Of course you’re not telling yourself “I want to work harder for less money”.
But that can be exactly what happens when you’re working without a clear strategy—without a master plan.
Your master plan is the difference between simply trolling for new clients (think scattershot tactics) and building a deliberate, consistent (perhaps even scalable/saleable) business.
If this is your year to sidestep the feast/famine hamster wheel, this post is for you.
Step 1: Declare Your Business Strategy. BTW—this means write it down! I’ve worked with more than a few successful-on-paper leaders who can’t articulate their business strategy and constantly shift priorities as the wind changes. Sometimes they get lucky, but more often they’re eternally frustrated.
Keep your objective simple and blindingly clear. For example: “I serve as compensation consultant to leading real estate firms in the U.S.”
Simple, direct, on-point. Then ask yourself what that means for your business strategy, e.g. “My big goal for the next few years is to become THE premier go-to compensation expert for the industry.”
Then plot out a set of bullet points you believe will get you there—or well on your way—for 2017. For example:
- Build recognition of my talents/my firm with the CHRO’s of the top 50 real estate firms.
- Establish a reliable pipeline of leads and referrals.
- Reduce my reliance on billing my own time.
The fewer the bullet points, the clearer your strategy. This compensation consultant can focus on three key strategies to build out a master plan: building recognition with his target audience, establishing a viable pipeline and reducing his reliance on billing his own personal time.
Step 2: Tweak (Or Overhaul) Your Messaging. If you’ve got your big idea and messaging where it needs to be, then bravo! Go on to Step 3.
Otherwise, it may be time for a tweak—perhaps you’re ready to narrow your target audience or add a key demographic. So with that new target audience firmly in mind, review every single one of your key messages: from your website to your marketing to your social media posts. What needs adjusting?
If nothing short of an overhaul will do, make THAT your project for 2017 before throwing away your time and money on tactics that won’t feed your business. Not sure? Read 6 Signs Your Brand Needs A Makeover to see if you recognize yourself.
Step 3: Brainstorm Tactics. Tactics are all the tiny and large actions that will help you convert your strategy into reality. It’s simple in theory, but the devil is in the details.
Take your key strategies—like our compensation consultant, I’m hoping you’ve kept it to three or so—and brainstorm on tactics that will move your needle in the right direction.
Try your best not to pre-judge, but just get all your ideas down, like our consultant here who came up with this list:
- Build recognition with real estate CHROs
- Start a weekly blog laser-focused on CHROs in real estate and the issues they grapple with.
- Develop a digital mailing list of HR professionals and complementary consultants in the real estate industry.
- Write and shop a monthly article designed for the CHRO/real estate crowd.
- Pitch a (non-paid) speaking/workshop gig at the annual industry gathering plus quarterly local meetings.
- Introduce myself/my services to the CHROs of the top 25 real estate firms where I have existing contacts.
- Leverage social media—LinkedIn and Twitter in particular—to increase my visibility within the industry (beyond CHROs).
- Establish a reliable pipeline of leads/referrals
- Build my unique twist into the blog posts/articles above and write exclusive content weekly to build my audience and relationships.
- Take advantage of pinpointing prospects and automation:
- Develop (and automate) digital mailings by source and position (plot out the first 100 days experience).
- Articulate unique client/prospect avatars and set up lead magnets with automation (plotting out the first 100 days experience).
- Establish a regular call program to stay in touch personally with key prospects.
- Reduce reliance on billing my own time
- Attract other compensation experts (including analysts/researchers) to leverage my time.
- Identify possible non-competitive collaborators—HR generalists, leadership consultants, executive coaches—for new or expanded assignments to increase my impact.
- Tie my fees to outcomes with existing clients.
- Develop a training course for up and coming internal HR folk in real estate.
Step 4: Choose Your Weapons. Now of course, our consultant won’t do all of these things—how could he? The key is to pick the no more than handful of tactics that you can commit to and which make sense strategically for your business.
So while our consultant here has many viable options, the final choice came down to this: how best to 10X his visibility with his target market while also keeping the intimacy associated with his brand?
That means he put 85% of his focus in that bucket, deciding to commit to writing and pitching an article a month to a select list of industry websites and publications. He knows that means building his rep on real estate other than his, but it felt like a viable trade-off for faster growth.
Meanwhile, he’s developing a highly personal email list and plotting out their first 100 days experience using email automation. He’s also committed to a regular series of LinkedIn and Twitter posts and contact expansion, hiring a VA to implement it for him.
He’s designing a one-hour experiential “workshop” (that could later be turned into a keynote) to pitch to industry meeting organizers. As soon as he has a confirmed slot, he’ll arrange for it to be video-taped to use for future pitches.
And while he’s put hiring staff on the back burner for this year, he has built outreach to potential collaborators into his plan: a slow but steady stream of connecting personally and starting relationships with a handful of kindred spirits.
Will this master plan will work the way it’s intended? The jury is still out.
But since it’s aligned perfectly with his goals, his messaging, his personality and preferences—his brand—he’s on the right track.
No more working harder for less money.
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