Recently I did a stupid thing. I was asked to sign up for a fun-run (seriously who came up with the name 'fun'?!?) and bowing to the pressure of my athletic sisters, without thinking twice, I said yes.
Now you may think, 'why is a fun-run a stupid thing'? Well, when your idea of 'getting fit' is placing two packets of mint slice bikkies at either end of your hallway and running back and forward between each (sampling upon every completed lap), a fun-run may not be the best idea. The little 9km option I've selected probably seems like a walk in the park to most fit-bit wearing fun-run fanatics, but to me it may as well be a marathon.
So I went for my first 'run' this week. And I use the quote marks around 'run' because, like my mint-slice workout routine, running isn't exactly what I did. Oh I followed all the rules, I warmed up, I warmed down, I set little goals for myself... and I ran to the corner of my block, folded in half and lost my lunch. I looked up through those weird, involuntary tears that come with getting sick, saw the backsides of my rapidly disappearing sisters, and realised it's much easier to Keep Up With the Kardashians than it is to keep up with them.
Like fitness and running, keeping up with the latest marketing trends is also not easy. Often trying to stay on top of what's changed, how things are evolving, what tools are out there and whether or not SEO is still alive and well, can feel impossible. It feels a little like sitting on a street corner, breathing into a paper bag while the backsides of your competitors lurch off into the distance ahead of you.
If you're a small business, forking out for ongoing consultation with marketing professionals so you can be a little more cutting-edge is often not an option. And what that can mean is your business is operating on a marketing plan that relies on tools and tactics that your competitors were making use of five years ago.
So what can you do to stay on top of things? The answer is simpler than you think: read and watch! Here are some great must-view resources that can help you better understand how to competitively market your small business.
This is a little bit of a bible for a lot of digital marketers. Written in really plain English, not a lot of jargon, it can be really helpful for SME owners who want to stay up to date but aren't IT and digital experts. Check out their Whiteboard Fridays -- a great, engaging and informative resource. A good tip is to subscribe so first-thing every morning you are greeted with their latest insights in your inbox.
There are really no words for how great this guy is! Well ok, there are tonnes -- he is an absolute genius! An entrepreneur, he has worked his way up to becoming one of the most recognised SEO experts in the world... and he's happy to share what he knows in daily videos, podcasts, articles and other media.
Buffer is exceptionally cool as a business... and their blog is useful too. With little (or no) marketing budget, somehow they've managed to build a brand and become a household name for marketers around the world. What's especially interesting about them is they aren't a big old corporate, churning out work from a high-rise in New York. They have people located all around the world, as one of their fundamental beliefs is people should be able to work from somewhere they are happy.
I like these guys because they not only keep up with the latest stuff, they also make it simple so you don't find yourself googling every second word to figure out what it means. As an example, right now one of their top blogs is 'How to use snapchat': it's basic, it makes sense and anyone can follow it.
Covering a lot of different areas and easy-to-read, this blog is a really solid info source for planning, strategy development and analytics. If you don't know how to get the most out of online analytics, or you want to have a crack at writing your own strategy, subscribing to KISS is a good first step.
Like anything, staying on top of the latest practices takes one of two things (and sometimes both): money or time. You can either invest in consulting and have someone stay up to date for you, or make a serious commitment to making the time to read, watch videos and expand your knowledge yourself. Either way, staying up to date is important. Like doing a fun-run, the 'fun' part of starting a business really starts to ebb away if you're always watching competitors disappear over the horizon in front of you.