Business-owners seek out content and information in an effort to improve the way they operate internally, interact with employees, and generate new business. However, finding the right type of useful content can be difficult. Top 10 lists as blog posts can feel more and more like click-bait than something of value. This is not one of those sales pitchy or ad-laced articles. Instead, this content is meant to be a springboard for business-owners looking to make incremental and meaningful steps as the year progresses, as you find yourself racing against the clock (and calendar) to devise strategic marketing plans.
- Identify areas of your business that have the most growth potential.
Improving business operations—as an owner, partner, or employee—is always a goal. If you’re not growing or adapting, you’re not going to see the results you want. This, to many people, means finding new verticals or opportunities (that aren’t currently offered) and figuring out a way to bring it in-house. While this may seem advantageous, such efforts necessitate time, resources, and trustworthy clients willing to take a chance on your experiment. In 2021, having all three of those assets is unlikely. So what’s a better way to improve? Audit your existing business, services and solutions, and determine which has the largest runway for additional success. Your team will already be familiar with the offerings, and with the proper leadership and guidance, will be able to grow market share you already have control over. Social media management, for example, is a service we have offered since the founding of Mirror Matter—but it was only positioned as a primary deliverable some 12-18 months after. After completing an audit in 2019, we determined that our value propositions were solid, and there was a significant gap in the marketplace. After putting together a re-launch plan and developing an infrastructure to support the initiative, social media management, content generation and engagement is now one a leading service at Mirror Matter.
- Adapt your process to your team’s natural strengths.
Finding innovative solutions doesn’t always mean reinventing the wheel. In fact, innovation, almost always, stems from rethinking the most-simple tasks. Our team is often responsible for developing from-scratch packaging designs for consumer packaged goods. Prior to 2020, we went from zero to 60, and fleshed out designs to near-completion prior to client review. While this allowed us to prepare vendor files more quickly—it often resulted in taking additional (and precious) time to make edits. After identifying this as an area of improvement, it was determined that a quicker, more efficient path to presenting concepts was a priority. We noted the strengths of our designers, and realized that one of them was an exceptional illustrator. We then tasked him with bringing our “rough concepts” to a presentable light, instead of fully developing designs to present. The result? More client engagement, quicker realizations about what does and doesn’t work, and a more streamlined start-to-finish process.
- Make a change that results in a noticeable difference—big or small.
Sometimes the smallest changes can make the biggest difference. Several Mirror Matter team members, including its Partners, have worked at other agencies and been on both sides of the fence. This has led to an understanding that larger changes (ex. Developing a new reporting structure, hiring experience over culture, etc.) can sometimes result in feelings of exclusion or resentment, especially if handled without a plan. The year 2021 should be one of regaining or reimagining pre-Covid momentum. Setting aside time to brainstorm openly with your team, empowering voices that otherwise wouldn’t be heard as loudly, and asking for true and honest feedback can sometimes be the small change needed to get the most out of your team.
- Listen more.
There’s a difference between hearing and listening. Most people prefer the former, and avoid the latter. What does hearing yield? A false sense of understanding that usually ends with unchanged opinions and little-to-no real action. Listening to team members and stakeholders with an open mind and willingness to change or adapt is true leadership. Listen like you want to be listened to, and break down the typical barriers that preclude thoughts from being shared openly.
- Focus on value.
Avoid becoming a “What have you done for me lately?” culture. Visible successes are needed, but the “invisible” progress being made is often more important. Just because a new scheduling platform can’t be held, printed, or talked to on a phone, that doesn’t mean it won’t yield results. The same goes for introverted vs. extroverted team members. By giving people time to prepare and come ready to speak with time on their side, the value you’re craving will land at your feet—ten-fold.
Figuring out the unneeded friction in your workplace will result in small and easy-to-measure changes, allowing you and your team to grow, adapt, and achieve success in 2021 and beyond.