By: Kristen Nauss
We’ve all been there.
You’ve identified an opportunity in your business and decided to commit to a solution. After months of work, you’ve convinced your boss that it’s time to finally move forward on something, and then you sit there, wide-eyed, stunned, and unsure of what to do next.
As a manager or business leader, the fear of failure can be paralyzing. You may know that something isn’t exactly working as-is, or that a process or software choice must be changed; and even so, it can be really hard to commit once you’ve identified the solution. It happens in all areas of life – whether you’ve taken on remodeling a room, buying a car, investing in a CRM, or doing an annual marketing plan… the options go on and on.
The same thing can be said for choosing a vendor or software solution. Let’s say, for example, you have decided you need to partner with a marketing firm. That’s a big, abstract commitment, where the options are numerous and difficult to narrow down. So how do you move forward?
Here’s my quick list to help you break down that massive gorilla in the room into, hopefully, a bunch of fuzzy little kittens.
- Come up with a budget.
Having a clear and defined budget will help you narrow your options. For example, if you’re buying a new car, your budget will help you know if you’re looking for a Mercedes or a Kia. This needs to include the things you can’t do the job without: supplies, labor or service fees, and the actual cost of the item.
In the case of partnering with a marketing firm, your budget should include room for consultation costs, planning, campaign development (like creative and copywriting), and execution (e.g. print production or ad placement).
- Do your research.
Now is the time to GTS – Google That $h!t. The internet can be your best friend at this moment with potential pricing, reviews, etc. And don’t forget to ask friends; your network is more powerful than you think. Whether you ask one or three people for referrals, finding out about someone else’s experience with a potential vendor or product is a great way to vet what your own experience may be like.
Let’s look at our marketing firm example again. When you’re selecting a marketing partner, you’ll want to research the expertise and experience of prospective firms. What areas of marketing are their core competencies? What companies/organizations have they worked with in the past? Do they have results to share?
- Find a partner.
Really. While doing something like this all by yourself may make for some epic stories in the future, it can also cause you to be less efficient, lose money, and lose the most precious thing – time. Whether you’re purchasing a new car, building a deck, or tackling your marketing plan, the support of a trustworthy and knowledgeable partner can make all the difference.
- Set a timeline.
“A goal without a timeline is just a dream.” Thank you, Robert Herjavec, for that enlightening quote. If you don’t hold yourself accountable to at least a deadline, you can’t guarantee that anything will get done. True, you may need to move that deadline mid-process, but that’s okay as well. Just have an end date to work toward.
If the case of hiring a marketing firm, you can give yourself a few deadlines: one for having your choice selected, one for beginning the work on the campaign, and at least one checkpoint in your campaign to measure success. Holding yourself accountable to these dates (within reason, of course) will help you avoid decision paralysis.
- Take time to assess.
How will you know you’ve succeeded if you don’t take time to assess? If you’re building a deck, you’ll need to check for weak spots as you go. If you invested in software, you’ll want to look back a few months after launch to reflect on how the change has improved processes.
Likewise, once you’ve selected and started working with a marketing firm, it will be important to measure your progress to make sure you’re getting value out of the partnership. The results may be slow, but you should notice an increase in leads, conversions, and paying customers over time.
- Keep moving forward.
Meet the Robinsons got it right in so many ways. Keep trying, keep moving forward, and believe in yourself and your project. If things don’t work out in your favor, learn from the experience and start with your new and improved solution.
Whatever commitment you’ve made, my advice is to take this big leap in little steps. When you look back, you’ll be amazed to see how far you have come. You can do it. We have faith in you.
Now go get ‘em, Tiger!
Kristen Nauss is the Director of Sales and Marketing at Extend Your Reach. She helps clients build multi-channel marketing strategies and oversees business development for Reach. She brings more than 20 years of strategic communications experience to her role. Email Kristen or connect with her on LinkedIn.