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The Encore Entrepreneur

FEMALE ONLINE BUSINESS OWNERS OVER 40

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Episode 36: How to Make Sure Your Business Stays Relevant and Profitable in Any Economy

We all want a relevant and profitable business, yet the world, the economy, and the marketplace change constantly. In this episode, we highlight the activities you can take to proactively ensure your business stays relevant and profitable in any economy. We’re giving you questions to ask so you can use slow times (ebb times) to dive deep into what works and what doesn’t in your business and processes.

You can intentionally use slow times or ebb times to gain clarity about your business.

Regarding your offers, ask:

  • Which one energizes you?

  • Which one do you enjoy the most?

  • Which one is getting the best results?

  • Which one is most profitable?

  • What parts or part of your service or program made the biggest impact on your clients?

  • Which of your offers is easiest for your clients to say yes to? And what lights you up the most?

Regarding your clients, ask:

  • Who do you LOVE working with?

  • Who is turning out not to be as ideal as you thought they would be?

  • What are the characteristics that make someone a good or bad fit?

In general, ask:

  • What's worked in the past for you? Go back and look at that, and then ask, how can I do more of that?

If things are slowing down for you, it doesn't mean you need to burn it all down, nor should you. It means you need to lean into going deep and using this time of ebb to your advantage. We're inviting you to our next Marketing Methodology Workshop. During this workshop, we will walk you through the process of getting your marketing plan set up for the next twelve months. We dive deep into how to connect with your audience on an emotional level, and we give you tools and resources that you can use over and over again to create a rinse-and-repeat process and rinse and repeat and streamlining. All of these things are things that you can create for yourself during ebb times. We want to get things that run seamlessly. We want a well-oiled machine where things aren't going to upset the apple cart. So if you'd like to get your marketing plan set up for the next twelve months, register now at encoreempire.com/mmw.

Episode Transcript:

[01:04] Deirdre Harter: Are you seeing a slowdown in your business? Well, it's no secret that the economy is in a state of flux right now. Now, as an entrepreneur, it takes more touches to get people to make a move in today's economy. And back at the end of December, on our podcast on Episode 31, we discussed our predictions for 2023, and we're seeing them come to fruition. So if you didn't have a chance to listen to that episode, we'll link that here in the show notes so you can go check that out. The good news is, it's not that people aren't buying; it's that they're more discerning. Everything in life has a cycle, and everything in life and business ebbs and flows. Right now, we are in an ebb cycle.


[01:58] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: And I love the ebb and flow analogy. We use this a lot because people forget that we have ebb and flow in our life. We always want to flow, right? As entrepreneurs, we're really ambitious. We want to go, go, go, and make things happen. And it's extremely frustrating when it seems like we're doing everything that we can, and we're not getting the results that we want. So when we see that we're in a slowdown, a slower period, and this can be cyclical, like during the year, if you track your business sales and marketing activities and when things happen, you might notice that there are certain times of year that are slower for you or not. This can also be, as it is now, kind of an effect of what's going on in the world that can slow things down. 

There are many different reasons and ways that things can slow down. And we need to use the ebb when we're in an ebb time, the slow down time, and the pullback time to get ready for the flow because nothing's going to last forever. So instead of freaking out, take the time to really understand what's going on in your business. When we're busy, we don't have time to stop and reflect very much. We're really trying to go from thing to thing, putting out fires, doing everything that we can when we can to keep the balls in the air. 

When things slow down, instead of freaking out, we just need to take a look at the things that we don't have time to look at in other times. Take the time to review your client journey. Where have your ideal clients come from? How did they find you? And what was the trigger that made them buy? When putting together a spreadsheet or a database with this information, you also want to identify who wasn't an ideal client and why. During these times of ebb, the slowdowns in our business, it's time for us to look inward and examine what works and what doesn't. That way we're ready, and we're positioned better for when things get busy again. So if you're not tracking this information, now is the time to set yourself up to start. 

Business isn't run in the front-facing activities. It's run on strategy and processes. If you don't have your strategy or processes lined out, all you'll be doing during uncertain times is freaking out, and that is not helpful to anybody. So it's our mission to make sure that you know how to ride the tide and come out on the other side unharmed.


[04:41] Deirdre Harter: I actually kind of learned to love and embrace the ebb time because, like Carmen said, we always feel like we're so busy, and there's so many things to do, especially when, let's say, that you just onboarded a whole bunch of new clients, right, and you're doing all this client work, and you're busy doing it. And then we begin to start to feel that we're like, oh, I'm not getting to my marketing. I'm not posting. I didn't get my email done until the last minute. We're experiencing those things. I love the ebb because it gives us time to go back and get ready. We know the flow is coming again. We've already been through it. So now we have the intel to know, what could I do now to prepare for that? So I'm better prepared the next time it comes around. Another great use of slow times is to hone your clarity on who your ideal client is, just as Carmen was talking about a minute ago, do this client journey map. We've been doing this, and it's really enlightening. We're going back through and looking at where did our ideal clients come from? 

I'm a big proponent of the Pareto principle. That's the 80/20 rule. And if you begin to look, you're going to see this in play all the time. And what that means, if you haven't heard it before, and how it relates to what we're talking about is 20% of X gives you 80% of Y. So then we just fill in the X and the Y. So 20% of your—let's talk about the clients that you have. 20% of those clients are giving you 80% of the massive results, the stellar results. Not that your other clients aren't getting results, but you're always going to have that top tier, right? They're like the A-plus students in the classroom, the ones that are really taking full advantage and getting unbelievable results by working with you. So we want to take the time to figure out who are they, how did we find them, and how can we replicate that. Because when we know how to replicate that, that's when we are putting more time and energy into that 20% of activities that are going to bring us 80% of the results. 

Another great use of this ebb time is looking at what your messaging is, okay? Because marketing, you know, sales and marketing, they go hand in hand. And your messaging, your marketing is what's going to set you up for all the sales that you want. So you need to take a look at that, what's working, what people might want or need that you might not be offering. Look at your offers, and you can also use this time to look at how to niche down or fine-tune your specialty. Most people think that when times like this happen, the natural tendency is to go wide when things slow down. But in reality, you need to go deep, not wide. And what do I mean by that? Going wide means I've got to add more things on, I've got to add some low tickets, I got to add on a membership, I've got to add on this course. 

It doesn't necessarily mean you don't need to do it, but we're saying don't just jump to the conclusion. That's why strategy is so important because it needs to make sense and it needs to fit into your strategy. So don't just try saying, I'm going to add on three more social platforms, I just need to post in more places. All that's going to do is it's going to eat up your ebb time, the time that you could be spending on really clarifying, really honing in on what's working. This is how you do less but better. 

So let's talk a bit about niching down using the information that you've collected about your past clients, things like who got the greatest results and who did you enjoy working with the most. Because in all of this, our energy is something we have complete control of. And during this ebb time, just because certain things are ebbing, like sales or it's the season, it doesn't mean that everything has to ebb. So your energy can actually flow during this ebb time. So you can intentionally use this time to really get some clarity. And these types of questions are going to help you identify whether or not you need to niche down. So, for example, if you know that you really, you know, maybe you have two or three different kinds of services, they're all related, but you've got two or three different ones. Well, which one brings you the most energy? Which one do you enjoy the most? Which one is getting the best results? Which one is most profitable? And it doesn't mean the highest price. It means which one are you delivering with ease and with joy, as opposed to some of those other services or clients that really suck the energy and they take a lot more time? These are the things we want to be looking at so we can hone in and work with only those people and the processes and the services that are most ideal for our business.


[10:03] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Let's talk about fine-tuning your specialty. And this goes hand in hand with what Deirdre is talking about. You need to look at these things and answer the questions for yourself. Most people don't stop to take the time to write out questions and then answer the questions. But what parts or part of your service or program made the biggest impact on your clients? If you look back and you know that, man, every time we get to this one section of my coaching or my consulting or what I do for my clients, they just rave about it. And then if you have more than one type of service or program, which one is the most profitable? As Deirdre mentioned, these things are indicators as to what your specialty really is. And that doesn't mean that you need to drop the rest of it. But it's time to focus on the things that are giving the most impact. They're lighting you up, and your clients are loving. 

So which of your offers is easiest for your clients to say yes to? And what lights you up the most? Energizes you. As Deirdre just talked about, we have control over our energy. No one has to…the beauty of being an entrepreneur is you don't “have to” do anything. You get to make the choices that help energize you and bring your best to the table for your clients. 

Now, when we create any kind of messaging for social posts and email marketing, for podcasts, videos, sales pages, or anything else, it's critical to be speaking to the exact people we want to work with. This is why going deep is so important. Your messaging should make these people sit up and take notice. When you fall into the trap of going wide and trying to speak to more people, you'll end up diluting your message, and you'll see lackluster results. And this is something that happens a lot to new entrepreneurs. But when things get tight or things slow down, it can cause panic, and we can revert back to thinking that we need to go wide. And that's why we wanted to bring this episode out. We want to make sure that you take this time if this is an ebb period for you, or when an ebb period happens, that you take the time to go deep in what you have, what it's doing for your clients, and how to make it better. 

Now, when we're talking about messaging, we cannot improve messaging without understanding who our ideal clients are and what they want right now. So if you're not somehow tracking ideal client language, the comments, the testimonials, the AHA moments, you're doing yourself a disservice. We talk about this a lot when we run our Marketing Methodology Workshop. We talk about how to connect with your audience on an emotional level. And you have to use their language to do that. You cannot do it based on what you think they would like to that point.


[13:00] Deirdre Harter: Carmen, another thing is, I think any entrepreneur who's been through stage one, they're in stage two, maybe moving into stage three; we did this exercise a long time ago, right? Who's the ideal client? And we wrote it all out. But this is something and why we think collecting ideal client language continuously is so important because things change for your ideal clients, right? It's never one and done. Now, not everything is going to change about it, but there are going to be nuances, and when you can understand the nuances, and you can change your messaging accordingly and speak to them, that's how you get the emotional connection. That is how you stay relevant in any economy. 

Let's talk about the positioning of your business. I want to ask you a question. When you think about your programs and your services, are you a necessity, or are you a luxury? Where do you think your services fall in that continuum? A lot of times, we think about necessities, and we're not talking about food, water, or shelter; those obviously are necessities. But we're talking about—whether you are working business to business, whether you are working business to consumer—we can all position ourselves as a necessity and not as a luxury. So you have to set yourself apart in this way. This is a key to staying relevant and profitable. 

Luxuries are the first things that get cut in times of financial uncertainty. And whether your clients think of you as a necessity or a luxury, it's all about how you are positioning and talking about it. Here's how you can position yourself as a necessity. What about the solution you provide is necessary? And I will tell you every one of you out there has a solution that is necessary, OK? And it's really tied to the result that you get for your clients. And when we think about what is necessary, about our solution, think about what are the consequences if people don't resolve their challenge, if they don't work with you, if they have something that they're trying to resolve, they're trying to improve, they're trying to get done, whatever the case may be. What's the consequence of not taking action? 

This is a practice in positioning, being able to articulate and write those out and then relay those to your clients. So here's an exercise that you can do. You take out a sheet of paper and write down what makes your services necessary. And we're going to give you some examples to help you see what this might look like. So let's take, for example, a branding strategist. It's absolutely essential. Now, branding strategists are typically business-to-business, right? They're helping businesses. And it's absolutely essential as a business to communicate who you are, what you do, and for whom. That doesn't change no matter what the economy is doing. And in fact, in order to thrive in uncertain times, branding can put you in a winning position. Now, the consequence, what is the consequence of not investing in your branding? The consequence of not investing in branding is that you're not attracting the clients that you could, and you're leaving money on the table. And this is again more important than ever when things are in an ebb, right? If the marketplace is slowing down, if the sales cycle is longer, then anything we can do to speed that up is critical to the life of our business. And so this is what we're talking about in making what you're doing a necessity, not just a luxury.


[17:10] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: And that was a great example for a B2B business or business to business. And let's look at one that is business to consumer. For a health coach, what is necessary about what you do? Overcoming obstacles that lead to better health means that you'll be around longer to enjoy time with your family. This is what you say to your clients. This is the truth. If you have better health, you're going to be around longer to enjoy time with your family. 

The consequence of not being health conscious is that it causes a reduction in the quality of life now and later. Those are pretty big consequences. If you're a health coach and you're helping your clients, and you know that they're struggling with their decisions, whatever they're doing in their health, they are reducing their quality of life now and in the future. That's big. That makes health and being health-conscious and having a health coach a necessity because we want to live long and fruitful lives. When you position yourself as a necessity because you're helping increase the quality of life now and in the future, well, that makes it a necessity and not just a luxury. 

We love the adage that energy flows where your focus goes. This is a constant reminder that your focus needs to be on what you have control over, not what you don't. And this mindset shift doesn't mean that you won't worry or have doubts, but it does mean that you will be productively working to improve your situation no matter what's going on in the world. By using the ebb and flow to your advantage and improving your business operations through these fine-tuning activities, you'll be able to continue to attract the people out there who are ready to buy. Contrary to what mainstream media might want you to believe, there are buyers out there. You just need to understand how to connect with them on an emotional level where buying decisions are made.


[19:17] Deirdre Harter: We talked about staying profitable in any economy. And the key to profitability, and I think this is the main key to profitability, is clarity. Clarity not only in who your ideal clients are and what the offers are that they most need, but it's also clarity in terms of your lead generation and sales activities. It's really important for you to be very clear on what it is that you're doing, what have you done in the past, what's working and what's not. And during an ebb, we often think that what worked before just isn't working anymore, right? It's like our first thought. It's like, “it's just not working. All that I've been doing all this, and it just isn't working anymore.”

However, what it most likely is that the ebb that we're in is simply slowing down the results that you're seeing, and there may or may not be something wrong with your processes. This is why, again, clarity is so important. You have to understand what are your processes and what results have you gotten from them. And this is why it's so important to know what metrics to be watching and tracking, not just now, not just when things ebb, but all the time, because they are what's going to inform you of what's working, what's not working. You may need to simply do more of what is working. 

That's that concept of doing less, but better if you just simply refine; take something that's working - let's say that you have gotten quite a few referrals, that you're getting more clients through referrals than you are from, let's say, having a discovery call or having a consultation call. So if you know that that's working, what can you do to do more of that? What's worked in the past for you? Go back and look at that and then say, how can I do more of that? How can I do less activity but be better at what I know works? 

It's also important to stay in proactive mode. A lot of times, when things are slowing down, things are not turning out like we thought they would. We can get into a reactive mode, and you need to avoid making decisions in reactive mode. Now, Carmen and I have been there, done that. At one point, early on, we had run a challenge. It was a workshop just like the Marketing Methodology Workshop, but it was a different topic, and everything was going great. It was working well, and all of a sudden, an ebb hit us, and we went into reactive mode. We're like, “it's not working anymore. We need to change it.” And so we did, but it was a whole lot of work, and it didn't do anything for us. It didn't help us at all. And what we've learned over the years is that we have to identify, we have to stay proactive and be looking at, why isn't this working? Is it outside of our control? Is it the marketplace? Is it the season of the year, et cetera? So if things are slowing down for you, it doesn't mean you need to burn it all down, nor should you. It means you need to lean into going deep and using this time of ebb to your advantage.


[22:54] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: I think that's such a good reminder, because when we get into reactive mode, we want to fix something, right? We're freaking out. We're like, oh my gosh, it's not working. Well, now I got to do this, this, and this, or I want to create this thing, or I want to do that. And that helps soothe our nervous system. It's like, okay, we're taking action; we're doing something. However, when you're doing it based in reactive mode, you haven't stopped to think about strategically, would those things actually make a difference for you. And by learning to go deep, you are taking action. So that will also soothe your nervous system. It's a different way to look at things. 

We're not saying to sit down and just wait. I mean, time is a factor in everything. Everything is not in our control. We have to kind of nurture our patience a little bit as entrepreneurs, or a lot, depending on what's going on. But you want to make sure that you're doing things that are going to actually help you, not just doing things for the sake of doing them. To help you focus on what you can control. 

We're inviting you to our next Marketing Methodology Workshop. During this workshop, we will walk you through the process of getting your marketing plan set up for the next twelve months. We dive deep into how to connect with your audience on an emotional level, and we give you tools and resources that you can use over and over again to create a rinse-and-repeat process and rinse and repeat and streamlining. All of these things are things that you can create for yourself during ebb times. We want to get things that run seamlessly. We want a well-oiled machine where things aren't going to upset the apple cart. So if you'd like to get your marketing plan set up for the next twelve months, register now at encoreempire.com/mmw.



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