Story of a WORKING strategic plan!

Story of a WORKING strategic plan!
(it has a surprise ending…)

By Talmar Anderson

Today we will look at a part of the Talmar It Up strategic plan in an effort to share possible outcomes in your own strategic plan! Having spoken as a part of many business retreats and conferences, Talmar It Up had created The Takeoff Series in 2016. A limited number of clients learn a focused agenda on specific, yet varied, business topics over 2 days in a small group setting. I had been approached about growing this segment of my firm. Retreats/conferences specifically. Part of the current TIU strategic plan was to research and develop the Takeoff series on a larger scale. Scaling, right? That is my thing!

Many concepts were considered and structures evaluated of how to build a consistent and appealing business education based vacation that delivered all that clients would expect. As part of my plan, several months ago, I scheduled to attend a 3 day conference out of town in an industry adjacent to mine that was being offered by a peer and woman I admire. The benefit of attending for the results offered was doubled because I was going with an eye to observe and consider, from the operational stand point, all the moving parts.

Phew! Hats off to the event planners of the world. Those conferences are, well, a lot! The conference I attended was amazing. Well-staffed with top notch and accessible people at every level throughout the entire event. The site chosen worked to allow for community building and attendee privacy. The speakers and presenters truly came from a place of education and were open to interact with the attendees consistently. The company that offered the conference was prepared and professional. There were no lines or long waits for any of the transitional moments of the entire group. This was a beautiful orchestra in motion.

And in that experience I saw that it could be done. Scaling this was a real opportunity for my company. I could surround myself with the right people to get this done for my clients and business.

And then in THAT moment I did the secret to success and happiness check. Do you know what I am talking about? A huge part of strategic planning is considering what could be, planning out what it would take to deliver…truly deliver the plan to your audience, and then ask yourself “Do I really want to do this?”

Do you want to commit your company’s time to offer this regularly? Do you want to commit X% of your company’s money and resources to making this happen? When you think of the work involved…do you get excited for the challenge or tired from the energy it will require? Heck, will it be any fun delivering for your clients in this way?

As I participated and enjoyed the benefits of the wonderful event, I looked at the host and thought, she is brilliant at this. I also knew that I was not interested in growing the Takeoff series into the bigger offering. I apply for myself the same insight I use for others. Because I could, doesn’t me I have to do it.

I will, of course, still speak at conferences and retreats, however Talmar It Up will continue to only offer the limited retreats series.The scaling of the event would require several days of general help to the clients. Beneficial yes but I know that my one on one connection of delivering specifically for each client’s business model needs is my true happy dance inciting work. Both for me and for them.

Strategically, that is not me playing small. My podcast allows me to influence more and more people throughout the globe. Conferences I attend as a speaker allow me to reach hundreds. However, the time and energy to plan, organize and manage those kind of events will take me too far from how I like to deliver in my work.

And so the strategic plan worked! By working the steps of my own strategic plan I can confidently let go of the time, money and resources I was allocating for that expansion. I will review my strategy to see if this leaves a hole or where Talmar It Up can further diversify and grow. It was not a failure or wasted resources to spend money, time and research efforts on something Talmar It Up will not move forward upon at this time. I know where I don’t want to take Talmar It Up and that in itself creates focus. Can’t wait to see what the future is bringing now that I let go of that goal to create new space! Now GO! Grow!

Are you on the Talmar It Up mailing list yet? Join now to be sure to directly receive insights, clarity and business operation answers. Check it out in the latest blog post HERE.

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Social Media Engagement is More Than a Thumbs Up!

Social Media Engagement is More Than a Thumbs UP!
By Talmar Anderson
Talmar It Up, LLC

 

“Social media is THE way to economically and organically grow a business.” That is what a lot of entrepreneurs are being told by well-meaning friends, vendors and other business owners.  And it certainly can be. However, please be aware that engagement is REALLY how social media works for helping significant leaps happen for your company.  Clients sometimes list social media under their marketing plans with a line item expense of little to minimum costs.  I challenge that because your social media plans need to include engaging with your audience to take full advantage.  Engaging certainly costs more (whether more of a commitment of your and your team’s time or by hiring an outside marketing vendor) but WOW, that is where that exciting and exponential growth can come from for your company.  Whether growing to a billion dollar company like Chobani or developing a raving and true following like Chubbies Shorts (clothing line with marketing content that is real AND funny), engagement can help a company sell products/services, grow market share, build brand awareness and even improve operations. (You know I love the last part!) …. Consider focusing on this piece if social media is in your marketing plan or a part of your strategy for the year.

Pushing out posts, messages and pictures can provide true value when engagement is a part of the plan.  Your social media plan must include assigning not just the content creation and the management of the posting schedule, but also who is authorized to respond to your audience. How are they allowed to position your company through responses? also cover how to capture and track the engagement data that your audience is giving you with every “thumbs up”, share or comment.

As you start spending time and energy for engagement consider that it is more than going through to “like” posts. Your process should include thoughtful consideration on how you handle the good and bad comments. Want a great response? Choose an area that you think you are doing well and ask that loaded question. “What could we do better with…?” Boy howdy, strap into your seat and get ready. Continually encouraging feedback (good AND bad) will help your company define and improve on what your clients really want. We all know that social media lets the public they you what they really think about any given subject.

What can engagement do for YOUR company?

  • PR (stands for public RELATIONS people!)
    • building a larger market opportunity through awareness and education
  • Build your brand and reputation
    • Here is where your company’s responsive, timeliness and topical relevance can shine
  • Improve customer satisfaction and operations
    • Gathering data on what clients like, want, don’t like and LOVE. See below for a great example!

I love this one excellent example that could EASILY be applied by any small business. Recently, Elon Musk and his company Tesla took a social media post complaining about how cars were parking in the charging stations and within eight days created an entirely new company wide- process. It is well thought out. (Check out this Inc. article for more details HERE). This whiplash-speed operational change not only resolved the issue to incentivize people to get out of those spots and free them up for other customers who need to charge their electric cars but allowed that it could also create a new revenue stream.

I do recommend developing your social media plan to include a thorough engagement commitment and policy. Certainly, an outward push is helpful but incoming information and your team consistently monitoring to allow responsive, considerate engagement and ensure there are no great opportunities missed is where the bigger “bang for your dollar” comes in.  The right engagement in the right moment will enhance your reputation, build a more loyal fan base and potentially grow more of the market share. Engagement can help you deliver exactly what your clients want AND operational follow up can build immediate brand loyalty and strengthen your company’s reputation. Now Go! Grow!

Are you on the Talmar It Up mailing list yet? Join now to be sure to directly receive insights, clarity and business operation answers. Check it out in the latest blog post HERE.

 

 

 

Feel the Power! It is in the Choice.

It is easy to feel like we have no control. No control over our time, No control over our clients. No control over our dogs chewing your brand new slippers! This feeling builds into overwhelm. Overwhelm builds into stress, bad health, low quality of life and satisfaction. “Thanks Talmar for bringing me down…” I really don’t want to bring you down but it is important to remind you that ONLY your choices can bring a different result.

Change is a result of action. Action is a result of decision. Decisions come from acknowledging that there are choices that you can make to start the change. Yep…You have all the power even in those moments of overwhelm and stress. You can effect change by making a choice.

Feeling stuck, like you don’t see a choice other than a glass of bourbon or sleep less? Not sure where to turn or which direction to drive your business? One of my superpowers is helping clients clarify their decision points and focus on an actionable decision so let me offer you the starter 3 choices that can help in any situation. I want to help you because I hope that we can move bourbon back into your “reward” column instead of the “medicine” column, poor mis-used bourbon! Start with a pause. Take a breath. Now consider…

  • Choose what to prioritize. Set a priority list of actions based on the most immediate need (profitability, cash flow, staff, time). Let your full focus be on one item at a time.
  • Choose to let go. Items that continually need to be moved down your “priority” list probably do not really need to be a priority. Give your self a break and let it go! (Ya. I’m humming it too. Damn song gets in my head EVERYtime!)
  • Choose to ASK FOR HELP!!! This is the one that is really self flagellation. Hire more staff. Outsource to vendors. Hire an expert to move you along faster. Your business is NOT growing by you insisting to do it all yourself. Stop it! NOW!

It happens to everyone. That feeling of drowning in “to do” lists. Looking at your calendar trying to imagine what it must be like to have time to sit still or be spontaneous with your company’s time.

It can happen but it takes a choice to prioritize your business’ needs, a choice to let go of doing business the same as you always have and the choice to surround you and your business with experts, influencers and staff that will get you to your ideal role within your company. Chief Change Agent and Master of Choice. Most people call the position CEO.

Choose wisely. Buy your next bottle of bourbon and write the most immediate goal you want to celebrate on it. I can hear the clinking of the glasses as you toast with your reward. You got this!

Are you on the Talmar It Up mailing list yet? Join now to be sure to directly receive insights, clarity and business operation answers. 

Never Ending Cycle…but it’s Never Dull Either!

Never ending cycle…but it’s never dull either!
By Talmar Anderson

Being a business owner feels like one long to do list sometimes.  You must keep on top of vendors.  Make sure your staff feel heard and appreciated.  Check the numbers regularly to protect profit margins. Be accessible to clients and continually improve on customer service. Develop communications. Develop new opportunities.  Reject mis-matched possibilities….and so on. And so on. But it is fun too! At least it can be if you let it. Here are some of the ways YOU could make space. As the business owner, give yourself permission to be human.

Calendar it or be spontaneous but consider giving yourself space. Make space to celebrate the completed and accomplished. Space to think about and research an entirely new service or product.  Space to decide which position to hire next.  Space to meet a fellow professional and have a drink and LAUGH out loud.

Maybe not even talk about business at all. Start small if you are not already doing this. Maybe you would enjoy…

  • Calendaring a day to play…mid-week. (Imagine…You and a loved one going to the movies. There is something particularly decadent about being in a mostly empty movie theater when everyone else is at school/work).
  • Sleeping in when you are extra tired or feel “something” coming on.
  • Turning off the computer 2 hours earlier than usual to go grocery shopping for your home.
  • Refusing first appointments twice a week to workout.
  • Refusing to book anything on Tuesday evenings to cuddle with your family and go to bed early.
  • Meeting your spouse for early happy hour to connect 1 on 1 before the family launches into the evening circus.
  • Go sit, alone. Not talking to anyone. Watching the people, birds, boats go by.

I recommend that you do this regularly!  That is the whole point of being a business owner, right? Or at least a major reason.  Doing what YOU want. Supporting your personal needs as well as business growth needs.   ONLY you can set realistic expectations with staff and clients on your availability.  STOP over promising. Tell them you are busy or don’t. Just say “No”.

If you can’t get it on your day to day calendar, then schedule time to get away.  1 day or 2 weeks can give your business a whole new perspective.  (Be clear on whether you are going to focus on business or take space away from business during your trip. As always, have a purpose to your action!) Make it about you some of the time.

Knowing you have personal time to take care of your needs can alleviate a lot of that “I have to” stress. Clients, kids, friends…they willing let you prioritize their needs because they ARE looking out for themselves. I give you permission to look out for you too!

Don’t feel guilty. Don’t think about the phone calls going to voice mail. Unless you are a heart surgeon (and most of you reading this are NOT!) life will go on without you for a little while. But you will not be able to go on if you do not prioritize your own personal space. Who knows…you might have some fun too!

Are you on the Talmar It Up mailing list yet? Join now to be sure to directly receive insights, clarity and business operation answers. Or reach out to chat with Talmar for structure and process to grow your business HERE

Surveys and Polls. Yes but the Proof is in the Bottom Line!

Surveys and Polls. Yes but the Proof is in the Bottom Line!
By Talmar Anderson

Understanding what needs and results your market will be moved to purchase can be a changing target.  Specific review and checking in with your customers and prospects is always a great step as a focused effort ( at LEAST annually). Technology changes accessibility to solutions, economic swings can inspire more or less spending and innovation can change an entire industry.  (VHS anyone? I still say “tape” to digitally record anything!) If you have been following the Talmar It Up blog or worked with me in any way, I hope you have heard me say, “Sell what your audience wants to buy instead of what YOU want to sell”.  The idea is that some business owners will be convinced that a product or service is what their target market really wants or needs. “Really. They need this.”  During these conversations, I love to get it straight from the “horse’s” mouth.  There are a few ways to do this…let’s check it out.

Surveys and polls are a great a way to reach out and create a separate conversation opportunity outside of the in the moment service or purchase. Maybe you have a system that delivers the survey to the clients at the end of the engagement or perhaps you just want to do a focused assessment of a general concept.  How is one solution working for the market?

Even if you regularly collect this data, a big picture overview with an eye to the next 12 months can be hugely beneficial.  These efforts can start internally but may need to include research for a larger market not just your clients. However, don’t let this stop you. At least start with your current contacts, prospects and clients to gather data.

During these surveys pick 3-5 questions that are targeted at a certain product or service satisfaction level.  If you try to capture too much at once, your few willing participants will get interrupted, frustrated or lose interest and you will receive far fewer responses. Look at interaction on the value or benefits your company’s solutions offer to current client pain points.  If your company offers more than one solution, you can ask them to rank their preferred product or solution. Regardless of how you structure your surveys remember this is just a sampling of the views of a few within your market. Certainly, there is value here but it is a limited perspective.

A poll is a quick and focused way to lead your market to respond to one specific question. This single question with multiple choice answers allow you to lead and limit choices.  As we know, there is usually one person who will choose ‘None of the Above” because they feel the choices do not perfectly fit their way of thinking.  You can consider allowing “Other” as a choice with a write in field.  Some innovative and clever ideas can come in this way but it can dilute the focus if you are trying to understand how your offering fits with your thought out alternatives in the pol question.

If you are choosing this time to understand what your market wants from you…I would also consider talking to their wallets! Let’s do a 3-6 month review of YOUR company.

If you are trying to decide where to focus your next marketing effort or which product service to be promoting, make sure to go back to your numbers.  What has ACTUALLY resulted in revenue for your company? Is anything trending up?  This can be enlightening and get you ahead of either a growing need.  Take the time to understand why these customers purchased because you have readily available access. What you have sold over the last few months IS what your market wanted.

Asking you clients, prospects and target market what they need and want to buy is a regular part of any business looking to have longevity.  Very few companies sell exactly the same item, exactly the same way 5, 10 or 20 years down the line.  Certainly, more than a few companies that have kept the nose to the grind stone and just kept pounding out the products have been run out of business.

By asking we can gain insight, inspiration and validation for our company and its services. This can also uncover a new opportunity or segment of your target market to access. Growth, my friends, is often on the other side of an ask. The most successful entrepreneurs and business owners LOVE a good question! Now GO! Grow.

Are you on the Talmar It Up mailing list yet? Join now to be sure to directly receive insights, clarity and business operation answers. Or reach out to chat with Talmar for structure and process to grow your business HERE

Time for a Big Push!

Time for a Big Push!
By Talmar Anderson

How is business?  Are you looking at your goals? If you are like most business owners, end of the year is when you start to consider how you will finish your fiscal year.  While you can start planning for the new year, don’t be so quick to call this year done! Have you broken down each specific goal item to see where you can create a push?   Not just the big money goal.  Let’s look at your history. Here are three areas you can look at to find some cash flow and prospect opportunities to smash your goals!

  • Is one service or product more popular with your market at this time of year?
    • If you have been in business for a few years you can look back to understand what specific product or service is in demand this time of year. Spend focused energy there with the prospects that need/want your offering. Consider a new marketing outreach to educate others of the reason for the current demand and how they could benefit too.
  • Is one service / product trending up in your business right now?
    • Let’s look at the last 3-6 months and consider blowing up that trend even more! Look to see what piece initiated that upward tick.  Was it one specific product / service benefit that you newly highlighted?  Was it new pricing?  Maybe a new referral source? You could create a promotion to ramp that trend even higher.  Maybe some educational marketing on the benefits of buying your service or product?
  • Have a piece of your offerings that needs a shot in the arm?
    • If you are missing your goals in one specific area, now is the time to refocus resources. Can you pull a small bite out of the product /service and offer it at a special price for a limited time?  It could be a “try this” offering that can easily lead into the full engagement.  Setting limits on time is especially critical if this is structured as a loss leader to a larger sale. SPECIAL NOTE: Develop a strong and consistent follow up process for the upsell into the full product.

This is where all that work you have been doing all year can quickly pay off.  All the tracking, measuring and data recording you have built into your company.  This structure allows for agile actions and specific decisions that can save your company from “throwing money after bad”.

Last thought. If you are going to put these specific pushes for more business in place, don’t forget to plan for success! Make sure you consider how you will fulfill each new order and track what “Sold out” could be very specifically. This will protect your reputation, quality of deliverables and sanity!…It is NOT too late to effect change.  This is a great moment to look at your goals and metrics to take action.  Now GO! Grow!

 

Are you on the Talmar It Up mailing list yet? Join now to be sure to directly receive insights, clarity and business operation answers. Or reach out to chat with Talmar for structure and process to grow your business HERE

The Difference is in the Listen

The Difference is in the Listen
By Talmar Anderson

I thoroughly enjoyed myself last week at a speaking event with a group of amazing business professionals.  They enjoyed themselves too though I suspect you would be surprised if I told you the topic was “Sales Strategies”. Don’t be! Sales can be fun and exciting. Remember, all the planning and operational structure can’t deliver profits without selling to your clients. If business owners have a common spot they can get tripped up on, it is in their sales process. Ohhhhhh…you heard me.  Your company will significantly benefit if you can develop an actual process in how you sell your products and services. Good sales process is all built around “the listen”.

Listening is when sales turns away from the pushing and coercive talking that feels like constant noise and reminds of us of slick, pushy car buying experiences. That “yuck” that people carry in their head when they even hear the word sell. It comes from the sales person that was so busy trying to get their point across that they forgot to check in with the prospect’s needs…much less if they had a pulse. So when you look at your sales process make sure you highlight the listen. The listen is often the portion of your sales process that is the qualifying.

When you qualify you want to hear what problem they have right now.  This requires you to stop talking about how awesome your company is within your industry.  You have to stop talking about how the price is amazing or for a limited time. You have to stop trying to sell your product or service. Just shhhhhhh. You want to listen for words and challenges that you KNOW can benefit from your company’s solution.

If you can talk less and listen more, you will more easily identify a qualified prospect.  The one that has a problem right now.  The one that is ready to buy your solution. The prospect that can truly benefit from what your company sells. And IF you have taken the time to listen, you won’t have to cram in all the details you know about your company.  You will know exactly which details are important to this prospect.  You will understand what the pain point is for the prospect and why they are talking to you about it today. Now you can simply offer your company’s solutions by highlighting how it can HELP their specific situation.

The difference is in the listen.  If we let the prospect tell us their problems and what they want for a solution, then we can help.  If we met every lead and potential person with a barrage of words that may or may not be pertinent to their situation NOW, we are far more likely to offend, be drowned out by their thoughts of escaping our pitch or frustrate ourselves with another “no” because we weren’t even talking to the right target market.

So when you are designing your sales process (not to be confused with your marketing…give me a call if you want to discuss this specific pain point!), please make sure that qualifying is a first piece to closing your sales. Starting your process this way will grow your closing ratio and build a client base that sees you as a solution more than a collector.

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