As I was ascending from meditation this morning I thought popped into my mind out of nowhere: “How will I advance the ball today?”
This is football terminology. It is NFL playoff time but in all honesty, I’m not really a fan and I wasn’t thinking about it…at least not consciously. But I instantly thought, “Wow this is a great metaphor for business and personal development.”
“Advancing the ball” is an important strategic component in football.
The objective in football is of course to score a touchdown, or at least get into the other teams territory close enough to score a field goal. These are the objectives of the offensive team. However these objectives are generally achieved incrementally. Individual plays are designed to move the ball forward but not necessarily to the goal line every time. Even though each each play does not result in a score, each advancement of the ball and improvement of field position is important and valuable.
It’s a reminder that among all our activities each day, we need to make sure some of them have the potential to “advance the ball”. The items on our to do list are not all of equal value. Some of them have little or no effect of advancing our ball and some of them do. So it’s important that when we make our to do list that we designate major time on the highest value tasks. We need to certainly make sure that each day, our to do list includes at least one or several activities which will move the ball forward toward our goals.
“What is one thing I can do today that if I complete it will, make me feel as though it was a successful day?”
Then list 2 or more of those things and get them done. Even better!
Advancing the ball, career-wise, requires major time invested in marketing ourselves, our products or our services. Another is learning how to market ourselves, our products and our services better than we’re currently doing it. Whether that learning is how to communicate better, how to improve our networking skills, how to be more organized, or how to make better use of technology, for example, these ARE “ball-advancing” activities.
As the saying goes “time waits for no man.” The clock is ticking. Productive days build upon one another. Unproductive days just run out the clock. We don’t need to score a touchdown every day but for our career, our personal goals, and for our mental attitude, it’s really important to accomplish at least one valuable ball-advancing advancing action each day. It’s very important for the psyche.
Stand out by adding content.
I tell my marketing students (business owners learning how to market their business online) to add content to their website regularly. Each piece of content in the form of a blog post, article or new web page they create adds up to building a bigger, better online presence. They can be repurposed for their social media and other marketing efforts. One piece of content generated per week can yield a couple hundred individual marketing actions and touch potentially thousands of people (prospective customers). At the very minimum, adding one piece of content to a website each week ads 52 additional website pages per year. If you’re website grows by 52 pages per year and your competitors website does not grow at all this is a great advantage. If those 52 pages per year are repurposed for other marketing actions then the advantage is multiplied.
Creating “ball-advancing” content even if you don’t have a website.
You don’t have to be a business owner with a website to take advantage of this strategy. You can write articles on article sites such as ezinearticles.com. You can write blog posts on LinkedIn. You can create a YouTube channel or even a podcast. There are all kinds of platforms for you to showcase your smarts, your talents, your products, your services, and your value to the marketplace.
Sometimes, plays designed for short gains break wide open and the gains are much larger than expected and can even result in a score.
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Multitasking is a lie. It doesn’t exist. At least not in the form which we refer to it most. Yes we can walk and talk at the same time and we can chew gum and write in our notebook at the same time and we can drive our car and talk and listen to the radio but really we cannot do anything which requires attention and concentration at the same time.
Brag about being a good multi-tasker? Prove it. Studies show quality and productivity of “multi-taskers” never outperform focused attention on one task done at a time in succession.
You are really not doing more than one thing at a time. You’re actually bouncing between two or more things but you’re not doing anything at the same time. Bouncing around from one thing to the next reduces your effectiveness and your concentration and robs any chance of gaining momentum which is essential for quality work true productivity.
Even the fastest and most powerful computers do not actually multitask. They switch. They alternate from one function or task to another. The faster the computer the less noticeable but it’s true. Even the fastest computers noticeably slow down when resources are burdened with multiple tasks.
Time management and productivity are often on our priority list especially when it comes the turn of a new year. We invest in the next fancy calendar or other time management gadget with the hopes that this year we’ll figure it out and do better in this department of our business and our lives.
Concentrated focus on the highest value task at any given time is the answer. “What should I be doing right now? What is the highest value, most important thing I can do?” Ideally, these should be planned out the night before so you will start the day ready for action.
For business owners, marketing or selling your product are generally the highest value task in your business. Of course it is not the only important task which needs to be done but it is the highest value most of the time. Tackle the highest value task then move on to the next highest value tasks.
Concentrated focus on the highest value task will put you on the fast track to being as productive as you can be. Being as productive as you can be by prioritizing and working on your highest value tasks will put you on the fast track.
Not only will this put you on the fast track to greater achievement and more success but it will also make much of the lower value tasks which you normally get into less necessary or even unnecessary. They will either become unneeded or easier for you to delegate.
When delegating becomes more valuable than doing, then delegating will be on your hierarchy of priorities. Learning how to give $10 an hour work to $10 an hour people instead of doing it yourself will become almost like an income stream because you’ll be able to focus even more on highest-value stuff…which is usually more enjoyable as well.
By the way, taking rejuvenation time during your day is equally important. When you expend your highly focused energy on high value tasks, you need to replenish. You deserve a 10-30 minute wind down and a snack so you have the energy and focus for the next highest value task.
This is easy to understand but not easy to do. For most of us, it requires a change in habits which is a worthy topic for another article.
A huge mistake I see businesses make is a failure to connect their offline marketing to their online marketing. What do I mean by that? It will be easier to explain when I give you this example of a postcard I received in the mail a couple days ago.
I received a postcard mailing from a senior care facility. I presume it’s because I am in my early fifties and the assumption is that I have aging parents, which I do. So I am on some kind of list of prospects to eventually be shopping for a senior care facility for a parent. This makes a lot of sense. What does not make sense is that this postcard had only a phone number and the names of 2 contact people and did not have the company website on the card at all.
What’s the trouble with this? A website is there to do the heavy lifting a small postcard cannot do. A website has unlimited space to go into unlimited detail about the place, the product, the people, the features, and the benefits.
The biggest failure of this and the bigger lesson as it relates to offline to online marketing is that there is no attempt to capture someone’s contact information who may be interested but not ready to make a decision right now. I would venture to say that would be the majority of people receiving the postcard. The solution to this failure would have been to have the website address of the organization and a special page on the website which is specifically created to work in tandem with the postcard. It would look something like this: www.oldageplace.com/freereport. This is called a LANDING PAGE.
The postcard should have offered a free report or some helpful tips which could be delivered by email if the recipient would simply fill out an online form. The free report could have been any among an infinite number of topics, such as “7 things you must ask when interviewing a senior care home.” Or, “21 nutrition tips for people over the age of 70. Or, “How to senior proof your home to prevent catastrophic injuries.”
With a couple hours or so of work, this lead generating procedure could possibly create dozens or even hundreds of those postcards which were probably sent out to thousands of people into solid leads. Anyone choosing to download these free reports would be an obvious prospect. With this list of their names and email addresses they could be on a list to receive information and reminders indefinitely. It’s what you call a highly-targeted list. The postcard mailing is fairly-well targeted, however, it’s a one-shot deal. It’ll be in the waste basket except for the tiny percentage for which it may be exactly the right thing at the right time.
When you send an email to the people who requested a free report once a month with a single idea or tip for caring for their elders, this organization would be always in top of mind position and also be regarded highly because of their expertise and quality information. Even further the law of reciprocity could become involved considering the good value this company provided prior to ever collecting a single dollar.
I see business is all the time advertising in print an expensive magazines. In Philadelphia there is Philadelphia Magazine. In South Jersey, there is SJ magazine. These are the magazines which I see because I live in South Jersey. I’m sure there are major magazines in most metropolitan areas. Ads in these types of magazines are expensive. Yet I see most of the ads lack in advertising a landing page. Most businesses have the presence of mind to at least put their website address in their ad but actually that’s not good enough. It a landing page is much more effective than just sending someone to your home page.
Any restaurant, law firm, dentist, spa, massage therapist, chiropractor…ANYBODY who has a website and is not leveraging the power of a landing page to capture contact information of their ideal clients is only using their website as a glorified business card. When you take your customer from print ad to website, to requesting information, you are essentially taking their hand and walking them to your cash register.
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Replace One Bad Habit With a Good One
Becoming highly productive requires the elimination of habits which are not highly productive. The installation of good habits is required to fill the void.
Bad habits are like weeds. They grow strong and they grow fast. You barely notice them and before you know it, they’re causing trouble in your lawn or garden. They have really strong roots too. Think of a dandelion. You try to pull it out of the ground but to get the entire root out requires a lot more effort the just tugging the top.
Energy? Yes. Will power is driven by energy. Willpower is necessary for focused attention and especially to create new habits. It’s a very interesting subject. The subject of books, not short articles (though I hope this article helps), and the study of it is powerfully enlightening.
Will power comes in limited supply. We only get a little bit every day. It gets used up in short bursts and after that, the vacuum left in its place is fertile ground for weeds. Touch a button and you’re checking email. Touch a button and you’re checking Facebook. Open the fridge, reach for a smoke…it’s hard to break this habit cycle!
As business owners (and this is true for high-level executives), it’s uncommon to get in more than a couple of hours of truly productive work. What is “productive work?” Productive work is the focused attention and action which produces the highest-value. What is “highest value”? Highest value is determined by the results your work will produce now and in the future. To be truly productive requires focused attention on your highest-value tasks for a concentrated period of time and then a period of recovery.
Studies have shown, most people are limited to about one hour of focused attention at a time before their ability to remain focused begins to fade. A break of about 20 minutes, including water and a healthy snack, delivers the necessary recovery for the next hour. 2 of these sessions in the morning and 2 in the afternoon will give you 4 highly productive hours in the day. Do this, and you will still have a couple of good hours to spend in “reactive mode” such as responding to emails, returning phone calls and attending to the minutia on your to-do list.
One thing can make all the difference. What is it? Here’s a list of ideas:
When you invest time into your day in this manner, you’ll know you’re being productive. You’ll know the new you is more productive than 90% of other people. You’ll feel less worked, less stressed and you’ll be invested in your business or career at a much deeper level.
Tip #1: Set a timer to for your 1-hour segments. Your cell phone probably has a built-in timer. If you don’t, the hour will spill into longer periods. Even though it may feel easy for you to blow right through the first hour and keep going, it’s vital to stop and take a the renewal break. This serves more than just the renewal. It also trains your brain to execute at a higher level so your 1-hour’s worth of work gets finished faster and better.
Tip #2: Start your day early. Get the blood and body moving. Get some oxygen flowing through your lungs and brain. Drink water. If you must eat, keep it light. Get 2 sessions in before noon.
Tip #3: Keep the momentum going by having a nutritious lunch. Keep it as light as possible. You want to avoid afternoon-crash syndrome which is generally attributable to a heavy lunch. Don’t even open your email until this time of the day. Be vigilant with your time here and make sure you have your next planned hour of focused productivity scheduled for a specific time and stick with it.
Studies have shown most people accomplish less than 2 hours of productive work per 8 hour day. Imagine the difference focusing on 4 hours on highly productive work for you. Do it for yourself and then help your employees implement this strategy for themselves. Imagine the difference it could make in your business and your life.
A website and a couple social media accounts make up only a fraction of your online presence. One of the most important online marketing strategies, especially for small businesses which serve a specific geographical area is spreading your business information everywhere possible. I call it:
This video explains more.
Think of having your business or professional profile and advertisements in dozens print publications. What would an ad all the most important and relevant magazines, newspapers and trade publications mean to you and your business? What if there were billboards with a photo of you or your company logo and phone number on the major roadways around town?
Thanks to the power of the web, you and your business can show up on dozens of highly visited websites, search engines and directories, pretty much for free. Doing so may not be quite as powerful has having ads in dozens of magazines, newspapers and on roadside billboards, however, it’s still very effective.
The Magic of a Good Online Presence Happens When People Find You Who Don’t Already Know You Exist
Google, Yahoo, Bing, all the social media platforms and dozens of other directories give us places where we can describe our business with words, pictures and details which all matter to people when they’re looking for a business like yours. Just about all the details about your business which exist on these sites is aggregated and delivered to people when they’re looking for a business or services like ours.
If you have been in business for more than a year, it’s probable you have already made it onto a number of online directories. However, it’s really important to be proactive and modify the information, enter your website address, check all details for accuracy, add images, and descriptive detail and generally take advantage of all the resources each of these directories allows.
There could be dozens more places you COULD be listed online with rich descriptive information about your business but you’re not. Use this FREE tool to find out where you could benefit by having a stronger online presence http://www.mazermarketing.com/local-business-search/
This Works for All Kinds of Businesses, Home Based, Services Businesses, Coaches, Advisers, Consultants, Realtors, Everyone
I have been using this method as the cornerstone of my efforts in improving the visibility to my business and my clients’ businesses for many years. It’s fundamental to marketing a local business (one which serves a specific region as opposed to a national company).
This is a core concept shared in The Business Owner’s Guide to Marketing Online book and seminar. Learn more, click here.
For help on this subject, contact Andrew Mazer by sending an email directly to firstname.lastname@example.org
Running the Business with Your Fingertips
The most successful business executives and owners understand that even the best athletes, as an
example, recognize the need for “outside” objective coaching and mentoring. You can remain at the top of your game without growing.
Your response is “OK maybe I do but it’s not because I want to. You don’t really think I’d be doing this if I didn’t have to, do you?” The quick answer is “Yes I do, because you don’t have to!”
I’m betting you believe you’re already doing everything you’re supposed to do and you’re still fighting the daily fight to keep revenue and profits up, deal with disgruntled employees and a laundry list of other problems. Being at the top isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be hard. Most of us get caught up in the “Tribulations of Operations”.
When you’re driving, you continually make small adjustments to your steering while looking ahead down the road. How far do you think you’d get before hitting something if you were focused on only the first ten feet in front of the car? Yet that’s the trap we fall into. We focus on the wrong, and I’ll use a technical term here, “stuff”!
How many times have you heard “Learn to work ON your business and not just IN your business?” You’re response is, “Yeah, sure I’d like to do that but I don’t have the time. You don’t understand how much I have to do and how tough times are right now.”
Have you enough guts to take the step of putting aside your ego along with the list of reasons why you can’t, and admit that maybe you’re not doing things as well as you should or are not as effective a leader as you could be? AND, get this, THERE’S NO FAULT HERE!. It’s not about blame. IT IS, however, about accepting responsibility.
Listen, ain’t nobody that does it right all the time. No one’s perfect and I’m pretty sure there’s never been an exec, that’s never made a mistake. So own it and deal with it. When you do, you’ll gain a sense of renewal and energy and be ready to accept objective input. That’s when you begin to grow again and to view the future with renewed excitement. When that occurs, care to venture a guess on what happens to the organization.
An important tip is to be sharp enough to be aware of the signs of complacency or mediocrity in ourselves and businesses. Unfortunately, that isn’t something any of us are any good at, but that’s where a professional consultant can provide perspective. When we master that we keep incidents from maturing into problems.
Another trick is learning to understand what the real problem is. Suffice it to say that the “problem” is rarely the problem. It’s a symptom of the problem. Digging down to expose the real culprit is the only way to develop an actual solution that will work.
Real success isn’t reaching the top, it’s continuing to learn, plan and execute. If you think you’ve reached the top, you’d better keep an eye out for those about to pass you on the ladder.
There are many business tips, tricks and techniques a truly experienced business consultant can assist you with to adjust and realign the ‘Spine” of your business or organization.
This is how to begin the process of making small adjustments to stay on course, stop wrestling with our business and “Run the Business with Our Finger Tips”.
An unknown sage wrote: “There is no elevator to success, you have to take the steps.”
Are you ready to take the steps?
This post contributed by Dan Ceglia of Strategic Business Management Group. Dan’s bio and resume are far too interesting to abbreviate. I encourage anyone to read it. It’s truly remarkable. Click here to read it. Dan is a regular attendee at Small Business University events. Join us sometime!