Tactics is the final phase of your personal strategic planning but I have brought it to the Green Zone because, as I’ve previously pointed out, here’s where the rubber meets the road. All the goals, objectives and strategies you’ve established so far are in dreamland and of little value until your dreams are adjusted for reality.
Think of it as oil underground. Of little value until it is brought to the surface, refined, distributed and burned.
Strategy vs. Tactics
As with every other stage of strategic planning, people often have difficulty keeping in mind the difference between strategy and tactics. It’s huge.
Strategy is long term and describes your destination. Tactics are short term and describe the specific and immediate steps you will use to begin and propel your journey.
Even though they are different, strategy and tactics always have to be in line with each other. And because your resources are limited, you need to carefully choose the tactics that are affordable and will most effectively get your ball rolling. As your company grows, so can the extent of your tactics.
Tactics vs. Marketing
If you Google “tactics,” what you’ll get the most of is “marketing.”
Forget marketing if it means buying ads. You can’t afford it unless you have quite a bankroll.
But you can promote your business DIY.
You have already completed the most important tactic. You have created your own personal strategic plan. You’re no knee-jerk entrepreneur. You know who you are, where you’re going and now it’s time to decide how to get there.
Establish Your Brand.
Right away you need to distinguish yourself from all your expected competitors. Regardless of the brand name you select, you need to build an image around it that you are extraordinary.
Until you are ready to grow, you aren’t ready to become a COWORK Entrepreneurs franchisee. But anyone can set themselves up as a socially responsible, self-managed, profit-sharing (SSP) entrepreneur. I have not trademarked the business model and anyone can use it.
If you use it, you have a big news story and news is free advertising. For me too, and so I’ll be helping you with that.
Of course, you probably don’t yet have other indie entrepreneurs engaged in your business but the story is about your vision and the DNA of your company. Unlike corporate chains you are sharing your profits by redistributing them to the community where you live and work. You explain why.
Don’t say, “unlike these corporate chains that carry it away, etc.”
Being negative about someone else’s brand is, well, negative. Place it beneath your dignity unless you are preaching to the choir. Upon launch, you are marketing your brand, not criticizing another. And the old political rule can apply here: Don’t ever say your competitor’s name. It’s free advertising for the opponent.
You expect to grow and you will engage other indie entrepreneurs as partners who own their own work and share their profits with the community as well. All three elements are unique and worthy of several news stories. Even major feature stories. Interviews and speaking engagements.
It will also attract prospective indie entrepreneurs to your business.
These tactics avoid presenting you simply as another businessman on the make. What you have to say is not to directly promote your business. Rather you are concerned about civic duty and responsibility. It would be hard for the media to ignore it.
The local government would love to hear from you too! And civic groups like the Chamber of Commerce. More publicity!
Attract Human Capital
All this publicity is also a great recruiting tool.
The idea of using a socially responsible, self-managed, profit-sharing business model is strange to people who are used to the regularity of a set amount in a paycheck. They mistake it as security. There is also risk involved in switching to profit sharing but it is out in the open. Many will be leery and the publicity will give you greater credibility if it’s used right.
You need to be prepared to defend against the nay-sayers. I’ve given you plenty of material you can use for that. But you need to keep it simple. You could say something catchy like, “If the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, then we are on the wrong side of the fence. Capitalism is the greatest producer of wealth in the world and so we all need to become capitalists!”
While you probably won’t be ready to take on indie entrepreneurs at first, you need to be ready for it. A business that does not grow is a business likely to fail.
Target Your Audiences
Community leaders and prospective partners are only a part of your target audience. You need to identify as many targets as you can list and think of ways to reach as many of them as you can. Order the list with the best prospects at the top.
If a target is large, such as consumers, then going door to door is impractical. The publicity you’re attracting will multiply your efforts.
On the other hand, if you are looking to become a subcontractor, then your effort should be directed to single targets.
Many strategic planning consultants recommend you set timelines for reaching goals, objectives and strategies.
In the old days, strategic plans were written as 10-year plans with specific dates upon which certain stages should be completed. Time was the measurement for success or failure.
Eventually it became clear that such a system was doomed to failure either because the deadlines were missed or set too low in order to reach them on time. It was impossible to accurately predict how long it would take to accomplish long term plans as though they were targets. And so the length of the plans were reduced to seven, then five, and now generally three years.
You may have noticed I didn’t mention timelines for your strategic plan. Personally, my timeline has always been asap (as soon as possible). “Start small, think big, get there as fast as you can.”
However, at the tactical stage, measuring works where performance is easily tracked. Even here, I hesitate to set a start or end date. Measurement is perpetual and adjustments are made tactically. No waste, no haste.
Tactical plans can be created on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or even yearly basis. And a change in plans is not a failure if you use the lessons learned and trends developing to adjust or rethink your tactics.
On the other hand, if you monitor your tactics and they work, you’re up for a commendation. To not try may have been a missed opportunity. But be prepared. The best of tactics eventually wear out.
Tap into Social Networks
Ideally you’ve been playing on the Internet for fun.
Now it’s time to use this powerful medium for purpose.
If you are not yet Internet savvy, do it now. Get someone who is familiar with Internet navigation to teach you how. It may seem mysterious to you at first, but in a short time it will become intuitive.
And fun! Even though you are using the medium to “advertise” yourself and your company.
But remember, don’t use social media (any free media for that matter) as a place for “free ads.” You will not build an audience that way. You will build resistance. You have much information and knowledge to originate conversation without obvious self-promotion. Let the receivers connect what you say with what you do and they will voluntarily come your way.
Each channel (network) has a different method (algorithm) of communication to reach people who have different interests and behaviors.
Facebook is the biggest and its users are a varied audience. Within Facebook you will find groups of individuals with the same interests. You need to find the groups that would best suit your interests and needs.
For example, do a search using keywords: types of trades or professions, social and civic responsibility, entrepreneurship, economics, profit-sharing, small business, etc.
Online networking can consume your entire day. So select wisely.
There are groups that may seem like your match, but they are in fact on a different track. Avoid channels devoted mostly to politics. As I’ve mentioned before, we are working on the economic front and that’s where we will find the most useful allies.
Channels that do match your needs will vary in usefulness. Some are immature, off beat, sleepy or inactive. Choose the best of three or four. Keep track of people who engage you regularly in conversation and make a list.
Local Groups on Facebook are pure gold for a DIY entrepreneur. There are probably several groups in your community devoted to networking with friends and neighbors. Find the most active among them and get involved. You don’t have to always be posting. Go there and join in the conversations. An occasional post would be acceptable, but you are just building a personal network. One of the “guys.”
Instagram. This is a good channel for quasi advertising. The algorithm is optimized for valued content. You’ll likely gain a natural following of your target audience.
Twitter is also a leader in social media. However, to gain a following you have to post tweets often and consistently. Communication becomes a habit among your followers and if there is a pause, you may lose them.
Other Channels. There are many other social channels, many of them devoted to specific content. Some are just knock-offs of the leading channels. Some may match your focus or profession.
I recommend you spend some time choosing several channels that seem like home to you. Test them out. Then reduce their numbers to what you can effectively handle.
Appeal to the Emotions
No hellfire and damnation speeches, please! But studies have revealed that emotion outsells logic. Appeal to the emotions people reveal they have. Subtly. But powerfully. I’ve given you the issues and you have the answers for doing it.
Find out what matters to your targets and offer support, praise and camaraderie when it’s genuine. Never lie. Regardless of what you hear these days, it isn’t okay.
Studies also reveal that the most successful paid advertising relies heavily on emotional awareness relating to friendship, happiness, warmth and inspiration.
Think of the famous Coca Cola jingle: “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing in Perfect Harmony.” That’s a DNA. The “Real Thing” comes later.
Always be upbeat and in tune with the emotions of your target audience.
And smile, smile, smile.
A Website and a Blog are Essential
In this the era of the Internet, your presence there is essential. Not just to touch base occasionally with your network, but to be there when potential customers or clients are looking for someone just like you.
Masses of people query Google online constantly to find what they want or need. If you’re not there, you lose. If you are there, you have reached out to a mass audience bigger than you ever dreamed.
Entrepreneurs who are not necessarily Internet savvy miss this huge opportunity and it’s there for the taking.
It’s not a roadblock. It’s an opportunity. It’s simple. And it can be done for free!
The same goes for a blog. You just follow a link to a website and fill out the form. No more difficult than posting your profile on a job board. Yes, the slick sites can be very expensive. Mine for instance. But for now, for you, it’s just the facts, nothing but the facts.
The important thing is content.
Just as it is anywhere, you communicate with your target audiences. Post your personal and business DNA. Use that elevator speech to describe what you do. And give them plenty of contact information.
The Internet may be big, but it’s also personal. Be sure you include your photo and smile, smile, smile.
You can post special promotions on your website. Your blog is like a running account of your thoughts, experiences and points of view. Your audience subscribes by giving you their email addresses and that’s one of the key projects you should be working on. You talk about things they are interested in and when they need you, they will think of you.
If you still think you don’t have the technological skills, then ask your son or daughter to help. You will be amazed at what they can do.
The Internet has emphasized the power of virtual networking, but face-to-face is still the most powerful per contact, if not volume.
Word of mouth is one of the most powerful forms of advertising and it is even more powerful when the target is powerful. People of the media, community officials, other influencers, friends and neighbors and your customers. They are part of your human capital.
Don’t approach them saying, “You wouldn’t want to hire me or promote me, would you?” Give them something to talk about. Start a buzz among them. Become genuine friends. When the time comes, friends look to friends.
Strengthen your relationships with your existing network and expand your reach by cultivating new relationships with the target influencers.
Be genuine! No one likes to feel used. If you don’t like a particular target, don’t go there!
Communication Skills Are Fundamental
To be an entrepreneur you have to be a leader. And leaders are natural communicators, especially when they talk about something they are passionate about.
You may still think you are a lone business man or woman, but communication involves a sender and a receiver. If the two fail to connect, there is no communication. And so, once again, there is no such thing as a solopreneur.
Speech is an important part of human capital.
If communication has not been an integral part of what you have been doing, this requirement may scare you.
Don’t be scared. Everyone communicates in some way. It’s as natural as being human.
It doesn’t take a degree in communication to be an effective spokesman for your product or service. In fact, I am a professional communicator and I try to write at the high school level, preferably ninth grade.
On a personal basis, I often adjusted my level of speech to match the receiver. If he or she is a lawyer or someone with an MBA, I elevate my language. On the other hand, I’m a native of West Virginia. If I think I can connect better, I have no problem slipping into the good ole boy jargon. I just don’t overdue the twang.
At either level I try to project myself in a professional manner.
Unfortunately, our schools have stopped teaching grammar and we are surrounded by bad English. If you’re not sure about the words you use, I encourage you to take a basic course in spoken English at your local night school.
As an entrepreneur, you will engage in conversation with people from all walks of life. How you present yourself will matter.
Please move on to the next essay
Drafting an Uncommon Business Plan