As the year winds down, you are likely spending more and more time thinking about and working on next year’s projects. As you’re planning, I’d recommend you consider the following three actions. I believe they are critical for the long-term health and success of your business.
1. Audit your messaging
As your business grows, you add products and services to your offering, you gain more experience with your customers, and you try new ways of communicating with them in new ways. This add-as-you-go approach often leads to your messaging being somewhat like an archeological dig. Each bit feels like it is from a different decade (or millennia). Over time you add bit after bit, and in the end, it’s a little bit like Frankenstein’s monster.
The problem is, for your potential customers, their first introduction to your business is a monster.
Now that’s a scary thought.
When is the last time you took a step back to see all of this from your customers’ view?
It is for this reason that I recommend you do an audit of all the messaging you are sending out. I recommend you use a tool like the Story Brand Framework to get 100% clear on what problem you help your customers solve, how you do it, and how their world is better once it has been resolved. These elements are like the chords in a song. Now you’re ready to make music.
Here are the first places you should look.
Your website: What are your top pages? Does each page have a clear message? Does each page have a clear call to action that helps convert your browsers into buyers? In my experience with clients, a few simple changes to these top pages can provide a massive boost to new leads and help grow your revenue.
Your social media: If you or your business isn’t active on social media, it should be! In 2009 you could get away without social media, but in 2019 with over 70% of US adults using social media, chances are you’re losing business.
If you are active, then you know just how much content you have on social media. Review your social media content strategy and make sure your content is 100% consistent with your brand narrative.
Your deliverables: Your marketing doesn’t stop when you make the first sale. Whether you offer products or services or both, you are almost certainly using words as you do it. You cannot overlook the words you use in your deliverables because they will make or break your brand.
Your ancillaries: You may want to consider this powerful but often overlooked messaging platform. I’m referring to your ancillary communications like your terms of service, release notes, and invoices.
Usually, Terms of Service are just brutal. They are written by attorneys and are almost always in Times New Roman font. However, Dropbox found a way to strike an incredible balance of protecting their company.
When I led a web development team, release notes were essential information helping us to avoid accidentally breaking things when installing new updates. If you thought Terms of Service were tedious, you should read Release Notes. It’s unbearable.
Slack found another way. Their fun-loving, productivity-focused narrative shines through in their release notes and sets them apart from the competition.
2. Set your corporate goals and get everyone involved
You miss 100% of the shots you never take. – Wayne Gretzky -Michael Scott
All joking aside, I have seen corporate goal-setting revolutionize businesses, and I’m yet to find another tool that can create as much alignment and momentum as an adequately implemented goal-setting program.
I’m biased toward OKRs. However, SMART, 4DX, and the hundred other goal-setting methodologies out there all have benefits. If you’re already over the acronyms, don’t worry. Creating corporate goals is as simple as writing out what you need (or want) for your company to thrive, sharing them with everyone in the organization, and helping them to identify how they fit in and why their work matters.
There is an upfront investment in time, but I promise you it’s worth it. You’ll get to see your whole company come alive and rise to a level you may not have thought possible. I have found that nothing will grow a business as dependably and consistently as growth in the people that make up that business. Goals are a powerful tool to do just that.
3. Prune your processes
Systems and processes can be the catalyst for your entrepreneurial spark, or they can be the death of it. The key is to get just the right balance of innovation and processes. When you do those processes with help push your business forward faster than ever.
I’ve found that organizations of all sizes have processed that have got to go. They may be written or unwritten. Intentional or unintentional. It doesn’t matter. They exist and should, therefore, be managed with care.
I recommend sitting down with your front line workers and just watching what they do. Don’t interrupt. Don’t correct them. Just tell them you are looking to learn from what they do, and let them work. As they do, ask yourself, why do WE do it this way?
All too often, these systems are defined by a process that is a lot like the game telephone. You’re responsible for a task, but don’t have time to stay on top of it. You hand it off to Susan with little more training than to say “get it done.” Susan does her best and eventually trains Bob, and so on. By the time it gets to the poor soul who is doing it today, they are taking 22 steps to complete a task, and 15 of them are no longer needed.
Going to the ground level lets you infuse the “Why” back into what you do and helps cut out those unnecessary steps saving your team a great deal of valuable time.
Putting it all together
This can seem like a lot, but if you sit down with your team, you can quickly put together a plan to execute all three in well under 90 days. And if you do, at the end of those 90 days, I promise you will be astonished at how much you accomplished, and you’ll have a whole new outlook on what is possible in the coming year!