I spent the last few days at the Problogger Event 2015 – a conference aimed at bloggers that attracted 700 attendees and a great range of presenters from Australia and overseas.
While many of you are not yet blogging for your business, there were still valuable lessons that apply as much to business owners as they do to bloggers. So here are my top 10 takeaways:
1. KNOW YOUR “WHY” – FOR EVERYTHING
In Darren Rowse’s opening keynote and throughout the two days, one of the central themes was Know Your “Why”. It’s a concept that pops up regularly, with inspiration often traced back to Simon Sinek’s TED Talk (one of the most popular TED talks ever, viewed over 23 million times). For business owners and bloggers alike, it’s vital to really understand the “why” behind your business. Why do you do what you do? Why did you start your business? Why do you pour so much effort into it? Why do you want it to continue?
The answer should inspire you, motivate you, drive you to keep going.
If you’re not happy with your business or your work – if you’re feeling burnt out or overwhelmed – go back to your WHY. You may have lost sight of your reason for getting started. More worrying, you may not have had a very strong why to begin with. So take some time and really identify the reason, the passion – the WHY – behind everything you do.
This overall WHY will then drive your decisions and will be the filter for all of the smaller whys – because “why?” is a question you should ask regularly.
Why are we on Instagram? Why are we creating this product? Why are we writing this Facebook post? Why are we sending this email newsletter?
Before you invest your time, energy and money in anything, make sure there is a strong why attached.
2. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Aaargh. I can here you groaning from here. I know I say this all the time, and I know every marketing, sales and business article that you read challenges you to know your audience. How many times have you been told to create your “ideal customer profile” (or customer avatar in US-speak)? And I know some of you have probably glossed over that as a “bit too hard” and moved along to other stuff.
Every single speaker I listened to during the conference mentioned this at least once. For good reason.
Knowing your audience is vital. It is crucial for business success. Without spending the time to know your audience – really know who you’re talking to – you could be wasting hours of time, tonnes of money and valuable energy doing the wrong things in the wrong places at the wrong time.
Every single business decision should be made with your target audience in mind. When you know exactly who you’re talking to you can choose the right strategy, the right voice, the right personality. It helps you know where to communicate and how to communicate – because you know who you’re talking to. You won’t be trying to be all things to all people, spreading yourself too thin and hoping someone will be interested. You will be focused, deliberate and will have a much higher chance of success.
Something else to bear in mind (mentioned by Shayne Tilley) is that you are not your customer. In some cases you might be similar to your audience, but do not fall into the trap of marketing to yourself. Your audience does not necessarily like the same things you like, do the same things you do, have the same taste as you do.
Try to push aside your own preferences and really focus on what will attract and engage your ideal audience.
3. KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING AND IDENTIFY THE STEPS THAT WILL TAKE YOU THERE.
Along with knowing your “why”, it’s also important to know where you’re going. Speaker Nat Kringoudis spoke about knowing where you’re going and then mapping out how you’re going to get there. Strong, measurable goals give you direction and let you plot your journey.
I recommend having 90 day, 6 month and 12 month goals. Make your goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-Bound) and then identify the steps that will get you there.
4. MARKETING STARTS WITH THE EYES
If you don’t get noticed, you don’t have anything. You just have to be noticed, but the art is in getting noticed naturally, without screaming or without tricks. (Leo Burnett)
Copylbogger’s Pamela Wilson kicked off her presentation with this quote and highlighted that good design makes it easier for our customers to notice, memorise and connect with our brand.
Pamela recommended creating a style – a look – that makes it easy for customers to memorise your brand and identify it easily. The key points from Pamela’s presentation were:
5. DON’T IGNORE EMAIL
According to speaker Alita Harvey-Rodriguez, 65% of all shopping cart conversions (i.e. people who buy from websites) come from email. So despite the bells and whistles of social media, people are still buying more often from links within emails. So always aim to entice your social media followers to sign up to your email list. Give great incentives to sign up, then nurture your list with valuable information.
6. DREAM BIG, START SMALL
This message from Simple Green Smoothies‘ Jadah Sellner captured my attention. Any success – business, blogging or personal – comes from believing in yourself and dreaming big. But don’t be overwhelmed by the size of the dream. Just take small, consistent action towards your dreams – one step at a time – or in the words of Jadah, take “imperfect action”!
7. CONSISTENCY IS KING
Looking around the room of 700 people, those who stood out as “successes” all had one thing in common: they each take consistent action. They might not post daily, but they do post consistently, never missing a post or letting things slide.
Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out. (Robert Collier)
Once you know where you’re going and how to get there – consistent action will move you towards that goal.
8. LOOK AFTER YOURSELF
“Anything that compromises your health and relationships is not sustainable.” – Jadah Sellner.
An unexpected – but much needed – message from the Problogger conference was the importance of looking after ourselves first, so that we can have enough energy and vitality to give our best to every aspect of our life – including our business. Darren talked about changes to his nutrition and exercise over the last year, plus the importance of “filling the cup” – taking time to experience new things, absorb new information and nurture our own development.
A hot tip from Darren’s presentation was how he maps his daily schedule. Despite his preference for spontaneity and going with the flow, Darren has blocked out his schedule with key themes at certain times. These “appointments” include family time and his daily walk as well as creative time, social media and team meetings.
It’s one take-away that I’ll be implementing immediately, because the reality is in my life, if it isn’t scheduled, it doesn’t get done.
9. BUSINESS IS A COMBINATION OF HEAD AND HEART
Jadah Sellner talked about “Love over Metrics” – that the success of Simple Green Smoothies was based on their values of focusing on love and connection rather than on the numbers. While your accountant might not necessarily jump on board this sentiment, it is important to remember that there are people behind the numbers. The number of your followers, the unique visitors to your website or the size of your email list is not as important as the connection you make with your customers. People buy from people they know, like and trust – so relationships and connection should be at the forefront.
10. FOCUS ON ONE THING
Look at the one thing that you can do that will make a big impact. Focus on doing it and getting that win. Then look at the next “one thing”. And the next “one thing”. That thing might be small – but if you feel it will make an impact, focus!!
Temptation is everywhere and it’s enticing to jump on the next social media platform, fad or idea. But focus will get you where you want to go – and faster!!
Capture your ideas so they are safe and easily accessible, but focus on the thing that you think will make the biggest impact to your business.
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So while my head is bursting with ideas and motivation, they are my top 10 takeaways for business from Problogger 2015. Needless to say I have more than 10 to-dos as a result of the conference – closer to 10 pages. But I’ll take Darren’s advice, and FOCUS!! They will all get done eventually.
If you went to Problogger 2015, I’d love you to share your own favourite learnings. And if not, please share the ONE THING you think would make the biggest impact on your business.