Takeaways from the "Your Turn Challenge"
I added a blog post for 7 days in a row. Before this week, I sometimes went 7 weeks between posts. I learned about the Your Turn Challenge, which asked participants to commit to writing everyday for a week through Seth Godin's blog.
This was the motivation I needed to make myself find the time to do it.
The best part of the challenge was connecting with others on Twitter and reading their ideas, dreams and tips to make things better. A few of the posts from Twitter...
My takeaway from this challenge is to keep going even when I don't think I have anything to say, or that anyone is reading it. I'm going to keep learning from other writers, and seek out something new. The Your Turn Challenge Blog Archive page is a great place to start!
Thank you to those who have reached out and offered some encouragement to me and others participating in this challenge.
Having an opinion on social media
There are people who post in their Twitter bio, "my opinion is my own," in an attempt to say that whatever they post doesn't represent where they work, or groups they belong to. That's not true.
Can you imagine this working outside of social media?
You're at a busy coffee shop with friends and you say, "What I'm about to say is my own opinion, not my company's..." Of course not!
Not that everything that comes out of your mouth is a press release for your organization, but your personality - online and off - does have an impact. People need to like and trust you to do business with you. There's no "off" switch for people to know when you're not at work.
I encourage you to be authentically you on social media and offline. The idea of social media is engagement. People are going to let you know if they agree or disagree with what you say. Don't be afraid of that conversation.
Be respectful when you share, and respond, to other ideas. If we all felt the same way about everything, it would be boring.
This post is Day 6 of the Your Turn Challenge. I'd love to connect with you! Find me on Twitter @CleverIdeasCO
3 Ideas for getting unstuck
Do you ever have one of those days when you are really productive?
Not just that you got a lot done, but everything came easily to you, with little effort. Those days are the best!
I joke that I am powered by caffeine and that the amount of work I get done is based on the amount of coffee I've had. On those productive days, I cross items off of my to-do list, follow-up with clients and tackle projects big and small. I am organized and always try to tackle the item on my list that I want to do the least. Makes the rest of the day a little better.
We all have the days where you feel stuck. You can't make any progress, you feel unproductive and defeated.
Here are 3 ways to boost your productivity (caffeine optional) and get unstuck...
No matter what has you stuck, find what works for you, and try and focus on the good.
This post is Day 5 of the Your Turn Challenge. I'd love to connect with you! Find me on Twitter @CleverIdeasCO
Taking the leap to start my own company
How did you end up with your job? Is it the one you dreamed about growing up? I have been thinking about how I ended up doing a job I love.
My first job was a lifeguard at the neighborhood pool. It was the perfect first job with just enough responsibility (thankfully, I didn't have to jump in and do any rescues). I worked with friends, listened to music and on rainy days we played card games.
During college, I spent a few years working at a daycare center. My plan was to someday become an elementary teacher. I have some great stories of the adventures of hanging out with a group of kindergarten-age kids. I loved their honesty (most of the time) and creativity. One of my favorite activities was to have them write stories. At that age, kids won't say, "I don't know." They give you a best guest, or give it a try. They're not afraid to be wrong.
A few years in to that job, I determined that was not what I wanted to do forever. Although I loved working with kindergarteners, their parents... not so much. So I knew that I wouldn't be a teacher. I thought about social work, but I wasn't sure that was the right path. I knew I wanted to help people, and that no matter what direction I went in, I needed to improve my writing. That led to the decision to attempt to use my random credit hours toward an English degree. It wasn't an easy route, but I'm glad that I pushed myself to complete the degree.
After graduation, I decided to explore a degree in non-profit management. Then I would be sure to end up in a career where I was giving back and helping the community. During this time, I also began to volunteer with Communities In Schools. Every week I participate in Lunch Buddies, which paired me up with a student at an elementary school that needed a mentor. I remembered how much fun it was to get that honesty and the perspective. We've been meeting since she was in kindergarten, and now she's in 5th grade.
I (finally!) figured out that if my career didn't exactly line up with my expectations, I had options to volunteer and get involved with the community.
I finished the degree and worked for a few years in economic development. I built relationships with entrepreneurs and people who dreamed of someday owning a business. I learned so much from them and was inspired by their ideas. My job was to connect them to resources through workshops and research (marketing, demographics, community information).
When my position was eliminated, I was devastated, but it didn't take long before the people I had helped along the way contacted me and asked me to work for them. They needed research, help with an email newsletter, grant proposals, advice on social media. I realized that I could still run the small business workshops, with help from generous sponsors. I still had the passion to help small businesses. It was rewarding and I had the resources to do it.
That is how Clever Ideas Marketing was created. It's a little backwards from the normal business start-up story. Maybe sitting in on all of the business development workshops influenced me. I didn't dream about running my own business, but at that time, I didn't have a choice but to take the leap.
I know that I have been successful because of my involvement in the community and willingness to help out when people asked. I love to do workshops because I want to teach small business owners and non-profit directors and staff how they can use tools and resources to help grow their organization. I have always wanted to help people, but until I started doing it, I didn't think about it being through a marketing company.
I may have taken a longer-than-necessary journey to figure it out, from the summers at the pool, surviving a room full of kindergartners, and switching majors a few times. I'm happy with where I ended up.
This post is Day 4 of the Your Turn Challenge. I'd love to connect with you! Find me on Twitter @CleverIdeasCO
Find new ideas and inspiration for your organization or career
As the owner of a marketing company, the most important thing I can do for my clients (and to grow my business) is to keep learning. Marketing is a constant changing industry. There are new tools, new rules and a growing list of options for organizations of all sizes to promote their products or services.
Stay on top of trends and news in your industry
Find articles, books, blog posts, webinars and podcasts about your industry or sign-up for email newsletters to get quality content right in your inbox. Ask for recommendations, look for people with a large following on social media or keynote speakers at conferences for ideas.
Connect with industry leaders
You can grow your network by reaching out to those experts in your industry that you learn from by commenting on articles or asking questions. Find the leaders (brands or people) in your industry and follow the hashtags they are using on Twitter. Use them wisely to join the conversation. No spam allowed - be engaging and don't just promote yourself or ask them to do something for you.
Keeping up with trends in your industry is important, but you can get great information outside of your industry too. Learning something new, outside of what you're normally reading or listening to, can give you new ideas. Instead of reading a business book, read something about the arts, design or history. Look for helpful posts about getting organized, saving time or fundraising. You never know what will give you the motivation or spark your creativity!
Set a goal for how many books you'll read each month, or how many podcasts you will listen to each week - put the time in your calendar. There are great ideas out there that can help take your organization or career to the next level.
This post is Day 3 of the Your Turn Challenge. I'd love to connect and learn from you! Find me on Twitter @CleverIdeasCO
Which social media channels are right for you?
There are so many choices for small businesses and non-profits to choose from for social media - Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat... Do you feel compelled to be a master-of-all social media?
Here are 3 things to consider when deciding on promoting your organization on social media.
1. Where are your customers? If they're tweeting about your business or your industry, you should be on Twitter. Just because you hear a lot about Instagram or Snapchat, doesn't mean you should spend your time and energy there. Check out the demographics for the social media channel you're considering, and make sure it aligns with your target audience.
2. Master 1 or 2 pages, and promote them. Instead of posting once a month on LinkedIn, and trying to remember to take photos for Pinterest, make a plan for the social media channels you're comfortable with (or willing to learn everything about). Engage with people, post original content, and stick with your branding - using consistent fonts, colors and photo filters. Think about how you promote your social media channels. It should be on all of your marketing materials, your email signature, and links in your email newsletter.
3. Give people a reason to follow you. Think about the same things you do in a room full of people at a networking event. You ask questions, you learn about others, make introductions, and discuss local events or causes you believe in. This is what you should do on social media. You would never hand someone next to you a box of flyers or business cards and ask them to share them with everyone they know (Facebook update: please share so we can get to 1000 likes!). You do promote the great things you do, talk about your dedicated staff, community events you're attending, local fundraisers or volunteer opportunities you're participating in, and your own events and services.
You can also find tools like Buffer and HootSuite to schedule posts and measure your progress. Don't waste your time or money! Utilize the best social media channels for your organization, engage with people and grow your business.
This post is Day 2 of the Your Turn Challenge. Find me on Twitter @CleverIdeasCO
A little motivation to get started
I have struggled with finding the time to blog. I make time for client work, but tend not to follow my own advice. I find inspiration for my work reading, listening to podcast and my daily email from Seth Godin. He posted about the Your Turn Challenge, "a 7-day blogging challenge inspired by the Your Turn book by Seth Godin. Powered by readers (who are now writers)" and I'm in.
One of the best parts of this challenge, besides the accountability, is the prompts to get you started.
So here we go...
Day 1: Why are you doing the Your Turn Challenge?
There has always been a big difference for me on the goals I accomplish when I frame them, "I have to..." compared to "I want to...". I have an email newsletter that I have to write on the second Tuesday of every month. I give myself a deadline, and it gets done. Anything on my to-do list without a deadline or emphasis (I want to, someday...), ends up on the list for a long time. My mindset has to be I have to for all of my important goals.
My blog on my website has been one of those "I want to..." items. Although I have had a blog/website for years, it does not get updated regularly. I recycle content from my email newsletter or workshop (my presentations are definitely a have to item). Sharing my ideas and things I've learned about marketing, somehow, has not made it to the top of the list.
I'm hoping that through the Your Turn Challenge, I realize that my blog is something that I have to do and prove that I can find the time, get in the habit to keep the blog going after the challenge. I hope to make some connections with others in this challenge too.
Sometimes all you need is a little motivation to get you going.
Start off 2015 organized
Hope 2015 is off to a great start for you! How are those resolutions? Here are 3 things you can do this month to help customers/clients learn more about you and help you reach your marketing goals...
1. Google your business (or name). Take a few minutes and Google yourself. Is your business information correct? Is it easy to find contact information? See if there are any reviews that need to be addressed.
2. Make sure your Facebook business page is reaching the right audience. Beginning this month, Facebook has made changes that impact how many people see "overly promotional" posts from pages. Read more from Facebook here, and join me Thursday for a workshop from the Brooklyn-Irish Hills Chamber ($10 for non-members and it includes lunch!) - details here.
3. Get the tools to save you time. From managing your contacts (FullContact), time management (My Minutes), loyalty programs (Perka) and creating graphics (check out Canva - it's free!) - there's an app or program out there that can help you get organized, build your brand, and reach new customers.