For a time of supposed reflection and let’s be honest, hibernation, the start of the year can actually be quite exhausting, can’t it?
For some, it’s even stressful and emotional.
Apparently, January is when most people file for divorce. Now, this week we encounter ‘Blue Monday’ – a date calculated to be the most depressing day of the year.
This ‘scientific’ calculation factors in the weather, we’ve still got a week left until payday and the Christmas feel-good has well and truly left us. It also factors when New Year resolutions have most likely failed, or we’re upset that we haven’t even started them yet!
Actually, Blue Monday was a PR Stunt by Sky Travel back in 2006 to get people to book their holidays and feel better knowing they’ve got something to look forward to. The date is still used by media today, but also to highlight mental health issues during this time of year.
Let’s forget about the PR spin for the moment and instead focus on why perhaps some of us may be feeling a little raw in January, particularly business owners.
In business, do you notice how the pressure ramps up straight after summer? First, there’s the urgency to finish the end of the year with a high. For many of us that might be a key sales period so we jump on board and sell, sell, sell!
Then there’s the planning for the year ahead. All very important work and great if you can look back at the end of the year and have some sense of achievement or smash those goals.
At the same time, it’s the seasonal rush cramming everything in – from festive meetups and parties, shopping for presents, then actually celebrating during that wonderful time of year with loved ones. Finally, when you think you can relax, that seasonal lurgy you’ve been dodging for the past three months finally hits!
Then we’re straight back to another New Year…..come January 1st we’re starting our shiny new lifestyle, mindset, health and business goals.
How’s that plate spinning working out for you?
Let me tell you a little secret…
January is not the ‘magic month’ nor is this time of year that makes or breaks your life, your business or your goals.
It’s a great, exciting time of year to start fresh, yes, but let’s be clear if you want to do something you don’t have to wait for the perfect time to start.
If you do start and things don’t go to plan – re-evaluate, pick yourself back up and start again.
If you haven’t started yet – it’s OK. Your ‘now’ can begin whenever you like.
Here are a few tips to help you get back on track no matter what time of year:
Strip it back or break it down further.
It’s important to think big and put the effort in to get the results we want. They’re not going to happen otherwise so yes, strategic planning is important.
Often when supporting clients, they feel overwhelmed by everything they have to do. All of a sudden that plan now needs action and must become a reality! Suddenly there’s too much to think about and you’re not sure where to start.
Set realistic expectations. Just remember, you don’t have to do it all or won’t see results immediately. You also may need to find your flow – get into the swing of it first and not expect to get it right the first time.
Would you try and run a marathon on your first try or start slow and build up your running plan instead?
Same with your marketing – instead of churning out content five days a week, can you write and post a blog once a week and make sure you circulate it more effectively? Instead of trying to ace your social media channels, focus on one and engage better with your audience before adding the next channel. (Great tips learnt from Content Live last November can also be found here to create and manage your content more effectively).
When you start to feel overwhelmed, look at the task in hand and strip back to what needs to get done first. That’s the key, to just start – plan when you’re going to get it done, set yourself a deadline then focus on that. You can tweak it to perfection (well as close to) later. I’m working on a 90-day plan as it keeps me focused. Plus I’m more productive with short, sharp bursts of activity and projects. Importantly, it leaves me with time to review the barriers I’m encountering and how best to tackle them so I can keep moving forward.
Remember – small can be beautiful too!
It’s really important to set yourself targets, of course. How many followers do we want to attract, how many sales or new clients do we want to secure? Which partners do you want to work with or what key titles do you want to appear in?
Clients often feel deflated if they don’t hit the jackpot first time around. There’s a reason those slot machines need feeding in for some time before it pays out. This is never truer than in marketing where it’s all about the long game.
Don’t only focus on the big win immediately – break it down into even smaller targets. Instead of waiting to rejoice the big magic number you want to achieve, it’s important to note (and also celebrate) each and every step on the journey!
If you’re aiming to get 500 followers then cheer the new followers who join you each week.
You’ve launched a campaign. You’ve broken even and there’s a little more in the pot – that’s also a result to be proud of. It means you are converting sales, something is working, now you just have to tweak and dial up the amp.
Tapping into smaller audience pockets through niche titles may not sound as sexy as targeting national titles. However, if that audience is far more engaged and likely to buy, then put vanity away for now and use it as a stepping stone to more sign-ups.
Small is beautiful and small means you can only grow from there!
Take a break.
When all else fails, and you’ve hit the wall but you’ve been pushing and pushing – stop. Yes, that’s right. Stop. Sometimes we fail to realise that there is resistance for a reason and we need a fresh perspective or fresh pair of eyes to see what the trouble is
Try something else (no, not Netflix!) Go for a walk and get active. Walking for 15 minutes, particularly 15 mins in nature, stimulates creativity.
A former boss once banned us from the office when we were struggling to write an annual PR plan for a client. We had difficulty coming up with a fresh, exciting perspective having worked on the account solidly for two years. Instead, he told us to take the day off and enjoy ourselves. Sure enough, the next day we came up with a host of different and original ideas that the client loved and the agency was re-appointed.
Now whenever I have trouble writing content, struggling with marketing plans or PR ideas for a client, I set aside time to do something creative and then get back to the task in hand. Never fails to work!
Learn from your mistakes.
If you fail the first time or you’re not seeing the results you wanted, review what is going wrong – what worked, what didn’t and what you could improve.
Following great insights from my mastermind group, if someone hasn’t purchased your product or service – ask them to pinpoint what specifically concerned them. Take that insight and address that in your marketing or next sales round.
Just try it again, tweak and try again.
“I never lose. I either win or learn” – Nelson Mandela
Go against the flow. Dare to be different.
It can be particularly difficult when you’re in a competitive market. We get comparisonitis. It can paralyse you into procrastination. There’s a concern you need to pivot and switch and follow the crowd to get sales in.
However, this is your business and therefore your rules.
No-one can offer what you offer in your way. Stick to your plan and offer something different that is well considered, tried and tested as opposed to something in desperation to keep up with the Joneses.
Ask for help.
Do you need accountability? Are you having trouble with visibility? Feeling like your strategic plan isn’t quite right? Do you need to delegate? Could you use more training? Who around you can help?
I’m getting better at asking for help myself. Often it’s faster to just ask for help and get the tasks done, rather than procrastinating, spending valuable time researching or trying to figure it out yourself.
As a business owner, we often can’t see the wood for the trees so it’s often beneficial to get another perspective which might provide a refreshing view or solution to help you further.
I’ve taken most of January off. I’m doing the things I need for my business yes, this girl’s gotta pay the mortgage! It’s meant a more creative start to the year, easing into things gently which was greatly needed.
It means that by mid-January instead of feeling flat and worn out, I’m ready to step up and put some plans into action. It’s quite liberating actually!
Care to join me?
I’m offering a free 30 min consultation call to business owners and founders to help you gain clarity and confidence in their marketing and PR direction for 2019.
Need to discuss a challenge you’re having, want advice on your strategy?
Book in with me here!
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Pinterest *More active in 2019!