We’re thinking of remodeling our house and putting on an addition. The boys are getting bigger and the house is feeling smaller. So this weekend we went on a family bike ride around the neighbourhood and looked at various remodels, taking photos of ones we liked.
None of the remodels represented exactly what we were looking for, but there were great elements we could pull out of different ones. It made me think about the idea of using “best practices” in your business. I shared the idea with my husband who teased me about my “corporate talk” but agreed that there’s a lot to gain by looking around you for best practices that you can apply and learn from.
So let’s look at 3 ways to use “best practices” to grow your business with confidence.
1. Best Practices from Within Your Niche
I don’t know about you, but I’m on the mailing list of a bunch of people who serve the same target market as me, and whose work I really admire. Their solutions and approaches and style might differ from mine, and that’s okay (in fact, it’s great). But I know there is a lot I can learn by observing them.
What kind of messages do they use in their marketing? What kinds of programs and services do they offer? Where are they found online? Which of their blog posts create the most buzz?
Can you see how valuable it would be for you to be able to answer these questions and apply what you learn to your own business? Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not at all suggesting copying what they do. That’s cookie cutter marketing and it’s a big no-no in my world.
You need to take what you learn from others and build it around your own voice and perspectives and insights. But there’s a lot of power in learning what other leaders in your niche do well (and not so well) so you can apply the lessons to your own business. It’s also a great way to identify unmet needs that you can help fill.
2. Best Practices from Outside Your Niche
There’s also a lot to be learned by looking at leaders outside your niche. If you spend all of your time just focusing on your own niche, your view can get too narrow. Look at experts in other niches whose work you admire, and see what best practices you can apply to your own industry and business.
We had a great example on a coaching call today. One of my clients is a laughter coach who discovered a wonderful niche of working with actors. She was wondering about how to reach them and connect with them. One of the participants on the call suggested that she research how voice coaches connect with actors. What a great idea! (I love how small group coaching programs can bring valuable brainstorming)
Another example. No matter what you’re selling, you need to be an expert not only in your niche but in marketing. So learn from the best practices of marketing experts whose work you admire. Don’t get overwhelmed or intimidated. Just keep an open eye to what you like best about their marketing so you can learn from it. In fact, I recommend that you keep a swipe file and a folder in your inbox with good subject lines, marketing copy, sales pages, etc. Again, it’s not to copy what they do, but learn from what they do.
3. Best Practices from Yourself
This is probably the biggest area where applying best practices can bring the greatest results, yet it’s often the most overlooked. Look at your own work. What worked well? Did you do a video that you loved doing and got great feedback? Why not do more videos then instead of running around doing everything else.
Did you do a free webinar that got great signups? What did you do in the marketing of that webinar that you can replicate in the future? If you didn’t get a lot of signups, look back at what you did and see what didn’t work so well. Did you make it difficult for people to sign up? Was the marketing copy on your opt-in page not effective? Did you not do enough to market the webinar? What will you improve next time?
Too often, we do something in our business and then don’t take the time to look back, reflect, learn and tweak and improve. Part of it is human nature to say, okay, that’s done, what’s next. Part of it is frustration that if something didn’t work then it clearly wasn’t a good idea to begin with and it’s time to move on to the next idea. But that’s not always the case.
Sometimes it just takes small tweaks to make something go from good to great. You’ll get much better results by building on what you do well and making that great, vs. trying a million different things and neglecting to build on your success.
Let me share a quote from one of my favorite business books, “Good to Great” by Jim Collins.
“Those who launch revolutions, dramatic change programs and wrenching restructurings will almost certainly fail to make the leap from good to great. No matter how dramatic the end result, the good-to-great transformations never happened in one fell swoop. There was no single defining action, no grand program, no one killer innovation, no solitary lucky break, no miracle moment. Rather, the process resembled relentlessly pushing a giant heavy flywheel in one direction, turn upon turn, building momentum until a point of breakthrough, and beyond.”
© Copyright 2013 Cindy Schulson