Success Just Takes A Little TIME…

I have a friend whose youngest son just graduated from Massage Therapy School, and he, like so many who complete a training program of any kind, expected to walk out of graduation and in to a full schedule, and the money that comes with it.  Same goes with many who start a business, any business, they wonder why, once they get their spiffy new business cards back from the printer, they aren’t quite rolling in the dreamt about six figure income. I mean, the office is set up, the business cards are back from the printer, the website is done and the phone isn’t ringing! What!!!!

Now first of all, let me say that I do not think that a full schedule or strong business can’t come quickly, because it can, I’ve seen it happen. The thing is, that usually it doesn’t just happen, quickly or not so quickly, there’s a LOT of time and energy that goes into it.

According to Jack Canfield, author of The Success Principles, behind every great achievement is a story of education, training, practice, discipline, and sacrifice. You have to be willing to pay the price. While many things are typically required to reach a successful outcome, the willingness to do what’s required is what will set you, and your business endeavor, apart.

Part of that willingness is putting in the time. You truly do get out what you put in and especially in the beginning, one thing you do have is time. It’s important that you USE that time to network, build your platform, your presence in the community, collaborate with others and so on. You can’t expect the business to build itself; you have to get your name out there and be willing to put in the time.

People ask me how I stay so busy working for myself, why I book up weeks and sometimes even months in advance. How did that happen? What’s the secret?

Simple. It was time. I have YEARS of time invested in this venture.  I have networked my name from one end of this region to another. I spent time building this business while punching a clock, filling my nights and weekends. I have collaborated with others. I have kept my relationships strong. I send out Christmas cards every year. I make follow up phone calls. I, well, I can’t give you a secret, all I can say is that I have put a lot of TIME in on this.

And that’s what any successful business requires. Time.

And the time required doesn’t stop once the business is up and running. If that business is your livelihood, as mine is, it still requires your time. Networking doesn’t stop because your hours are booked. Speaking engagements don’t lose their importance if your calendar is filled through the first quarter of 2012. And, thank you notes and follow-ups don’t lose their charm. Bottom line, self-employment is time consuming, but if you are willing to put in the time, you can reap the rewards AND the freedom self-employment brings.

Remember, a full schedule or strong business will come, it just takes a little time!

Brand-Building and Content: Don’t Let Your Message Look Like A Class Project Gone Wrong

Not that long ago, I was called by the marketing director of nationally recognized organization to do some writing. They needed someone local to help develop and write a couple of large campaigns and the projects encompassed several months. While creativity was definitely called for, so was continuity of the brand.

This organization has a “look” to all of their advertising, same basic layout, same logo, same color scheme, and same tag line. But what might not be as readily obvious is the “tone” of all of their marketing materials. Every single piece of written material and every single word of radio and TV they have carries this “tone” so that means the verbiage and way things are worded carry the same message, building brand recognition.

Carrying this tone throughout all materials provides a degree of continuity in a brand’s advertising that, over time, will help that brand come to stand for something specific in the mind of the consumer. Paying as much attention to the copy as the design can also help a brand achieve distinctiveness and stature in a competitive market.

So guess what. For the first few days on the project, I simply studied everything this organization had done in the past couple of years. The marketing director handed me a stack of materials when we met, and we both knew that it was my job to read and reflect their style. How do they word this? How do they word that? Turn of phrase here? Style there. Crucial, crucial stuff for a copywriter, and UNIMAGINABLY IMPORTANT to a business owner.

Copy is an essential part of advertising, and a key element of your brand. It needs to reflect continuity in any and all communications you have with your customers or potential customers. From the beginning it is crucial that you set a tone, and you use the same style of writing and verbiage throughout your websites, advertisements, TV, radio, and collateral materials, making sure they all reflect the same style.

Imagine how confusing it would be if you wrote the home page on your website, your spouse tackled the about and services, your mother-in-law wrote the blog, you hired a writer to just do your brochure, and you didn’t talk to anyone else on the project. Where would the tone be? Would it all look like it was written by the same person, or would it look like a class project gone haywire?

Continuity goes far beyond the tag line, it is the verbiage and phrasing you use throughout all of your communications, and is the foundation for your business communications and your brand. Yes, this can and should evolve over time, but in the beginning you want to exhibit professionalism and set the tone.

If you are tackling your writing initially by yourself, the most important thing you can do is make sure it looks like the same person wrote it, and not some random band of gypsies that can spell.

You can do this, all you have to do is set the tone.