For my new E-Connect Local program, I am outsourcing some of the more mundane, tedious work to virtual assistants. This is one of those times I don’t want to leave anything to chance. So instead of quickly shooting off an email, like I usually do, I decided to write a P&P, or Policies and Procedures document, to make sure I covered all my bases.
Having a background in business analysis I’ve written tons of project documentation in my day, some hundreds of pages long. But writing software requirements is fun (to me at least). Writing policies is anything but fun.
I sat in front of my computer with a blank Word document open, and thought “If I had my VA right here with me and I was going to train her what to do, where would I start?” Clearly she knows nothing about what I am about to say to her. She knows nothing about the program, or the clients, or the purpose of it all.
So the biggest question at that moment was “How much do I need to tell her about the overall program and it’s goals?” The answer that came to me was “As much as she needs to know. Just get writing and it will come.”
So I did. I just started documenting the activities that I had been doing myself, which I now wanted her to take over. I explained each step in as much detail as I could think of. I covered every file she needed to access, how to access it and what to do with it. I wrote down each decision she needed to make and how to make it and what to do if she got stuck. Every step of the way, I considered as many of the “what if X happens?” scenarios. For the most part, if something was not clear, or did not work the way it was documented, the course of action is to simply email me and tell me about it.
One of the great side effects of documenting these steps is that it forces you to consider every action carefully. It makes you think of things you may not have thought of. It creates a mechanism for identifying gaps in the flow, and gives you an opportunity to fill them in now, rather than having the VA identify them, or worse yet, miss them.
I imagine this will be a living document for a while. There will be bugs and adjustments, and some back and forth, but what I did in 90 minutes this morning will save me mountains of headaches, questions, and potential lost productivity in the future.
It’s clear that I need to create a Policies and Procedures document for the activities that I am NOT giving away! I’m sure I will be a lot more efficient in running these programs if I have a system to follow. Not only that, but I can expect more consistent results across the board if every client gets the exact same treatment.
So yes, it’s a pain and it’s not fun, but it’s clearly worth carving out an hour or two of your week to do. It may mean saving days of your time later.
The Pew Internet and American Life Project just released another study indicating that social media is not where most people find local businesses.
It continues to baffle me that so many small businesses are taken in by the hype of social media to the extent that they are starting to lose focus on the big picture. Social media is important yes, people use social media for both personal communication and getting information, but it’s not the ONLY method they use. And different demographic groups use it in different ways and for different purposes.
The study indicates a strong tendency for people to get information about local community events, services, establishments, and news in multiple ways. TV, newspaper, radio, Internet, word of mouth (phone, text, email, chat, face-to-face) are all still important channels of communication in peoples’ lives when it comes to local information. People make judgements about the strength and validity of the information based both on who stated it and how they came across it.
So when it comes to your marketing, don’t bet the farm on Facebook, you need to create a variety of mechanisms to consistently communicate your brand message. You need to understand your audience and how each communication channel “fits” your company’s culture and your products and services. This is why I tout a strategic approach to Internet marketing.
The Pew organization is highly trustworthy and their research is widely valued. It’s worth your time to read the study if you can. It’s long so if you don’t have time to read the whole thing, at least read Part 5: The Role of the Internet.
Earlier this week I told you about our new “E-Connect Your Business” program and why I developed it. Now I will explain it in more detail, and how it might benefit you.
First of all, this is clearly a service that businesses need. The first week after I announced it I had two businesses sign up. I’m almost afraid to send out the mailing I had planned for fear we’ll get overrun with phone calls! Sounds like a good thing, but it’s a new program and I want to do it right.
E-Connect Your Business uses a collaborative approach to implementing a company’s e-marketing programs. Nobody knows the business better than the business’s owner and its key staff. Blindly handing over your marketing to somebody without having input into the detail activities is not likely to succeed. That’s why an important part of our program is that the business client needs to commit to a certain level of involvement in not only the strategic direction of their e-marketing program, but also in the creation of the content that will get distributed throughout the various channels.
The business needs to assign internal resources to work with us in several key roles:
The real underlying success factor here is that the business resources have a stake in the program, but our staff takes care of all the technical details and manages the entire program. This takes all the hassle out of it for the business! We do the work, and you get the results.
It’s really a beautiful model. Everybody does what they like to do best. You run your business, we do your e-marketing. You get the results (more business for you), and we get another happy customer (more business for us). Everyone wins!
I recently started offering a new program for businesses that “just want someone to do it for us.” I had not planned on offering this service, and I didn’t even think I wanted it to be part of my business model. But I’ve learned a few things recently that changed my mind.
I spent the past 18 months teaching other small business owners how to do their own e-marketing. What I found is that very few of them will actually take it to the level where they are seeing significant results.
I tell them: “If you follow the program the way I show it to you, I guarantee you will see results.” And the ones who do follow it see the results! The problem is not the program. The program works.
The problem is that most business owners are too busy to be able to carve out the time they need to do it right.
Usually it starts out well. The person is motivated and sincere and even having fun. Then a business emergency gets in the way, and then another, and another, and soon the day-to-day running of the business consistently takes priority. The e-marketing program gets shelved with the thought, “I’ll start it again as soon as I have time.”
The reason the business owner wanted to do it himself in the first place is probably one of two things. Either he is on a tight budget and wants to save money, or it seems interesting and he sincerely wants to learn how to do it.
What usually happens is the business owner ends up spending time he could hardly afford to spend (time is money after all) and gets nothing for his effort because he abandoned the program before it took off. He might even say, “it didn’t work” and end up with a bad taste in his mouth over the whole thing.
This was a hard lesson for me to learn, but now that I’ve seen it happen again and again, it makes complete sense. We don’t offer the live workshops any more, but we do still have the video training program, which is the exact same material as the live workshops, just delivered by pre-recorded video. It’s a very affordable self-study program for business owners who really feel they want to try to do it themselves.
So, I am now turning my focus on our new service, E-Connect Your Business. Two levels of service offer the business owner the option to hand over the e-marketing program to a professional. An added benefit to the business is that now someone else is on the hook for the results!
In my next post, I’ll offer some additional info about this new program. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about E-Connect Your Business, visit EConnectPro.com, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yesterday morning I did a presentation to the local Chamber of Commerce. The topic of the presentation was “Debunking the Myths of E-Mail Marketing: It’s Really Not SPAM.”
Despite the fact that it’s the hottest month of the year in Virginia and everybody is at the Outer Banks on vacation, it was a full house.
Clearly this is a topic of interest.
E-Mail Marketing has a bad rap. There is so much misunderstanding and misinformation about e-mail marketing. Encouraging my clients to do an e-mail marketing campaign generally meets with either disdain or chagrin or sometimes even disbelief (“Seriously?!?”).
As I was giving this presentation I looked around the room to see if people were falling asleep or reading their email on their smart phones. They were all just staring at me. Hopefully I didn’t have food in my teeth. I’m guessing they were just rapt with attention.
I doubt it’s because I’m a charismatic speaker.
E-mail marketing works. Done correctly, i.e. ethically and with clear goals, e-mail marketing is the most successful internet marketing channel there is. Period.
Next week I am going to start a series, which will reveal to you the eight myths I debunked during my presentation yesterday, one at a time.
I am looking forward to it! I hope it does the same for you as it did for my audience yesterday.
EMarketingConnection.com is the place to go for support, community, and resources for your internet marketing programs.
Focusing completely on small businesses, EMarketingConnection.com is a membership site exclusively for those of us who understand the power of the internet and want to successfully leverage it to promote our business and boost sales.
With three membership levels (starting at free!) there is something for everyone at EMarketingConnection.com.
See you there!