

Here are three things you can do today:

1. Take a realistic assessment of where you are now and what you have to offer.

2. Start developing your personal brand so people know who you are and what you can do.

3. Find a good business coach to help you through this process.

When you put these three things in motion, you will be surprised at the results. You will find that you are smarter and more innovative than you ever thought possible.

The only thing you can be sure of is that things will change. The economy will change. Your hairline and waistline will change. Your business will change. More than ever before, you have to be constantly evaluating your business model, your marketing strategies, and every other aspect of your business.

Things are moving too fast to sit around and wait very long for something to work. Money loves speed. Successful business owners are constantly testing new strategies, adding new services, removing old services, evaluating old ways of doing business to see if they are still working, and getting rid of things that are not working.

Even if you are selling widgets, there are a lot of ways you can promote the widget, shape the widget, manufacture the widget, and price the widget. You can even create a whole new line of widgets to target a different market.

This same logic applies whether you are selling a physical product (widgets) or selling professional services. Always be evaluating your business model to see if it still works for what you want to accomplish. This doesn’t necessarily mean you go into a completely different business.

Usually it’s just a matter of tweaking your current business model. It could be something as simple as adding another service to your offerings. For example, one of my services is building WordPress websites for businesses. I am in the process of adding additional services that I can offer the marketplace such as hosting, managing domain names, and geomarketing. All of these services fall under the umbrella of what I already do. So not much changes, other than being able to better serve my market (and I am creating new streams of revenue).

Is your current business model working? If not, what do you need to change? Are there additional products you could develop? Are there other services you could offer that your target market needs?

Embrace change!

I have always been a Grateful Dead fan. They were the first “jam band”, and they were ahead of their time in so many ways. For example, most of the music they played during their live performances was improvisational and not a lot was planned as far as the performance. You may see them in concert one night with one show and then see them a few nights later with a totally different show. That’s what made them interesting.

Another way they were ahead of their time is in how they ran their business. There are many business case studies on the Grateful Dead, but if you want a quick and interesting read on the subject, the book “Marketing Lessons From The Grateful Dead: What Every Business Owner Can Learn From The Most Iconic Band In History” by David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan, covers it very well.

One of the chapters in the book discusses how they built such a loyal following. As early as 1968, they had someone in a booth at their live shows signing people up for their mailing list.

They also had a “call to action” on the inside of their “Skull and Roses” album that was released in 1971 – “Dead Freaks Unite: Who are you? How are you? Send us your name and address and we’ll keep you informed. Deadheads, P.O. Box 1065, San Rafael, California 94901”

This was the beginning of their fan club mailing list. They realized the importance of having a large list. Within six months they had over 10,000 names. Remember this was before social media and the internet. Within five years they had over 63,000 names which was quite a feat at the time. And their list continues to grow.

And these were very, very loyal followers of the band. These were not just “Facebook friends”. These were people who felt a very personal connection to the band. They were eager buyers of anything related to the Grateful Dead brand – CDs, t-shirts, concert tickets.

Think about that as you are building your list of followers on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Are these people just taking up space in your social network or are they eager fans and buyers of your products and services?

It’s one thing to have 5000 Facebook friends. It’s quite another thing to have 5000 Facebook friends who are loyal followers, fans, and buyers of your products and services.

What do you tell yourself when you lose a sale or when you lose a client? Do you evaluate the situation to see what you could have done differently, learn from it, and move on or do you start doubting yourself and your abilities?

Don’t let things that happened in the past affect your future. Be very aware of your internal dialoque. Here are six causes of a bad internal dialogue:

1. Unrealistic expectations.

2. Lack of confidence or low self-esteem.

3. Not clear on what you are supposed to be doing.

4.
Not clear on what you offer and the value you deliver.

5. Seeking counsel from the wrong people.

6. Comparing yourself to others.

Here are six action steps you can take to improve your internal dialogue:

1. Get a clear picture of what your expectations are for yourself and your business.

2. Put together a plan of action to meet those expectations.

3.
Find your own path. It’s your journey. What works for one person may not work for another.

4. Think about who and what you are becoming rather than thinking about where you are right now.

5. Celebrate the small victories. Focus on the things that are going right.

6. When you do something wrong or make a bad decision, let it go. Learn from it and move on.

Doing all of these things will take you a long way towards developing a better internal dialogue (and building a better business).

It’s important to measure everything in your business to make sure you are maximizing every opportunity that’s presented to you.

Here are three areas in your business you need to benchmark or measure – sales calls, technology, time.

Sales calls should be measured and analyzed constantly. You can do this by creating something as simple as an excel spreadsheet to track your results. Create columns for calls made, people talked to, proposals sent, closed deals, etc. Just create something that works for you so you can track your numbers. Keep it simple.

How many visitors are you getting to your website every day? Are there specific times or days of the week that are busier than others? Is one of your pages getting more traffic than any of the others? Google Analytics will give you all this information and more. You can benchmark the performance of your website just like every other aspect of your business.

How many hits are you getting on your social media? There are several tools you can use to measure your social media. For example, you can measure your Facebook Page results by using Facebook Insights. Go to your Facebook Page and on the right side you can click on View Insights. Or go to Facebook Help and do a search on Insights.

Many times a lack of results or lack of consistent income in a business can be traced back to poor time management. There is nothing more important in your business than being aware of how you are spending your time and making sure you are spending enough of your time on the tasks that will grow your business and make money. Keep track of how you are spending your time and hours worked for a few weeks. This will be a real eye-opener.

You cannot stay in business without benchmarking and measuring every aspect of your business. If it can’t be measured, then you may not need to do it.

Consumer buying patterns have not changed that much over the years. But the way people approach the buying process, and the tools they have available for researching their purchase before they buy have changed dramatically.

Awareness of your product or service is the first part of the buying process. So make sure you are making your target market aware that you exist. It is your responsibility to raise awareness in the marketplace, and to prove that you are the best person to deliver a particular product or service. You can do this through networking, direct mail, advertising, cold calling, speaking, your website, and various other means. You just have to find the ones that work best for you and your business.

The research part of the process is where the most dramatic changes have taken place. There are so many tools available for people to use for researching your product or service. They can use social media, user reviews on sites like Amazon.com, and other similar tools. And all of these tools have increased the effectiveness of word-of-mouth referrals because everyone has free access to so much information.

As the buyer does their research it is easier than ever to comparison shop to find the best price and best value using the same tools mentioned above.

The final step of the process is for them to shop and make their purchase. You should make the process of shopping and making the purchase as streamlined and easy for the customer as possible, especially on your website. It’s too easy for someone to click away from your web page.

So make sure you have all the bases covered – awareness, research, comparison, shop, and purchase.

It’s more important than ever that you make information freely available so potential purchasers of your product or service can make the most informed decision possible. We live in an age of total transparency. So be real. The more authentic and transparent you are, the higher your chances of making the sale.

There are three areas of your business that have to be working for you to move forward in your business: marketing, business development, digital media.

Marketing includes networking, direct mail, advertising, writing sales copy, speaking.

Business development
includes things like sales, prospecting, lead generation, follow-up, list building.

Digital media is anything you do online. Social media, pay-per-click advertising, video, WordPress website, QR Codes, and article marketing will fall under this category.

You have to be doing all of these things every day if you want your business to grow.

It’s so easy to let certain aspects of your business fall by the wayside if something starts to become difficult or too time consuming. But you have to be aware of each of these areas and your status in each of these areas if you want to grow your business and make more money.

I see marketing and digital media as more passive ways to grow your business while the strategies under business development require a more aggressive approach.

That is why business development is sometimes disregarded. It’s an area where some people tend to procrastinate. It’s the hard stuff because you actually have to pick up the phone to call someone or follow-up with a potential client. Be willing to do the hard stuff.

If you learn to focus on all three areas – marketing, business development, digital media – every day, you will reap the rewards.