Two years ago I walked out the front door of my 20-year old practice and flipped open a laptop to start creating influence online, rather than under a roof. To say it was an adjustment would be an understatement.
I became used to the pajamas and sleeping in easily enough, but there were other aspects of being a professional blogger that were more difficult. Time management, building relationships and some of the basics of doing online business, had me tripping along for months.
Bringing The Benefit Of Brick And Mortar To Your Blog
One morning I was going through some files, and I pulled out a “Weekly Sheet” that I had utilized for years in my chiropractic practice. I dusted it off, spent some time adjusting it for blogging and suddenly something came clear. In addition to this weekly sheet, I realized there are many aspects of a “brick and mortar” business that are wildly applicable to the “business of blogging.” As I jotted them down six main ones stood out. If implemented consistently the following six “brick and mortar” practices will elevate your blog from hobby to hoppin’.
WANT A FREE WEEKLY SHEET PDF TEMPLATE?
RELATIONSHIP BUILDING: An article from INVESTOPEDIA reveals, “Many consumers still prefer to liaise with people directly as they believe questions about the product or service can be dealt with in a more comprehensive and immediate manner at a face-to-face level. Brick-and-mortar businesses allow consumers to hold, try and touch items before they contemplate making a purchase.” Consider a brick and mortar like the makeup counter at Nordstrom. The sales people are helpful, friendly and knowledgeable and you can touch, smell and hold the products you are about to buy. I am far more likely to spend more at the Nordstrom counter than I am on an online drugstore or makeup store. So how do we translate this phenomenon to our online businesses? How do we make up for the fact we don’t have that in-person experience?
- Anticipate and answer the questions your tribe has. Picture yourself sitting across from a person who may buy from your site. If you two were face to face, and your product was in front of them what would they ask? How might you talk to them differently about what you are selling considering you are eye to eye?
- Show them your hand. Your potentials want to know who you are, who your partner is, and the name of your dog. They want to know the person behind the blog or product. It makes them feel connected to you and connection breeds trust.
- Use video as much as possible. Video is THE closest thing to sitting with someone in person. The more connected people are to you and your brand the more they are going to trust you. Speak directly to the camera like you are talking to one person across a counter. Consider every video a sales experience even if you are just chatting and not promoting in that particular video. Each touch point is a layer laid down building toward a strong relationship foundation. Anyone listening could and likely will be a potential consumer of your next blog, book or product.
- Provide opportunities for clients to experience what you are writing about or selling in the most real way you can. There is a blogger GIGI Eats Celebrities. In her videos, she is in her kitchen trying out new recipes. She makes you feel as though you are a best girlfriend sitting at her bar counter with a glass of wine in your hand. She absolutely nails that connection that can be made on video to establish trust and loyalty.
DRESS LIKE YOUR BEST-DRESSED CLIENT: I worked alongside a chiropractor just before I graduated chiropractic school. As an associate, I was privy to the verbal and non-verbal cues under which he operated his business. One afternoon I asked him a question. In a sea of chiropractors that were wearing scrubs or jeans, I wondered why he wore a shirt and tie every day. He said he had learned early on that you would never disappoint a patient by being dressed too nicely but you may disappoint a patient if you are a slob. He said dress to the expectations of your best-dressed client. What is the equivalent of that online? First, you better be clear on whom your “Following Avatar” is. What age is she or he? What do they like, invest their time in, and value? What do they wear, eat, do for fun? If you do video, then dress to attract your local “tribesman.” No video? Then take a second look at photos you post, your logo and your branding aesthetic. These are all aspects we could refer to as your “window dressing.” It should be consistent with who you are trying to attract. If you blog on surfing and promote online surf-skills video tutorials, you want to attract surfers. Everything from what you wear on camera to what restaurants you tag yourself at should be as consistent with the surfing brand as possible. Remember, you will likely not be judged if your look is too put together, but you may be penalized if it is too casual, out of line with your brand, unprofessional or offensive.
TIME MANAGEMENT: In the opening paragraph I referred to the weekly sheet I rediscovered while cleaning out files. I had initially implemented this weekly sheet based on a practice that many companies use. Documenting what you want to deliver daily is a surefire method for delivering daily. Your day sheet should be self-designed. It should include your daily Monday through Friday tasks on one side and your weekly objectives on the other. (See PDF below for an example.) If you want to leave an impact, if you want to create change in your business and in the culture of people you hope to influence, you must flip the internal accountability switch. Let’s just go through a sample of what I use every week.
TIME MANGEMENT BONUS: One of the things that many brick and mortar business are faced with is “client facing time” versus “business building time.” If you are a jeweler and have a client looking at a ring you do not step away and catch up Quickbooks, you don’t update your marketing plan or do some business forecasting. You stand, engaged and attentive to the person in front of you. I was at BLOGHER a blogging conference in New York two years ago. We were invited to a dinner hosted by California Avocado. I sat at a table with nine other bloggers and for over 75% of the meal every single blogger was looking at their phone or taking a picture of their food. There was an incredible opportunity to engage with each other and build a peer referral network, yet the folks at the table were not prioritizing the importance of their client-facing time. As a professional blogger, we can become reclusive or aloof. The blogging culture often attracts those that might be a little more comfortable behind their phone or computer than in front of a live person. If you intend to build your online business, understanding how to prioritize and execute your client time versus business time is paramount.
HOW ABOUT A FREE PDF ON TIME MAPPING – This is such a great exercise to go through!!
ELIMINATING DISTRACTIONS: I had a patient who was a mum of four. She used to come in for my earliest appointment. She mentioned one day she was off to work. She said she unloaded freight at the GAP store every morning for four hours. She immediately went on to say it was the best job because once in the door she could do nothing else but focus on the task at hand. Somehow walking through those doors and putting her purse and phone in the back office gave her a break from her life and allowed complete focus on the duties at hand. Most of us who are professional bloggers struggle with complete commitment to the task at hand. We think we are multitasking but in effect, we are just losing precious opportunities to get quality work completed. We write part of a post, check our Facebook stats, shoot an email and move a load of laundry all at the same time. Brick and mortar has a hand up in forcing a focused environment with no distractions. How do we get a little more of that in our lives?
- Create an exclusive workspace. Assign an area, no matter how small, that is for writing/blogging ONLY. No house bills, kids projects, or Netflix binging is allowed in this space. It is your brick and mortar office. If it doesn’t have a door pretend it does and put on headphones. If there is a particular table at a particular coffee shop that needs to be your brick and mortar that is great! Just be consistent in your practice of going to “your office.”
- Head back to the weekly sheet mentioned above. Stay true to the pre-scheduled tasks you designated specifically for the day you are on.
- Use a timer. We are inherently wired to want to win. Set a timer for 30-minutes and attack the singular task in front of you.
- The headphones rule. Create a non-negotiable rule. If you have headphones on there are no interruptions from family or partners. No excuses (unless they are on fire, or have freshly baked cookies.)
Check out this great article on MULTITASKING
LOCAL CONNECTIONS: When I started my chiropractic office I immersed myself in the local community. I actually went door to door with my cards and I attended every chamber and city function listed on the community calendar. I knew that I would be lucky to pull clientele from a ten-mile radius so I was acutely clear I better saturate that locale so every person in that zip code knew my name. As an online influencer or blogger, it seems like the world is our zip code, right? We all have followers from Indonesia, India, and Bangladesh. But those are the outliers. You have a local community that is much stronger and packed with potential than you could ever imagine. Whether you are a food blogger or a quilting blogger, your local community wants to hear from you. Reach out to your like-minded local folks and start building relationships. Offer to profile a restaurant or niche-related business. Talk about what you are doing locally on the weekends and tag local businesses. Offer to do a talk at the library or a group specific to your business culture. As you get to know these businesses and you show them love, they will get to know you and show you love too! It just takes one or two businesses to do a “shout-out to our local pet blogger” (to their giant email lists) before your business sees a positive impact.
CHECKING OUT: One of the beauties of brick and mortar is that when you finish for the day you are done. A shoe repairman typically leaves the shoes to repair at the shop. A car stereo shop waits until tomorrow to finish that Bose speaker installation. As a chiropractor, for the most part, I only saw my patients in the confines of my four office walls. Punching out at the end of the day is essential for our well-being personally and professionally. If your brain doesn’t get a chance to process the day’s work in peace you will start the next day at a deficit. Working from a laptop means there is no punch card. There is no security alarm to set as you walk out the door. Many of us have caught ourselves working late into the night while our families sleep. Subscribe to some radical boundary setting in this area. Truly checking out in the evenings and on the weekends makes you a better business owner.
I am quite sure none of us want to go back to a 9-5, or suddenly lease office space, but there are some solid benefits to the brick and mortar model. Consider implementing some of the six steps in the areas where you have the most struggle. These benefits can create a structure and framework, facilitating unprecedented growth.
What can you do, this week to create a more brick and mortar-like framework around your business? Do you need to keep more regular hours, check out more definitively at the end of the day or institute a “client time” and “business time” breakdown to your schedule? Pick just one thing and implement. Let me know how it goes!
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