Resident brings women’s business networking group to Aiken

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This was originally posted on Aiken Standard by Christina Cleveland  on Apr 18 2016  at 10:39 pm

Click here to view the original post.
AbigailWhen business consultant Abigail Tiefenthaler moved to Aiken from Florida last April, one of the first things she decided to do was join the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce.

Almost immediately, she was searching for women’s networking groups in the area. She said she was aware of the other networking opportunities with the Chamber and also BNI-Aiken Networks and wanted to bring an ongoing networking group for women.

Tiefenthaler, owner of Sweetspot Strategies, brought a model that she cocreated with three other women in West Palm Beach, Florida. The group, Successful Women’s Mastermind Alliance, is founded on the idea of bringing women together for personal development, professional development, networking, community fellowship and support.

The group was created in 2010 and uses principles from Napoleon Hill’s book, “Think and Grow Rich.”

Abigail Tiefenthaler has founded the women’s networking group Successful Women’s Mastermind Alliance in Aiken.
Enlarge Abigail Tiefenthaler has founded the women’s networking group Successful Women’s Mastermind Alliance in Aiken.
“One of the things Napoleon talks about is the collective idea of masterminding, to grow your business and we were like, ‘That’s brilliant,’” Tiefenthaler said. “We wanted to support each other but we didn’t just want it to be gripe sessions. We didn’t just want it to be gossip. We wanted it to be business focused and self-development focused that would make us better business owners. And in 2010, Florida was reeling.”

Tiefenthaler said due to the 2008-09 economic crisis, Florida was one of the few states that was “ground zero.”

“You had women who were starting plan Fs. They weren’t plan Bs, they weren’t plan Cs. Their husbands had been laid off, maybe they were divorcing, maybe they had lost their spouse, so it was really kind of geared toward a slightly older business community. … There was just this need for women to have business support.”

Tiefenthaler opened the chapter in Aiken in September. The group holds its monthly luncheon on the third Tuesday of every month at Woodside Plantation Country Club.

Each meeting includes networking, lunch, a speaker and introductions.

David Jameson, president and CEO of the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce, met her shortly after she arrived in Aiken and was amazed at how she was able to build her business and endure the setbacks during the recession.

“She has seen all sides of business – the good, the bad, the ugly,” Jameson said. “This makes her very credible as she works to help other women.”

Impressed with Aiken’s business community, Tiefenthaler now calls herself the city’s “biggest fan” and said the group is attracting women from areas in and near the county, such as North Augusta and Lexington.

Among other things, she believes there are a lot of opportunities to get the small to mid-size community to understand the value of marketing strategies.

“(Tiefenthaler) has told me several times that the Aiken Chamber is the best Chamber she has ever been involved with,” Jameson said. “She is not the only one who has told us that, and the compliment makes us all work harder to ensure that Aiken businesses can grow and thrive.”

Knowing the unique challenges that face women in business from balancing family life to understanding how to transition from the corporate workforce continues to be her motivation.

“I am on a mission – a true mission – to help women run better businesses,” she said.

For more information, visit spmi@mindspring.com or Facebook.com/groups/swmaaiken.

4 Simple Steps to Creating a Clear Marketing Message

4 Simple Steps to Creating a Clear Marketing Message

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Your marketing message is a part of everything you do to promote your business. When it isn’t clear it creates a lot of problems for your marketing activity, and your business. A poorly created marketing message, or a misdirected marketing message, will make any marketing activity you try ineffective. It will waste your money, time and effort. It will wreak havoc on your business, and might even cause your business to fail.

So, your marketing message is important. Really important.

Before I continue, do you know what your marketing message is? Many business owners think their marketing message is a description of what they do. But, it’s not. A good marketing message follows through the thought and tells the world what you do “for your customer”! In order words, what’s in it for them?

Your marketing message tells your prospects how you, and only you, solve their problem. As memorable as your tagline or slogan might be, it’s neither of these. It’s your secret sauce, the thing that makes you different from anyone else in your competitive space. It should be recognizable, compelling, and relative. It needs to be in a language your prospects understand. As your prospects hear it, they need to be thinking, “You’re talking to me!”

When do you create your marketing message? It’s created in the branding phase of your business development. As you’re answering the questions about your business, and identifying your target audience, you’re addressing the hot buttons of your ideal target. You’re formulating your brand. As a person. As a company. Your marketing message is a part of your branding.

You may do feasibility studies, or other research to learn about your prospects. And, the more precise you can be about what they need, what they fear, and what they worry about, the more effective a marketing message you’ll create.

Understanding these four things will give you everything you need to create an effective, compelling and unique brand message. And, that is the first step to building awareness of your business, and inspiring your prospects to action.

  • What makes you, and your business, truly unique? What is your specific expertise, proprietary process or approach? What is the reason you got into business in the first place? What do you plan to accomplish? How are you different from everyone else in your competitive space?
  • Who is your real primary ideal target audience? This is where you get very specific and identify the absolute best person you can help. What is her specific challenge? What keeps her up at night? What does she need? What does she want? Why does she need what you have to offer?
  • How well do you know your prospect? Do you speak in her voice? Her ideal language? What are the words and phrases that perk up her ears and get her to listen to you? How does she describe her challenge? Don’t put words into her mouth, or assume she has a problem she doesn’t think she has. Use her words and phrases to create your compelling argument.
  • How much of your own voice are you using? Are you provocative? Does your message reflect your personality? Be you. In a way that clearly positions you at the solution to her challenge.

Now, the good news. Most business owners don’t have an effective marketing message. Imagine what your prospects will think when you’re actually able to communicate who you are and what you do for your prospect, and create it in a language they understand? Of course, you still need to create marketing activity that will help your prospect find you and compel them to action, but the right marketing message will improve your marketing activity, and speed up success!

Popular marketing activity changes frequently, but once you develop your marketing message it can evolve as your business evolves. It should be consistent and intentional in all of your marketing activity so it really is the first step to developing an effective and strategic marketing plan. And, a thriving business. To your SWEET success!

Are you making one of these marketing mistakes?

Are you making one of these marketing mistakes?

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  1. There is no rhyme or reason to your marketing activity. You’re doing a little of this, and a little of that without any clear plan. No Plan = No Purpose.
  2. You’re listening to tactical experts and building your marketing based on random tactical strikes versus having your tactics support a clearly defined strategy.
  3. You’re bootstrapping your marketing without any consistent and dedicated funding. No Budget = No Profit.
  1. You’re under the impression that you can do marketing for free, forgetting that there is the cost of your time and effort. And, forgetting that you don’t know what you don’t know and may be missing some critical foundational marketing elements.
  2. You’re not looking at the bigger marketing picture. Instead, you’re focusing on short term efforts without thinking about next steps.
  3. You have no analytics in place so you don’t understand what works and what doesn’t.
  4. You’re trying too many marketing activities at one time. If the content isn’t consistent you can be your own worst enemy by creating confusion over your unique brand position.
  5. You’re not marketing consistently so your prospects don’t know where to find you when they’re ready to buy.
  6. You keep changing your marketing message, or your marketing message is too broad which can be confusing to your prospects.
  7. You’re not following up. Most prospects need 7-16 touches before they make a decision. Be honest, how many times are you communicating with them?

Any of these issues will sabotage your marketing, and make it less effective than it should be causing you to waste time, money and effort. So, before you start your marketing activity, pause and take a strategic look at where you want to go. Then, devise a plan to get there. I promise that a little strategic effort will go a long way toward having your marketing engage and compel your prospects to action. To your SWEET success!

7 Signs You Need a Marketing Budget

7 Signs You Need a Marketing Budget

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Marketing is everything! And without it, your business will fail. But, before you decide to invest in marketing make sure you’re doing these seven things first. If you’re not, chances are your marketing investment will be a waste of your money, time, and effort.

  1. You’ve made a Commitment to run your business like a business.

You are creating structure around your business. You are organizing your day, performing specific tasks, committing to a certain number of work hours, finding a balance of working both in your business and on your business, and creating specific expectations. You have a measurement for productivity, and an evaluation criteria for activities. You understand how structure is your fastest path to freedom.

  1. You plan on turning a Profit in 2016.

You plan on making more money than you spend, and realizing a profit in your business. You have identified specific financial goals. You have determined how many clients you need, how much product you need to sell, the value of a client, and the types of activities you need to do to reach your financial goals. You will dedicate time to think about how you spend your money, time, and effort so you can maximize your productivity.

  1. You’re confident in your Brand.

You have completed a Brand review. You’re ready to bring your brand to life. You have your Who, What, Where, When, and Why answered. You know your USP. You have a clear positioning statement. You can segment your potential market, and target your various ideal client groups by pain point and key messaging.

  1. Your products and services are Packaged and Priced.

You’ve done an audit of your competitive market and identified gaps that only you can fill. You have research that supports your decision on the types of products and services you offer. You’re confident in how you’ve packaged and priced your offerings. You’ve done your homework, and you’re ready to promote your products.

  1. You’re creating a Plan that aligns your activities with your goals.

No more “BSOS” (Bright Shiny Object Syndrome) for you! You have a clear path to take with your money, time, and effort. You have identified a few (only 2 or 3) key strategies so your tactics can be focused, intentional, and consistent. You know which media outlets and social media platforms will best reach your ideal target. You understand the type of content you need to create to help your customer’s choose you. You can use your customer’s voice. You’ve identified analytics to measure the success of your activity.

  1. You’re ready for the Sales conversation.

You are ready and willing to talk to your prospects to qualify them, overcome their objections, and close them. You know how to listen and respond to their questions. You know how to understand their needs. You know the results you offer. You’re letting your prospects come to you in their own time.

  1. You will Follow Up until you receive a Yes/No answer.

You will do what it takes to create follow up activities that get a response from your prospects. These activities will include multiple points of contact to build awareness, visibility, credibility, and authority. You will remind your prospect that you will be there when they’re ready to make a decision. You will not stop speaking to that prospect until they become a customer or say, “No thanks.” And then, you will not take their NO personally!

These seven activities point to a place where you’re READY to invest in marketing! So now, make sure you’re doing everything you can to ensure that your investment in marketing leads to success by creating programs around the best strategies for you and your prospect! To your SWEET success!

Strategy and the Entrepreneur

Strategy and the Entrepreneur

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When you hear the word strategy do you think, “Who has time for that? I’m too busy running my business to think about my business!”

Or, are you the entrepreneur who states, “Strategy is worthless. All it does is add time and cost to my business.”

You might even be the entrepreneur who longingly dreams,  “I know a strategic plan would help me, but I don’t know how to pick a strategy that is right for me.”

Or, the entrepreneur who laughs and says, “Strategy is a big business necessity because there are so many people involved in running the business. I’m a one man show, I don’t need a strategy to know what to do.”

And, you know what? You’re right with whatever you think. If you think strategy is for big business only, you’re right. If strategy is worthless, you’re right. If you know strategy would help your business, you’re right. And, if strategy is a pipe dream because you’re too busy working in your business, instead of on your business, you’re right again.

Thinking strategically about your business may not seem like a crucial key to success, but it is. And, I’m not just saying this because I’m a strategist. I’m saying it because it’s true. In the business world strategy helps you connect your activities to your goals. Strategy forces you to plan. And, if you don’t think you need to plan, try taking a long distance trip without one!

You may not even be thinking about strategy because you’re too busy going from tactic to tactic trying to make something work for you. Strategy helps you figure out what’s working, and what’s not working. Strategy helps you identify gaps and challenges. Strategy gets you out of your day-to-day thinking and gets you thinking about what ifs. Remember, when you first started your business, you probably thought about a bigger vision. Strategy gets you back to those thoughts.

Strategy is not designed to waste your time, money, or resources. It’s sole purpose is to help you determine a course of action for your business so you can align activities to goals, and maximize time, money and effort. Working a strategic plan of action gives you permission to “check the program” and decide whether a course of action makes sense, or not. It allows you to see your activities as steps towards a greater end. Using a strategy means you are weaving your activities together so at the end of the month, your focused effort translates to success.

Every business owner has many strategies they can employ to build their business, but focusing on one or two will give you clarity of purpose, and help you stay focused on the bigger picture. Most entrepreneurs love what they do, but every entrepreneur has tasks they must do to run their business successfully that aren’t a lot of fun. When you stay focused on the bigger picture you realize these tasks are a part of the process. The goal in this case is not the journey, but the destination.

So how does the “Chief cook and bottle washer” of your business (you) add yet another “task” to the running of your business? Like everything else important to the success of your business you carve out time. The good news is that a little planning goes a long way, and strategy planning can be done in as little as two hours a month. Below are steps that will get you thinking strategically about your business.

1. Schedule a day and time for your strategy session. Make sure you have at least sixty minutes of uninterrupted time.

2. Assess where you are now by knowing your current:

  • Gross sales
  • Number of customers served
  • Average sale per customer
  • Type of customer (new vs. repeat)
  • Investment in marketing activity
  • Three good things that happened in your business recently
  • One or two things that you would change, if you did them again

3. Review and reflect. Look at the information before you. Imagine you’re telling it to someone who supports your success. How would they respond?

4. Identify potential strategies you can employ to align your actions to your goals. Select one specific strategy and outline a plan of action to achieve that goal. Do you see gaps? Do you know how to get those gaps addressed so nothing stands in your way?

5. Commit. To your goal. To your strategy. To your plan.

6. Take action. Be prepared for hiccups. Be prepared for your sabotage patterns to show up. Be confident in your ability to address them.

7. Schedule your next strategy session.

So, now when you hear the question, “Which entrepreneur are you?” You’ll answer, “One that uses strategy, because it works.”

To your SWEET success!

Finding the right support to help you grow your business NOW.

Finding the right support to help you grow your business NOW.

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Lines are blurred today regarding the types of business support available to entrepreneurs and small business owners which has created confusion in the market. Part of the problem comes from a misunderstanding of the definition of a Coach, a Mentor, and a Consultant within the business community. And, the phenomena of advisors crossing lines, creating new advisor types like “coachsultant” isn’t helping the industry either.

This confusion over which advisor is better at addressing business issues may come from the fact that some business issues actually originate in one area, but are realized in a different area. So, it can be hard to really figure out what’s needed. A business owner may inaccurately diagnose their own problem, and then contact a specific type of advisor who may, or may not, be equipped to solve the actual problem. And, many advisors may start working with a client and realize later in the process that the challenge is rooted in an area that is not their specialty. At this point, wasted time, money, and effort by both parties can create disappointment and frustration all around.

If business owners don’t  know that they have a choice in bringing on a Coach, Mentor, or Consultant, and don’t understand the primary strengths of these different advisor types, or the scope of skills each advisor type specializes in, trouble is likely.

Below is my explanation of the types of business advisors available to a business owner. Knowing what type of advisor you need offers you the best opportunity for great results. First, my definition each advisor type.

Coach – a professional who understands where you are now, and helps equip you with the mindset tools you need to run your business. They can also give you access to some business skills training.

Mentor – a professional, usually from the same industry, that helps provide guidance and support based on their personal experience and success in that industry.

Consultant – a professional who looks at the specific challenges of a business, provides a recommendation to address them, and can oversee implementation. They work across business disciplines to help a business owner create a flow to their business that is tailored to their needs specifically.

All three advisor types provide accountability and alignment, and help you with expectations around your business. They just do it from differing perspectives.

Coaches and Mentors support the business owner with mindset blocks, while Consultants support the business by providing recommendations on improving the way the business is created, and how it’s run. All types of support can lead to a better business. The wrong support however, may not create the results you desire.

Coaches and Mentors excel with mindset issues. And, because they’re mindset focused, they are more likely to be short term focused. Their strengths are in their ability to clear blocks, get clarity, and reframe a challenge, so they help address personal limitations to create results in your business.  Coaches are trained to look internally, and I think they’re better with “Whole to Part” learners (see separate post on learning styles coming soon). Coaches will guide you using a specific methodology that they’re trained in to get you moving your business forward. Coaches understand human behavior. They may, or may not, have any industry specific experience or knowledge.

Consultants excel at business issues. Their job is to strategically look at how a business runs. Because they’re looking at overall business flow, they are more likely to look at the business from a longer term lens. They’re trained to look at a business overall, as well as from specific disciplines, to identify the root cause of a business challenge. They are good with both “Whole to Part” and “Part to Whole” learning styles because they can provide training, or identify steps needed to reach goals and reverse engineer solutions to realize goals. Consultants may focus on processes and systems that enhance management, productivity, and order flow by identifying gaps and voids that can be addressed simply and quickly to get results. Consultants are usually jacks of many industries, masters at strategy.

You may have no clue how to run a business. You may not be emotionally ready for entrepreneurship. Or, financially ready for it either. You may not be equipped with the proper skill sets required to run your business successfully. And yet, you can still be successful!

Are, there people who can create something from nothing without a Coach, Mentor, or Consultant? Sure. But, most can’t. And, many who can, work with advisors because it can get them to success  faster.

So, if you choose to consider working with an advisor, how do you decide which advisor is best for you? Start by determining the following.

1)The type of help you need. Be honest. Do you need personal support or business support, primarily? Are you looking to address limitations in your skills, or in your thoughts? Are you constantly repeating the same mistakes? Or, are you stopped cold because you don’t understand the next step?

2) Their success doing what you want to do. Are they a success from your industry? Are they going to teach you tools to manage the mind games that impact your ability to run your business? Are they going to provide skills training in areas where you need to grow?

3) The type of support you’re getting. Is it a group program? One-on-one? Are you getting personal time with the program creator, or someone on their team? Do you get live access via email, private group, phone time? Are you expected to interact in a group environment?

4) All of the costs associated with the relationship. Bringing on an advisor should be an investment, and you should know how it will impact your budget. In addition to hiring your advisor, you may have to pay to implement projects. Or, travel to meetings. Know what’s involved financially so you’re prepared. Be prepared to carve time out of your schedule to do the work. Be prepared energetically because you will be stepping out of your comfort zone, and that can drain and frustrate you. It’s great, you’re trying new things. Be prepared for any frustration associated with the process.

5) Your readiness to show up. And, your readiness to do the work. No work with a Coach, Consultant or Mentor will be productive if you find excuses to implementing their recommendations. You need to put in the effort.

Regardless of which advisor you bring on, be patient. The impact to your business may not be immediate. Advisors will recommend tools that  introduce coping skills, destressors, and organizational methods that take time to show up in your business. Let the process flow!

And remember, any experience works best when you’re consistent with it. While many challenges can be simple to address, some require additional effort. Even the best expert can need time to tweak strategy and implementation before you will see some traction in your business.  There are a lot of moving parts. And, if your advisor is not trained to spot gaps, they can miss the root cause of the problem entirely, adding additional time to the tweaking process.

Many successful business owners rely on Coaches, Consultants, and Mentors. Know what you need, know how much you’re willing to invest, and find an advisor that can help you take your business to the next level. Anything is possible with the right support!

To your sweet success!

Aiming for success, or not?

Aiming for success, or not?

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It’s been a long time since I played 18 holes with my husband, but one of the things I remember most about our rounds was when I would lament over the fact that I spent almost all of my time looking for my ball off to one side of the fairway or the other. Those straight shots always seemed to elude me.

I never understood why I ended up in the rough, or worse yet, in the woods, but my husband knew. After I teed off, while I was staring down the fairway looking for my ball, he would point to the left or right telling me that was where my ball had landed. And, his uncanny ability to keep track of my ball always surprised me. I would ask him how he knew, and his response was always the same, “Because that was where you were aiming, honey.”

While I thought I was aiming for the flag down the fairway, and in my head I was willing the ball down the fairway, my body seemed to operate on its own, deciding otherwise. Hence, the slices and the hooks that kept me in the rough more often than the green. Of course, I wanted to figure it out on my own so I wouldn’t listen to my husband’s suggestions. And, his advice was free!

If this can happen on the golf course (or tennis, squash, softball, etc.), and it’s a huge obvious thing like your body changing the direction where you want your ball to go, imagine what can happen with your business. You’re doing a lot of different activities to run your business, and grow your business. And, you’re aiming toward a goal, right? But, are you? Do you know where these actions are actually going? Is your head willing these actions one place, but your body sending them to another? If you’re hitting your target your head and body are aligned, but if you’re not, do you know why, and how to correct your course?

With a ball and a stick, it’s easy because your direction is based on your body’s position. With activities that are marketing focused, sales focused, and logistics focused, the misalignment may be more difficult to diagnosis, especially if you’re doing a lot of little things hoping to build momentum. And, success starts with the right positioning!

It’s hard trying to see the root of an issue if you’re trying to see it by yourself. This is why players have coaches, and success-driven business owners consult with outside experts. Success-driven people bring in experts see what they can’t see themselves.

And, it’s even harder if you have no goal to direct your aim. Whether you’re working with outside support, or trying to do it yourself, goals give your actions purpose. When you try, hope, believe, dream, etc. you are wishing for an outcome. But, when you have a goal you can actually aim your actions! As much as your intentions keep you forward thinking, having something specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time sensitive (SMART) will keep you focused, and help you avoid any excess motion in the process. Plus, it gives you a diagnostic tool to measure your efforts.

The shortest distance between two points is always a straight line. The shortest distance between aiming and success is a straight line too. Learn how to align your actions to your goals, and keep your ball on the fairway. You’ll have a lot more fun playing the game of golf, and you’ll have greater success in your business as well. Goal. Aim. Success!

Goals, Strategies, and Tactics, “Oh My!”

Goals, Strategies, and Tactics, “Oh My!”

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Do you know the difference between a goal, a strategy, and a tactic? If you do, congratulations! You are probably running your business like a business. If you don’t, that’s okay too. It’s an area of confusion for many business owners, and maybe something here will be that “Aha” moment where you see the missing piece of your business puzzle!

A goal is your destination. It’s your end-game. It’s your target. Maybe it’s written down. Maybe it’s broken into segments. Regardless of the size of your goal, or how it’s been created, everything you do is measured against it so you know whether you’re on track and moving in the right direction, or not.

Now, you need to get there. How do you do that? To start, knowing this difference between a strategy, and a tactic, is your first critical step.

Developing both strategies and tactics to help you reach your goal is necessary because having both is what separates a business owner who loves their business from one who is continually overwhelmed and frustrated with their business. Creating strategies and tactics for your business gets you thinking, outlining, prioritizing, and planning for your business success, and then, implementing those plans with purpose and intention. Creating both strategies and tactics usually indicates that you’re a business owner focused on growing your business, and not a hobbyist working a business. Make sense?

Many business experts interchange the two words, which doesn’t help. A tactic is never a strategy, and a strategy is never a tactic. Most business owners want to simply run their business, and seek out processes and templates to get them on track. The idea of thinking about their business sounds tiresome and overwhelming because thinking isn’t doing. And, if you’re not doing, you’re not moving your business forward. But, a little bit of upfront thinking can do more to get you moving toward success than all the processes and templates combined!

Consider this, you wake up and say, “I want to brighten up my room (GOAL). I think I’ll change the color (STRATEGY).” You go to the paint store to select a new color. But, you don’t end up with just paint and a brush, right? You need sandpaper, spackle, tape, caulk…the things that will prepare the wall for painting.

Creating both strategies and tactics for your business is the foundational and fundamental layer that will prepare your business for success. Just like the painting example, most of the work and steps involved in transforming a room comes during the prep stage. And, the prep is different based on the strategy you’re employing. Having a strategy keeps you focused on the end-game. For instance, if you wanted to brighten the room by changing the accent pieces, or by putting up different window treatments, the steps you would take to reach your goal (brighter room) would be different, right?

Strategies and tactics have different roles to play, and it helps if the business owner really understands this idea, because this understanding is what can minimize the overwhelm and frustration so many business owners experience when running their business.

Simply put, strategies get you working ON your business. Strategies get business owners thinking, planning, and outlining business activities (TACTICS) that need to be done. Strategies require identifying, prioritizing, and outlining a multi-step plan that will move a business owner from where they are now to their end-game (GOAL). So now, instead of thinking processes and templates, you’re thinking processes and templates to help you reach your specific goal.

So what is a strategy? It is a plan of action. It’s not THE plan – business, marketing, operational, etc. It is a broad stroke, what-are-we-going-to-focus-our-effort-on-now plan.

Every day business owners need to do things in, and for, their business. Overwhelm and frustration creeps in when business owners start doing things that are not in alignment with their goal. Creating strategies for your business helps you align and direct activities so that they’re working together, and creating forward motion. A strategy helps you aim your efforts in the right direction.

While there are a lot of different tactics a business owner can implement in their business (I offer a FREE “99 Highly Effective Marketing Tactics” list that shares the different marketing tactics available on my website), there are fewer strategies, so determining a strategy should be an easier place to get started.  A strategy addresses the issue of how you want to reach your goal? Some possible questions you would consider include:

  • Do I want to reach my goal by increasing overall sales?
  • Do I want to reach my goal by building a bigger customer base?
  • Do I want to reach my goal by growing market share?
  • Do I want to reach my goal by increasing usage of my product or service?
  • Do I want to reach my goal by building wider and/or deeper distribution?
  • Do I want to reach my goal by increasing awareness?

You might want to do everything above, but even the most seasoned marketing-savvy business owner cannot. And, if they did? They would end up all over the place, confusing their customers. And remember, a confused mind usually says “No.”

The great news about approaching your marketing with a strategy first is that the strategy actually helps you determine which tactics will help you best reach your goal. The strategy determines the tactics. Isn’t that freeing?

For instance, creating a strategy that focuses on increasing sales can be accomplished by getting current customers to buy more, or by getting new customers to try your product. The activities you will do to target current customers versus new customers are different. Increasing usage, from having a customer purchase once a month to twice a month, will be different than bringing in new customers to increase your usage stats.

If a goal is your vision, strategies are your focus. A strategy helps you determine how you’re going to reach a goal. It is NOT the steps you take to reach your goal.

Tactics are the steps you take to reach a goal. Effective tactics are always defined by a strategy. They are the activities you do to grow sales, build distribution, increase awareness, etc. Tactics are the stuff… social media posts, advertising, networking, promotion, etc. And, the types of activities you can do to build your business and reach your goals are many. They require specificity, intention and purpose. They are actionable. And, they are measurable. The strategy helps align the tactics to give you the best chance of reaching your goal.

You need to do things for your business. Knowing which things will work best to reach your goals, comes from determining a strategy for your goal, and aligning your tactics to that strategy. And note, activities can overlap strategies so making sure you have a well defined strategy helps you execute actions that are aligned with the right combination of content, media and frequency.

Strategies without tactics are maps to nowhere. Tactics without strategies are driving all over the place and getting nowhere. Strategies and tactics combined are a plan with action. Destination in mind…with a clear strategy and tactics to support it, will get you there faster and happier. The strategy is the yellow brick road of marketing!

Easier decision making. For a small business owner, that alone can be the success tip of the day!