Seasoned Advice looks at the world of business building + branding. Storytelling and lessons learned with the attitude of a big sister and the unconditional love of a cosmic mom.
Seasoned Advice: Marketing
How To: Tell If You’ve Got Your Shit Together
If at first you don’t succeed
…go take a nap.
…start up again.
…do something else for a while.
…give yourself a break.
…get your shit together.
Business is a bitch. And she had puppies.
Here I am chugging away at [marketing copy/brand strategy/whatever] day after day, Q after Q, year after year. You’d think I’d be fucking amazing at it by now. Srlsy.
I recently sent out a survey (TAKE THE SURVEY) to all my business besties, people I had worked with for years on a variety of projects. Folks I consider my ride-or-dies. And because they love me, they told me the truth. What people-pleasing overachiever has two thumbs and did NOT get all A’s? This gal!
“It’s over 2 years later for me and I’m STILL constantly learning and growing,” a colleague recently lamented. I know just what she means. No matter how much professional practice I get under my belt — working with clients, supporting events, making sales happen — I still feel so GREEN. Ten years and counting and I am still wringing my hands over how much I don’t know. I’m still unsteady on my feet about my performance as Rebecca Gunter, professional person.
It’s quite nerve wracking, all of the uncertainty that comes along with building a business, project, or dream. Even after years of putting in your time with solid work days, happy customers, and quality goods, the anxiety of not knowing — it’s a bitch.
In business, hanging out your own shingle doesn’t mean jack shit. It’s less than a guarantee. It’s a “we’ll see” from the universe, and it’s all we entrepreneurs got.
Work a job, get good at it, get noticed — soon you have momentum, money, management. Movin’ on up! Go to college, show up in class, do the reading, write papers and take finals — soon you have a diploma.
In business, you can practice at it all day long and hardly have a clue what you’re doing. Bank loads of experience and you’ve still got “you’re doing it wrong” keeping you up at night.
I’m starting to notice it everywhere. My clients, partners, and colleagues — they all wanna know: what am I supposed to be doing? Is what I AM doing even working? Aw, lawd, send me the pied piper of business and brand building!
Grit ≠ Gain
Pushing yourself harder is NOT the answer. All that anxiety is already taking up way too much of your brainhole. If at first you don’t succeed, do something else for awhile. Take a brain break. Reset yourself. You wouldn’t bang your head against a wall to help a headache, would ya?
When you’re ready, just get your shit together.
Biz books and people with a whole lotta subject-matter-expertise will tell you that you can’t move what you can’t measure. I am all about metrics and analytics, but nothing has served me better than Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
Key Performance Indicators are things we can look for as a sign from the universe that we’re on the right track – kinda like a metal detector, minus the sand and golf visor, or a submarine’s SONAR minus the red light and crippling claustrophobia. KPIs answer the question “how do I know when I am doing it right? Am I even close?”
From a marketing perspective, KPIs will lead you to all kinds of insight AND plot a course for your north star. “Look Ma! No hands!”
Do you have your shit together?
Are you proud of your website?
Do your emails and sales stuff sound like you?
Are you currently invested in at least two online platforms?
Are they branded with your look and feel? Do you post relevant stuff on a pretty regular basis?
Do people respond to you or do you hear crickets? Does your mailing list get lots of love?
Are you tweeting/blogging/youtube-ing because you absolutely love it and not because you think it’s what you’re supposed to do?
Are you taking your professional relationships to the next level and transforming them into value partnerships and joint ventures?
Do you love the way other people talk about you? Are you giving your customers / staff / colleagues / friends / fam a reason to give you shout-outs? Do you play well with others in the sandbox?
Do you have lots of things — events, promotions, opportunities — to talk about? Can people find an easy and well-worn path to your door, even if it’s a virtual door?
Does who you are match who they thought you were?
Do you have a plan of attack, a calendar, a role assignment, a to-do list for the next 6 months (so you don’t have to worry about what to do anymore, you just work the plan)?
Have you worked all of the above into a continuous positive feedback loop that just keeps putting you out there, and in a good way?
If you’ve answered yes to one or more of these questions, you may have your shit together, at least on the marketing side of things. If you didn’t… relax, nobody else out here feels like they know what they’re doing all the time either. (And the ones that say they do are either a) lying or b) delusional).
#protip If you have more than one yes, keep converting no’s one at a time until you are totally on point.
Marketing isn’t a formula or a set way of doing things, it’s a blend of best practices that started out as spaghetti thrown against the wall.
No one knows exactly the why and what for.Unless they’ve spent a kajillion dollars on market research, even the best brands are just making educated guesses. They put something out there, gauge the reaction, and then tweak it accordingly. Cringe and adapt when efforts fall flat, share wide and far when they #nailedit.
It can take a maddening amount of time for a spark of interest to turn into genuine conversation and signs of buying.
All we can do in the meantime is stay on the lookout for those dern KPIs. Do people react and respond to your stuff (social media posts, blog posts, newsletters, events, promotions, videos, public speaking gigs, workshops)? Are you exactly what they expected when they walk in the showroom, meet you at a trade show, or follow you on Instagram? Can your team stay on brand and on message no matter what?
Know what “having it all together” looks + sounds like is half the battle.
The other half is having the courage to tell your entrepreneurial-induced anxiety to GTFO, you got this. Business can be a bitch – but you can take her to obedience school.
How do you know when you’ve got your shit together? What signs from the universe are you looking out for? Is your inner monologue more “I got this” or “wut are bizness?”
Tell me your trials and share your triumphs in wrestling with entrepreneurial anxiety by commenting below or @rebeccagunter_.
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