I’m heading out in a few to make some final preparations for a Chrismukkuh celebration I’m hosting on Sunday. My husband and I are having a small gathering of friends over for latkes and board games and (if all goes well) lots of laughter.
I know you may be already signed out for the holidays, but I’m also very aware that not everyone feels particularly merry or happy this time of year. Not just on a personal level, but the feeling that you haven’t met all your goals can infect the season with a sense of dissatisfaction.
If this is you, or even if it’s not, I wanted to pop in and urge you to spend a little time in reflection of all that went well this year.
It’s natural to look at your balance sheets or email list and think about how much better the year could have gone.
“I know I should have run some Facebook campaigns this year…”
“I STILL haven’t learned the first thing about SEO…”
“If only I’d hired Brigitte back in June, all my problems would be solved by now.” ;-)
This type of analysis can be very useful, and pushing yourself and your organization to do better is part of your role as a leader.
But if you don’t balance this reflection out with an equally in-depth look at what went well, you’re missing a huge part of the equation.
What can you learn from all the progress you’ve made?
All the revenue that you brought in this year represents things you did well. What specific triggers helped convert those potential customers into buyers? What can you learn from your success?
All the customers and clients and email list subscribers are individuals who have entrusted you with their most valuable resources — their time and attention.
None of us are owed another human’s attention — this is a gift that is earned. Even if you have just one subscriber, celebrate that gift. It is an accomplishment.
What can you learn from the people who have entrusted you with their investment?
What would your business look like this time next year if you not only focused on problem areas but also chose to double down on the strategies and tactics that are working?
Because I guarantee you, there’s a lot you’re getting right. That’s something worth celebrating.
For a company founded by a woman with a classic PR background, B does a surprising amount of non-traditional PR work.
It wasn’t always this way, especially in our first year offering client service.
Most people know B as a PR agency, and to most people, PR means media placements. That’s what nearly everyone who comes to us asks for.
In the early days, I thought, “Clients know best,” and I gave them exactly what they asked for — media placements.
A lot of these first clients were in the early stages of building up their media presence, so we laid the groundwork with contributions, guest posts, podcasts, and help them build relationships with larger media outlets.
If a client was a bit more established, we might pitch print magazines or bigger online outlets. Sometimes we even got to do TV (my favorite!).
Maggie and I have a lot of experience working with media, so naturally we’ve lined up a lot of media for our clients. We worked with Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Inc., Mantra, Real Simple, Design*Sponge and scores of podcasts.
But despite all this media success, something wasn’t sitting right.
A big priority for me has always been understanding what a successful PR campaign looks like for each particular client. We find out which media outlets you’d like to be in, and how you’d measure success.
Because I know how important traffic is to growing businesses, I always make a point to say something to the effect of, “This first round of media placements won’t get you a lot of traffic. Are you okay with that?”
I almost always hear back, “Yes, I want to do this, because some other reason.”
Four-to-six months later, the discussion would change…
“I’m surprised I’m not getting more traffic from PR,” they’d say.
“We talked about this,” I’d remind them.
When this started happening, I wasted a lot of time listening to recordings of those early meetings, trying to figure out if I’d misled our clients.
I worried that the issue was something I’d said, or didn’t say.
After listening to hours upon hours of recordings, I can confidently share that disclosure isn’t the issue. I always initiated the traffic talk.
The perception gap was getting in the way.
The perception gap is a common obstacle in business. Essentially, the more of an expert you are, the harder it is to communicate with your customers. Your deep expertise gets in the way of you meeting your audience on their wavelength.
It’s so common that we offer an entire package that’s just about working on clients’ messaging, so we can be sure they’re communicating in a way that their audience can hear and receive them.
Here’s what I now realize was playing out.
As a longtime PR veteran, I know it takes a LOT of media coverage for you to see any sort of traffic coming your way.
****There are a lot of reasons the traffic doesn’t live up to the hype, and I can get into them in a later piece. Suffice to say, this is true in most cases.
But our clients come to us believing that PR is a magic bullet for their traffic problems. When I say, “you won’t see much traffic,” I now understand clients think I’m just managing their expectations.
That’s because what I’m saying doesn’t line up with what most small business owners believe.
Looking back at these projects, our clients weren’t wrong in wanting PR, and our firm wasn’t wrong in getting it for them. Media relations can do a lot for your business.
My mistake was in not honoring that, in many cases, I know more about what will help clients reach their goals than they do!
This is also true in your business! Customers wouldn’t be coming to us if they could easily solve their problems themselves.
When our clients say they want PR, they’re giving us short-hand for a whole host of goals and aspirations.
Often media is part of the package. But maybe the client also has their own perception gap problem and needs messaging support. Or perhaps you could use some Facebook ads to reach your list-building goals.
Nowadays, we’re more often than not creating fully integrated packages that offer things like SEO, content strategy, and Facebook advertising. We advise on funnels, and we’ll help you create an optin.
Ever since I started honoring the expertise I bring to our clients, they’ve been a lot happier.
We’ve been bred to believe the customer knows best (at least in the US), and our clients absolutely know what their goals, challenges and wins are much better than I do.
But I like to think clients hire me because they value all the experience and knowledge I bring to the table. And that’s not limited to media these days.
Have you ever noticed that the days you wake up feeling most inspired can also be the least productive?
You start the day overflowing with ideas for new projects, improvements you could make to your website, and ideas on how you can run your social media accounts better.
It’s all you can do to acknowledge one great idea before another comes knocking.
But before you know it, that creative energy turns against you. You can’t focus on any one task and start to feel frustrated that you’re not able to make progress on any of them.
This is something that used to overtake me a lot. Looking back at my years of business, those are days I wish I could get back, because it feels like I spent them yearning for what could be, rather than taking concrete steps to make my vision come to be.
Now, I still wake up with those days, but I have a place to channel all that energy.
Our team’s Trello.
Trello is a project management tool that my team has been using for the past year to manage everything from client work to launches to marketing activities to our team learning.
So when my friend Natasha Vorompiova told me she was releasing a guide on how you can use Trello to organize your business, I jumped at the chance to talk with her about how our team uses Trello.
We went deep into:
- Why we decided to use Trello, and which other project management tools we tested
- How we slowly transitioned our to do’s and client conversations to Trello
- Some of the specific fears that came up when we decided to include clients on some of our boards
- How Trello helps me be more creative
- How our boards evolved over time
Watch the video to find out how my team uses Trello to capture our ideas and focus on the tasks that matter.