This month the fine folks of the (almost) world famous Word Carnivals chose to write on a topic about re-energizing your business.To me, re-energizing is really about dealing with that feeling of being “stuck” — whether you’re bored and standing still or sliding out of control — and how to avoid and/or move yourself out and past that feeling into the place where things are humming along again like you want them to.
Since most of marketing advice out there addresses the bored and standing still type of feelings, I thought I’d tackle the sliding-out-of-control kind. Ready?
First something fun:
Did you find yourself laughing at any of these situations? A snort? A chuckle?
Sure you did. Probably (most likely) because you’ve been there yourself.
Even this California girl has found herself hurt and humiliated at the bottom of an icy staircase on more than one occasion. (I also discovered just how horrible my driving skills really are while attending college in Boulder, CO.)
Those of us not raised in a wintery clime don’t usually learn about the dangerous combination of ice and mobility as children. It’s not until we’re older and taking our first ski trip with friends (in our own cars!) that we begin to learn how to drive, walk or sometimes simply stand upright on the ice and snow.
Funnily enough, the same tips for successfully navigating in winter can also help us find our way through the trials and tribulations of marketing a small business. In short, to keep us loving what we’re doing.
20 Tips to Avoid Being Stuck on the Ice
1. Take your time. Make sure you leave early so you don’t have to rush. Don’t let other drivers intimidate you into driving faster than is safe.
Tip: Just say no to those Roadmaps to 10,000 overnight fans. They’re really just a distraction from doing the real work.
2. Double or triple the space between you and the car ahead of you. Stopping distance is important when things get slippery. It might be the driver in front of you who goes sideways, so leave enough room to avoid the collision.
Tip: Leave enough white space on your calendar for hiccups — whether it’s an appointment with a prospect or an entire campaign, it’s good to leave a generous buffer zone around those tasks.
3. Avoid the white knuckle syndrome. When we’re nervous, we tend to tense up. And gripping the wheel too tightly can slow your reaction time in an emergency. Loosen up and breathe.
Tip: Consciously focus on your breathing at intervals through out the day. Take a walk or do something physical to relax. A relaxed body is a relaxed mind. Which is what you need to have to ensure you make good decisions quickly.
4. Know the road conditions. Pay attention to where you’re going. To the weather. To your car. Are you properly equipped for the trip? If your route involves a steep hill, you might need to find a different route.
Tip: Plan ahead. Check in with your mentor. Keep your eyes and ears open as you move forward with your marketing campaign.
5. Keep one set of wheels on dry pavement as you approach an intersection. Find the side of the road that’s dry or has sand — where ever the best traction is, to avoid sliding through your stop.
Tip: Leverage the grounding ability of your mastermind cohorts. Checking in with them on a regular basis can give you traction when you need it and keep you safe when it looks like you might be sliding out of control.
6. Slow down for bridges and overpasses. They ice up first. It’s important that you avoid changes in your driving. Don’t change lanes. Keep a light touch on the steering. Any sudden movements could spell disaster.
Tip: Know where the crucial junctures are in your marketing and pay extra close attention to your execution. This isn’t the time to switch gears or change direction. Doing a live presentation? Be sure you’ve prepared an outline so you can stay on track.
7. Be prepared to be stuck. If you get stuck in the snow or ice, the worst thing you can do is spin your tires. This creates heat that melts the snow, making the spot you’re stuck in a frozen bowl of ice. Plus the treads of your tires fill up and freeze as well. You’ll never be able to drive out of that bowl without help. Carry some sand or kitty litter for these occasions. If you’re forced to drive in bad winter conditions on a regular basis, a wise investment would be snow tires and a set of chains.
Tip: Once you’ve got Marketing Plan A, try to think about what might go wrong and plan for the eventualities. Do you need a safety fund of cash? A back-up computer or hosting service? It’s also a good idea to build a circle of colleagues you can call on for ideas or help when you hit a wall.
8. Just stay home. Sometimes the conditions outside aren’t worth the risks. It’s okay to say no to an invitation or a trip that might turn deadly.
Tip: If you find yourself saying yes to everything, you’ll end up burned out and ready to quit sooner than later. Practice saying no to things that aren’t in your best interest or might lead you away from your goals and vision.
But what if it’s too late and you find yourself out of control and stuck in a dangerous slide? That all depends on the type of car and/or brakes you’ve got. Let’s take a look:
9. Rear-wheel drive cars should steer into the slide. If your rear end starts to slide to the right, turn your steering wheel to the right. And don’t forget to let off the accelerator.
Tip: If you find your marketing campaign beginning to slide off in another direction, it’s time to slow things down and notice where you’re headed. Give this new direction your full attention for how ever long it takes to decide whether or not it’s helpful or hurtful. Then you can choose whether or not to continue down that road.
10. ABS brakes. Maintain steady pressure, the brakes will pulsate and help you get control.
Tip: Systematize your marketing so that you can maintain consistency and delegate when possible.
11. No ABS brakes. Don’t maintain steady pressure on the brakes. Rather, take light stabs, hold, release, press again, and you’ll eventually regain control.
Tip: If you haven’t yet systematized your marketing, you’ll need to work on this in regular intervals. Try something. Test it. If it works, document it. If it doesn’t, adjust and try again.
12. Small, short wheel-base cars. These vehicles are more prone to sliding out of control. With a short wheel base the vehicle will turn around much quicker and easier then a long sedan. Sometimes you’ll have no warning. Drive accordingly with a small car.
Tip: If you’re a solopreneur or micro biz owner, it’s easier to find yourself off track and out of control because it’s just you making the decisions. This means you need to pay extra attention to your operations and the desire to automate or put things on autopilot (either mentally or literally).
And if you’re trying to walk on ice (not drive), remember to “walk like a penguin.”
13. Keep your center of gravity over your front leg.
Tip: Lean into the challenges of marketing yourself and your biz. Going slowly doesn’t mean standing still or procrastinating. It means putting one foot in front of the other. Deliberately. Every. Single. Day.
14. Take shorter steps or shuffle-walk.
Tip: Build your business slowly and surely. Take the time to get to know the people on your email list. Skype with them. Take them to coffee. Build real relationships.
15. Avoid shoes with smooth soles.
Tip: Marketing tactics that look pretty but have no real tread will get you nowhere fast. Be sure that you’ve taken the time to plan, implement and evaluate each step.
16. Keep your knees loose.
Tip: Don’t be so wedded to a marketing plan that you can’t make last minute adjustments when necessary.
17. Extend arms out slightly for balance.
Tip: Don’t tie all your hopes and dreams to just one strategy or tactic. Create a balanced approach to how you build awareness with at least three prongs. For example, online, offline and long-term (e.g., email, public speaking and partnerships).
What happens if you do fall?
18. If you fall backwards, tuck your chin into your chest so your head doesn’t smack the ground.
Tip: Have a crisis plan ready. Know what you will do when things screw up so you can act quickly and minimize the damage.
19. When you fall, try to relax your muscles.
Tip: If things go sideways for you (i.e., tech gremlins, people not following through on commitments, etc.) try to step outside yourself mentally and be the objective observer. Do what you can to get things fixed, but don’t get caught up in the drama of what’s going “wrong.” You might find in the end, that what happened was really a blessing in disguise. And then all that drama will just be wasted energy.
20. Look back and laugh. When you do finally get out of whatever mess you happen to have found yourself in, remember it’s all fodder for your success (or your memoirs). Loving your business requires you to chuckle, snort and giggle on a daily basis. <– best tip of them all!
How about you? What tips do you have for avoiding the stuckness? Have you ever found yourself stuck on the “ice” of a marketing campaign? Share in a comment below.
This post is part of the January Word Carnival. The topic is Beat the Motivation Blues: How to Re-boot, Re-energize and Love Your Business Again. Come read the rest of the genius ideas and join the carney fun.
About Tea (the Chef) Silvestre
As a marketing coach/consultant, Tea loves to help her clients find and share their Secret Sauce with the world. She’s also the founder of the ground-breaking reality web series, “Prosperity’s Kitchen” and the author of “Attract and Feed a Hungry Crowd.” Connect on Twitter: @TeaSilvestre.