This is Week Four of a 52-week project/experiment in DIY marketing. Armed with nothing but a copy of the 2009 Grow Your Business Marketing Plan + Calendar and my bare wits, I'm applying the skills you need to grow a business in real time, day by day, and reporting on them week by week. You can follow along here every Monday; check in with my companion blog, A Virgo's Guide to Marketing, for additional links and information.
This week: More cold calls, slightly new script, whole new outlook
I'm not sure how many of you who read this are working the Veteran's Calendar (which I'm supposed to be working) vs. the Start-Up Calendar, or even whether you're working the calendar at all. While this series is supposed to be an out-loud demonstration of the calendar in action, with all the helpful knowledge that you'd expect from same, it's not necessary to be working the marketing plan/calendar yourself to get something out of my (and Deidre's) experience(s) with it.
This week is going to be a perfect demonstration of that. Because unlike the previous weeks, it's not full of demos and how-tos and tips and tricks, but just one big, fat, cautionary tale about what not to do.
Let me preface this by saying that whatever you're doing, it's important to keep doing it, one day at a time, one task at a time. Yes, when you look at the totality of a marketing plan—its lofty goals, its ambitious benchmarks—it's overwhelming at times. Even doing the individual things is overwhelming sometimes, when the things are things you're not as good at, or that you're scared of, or that you just despise. (That's me and cold calling, for those of you who have not been paying close attention.)
But it is important to do a little something every day. Me, I've been doing a lot of something every day—a lot of blogging, a lot of writing, a lot of networking. Sometimes it works out like that: you get some great opportunities lobbed your way, and you've got to go for it. My opportunities came in the form of three speaking gigs in the space of a week, plus a lot of other one-time-only networking and meet-up opportunities I felt the need to jump on. Add to that pile the intense load of writing I've committed to for 2009, and you can see the potential for it all catching up with me.
Which it did, on Friday. After too many days of cheating sleep, I was exhausted. I could tell, because I started getting snappish—patience is not my strong suit, and it's replaced by outright bitchy short-temperedness when I get overtired. So Friday night, in a fit of disgust, I went to bed early (for me) and slept for 10 hours.
When I awoke on Saturday, the fog had lifted, and a number of things became clear:
Self-care is not optional; it is the fuel that runs the entire operation. I'll be writing a review of Leo Babauta's excellent new book, The Power of Less, very soon, but its core principles—that you must isolate what it is that you truly want and protect that thing with the ferocity of a mama bear—are worth noting now and remembering always.
You can accomplish what you promised, but you must be prepared to make adjustments. For the record, while I'm "doing" the Veteran's Calendar, I'm really doing a Colleen-ized version of it. Five cold calls these first two weeks instead of the suggested ten. Because I'm (brand-) new to cold calling, and because this particular flavor of business is also new to me. This week, I did my cold calls straight to voicemail on purpose. I knew I could put on a little 15-second show for each prospect and it would be sincere; I seriously doubted whether I had the energy required to interact with another new human being over the phone, much less a potential prospect, and forget entirely about doing it TEN TIMES. Five. Straight to voicemail. Checked off the list. Speaking of which…
You must build in tiny victories to keep going. Small "I did it!"s to keep your enthusiasm up. Stuff you can literally or figuratively check off a list. I write in the public forum for Leo's New Year's Challenge to "check off" my 10 minutes of daily guitar practice. You have a calendar with boxes to check off your marketing chores. In true FlyLady fashion, I've been making my bed every morning for months now, and it really does make a difference (I recently wrote about FlyLady and the magic of controlling what you can on my own blog, communicatrix-dot-com).
By tomorrow, the worst of my commitment-crazed month should be behind me. I've learned a TON from this experiment already, and expect I will keep learning more. Which I'll continue to share because (a) I promised! and (b) it really is helpful to share this stuff out loud. I encourage you to do the same, in whatever way you feel comfortable with.
Maybe even a few ways you feel UNcomfortable with.
So if you feel up to it, please let me know in the comments what you felt about this. Is is helpful to see me struggling? Or would you rather I shut up and just share tips and tricks? Or is there a winning ratio of wins-to-foibles you find useful and/or inspiring?
Come on…your turn!
NEXT WEEK: Optimizing your online presence