We are in fight or flight mode right now. You either sit back and wait and see what happens and let the world happen to you or you get into action mode: regroup and replan. I am hoping you are choosing the latter.
It's a stressful time. We are all in a period of collective mourning: of the people we are losing, of our loss of freedom and all the things we take for granted and in many cases, loss of our clients or worse still, our businesses.
In these uncharted times, we need to focus on what we can control and not on what we can't (which is why I am limiting my exposure to the news and social media to only once a day). We need a plan and it's probably a different plan to the one we were working on 2 months ago. We also need to be listening to our market and ensuring we are truly serving them - and pivoting our businesses, if appropriate.
The businesses who do this and are nimble, are the ones who will survive this uncertain time and come out the other side thriving.
Each year I run a group online coaching programme, in the past it's been a big success. For the last 6-months I have been planning to open the doors to this year's programme today.
But as you know A LOT can happen in a few days in this crazy time we are currently living in and today is definitely very different to how I imagined it would be.
In the spirit of listening, I asked my community what their views were on whether I should still go ahead, and whilst some said I should delay many others felt that with the isolation and uncertainty ahead, getting some external help as well as being able to work with other agency owners, is exactly what they need.
So I have decided to go ahead and that means that the Agency Accelerator Programme for Agency Owners is officially open for registration. BUT I am going to do a few things differently because of Coronavirus:
Let me explain why I think I can help.....
I started my marketing agency back in the early 1990s during a challenging time (the gulf war) and rapidly grew (before selling up). I started my agency coaching practice in 2007 and then the world hit the financial crisis in 2008 .... and my business thrived.
Now I appreciate we are in completely unchartered waters with current challenges including:
I realised that now more than ever, getting some external support from me and from other agencies is really going to help you navigate these next few months, and that is why I decided to go ahead with the launch.
I am also running a series of free webinars (the first one is tomorrow), so please come and join me online to learn how to navigate these uncharted waters.
I did pretty well at school but performed abysmally in my History exam (and if I am being honest got the lowest grade possible). I remember getting my results and thinking “I wrote 8 pages; how could I deserve that grade?” But truth be told, I wrote 8 pages of rubbish that had little to do with the question! I made that rookie mistake of reading the question at the start of the exam and then focused the rest of my time writing my answer (on 8 pages!) yet never once rechecking the exam question to be sure I was writing 8 pages that drove towards answering the question. I suspect most kids are coached to not make this mistake (I wish I was) yet we continually make this mistake in business!
So the question you need to ask yourself every day at work: ‘Is what am I (and my team) doing driving towards delivering our vision and strategy?’ (‘the exam question’).
It’s so easy at work to get bogged down in the detail or side tracked on a ‘nice to do’ project, and it’s easy to get too focused on the URGENT (which doesn’t drive you forward and creates stress) rather than the IMPORTANT (which does drive you forward). I have been having this conversation a lot recently in my 1-2-1 coaching sessions so thought it worth writing about.
This is a CONTEXT (the why) / CONTENT (the what) question. Get clear on the context and the content becomes clear or in other words, get clear on your strategy and the tasks you need to focus on to deliver the strategy become very clear, other tasks need to be ditched, delegated or deferred because they are a distraction.
Part of focusing on delivering the strategy is being a good delegator and therefore ensuring everyone is working at the top of their game (since they are delegating down as much as possible). When we delegate effectively we can focus on the strategic aspects of our role. I always ask my clients “Are you working on stuff that only you can do and delegating the other tasks?” Often the answer is no because ‘It’s quicker to do it myself’or ‘they won’t do it as well as me’. This is not useful thinking and will definitely distract you from delivering the bigger picture and answering the exam question!
So ask yourself how often you stop at work and reread the exam question before diving head long into your day’s To-do list? The answer may well be ‘not enough’in which case, avoid getting the lowest grade and reread the question more frequently!
I have found in business that when we keep things simple; using plain English, clients can better understand how to apply the ideas to their business.
I was with a client last week who had been asked to write a business plan by their bank. When I asked the client why they have to do this they couldn’t tell me but showed me a complex template they needed to complete that clearly wasn’t going to be useful for them in the longer term in business but was just a ‘tick box’ exercise for the bank. On a score of 1 to 10, how useful is this? 1?
As opposed to sounding smart by using MBA language that no one understands, sometimes by going back to basics we get a wider understanding and buy in.
Let’s use an example: Business Strategy
I googled this and Wikipedia’s definition is ‘Business strategy is a field that deals with the major intended and emergent initiatives taken by general managers on behalf of owners, involving utilization of resources, to enhance the performance of firms in their external environments’
Wow I am already confused! Does that motivate me to want to go further? No. Imagine, as a business coach, if I used that type of language with a client? I might sound smart but I wouldn’t last long!
When I explain what Business Strategy is to a client I simply explain it as ‘everything that you do in your business that helps you earn money in the future’ (or Revenue is ‘money today’ and Strategy is ‘money tomorrow’). Now does that make more sense?
These simple and clear definitions help clients understand what strategy means and therefore how they should spend their time when doing ‘strategy work’. It becomes much easier for a client to list the type of activities that falls within this category and allocate sufficient time to do them – rather than shy away from business strategy because it sounds too complicated.
The moral of this story is that if we keep our language simple in business, we create better understanding, a common language and a focused, aligned and motivated workforce. So do you apply this when developing your marketing messages and all other external communications? Let me know what you think and don’t forget you can download a range of useful whitepapers by clicking here