Great clients are worth waiting for.
Great prospects are worth fighting for.
But how long do you work? How many little things until you start to get the big results?
I’ve been thinking this past week about all the little things and small steps I’m taking in life and business.
It’s really tempting to get discouraged or weary. The small steps are so small. The little things are almost invisible. When will the big things swoop in? Is all this little stuff getting me anywhere at all?
Some of my small things are:
- Health: I’m working out and walking almost every day. I’m eating less, and making an extra effort to put good food in my body – what my friend calls “God’s food” instead of “man’s food” (‘man’ as in ‘humanity’). We were laughing about midget gems, and kebabs, and food that seems like it’s made of plastic. What’s even in those, anyway??? Whereas courgettes and spinach and mango … they’re more real. I’ve been doing this for almost 8 weeks now. I’ve noticed some small differences, but oh my is it slow. I’ve been making poor food and exercise choices for years…and yet after only a few days or weeks of eating broccoli, I’m wondering why the weight isn’t dropping off drastically.
- The PF team: One of our goals as a company is to enable the whole PF team to be more involved, more autonomous, and have more responsibility with the work we do for accountants. Enabling them to work as a team while I focus on leadership, training, speaking, nurturing relationships, writing books. Removing me as a bottleneck, training them to make decisions, and building good systems for everything we do. The items that help us move towards this are extremely small. An email that’s sent from a team member instead of me. Team meeting after team meeting after team meeting. Trainings. Quick calls on Slack to talk about why this situation happened and how we make it better next time. Victories shared. Me taking a few days holiday and delegating yet another tiny item to someone else. It’s encouraging, and yet feels slow when you’re in the middle of it.
- My personal brand: Part of the reason for building up the PF team is to help distinguish me personally from the PF business. I love the Profitable Firm, what I’ve built, and what we’re doing for accountants. It’s exciting and I have every intention of growing it exponentially. And at the same time, I’ve got at least two books I want to write. I want to be doing more speaking engagements so I can be a better communicator all round. I love sketchnoting, photography, art. I’m keen to keep teaching and coaching and training. Working on all the small elements related to this personal brand feels really slow: it’s not a drastic cut off (I’m still day to day involved in the PF business) and there are always emails to send and meetings to arrange and other content to work on.There are many other areas, too. Spiritually, emotionally, mentally, there are always opportunities for growth. I’ve got hundreds of things I’d like to do in my home – a new kitchen, painting, replacing the deck, replacing that horrendous shed (don’t worry Cara, Gillies Mackay is of course who I’ll come to at that point)…the list goes on, and the victories seem small.
The victories ARE small.
But that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth doing. They are building up, one after another, to deliver victories to you on a large scale.
I took a test once, one of those personality tests that tells you things like how goal orientated you are, how much you focus on people when making decisions, whether you’re a big picture person or focused on the detail. I remember it said that I was 86% goal orientated.
This means that I love achieving little tiny goals. Email to client – check. Blog post written – check. Travel for speaking engagement booked – check.
It also means that the temptation is for me to focus on the little tiny goals for their own sake, rather than keeping an eye on the big goals of which these tiny ones are simply a part. I have to work really hard at setting aside some of the small things that I could easily achieve, and tick off the list, so I can free up time for other priorities. I have to look at my list of small things and evaluate them in light of the big goals. Will this small thing be yet another step in the right direction? Or is it just something I want to tick off the list?
Most of all, for you accountants, this applies to content marketing.
I’ve been teaching it for years. Keep doing the small stuff: blog posts, videos, social posts, writing, creating, learning one more little thing about marketing. Keep going day by day by day and you will, absolutely, get those high quality leads coming to you on a daily basis.
You won’t even know where they come from. THEY won’t even know where they come from.
I had a client try to tell me the story of how she came to PF and she kept going around in circles saying “oh wait I forgot that I attended that webinar first” or “no, i saw you at an event, that was it”.
We eventually agreed that there were hundreds of small seeds that were sown, and sown, and sown…and she worked her way through our free Masterclass and our group Accelerator training and is now engaged in a branding project that is far bigger, with far more reaching repercussions for her marketing decisions, than she ever imagined. She was thrilled to discover that the ‘progression model’ that she learned about in relation to her prospects was something we practice at PF, too. By going through it herself she was learning new things about how to engage with her prospects, too.
The little things matter.
They matter immensely.
They feel like nothing. Useless. Difficult. Purposeless. You feel like you’re “not getting results” – or certainly not getting them fast enough.
One of my clients said in a video call recently, “I don’t post on Twitter because…I have work to do.”
We were in the middle of discussions on his brand, but I assured him we would revisit that conversation later.
Because the little things like Twitter ARE the work you have to do. They are critical, integral to those big picture things you say you want to achieve. Yours may not be Twitter – it could be Instagram or YouTube or writing – but it’s time as an accountant to accept that this is your work, too.
Everything is marketing. Every small thing is helping. It’s the consistency of them, the persistence, the pressing on.
All the small things I’m doing in relation to my health will one day result in my having lost a significant amount of weight. I started at least 50 pounds overweight, and I’ve lost the grand sum of 6 pounds so far. Six pounds feels like nothing. Seven weeks of being consistent and faithful and getting up earlier every morning and straining through the press ups and getting a sore knee from the burpees and some days wondering why I’m even bothering.
But here’s the thing: the longer you keep doing the little things, the more small rewards you start to see. Six pounds isn’t much…but it’s progress. I’m not buying new clothes yet, but some of them fit just that little bit better. And I don’t want to give up now because then I’ll lose all those seven weeks of work.
Barb Brady, one of our Accelerator members, took the Accelerator challenge seriously at the start of the 12 week programme. The challenge is anything that you set it to be. You can commit to blogging once a week. Recording four videos. Posting on social every day. Whatever you decide, that’s your challenge, and that’s what we’ll hold you to. Barb took note when we said, “If you commit to blogging every week, by the end of the programme you’ll have 12 blog posts, written and published.” She did it – sometimes squeaking out the post at midnight the night before, or an hour before the live session with the group – and now she has 12 blog posts, written and published.
That’s not all, either. Her 12 blog posts, her achieved goal, and everything she learned in the Accelerator have pushed her to other decisions. She’s continuing to edit the content on her website. She’s changing her business name and getting a new logo designed that will express who she truly is, who her brand is.
“The first blog took me almost three days,” Barb said. “Off and on, editing, writing, changing, finding an image, publishing…it took forever! And the others felt like they took too long, too. But suddenly after the fifth one it started getting easier. And now it’s a habit. I pretend that the live sessions are still happening every Thursday, and I have a deadline of writing a blog every week still.”
Barb is at the beginning of her content marketing journey. But what about those who have pressed on for years?
Results after years of effort.
Last week I spoke to Keith, one of our clients in the States. He came to us with a desire to focus on a niche, and chose veterinarians. He didn’t have many vet clients yet – only one – so we made sure he was aware that choosing a brand new niche was going to take a long time. Longer than if he had loads of experience and simply needed to capitalise on it. He was willing to make the effort – and he has. He’s invested in outsourcing, in hiring a full time marketing manager, in writing and creating content himself (blogs and video). And last week when we had our quarterly marketing strategy call, he was full of victories. He had speaking engagements to vets. He had been asked not only to speak, but to run an informal workshop at the end of an event. He was getting leads from organisations who knew that his accounting firm works with vets. He was signing new vet clients.
Keith could have given up anytime during the two year period from deciding to go for it, and not seeing a lot of results. He saw some results – there were little encouragements along the way – but now the results, the prospects, the leads are trickling in that little bit faster. The leads are a higher quality. The conversations are better. The profits are higher.
I’ve been writing my marketing tips, every Friday, for well over eight years. For the first few years it seemed like no one really noticed or cared. But I believed in the power of consistent content, being faithful, focusing on a niche, sharing my knowledge, giving it away. Now, if a marketing tip is posted late, I’ll always get people asking “where is it? Did i miss it? Is something wrong with my email?”
And it’s not just the marketing tips on their own. All the small things work together. Videos. Website pages. A rebrand. The PF team writing their own content. Webinars. Events. Sponsorships. Tick, tick, tick.
Our clients who have been practicing this are getting leads on a weekly, daily basis, and it becomes difficult to know where they come from. Some did a Google search. Some were referred. Some attended an event, heard a podcast, read a few blogs. Many have no idea how they came – “it just seems like you’re everywhere”, they say.
That’s how the small things work.
That’s why you don’t give up.
Because the good clients are worth waiting for. And they’re out there. Give them time.