Do you have a digital mess to clean up?
Or are you just completely dissatisfied with how your digital marketing efforts are performing?
Get to the point quickly, click on what you care about most…
Setting up a Facebook Page is easy.
Maybe too easy.
So easy that it’s likely you have a few of these hanging out there. It’s possible we’re even using them regularly. It’s also possible that you’re not completely sure what you have out there at all.
How often do you Google yourself or your company?
Go ahead and try it right now. I’ll wait…
Were you surprised by what’s out there? Did you know you had a Yelp account or more than one Twitter profile?
Grabbing a listing on Yelp or posting on a shiny new Facebook page has become an easy and fast way to feel like we are marketing our businesses. Unfortunately, it usually goes south pretty quickly. That’s because we think that because the mechanics are easy, it’s a task for an intern or the new rep who doesn’t have a client base built up yet. Even when we take the extra step and hire a company to help, it’s usually a web design firm or a virtual assistant. It’s rare for a small business to start their digital footprint with the magic sentence: We need a plan.
What that means is that your digital footprint is probably a hot mess, with lots of different players, timelines, and brand identities.
Let’s put it this way, if you’re confused about your digital presence how do you think your customer feels?
If you’re lucky enough to be reading this before you put your flag in the ground online, hooray! May I suggest taking my 30-day mini course BEFORE launching yourself into the digital world.
Most of us, probably fall into the other category: We’ve got a mess on our hands.
How do I know?
Because I’ve been there and it’s taken me years to figure out how to do it right.
I set up my first Facebook Page and business blog in 2008. For a few years, I ran around like crazy. We had some fun moments…
And a few embarrassing ones…
Over the next several years, I would go through many variations of a brand identity. Including such gems as C2B Development (I had no idea that Consumer to Business was a thing at this point). There were 21 Weeks to Profitable Self-Employment and Renia Grows. Next, The Development of Taste, and finally Be A Real Beauty.
I tried to do the same thing in five different digital formats over the course of about seven years.
My digital footprint confused the hell out of everyone until a combination of Brian Dean and an experience in eCommerce development finally taught me the value of plans and processes.
I’ve spent the last year cleaning up, organizing, planning, and rebranding. And the work isn’t done.
Cleaning up a mess is way more difficult than starting right in the first place.
We would all be better served if we stopped thinking of digital marketing as magic and started thinking of it as the study of certain metrics, just like our cash flow statements.
Yes, there is art in creating a compelling brand, but it’s not wizardry.
Mostly it is practice and focus, and it is learnable.
Digital success is more about the development of the right skills than it is about natural genius. Gary Vaynerchuck isn’t smarter than you. He’s hustled harder and studied the landscape closer. Marie Forleo isn’t the top coach in the world or the most gifted motivational speaker, but she is the most consistent and constant one on the internet.
Do not understand how to track digital ROI
Spend 5+ hours per week worrying about digital marketing
Spend less than 1 hour per week on strategy
Fail to execute their annual strategy
When it comes to your digital plan, consistency and calling matter more than talent or celebrity.
Flexibility matters more than ever.
Because consistent and constant action matter more than ever, a digital strategy must be flexible. What’s that quote about the best-laid plans of mice and men? Well if you think your plan is going to take a beating in the physical world, get ready for the twists, turns and dips of digital!
Technology will change just as you finish a project, making your new shiny website obsolete. Facebook will release another round of updates aimed at forcing you into ever-more-expensive ads space. The podcast you thought was the future will go the way of the cassette tape as VR takes over. Whatever it is, 3-5 year plans do not exist in this space, because in 3-5 years the space will look entirely different.
What you’re after, when creating a strategy for your business, is short sprints that help you reach your biggest business objectives.
That’s why agencies that get it don’t build waterfall-method websites anymore. Instead, we use growth-driven design and content marketing to create platforms that are both consistent with their message and constantly evolving. It’s a tough tightrope to walk, but with the right system in place, it’s a pretty graceful thing to watch.
For example, a big goal might be to be a keynote speaker at your industry’s annual conference. The first questions you should be answering are not about digital at all. They are about the message, brand, and personal network. Then, we can take those foundational elements and design short, flexible sprints to build up your platform in the right way.
We do it this way because of the big white elephant of digital marketing that none of us spend enough time addressing…
A digital footprint is easy to make, but difficult to fix.
It’s easy to set up a Facebook account, claim your business on Yelp, or hire a web designer. It might feel daunting, but the barrier to entry online continues to lower. With $50 and a smartphone, you can have a website, logo, social media footprint, and merchant account in less than an hour.
But just like fast food, fast and cheap often comes with consequences.
You know that Big Mac and fries will make you feel like shit and add inches to your thighs that take way more exercise and healthy eating to erase than they are worth.
The same is true of the fast and cheap setups almost every business finds themselves guilty of in the digital world. And these days being a digital cheapskate can be as damaging to your bottom line as a Big Mac is to, well … your bottom line.
It will cost triple the time and money to fix a haphazard digital footprint than it costs to set it up right in the first place. So if you’re new to this, take the time to do it right.
And if you’ve already made some mistakes? Well, just like with your health, there’s never been a better time to start undoing the damage and building a more beautiful space for your brand than now. Like anything else, the sooner you start doing it right, the easier it will be.
When you work within a 12-Week Sprint framework, you will have five major planning breaks scheduled in your calendar each year. These are:
Annual Strategic Planning + A Break from the Noise
This is a 2-3 day retreat from your regular work environment. It’s a time to get off-site, off-line, and off-kilter and look at the future of your company and/or your marketing in a different way.
Three 13th Week Evaluation + Planning Days
These are one-day sessions where you spend time evaluating your last sprint and setting up for the new one. These are how you take that annual plan and make sure it keeps moving forward all year long.
Annual Strategic Planning and Why It Matters
It’s difficult…no, it’s impossible…To plan and optimize for the big picture when you’re stuck in the day-to-day. Taking a few days to get out of the office, preferably into a beautiful place, once or twice per year allows you and your company leaders the space you need to design the future.
In an ideal world, your company would hold two separate planning retreats each year. The first for strategic planning and the second for your marketing plan. For most of the companies I’ve worked with in the past, this ends up being combined into one.
What these sessions are, is a facilitator-led chance to bring everyone’s ideas together, interact as a team, and design the basic outline of what the coming year should look like. It is from this session that you will become clear on the four opportunities you will address in your sprints.
A Word on Facilitation
Most workshops and planning sessions are most impactful when a professional facilitator is brought in to work with your team. This allows your team to be 100% focused on the work, without one person worrying about notes and another worrying about leading.
An unbiased outsider will have an easier time asking the tough questions, challenging leaders on their assumptions, and funneling the group into meaningful action.
What will Strategic Planning Do for My Team?
Beyond providing clarity, spending the time away with your team will help you to bond and develop more trust in each other. Getting everyone on the same page, when everyone is pulled in a thousand different directions, can be difficult. It’s much easier when you’re away to cultivate that togetherness.
An impactful 2-3 day session will produce the following results for your business:
Defined SMART Goals
Defined values and priorities for the coming year with three to five S.M.A.R.T. Goals that represent those values in a meaningful and actionable way.
Defined Goal Owners
A clear understanding of who owns the success of each goal you define and how that owner will work on achieving the goal through your four 90-day epics.
Structured 90-Day Epics
Each SMART goal is broken into four larger points that will be the foundation for the year’s 90-day epics that are easy to follow and benchmark.
Quick Action Plan for Success
The first 12-week sprint broken down into weekly and daily tasks, with an action plan for what will get done THE FIRST Day back to the office (This is key. If action isn’t taken within 48 hours, it’s unlikely to start at all).
No, you shouldn’t wait until December to have your strategy session.
If you’re lucky enough to be reading this in mid-October, then, by all means, schedule your strategic planning for December or early January. My bet is, that’s not the case.
So don’t wait!
There’s no law that says companies can only start taking smart actions at the beginning of the year. Just like there’s no law that says you can only develop a new habit in January. In fact, it’s often more impactful to do this type of planning at “off-times”, when focus on resolutions and goals has begun to wain. If your company’s never done a strategic planning session before, do it now. Get it on the calendar for June or September. What matters is the process, not the date on the calendar.
The sooner you get clear on your goals and how you will achieve them, the sooner your company will achieve massive results.
Relay Race to Annual Success
It’s easy to get started with a Facebook Page or even a website, but creating a digital strategy that works takes time and focused attention. If you feel like you don’t know who you are online, no one else does either. By creating a digital footprint intentionally, you will create excited prospects and delighted customers that lead to a bigger impact on you and your company. You will make more money and everyone you work with will be happier.
Through strategic planning, sprint focus periods, and SMART goals, we can all stop throwing stuff at the wall and start building a beautiful digital legacy instead.