Monday, August 30, 2010

Time Management Guide

Time management comes up again and again as a topic of interest
for people in business. Here's a short how-to to help you improve your
time management habits

Set Priorities

One of the biggest drains on time can be the trap of spending time on
things that don't have to be done - by us.

Think about the tasks that you have to do.
Draw up a list and look at them objectively.

Separate into blocks:

Things that have to be done

Some things need to be done in business. By someone. If they are things
that need to be done AND they are things that could be done by anyone,
then the question that must be asked, then it begs the question - is
this something that could be done by someone else, at a lower $per hour
rate than your work, or by someone with better skills to do that task.
It is pointless if your earning rate is over $100 an hour, to be doing
work that could be done (and possibly more effectively) by someone whose
pay rate is $20 an hour.

Are you getting involved in tasks that you should be delegating?

If you probably should but don't have anyone to whom you can delegate this,
then it might be time to consider outsourcing to a virtual assistant (like a
personal assistant that you hire outside the business for odd pieces of work
when you don't have an employee in house who can do it. You only pay for the
actual hours they work on your behalf.) This might only need a few hours a week
but could help clear your desk of work you've been putting off - or not doing
at all! (You can contact Lindy Asimus for more information if you are interested
in finding a virtual assistant).

Things that have to be done by you

If you have been brutally honest, you'll probably have cleared some things out of
your list so now you're down to the core of things that only you can do. When you
sort your list and clarify those things that only you can do - then prioritise them.

Work out what you need to be able to get these done.

Do you have everything you need to do these tasks?

What other resources do you need to finalise these tasks?

If you need something to happen before the tasks can be finalised, arrange for
someone to do that, or do it yourself (if only you can do it) and get it that
one step closer to being finished.

Things that are good to be done

Ask yourself:

What would happen if you did them?

What would happen if you didn't do them?

In light of that, are they really necessary?

Can they be delegated to someone? If so do that.

If they are really worth doing, then add them to
the other lists - Things that have to be done and
Things that have to be done by you.

The rest - Delegate Or Delete

If they don't belong on these two prime lists, or the Delegate list,
then perhaps they don't need to be done at all and can be removed.

Part of the art of spending your time well, is
to very clearly understand the value of your time.

Set clear priorities

Be clear on how you spend your time and learn to say
"No" to things that are not your priority, or that don't reflect
the value of your time.

Get organized

Write everything down that needs to be done - and deal with it as above.

Block out your diary times

Going to the gym? Good, block it out in your diary before the week begins.
Know at a glance, when you are available, and when you are not,
according to your priorities.

Make meetings work for you

Every meeting should have an agenda and an outcome you want to achieve
from the meeting. Do you really need a meeting, or could you accomplish
the same thing over the phone or by sending an email?  Meetings are a
time sink and if you must be at one, make sure you get something of value
out of that meeting, commensurate with the cost incurred in holding it.

Many times we attend meetings that never reach a conclusion, or have
actions that are never followed up on or reported about.

Look at your previous meetings and assess the return on your investment
for attending them.

Did anything worthwhile come from them?

Ask: Is there a better way to get to the result?

If a meeting is the answer, then before the meeting, write down the result
you want from it and make sure it achieves the outcomes you want.

Thinking Of Getting A Business

Lindy Asimus
Business Coach
Mobile: 0403 365855
If you'd like to know more about me, visit
Australia's Marketing Mentor
Contact Me LinkedinFacebookBloggerTwitterFacebook
Actionbites Blog Purpose Then Strategy
Download your free 24 Page Action Plan Marketing Workbook!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Purpose Then Strategy

We're in the final days of an election campaign and this has brought about a lot of opinions on whether we 'need' or 'don't need' items around infrastructure and specifically a reliable National Broadband Network. It mirrors opinions around other issues such as whether businesses ‘need’ to be online and using marketing online as a part of their business strategy. Frankly someone using wireless broadband in their house successfully, doesn't mean that it is appropriate for sustaining a national rollout for the next generation. But you have to know something about the topic, in order to understand that these are different contexts, and that different solutions may be the appropriate choice for the issues at hand.

The same is true in business.

Here’s the thing. If a country needs a high speed internet service, or a business needs an overall online marketing presence on the web, then the right way to do it is something that can only be judged after review of the information available, based on merit . If the business has an online presence – or not – determining the right course of action, needs to be done in an environment where all the issues are laid out and examined, as part of that decision making process. No matter whether that decision is: Yes to proceeding, or No.
Understanding the background issues and the facets that will have an impact on what comes after the decision, is fundamental to getting great outcomes.

Example Case: Your Company Starting A Website

Take as an example, a company starting a website. The website needs to fulfil your expectations of what you want it to deliver.So it should follow the form that will allow it to successfully do the thing for which it was designed.

If the purpose of the exercise is to create an additional sales channel for the business, then it is going to need elements that satisfy different desires. It needs to satisfy the end user, the owner and the web developer, to the degree that they can produce a website with the functionality to do, that for which it has been produced.

Lets look at this as a project for a website for a business owner.
Just suppose...

The Company wants:

• To make sales through a new sales channel
• To generate prospects for ongoing sales
• Enhance reputation and positioning
• Ownership and functionality of the site so that changes can be made in-house, easily as needed.

This requires:

• The business to be found by search engines on the first page
• Promotion to attract the right kind of traffic to find it
• A means of capturing visitors who will be interested in receiving future offers and information
• Technical capacity to allow for the smooth transaction of sales
• An ongoing budget with funds to drive the marketing and promotions through this new sales channel
• Functionality that allows the owner of the site to manage the content in-house.

Customers - People searching for it want:

• To find what they are looking for
• Good information to inform them about the products
• To be able to buy what they are looking for easily
• To be able to find out how to get what they want from you
• How to contact you if they wish to
• How to resolve a problem if they have one
• Ease of fulfilment of their purchase
• To feel that you appreciate them choosing to purchase from you

This requires:

• Content that is relevant and of interest to those who would search for it
• A pleasing look and good navigation so people are encouraged to stay and look around
• Simple to find the thing the person is seeking
• A way to buy that is easy to find and easy to complete the sale
• Good system for delivery and problem solving if it becomes necessary
• Client nurturing systems to let customers know you value them and want them to come back
• Delivery systems that are simple and do what they promise

To Get This, Requires:

• Clear instructions to your web developer on what you want to achieve and what you don’t want.
• The web developer to be honest about their capacity to deliver as promised
• A process for delivery as scheduled on time and on budget
• Documentation to you showing how the website will deliver as promised
• Open communication at all stages
• Keeping to the scope of the project as you originally stated it
• Any variations to be documented to show how this will affect budget and delivery dates
• Evidence before commencing, that the developer has completed a project of similar complexity to this kind of project, on time and on budget (especially important if a complex site and not a simple ‘out of the box’ solution
• In many cases, ‘Out of the box’ solution may well be preferable over anything needing to be coded ‘from scratch’! (“There be Beasties here”)
• That there is a backup plan in case the developer is unable to finish as promised. “What If?” Are there others in the organisation capable of delivery of the project?
• Support after launch of the site to ensure that the website continues to function as per the original purpose and to tweak as required.

In this way, the project can progress, and deliver results in line with the objective.

What about SEO?

Note that these issues will take some time to be fleshed out. Each project will have a set of conditions that may be unique to that business and the objectives, but by working through a process to pinpoint the objectives and the overall purpose, there is a chance that the project can actually be set up to do that thing that it was intended to do, and have the functionality it needs for that to happen, and the pieces in place to allow the business and the customers to be happy with the result.

Now if we could just get the voters to look at the issue of a strong reliable fast national broadband network, with the same approach, we might have something!

Lindy Asimus Business Coach & Social Media Development Design Business Engineering
Online Coaching Available All Locations!
Follow Lindy At These Social Networks
Contact Me LinkedinFacebookNingTwitter
Download this fantastic 24 Page Action Plan Marketing Workbook!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Social Media And Business Survey Results

The Survey

I recently ran a survey on social media and online presence generally for business and found the exercise quite illuminating. If you are wondering about what your market is thinking about a topic, then asking them is a much better strategy than guessing and it gives one the opportunity to get additional feedback, which can turn up valuable insights.

My sample was fairly small so not statistically significant, however it did address the questions that I was wanting to cover, and as a first attempt I was fascinated to see what the responses would be. Again, the answers can not be interpreted as being applicable to all business since it occured online and the selection bias would dictate that the respondents are more computer savvy than many small business owners would be. And yet even with these caveats, the answers defined a picture that I would not have had otherwise.

The Responses

The survey was responded to by 71 people and some of the questions had multiple answers so responses may total more than 100%.

As expected, given the characteristics of the group answering the survey, most (80%) are using social media for marketing
Not yet but I want to
The time respondents have been using social media for business shows that the majority are fairly new to this (not really surprising since it is a relatively new environment), with only 20.9% using social media for longer than 2 years, and 15.21% not yet using social media in their business promotion.

Availability of social media as an option being relatively short, it is reasonable to expect that the take-up ( and results obtained from marketing over time), should increase as presence online grows and businesses start to gain some 'critical mass' that can take a little time when starting from scratch. 

Not using yet
Under 1 year
More than 1 year but less than 2 Years
More than 2 years
More than 5 years

More of the respondents had a website (60%). On the question of Facebook for business, almost as many answered that they were using their personal Facebook page, for business, as those using a dedicated Brand page to promote their business. Whether this means those responding were actively promoting business on their personal page or not, is not clear. Neither is it possible to know if those who are using their personal page are aware of the pitfalls of doing so for business.

Preferred platforms that respondents had chosen were:

Facebook Personal Page
Facebook Brand Page
Email marketing to my business list
Online community or forum

On the question: Which of these statements is most true for you?

I have a written strategy for my online marketing
I don't have an online marketing strategy
I would like an online strategy as part of my marketing plan but I don't know how to start
I don't believe social media is good for business

This was interesting and showed that while many are using some kind of social media to promote their business, slightly more have no defined strategy for their business activites online. As well, some are unsure how to start, even though they would like to be strategic in their approach.

Interestingly, on this question, nobody expressed doubt that social media is good for business.

Online Presence:

I have a basic website
I have a website with shopping cart
I have a website that is interactive
I have a blog
I have a Facebook Brand Page
Directory listings
I am nowhere to be found online

On updating content: 

Less than once per week
Less than once per month
I never update anything
I have nothing to update

On Methods Of Promoting Online Presence Offline:

Have website on my business card
Show website address on all correspondence, and inside premises
Have special deals for my website that I advertise
I don't tell anyone about my online presence
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

So, most people are promoting their online presence offline, yet nobody identified they are showing their web addresses on all their correspondence and inside their premises.

It remains a mystery what "Other" means people are using. 

Newsletters And Beliefs Around Social Media

On: What Kind Of Newsletter Do You Send Out?

I don't have a newsletter
I send a newsletter from Outlook as a pdf file
I use a professional email newsletter online program

Significantly, 58% identified having no newsletter through which they are building their mailing list.

On: Social Media Marketing Can Be Good For Local Business

Not sure
Not Applicable


Learning to sell more or attract more people to buy from me would be good for my business
Not sure
Not Applicable

I am not sure if my website is doing a good job or not.  

Not sure
Not Applicable

There seems a consensus that being visible online is a good thing for business. Yet we see a disconnect here between being present online and confidence in the effectiveness of that effort expended.  Moreover while 93% described learning to sell more online as being a value, it isn't reflected in budget allocation for aquiring such skills.

It is likely that there is little or no means in place to measure efficacy or return on effort and resources expended, or perhaps the "not sure" and "maybe" responses may have been reported less frequently.

We have no way to tell from this question, if those answering understand the importance of social engagement in addition to visibility online.  Again, the problem with my original question means that it is open to interpretation whether some of the respondents mean 'yes they are not sure' or 'no they are not sure' if their website is doing a good job! 

Taking a punt on the responses (well, mindreading might be a better term for it!), I'm inclined to conclude that a better means of measuring results would be useful for many businesses. Benchmarking generally and specifically against previous results could be important. This is of course, also true for marketing and other business key performance indicators as it is for web marketing.

I find it easy to create new content regularly
Not sure
Not Applicable

We see from these responses that many are finding it less than easy to create new content regularly. In practice this is likely to be higher and a considerable dilemma for those beginning to market their business online and deliver content on a regular basis and of consistently good quality.

I find time to update my online content and engage in social media
Not sure
Not Applicable

This shows a reasonable commitment to making time for updating online content, again more to be expected from someone using social media already and having some understanding of the requirements of online social media marketing.  It is likely, but needs to be tested, that this figure is much higher than it would be for a business owner not already engaged in social media or 'sold' on the idea of social media marketing.

I have a budget allocated for my website and online presence 
Not sure
Not Applicable

I am confident that my online strategy is working

Not sure
Not Applicable

Numbers for those who have a budget for their web presence is less than 50% but still somewhat encouraging. That said, we have no data to see if the budget is realistic or in line with investments in marketing in other avenues. Nevertheless there is still a high percentage who have no budget dedicated to develop their online business.

This does not seem to reflect a deep understanding of the potential for online sales,  as an additional profit centre for a business, given the ability of the internet to be a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week sales channel.

Concerns About Social Media For Business

Not all respondents to the survey expressed concerns about social media for business. Of those who registered a concern, the responses included: (Responses are reproduced as written)

My concern is not for social media (although I note there are many who fear the evil internet and will not use it or entertain it as a networking measure - so the population appealed to is only partial)... my main concern is to NOT be like a money-spinning business, but rather a more organic expression of self (that somehow makes enough to support oneself) - thus not focused on business-like considerations and objectives...

My only concerns are based on my lack of focus and biz planning skills

I am grossly concerned that a lot of people waste precious time, money, and resources investing in schemes and businesses for all the wrong reasons

I feel i am doing everything I can; have engaged a social media professional to set up initially. Have no money to spend at this stage but everything starting to bear fruit!!!

It is mostly done by people who are only doing it because everyone else is!


People will tune out to it

Finding time to set it up correctly and then being able to update it regularly.

Too much overload, scattered energy, not enough time to cover all corners adequately

I dont feel it suits every business. But any business would be crazy not to participate.

I think social media is a great way of promoting business, just need to know more about it and how it would work for my business.

I think businesses need to be careful they don't just 'jump in'. It's no different to any other form of marketing - it needs a plan and it needs to be right for them in order to achieve their goals.

To may want  my hard ard  dollars to promote what I do.....

Social media not living up to it's promised pit of gold at the end of the trail.  I don't believe there's a lot of hype, and from those with vested interests such as the digital sector.

Dont want to be blogging or Twitting just for the sake of getting a pointless message out. Dont want to open up social sites to staff for them to potentially watse time on their personal site, rather than the purpose it is intended for. (in your view as a business coach)

Still need to see the results of my work from social media. Would love to do a landing page for my facebook page but not sure at this point if I should invest on it or not.

Compliance, brand reputation

It's too much for people, ie overkill when I have as much work as I want/need.
I am considering growing my business and could employ others but am not sure I want to do this as I have a great work/life balance at the moment.

None. It's become part of my business as usual marketing.

No concerns at present - strategy is fully planned - have to develop more content

Social media has blown me away, it is definitely the way forward in marketing a product/service and finding those who are interested.

I am unsure how to go about using online and social media to help get business.

Return on invested time and money

time to service plan - lack of interest in web media

Time and privacy.

The physical time it takes to be involved 

Mostly a young persons communications source.

I think Social Media is an excellent medium for keeping clients updated and getting your name out there. Due to various circumstances within my business I have not yet used the full capacity of FB, LinkeIn etc, although I will be ramping this up in the next 3 months

It is extremely rewarding for exposure for the small business owner. I've had huge growth largely from Twitter but it equals fatigue and then too busy for social media! Any business owner needs a strategy and needs to commit to it to get the rewards and plenty just don't stick at it long enough.

Making sure I am getting it right. I guess I could be tracking it better

I think social media is good for business, if you know how to use it.  I think the hardest thing is targeting it in a cost effective way.  You want to make sure you know your target market, & then find out how to reach them.

I would like for more people to connect with me by comments. I would like to understand what I am doing wrong

the time cost has not quite cought up to the new customers coming in.

The hardest part is find time to post new information.

Idiots that could not design or seo their way out of a wet paper bag. 


There are several 'takeaways' for me from this exercise. Number one, is that it is much trickier to frame a survey to solicit answers with no potential for ambiguity in the response, than it seems. That's a learning and one that will lead me to be even more selective in the framing of questions for future surveys.

We see that while there is effort being made to engage in online social networks, that there is a gap in the attention to email newsletters, and to clearly promoting the online web properties, offline.

There is effort going into social media marketing but less into designing a strategy to optimise the performance of the activities.

While there is engagement and content being generated, there seems to be lack of willingness to invest real dollars into the medium and this could be a facet of the notion that 'everything is free online'.

Indeed many platforms are free to use and this can seduce people into thinking that it is simple and not necessary to pay for expertise in getting well set up. This can be successful, but many times is a trap for the unwary. The reality is that "free" platform can take a mountain of time and effort trying to learn along the way and open the potential to set back a serious attempt to build a successful online presence. This can be an example of extreme false-economy, and a "penny wise - pound foolish" approach.

On the subject of employees using social media in business we have some recognition that this could be a problem (as it could as easily be an opportunity) and a policy for this should be considered by every business, whether they decide to go online or not.

We're still in the early stages of social media for business and the environment changes daily. Keeping on top of the changes can require a lot of attention and study and may not be for everyone. If time is limited, then learning how to source people to help and allow you to best leverage the knowledge of people who do spend the time to keep abreast of changes, can save time and deliver more satisfying results.

There was surprisingly little mention (just one instance) where reputation was mentioned, and yet reputation monitoring and management are important elements of business online, and this is so whether the business is actively online or not.

Though there is much effort going into developing online presence on social media, only 15% are promoting special deals through their online social media properties. 

In closing it seems clear from the comments that there is some confusion for some in where to find help with developing their online strategy and generating a strong presence online. This is understandable, since there is no shortage of self proclaimed hotshot 'gurus' pushing their wares, as is the way of much marketing and hype.  It seems evident that business owners want to be able to make informed choices and address their marketing strategy effectively at last, with confidence and much less of the usual overblown hype and empty promises.

Have you approached your online business development with a strategy in mind?

Please add your comments if you'd like to share your experience with social media for business.

Need help?

Lindy Asimus
Business Coach + Social Media Development
Design Business Engineering

Online Coaching Available All Locations!
Follow Lindy At These Social Networks
Contact Me LinkedinFacebookNingTwitter

Need to get active marketing? 
Download your free 24 Page Action Plan Marketing Workbook!