Looking back at everything I accomplished over the past year, I can honestly say that I astonished myself. I was so much more intentional about my business than I had ever been in the past -- from being definitive about who my ideal client is and being bolder about connecting with them; to fully owning my genius and sharing my message in a bigger way.
Though I had just about as many fails as I did wins, the big lessons and immense personal growth that came out of those experiences have been nothing short of amazing.
My biggest lesson this year came from seeing the results I got from my marketing efforts. I experimented with a lot of different strategies to grow my reach and build better connections with people:
Hosting a bi-weekly video hangout and Twitter chat, which fizzled out before the end of the first quarter
Starting a Google+ community, that ultimately migrated to Facebook and is now an ongoing membership program
Landing a few podcast interviews and 1 guest post (the latter was actually syndicated by a fast-growing online membership community)
Running a content series on Instagram
And a handful of other things -- most of which left me feeling completely wiped out. As luck would have it, my best results came not from any one particular strategy, but from just showing up somewhat regularly and being mostly consistent with the things I was saying and doing.
So as I approach my growth goals for the year ahead, my focus won't be better marketing. Instead, it'll be maximizing on the things that have brought me the best outcomes so far.
Here's an inside look at what "no-marketing" will be like for me in 2016:
More (consistent) content + storytelling
This year was a pretty big blogging year for my business. I had only dabbled with it a few times between late 2013 and January of this year, but hadn't yet defined my core message. Then in February, when I finally decided to publish a post about business alignment and pivoting, I knew I was onto something.
I still didn't have it all completely figured out at that point. But instead of waiting for the perfect words, I just got scrappy with it -- experimenting with tone but writing from the heart, telling the truth, and eventually finding my groove. As my focus got clearer, my message got sharper. It even got the attention of one my favorite personal development teachers (can we say #winning?!).
By just showing up in this way, I learned that my words really do have power; and that telling my stories with passion is what attracts the right people, my people, to me.
The plan: Now that I've figured out where my sweet spot is in content creation, I'll keep a more consistent editorial schedule, publishing 2 new high-impact posts each month for the #rmTruth blog and having at least 1 new post each month on another platform. This will include the occasional interview and opt-in resource -- all focused on empowering solopreneur service-providers to have a business that works on their terms.
Less social selling, more real conversations
My relationship with social media in 2015 was an ongoing miniseries of off-on, stop-start, why-the-hell-am-I-doing-this-anyway drama. I tried for a few months to be strategic about growing my reach organically -- experimenting with platforms, content, timing, frequency, hashtags and so on. But it was mostly just exhausting; and none of the positive results I got point to anything specific that I did to earn them.
What did seem to work well in terms of getting engagement, almost maddeningly so, were the random musings, rants and last-minute brainwaves that I posted just for the hell of it (these posts were usually also the most candid and personal).
The plan: For better or worse, the online business world is my proverbial workplace and networking pool. So I'm approaching it like I would any real-life situation -- connecting with individuals, joining in on conversations or starting new ones, and showing a more complete picture of who I am to the people who will want to connect with me. I'm going with Twitter and Instagram as my primary engagement platforms, because they're fun to interact with people on and I've actually had new clients come from them.
Less list-building, more client orientation
I admit that I had been a bit lost in the sauce for a good chunk of the year about the whole list-building and email marketing thing. As with blogging, it took a while for me to hone my core message; and I struggled to maintain a balance between nurturing my connections and selling my offers.
Although I doubled my number of email subscribers this year, I can't say that it's made any real impact on my bottom line. So I'm changing up my approach to email marketing to be more meaningful for my potential clients and more impactful for my business.
The plan: My email community will have 2 "layers" of opting-in. The first will be for people to learn more about how to apply a specific concept to their particular challenge, and find out how they can work with me to help them get it done. The second layer will be for new leads to opt-in, or out, to get regular updates from me. This way, I'll spend far less time agonizing over click-through rates and will have a more precise view of who's a true lead and who's just a lurker. And my subscribers will get exactly the insights they want, when they want it. So everybody wins.
Less launching, more sharing and inviting
Launching has got to be the biggest pain in the ass of every solopreneur there ever was. Suddenly you're doubling-down on content and outreach, losing sleep and questioning your worth as a human being -- all because you want to bring something new to the marketplace.
Based on a year's worth of trial and major error with launching, I've uncovered that high-touch interactions, like Q+A hangouts, virtual chats and phone conversations, have been the single most effective way for me to test out and successfully launch anything new.
The plan: Since I'll only really be launching one thing in 2016 (more on that in the coming weeks!), my pre-launch plan will involve sharing my new offer with my core community first, then inviting others to participate and having them invite their friends. So by the time the launch happens, I'll already have all the social proof and reach I need to make it a smash hit.
More discovery sessions and personalized offers
For a long while, I had only made discovery calls available by request, because I wanted to be less accessible to any and everyone. But while that approach did a terrific job of blocking out the wrong people, it ultimately put up a barrier for the right people as well. Funny how that happens.
Even with the clear and damn compelling offers that I've made available on my site, I learned that my people still need something a bit more high-touch. The discovery sessions are their chance to get the clarity and direction they need about taking a major next step in their business (which is what my work is all about); and talking with me helps them to confidently make their decision about moving forward.
Having these conversations also ensures that I'm getting a faster and more enthusiastic "yes" at least 80% of the time.
The plan: These sessions still won't be highly visible, but they'll be an integral part of my client orientation funnel. Though this does mean a little extra effort on my part, it's ultimately my way of building trust and establishing better-quality, longer-term connections with the kinds of people I really want to work with.
"Instead of more marketing, focus your 2016 growth plans on maximizing what's already working"
Over to you
What's one thing you did for your business this year -- big or small -- that worked out really well? How do you plan to maximize on that to get even better results next year? Tell me all about it in the comments.
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